I've traveled back and forth between the US and China myself several times, and every time I would always make sure my plane tickets and hotel reservations were finalized before sending in my visa application. I was always under the impression the Chinese consulate would check applicants' travel arrangements (or perhaps randomly spot-check) and deny the visa if they couldn't confirm that you had tickets and accommodations matching your stated plans. But it occurred to me that I don't actually know why I thought this. I guess I was advised to do it this way by my contacts in China, but not by email, so there's no record. Meanwhile, I can't find any official statement on the matter, and looking around this site, the corresponding questions for Russia and Europe (Schengen zone) advise waiting until after the visa is approved to get plane tickets.

So, what is the situation with American citizens traveling to China? Is it necessary to have ticketed flights and confirmed hotel reservations in advance of when your visa application is processed?

In this particular instance I'm asking for someone else who I'm advising about travel planning. The person is applying for a 10-year tourist visa. I do know that once you already have the visa, you don't need to reapply for further travel, but the initial visa application itself does need to be associated with a specific trip, just as a short-term single-entry tourist visa would be.

  • In general, you're advised not to pay for accomodation or travel until your visa is approved. If they don't ask for reservation information, it's unlikley they going to try and find it without you telling them details.
    – CMaster
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 8:59
  • @CMaster Yes, that may be the case in general, but I'm asking about China specifically, because I was fairly sure I'd been told otherwise. (Unless there is some way to get a confirmed plane ticket without paying for it....)
    – David Z
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 9:01
  • Hence why I made a comment, not an answer. Not sure about the specific chinese situation. I genuinley can't imagine that the visa people are going and asking every airline/hotel in China if you have a booking though.
    – CMaster
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 9:12
  • 1
    Related: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/62262/…
    – mts
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 9:14
  • 1
    @mts This question would be for a tourist visa. Thanks for the link; I didn't find that when searching.
    – David Z
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 9:25

2 Answers 2


Canadian here that went to China. They denied my visa application until I bought plane tickets and reserved a place to stay. I got my visa the second time around though.

While in Beijing, I stayed with a person that processes the tourist visas. She said they typically shred them/don't do much with the information.

  • +1 Thanks, that is some great insight! Do you remember what type of visa you applied for?
    – mts
    Commented May 15, 2016 at 18:10
  • Don't remember. I think it was either a young tourist or Student
    – jonmecer
    Commented May 16, 2016 at 19:16

American here--when we first started going to China there was no such requirement. Since they have put that requirement in we have been told by travel agents (at the time the way to get the visa) that we weren't going to need flight information (hotel information has always been irrelevant, we stay with relatives) and we never submitted it (and half the time didn't even have the tickets yet.) We've never been denied.

There have been two bits of extra documentation we have submitted over the years--once, upon a passport renewal we submitted her old passport (something only applicable to the China-born) and once we submitted our marriage license (when the China-born could get 2-year visas and the Houston consulate would also issue them to spouses of the China-born.)

Note, however, that we have a long string of visits without running afoul of the authorities, what they expect of us and what they expect of a first-time visitor might very well be different. The rules are also more lenient for the China-born.

Every visa has been an ordinary tourist visa. At this point I have a 10-year/60-day visa and she has a 10-year/90-day visa (again, things are more liberal for the China-born) and so it's a moot issue for some time to come.

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