The Chinese visa requirements need me to have a ticket out of China.
My plan is to get a dual entry visa for China, fly in to Beijing, visit North Korea by train (I will have this booked in advance), and then take the trans Mongolian express, thus leaving China by land.

Will it suffice if I write a note, stating that I will be leaving China by train? Or do I really need to book this in advance?

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    My actual experience with Chinese Customs was that they were fairly forgiving -- I booted up my computer and showed them an email of my flight confirmation and they granted me a 72-hour VOA with only that as proof of onward travel -- but I would never want to bet on the indulgence of government officials, especially as you will need advance booking anyway. Commented Mar 6, 2017 at 16:36
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    Thanks for your reply, my reasoning behind not wanting to book the train ticket in advance is fairly simple, booking in advance is usually a lot more expensive and I need to stick to a schedule. And yes, you are completely right, I do not want to depend on the indulgence of the govt officials!
    – Bas
    Commented Mar 7, 2017 at 5:10
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    well, how difficult is the booking process? If they don't take your word for it, can you find a place air-side with WiFi and buy it on the spot? Commented Mar 7, 2017 at 6:06
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    What embassy are you planning to apply at?
    – Crazydre
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 13:53
  • Yes you will need to book in advance without taking any risk..
    – arya_amit
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 5:29

2 Answers 2


Firstly you have to differentiate between getting a visa (decided by the embassy) and being admitted (decided by immigration). Embassies can (and often do) have stricter requirements for obtaining a visa than immigration does for entry.

As for the visa, the requirements vary from embassy to embassy.

The Zurich consulate, for example, told me in person in December that it requires confirmed return/onward tickets of any sort.

Meanwhile, the Washington embassy states on their website that a round-trip air ticket confirmation is required, although I haven't called and asked whether they are flexible about transport modes in practice.

So your only way of knowing is telling the embassy where you plan to apply about your itinerary and asking.

As for getting admitted, the following is stated by Timatic, the database used by airlines:

Travel on a one-way ticket is allowed. Visitors must hold proof of sufficient funds to cover their stay and documents required for their next destination.

The only case where an onward ticket in required is if transiting without a visa, in which case the following two arrangements are applicable at Beijing:

Holders of confirmed onward air, cruise or train tickets for a max. transit time of 24 hours. Transit incl. multiple stops within China (People's Rep.), with a total transit time of max. 24 hours, is permitted. They must travel to a third country


TWOV (Transit Without Visa): Nationals of [insert eligible country] holding confirmed onward airline tickets to a third country, if arriving in and departing from the same city: at Beijing (PEK), Guilin (KWL), Harbin (HRB), Kunming (KMG), or Shenyang (SHE) for a max. transit time of 72 hours;

So, in summary, this is what applies at Beijing, notwithstanding any stricter requirements by the embassy:

  1. To enter with a visa, you need no onward ticket
  2. To enter for visa-free transit for max 24 hours, you need a confirmed onward ticket - rail tickets are accepted
  3. To enter for visa-free transit for 24-72 hours, you need a confirmed onward air ticket - rail tickets are not accepted.
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    Thanks, +1! Good that you touch also upon the transit cases, but for me the focus of the Q is clearly on the getting-a-visa part. Your statement about Bern embassy from personal experience and any chance you know of such experience with other embassies?
    – mts
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 13:36
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    @mts I asked the Zurich consulate not too long ago in person, but ended up going for an e-visa (a standalone document which has to contain at least two people and is obtained through several partner agencies of the Chinese Entry-Exit authority). And no, don't know what other embassies require I'm afraid
    – Crazydre
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 13:49
  • Thank you very much for your extensive answer! A big +1! In meantime I have been to the Chinese embassy in the Philippines, they told me to write a note and sign it (or something along those lines), unfortunately I ran out of time and haven't applied for my Chinese visa yet. I will try to apply around halfway april from Vietnam or Hong Kong (currently in Taiwan, there is no embassy here). I will post how it goes.
    – Bas
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 12:54
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    @Bas If this answer staisfies you, please accept it by pressing the button below the down arrow
    – Crazydre
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 12:55
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    @Crazy I was still typing my comment, I will leave the question open until tomorrow to give more people the chance to answer! Thank you!
    – Bas
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 13:00

Observation: Never have we been asked to show a return ticket when entering China. I always have a printout of our tickets with me, never have I pulled it out.

  • During my hundreds of non-EU international trips, I've only been asked once for a return ticket: when entering Moldova by Train, and that was only after I said I'd exit by air. Fortunately I had my WIZZ Boarding pass
    – Crazydre
    Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 5:29
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    But don't you have a 10year multiple-entry visa, where for the visa application you had to put down details of your first trip only?! As I see the question it is concerned about requirements for single/double entry visa.
    – mts
    Commented Mar 18, 2017 at 8:00
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    @mts I doubt how many entries your visa grants matters and in times past we have entered on shorter term visas many times. Commented Mar 19, 2017 at 1:25
  • @Loren mts is right, this question is aimed at obtaining the visa, one of the requirements is having a pre-booked ticket out of China before they provide me with a visa. As Crazydre said, getting admitted into a country is usually easier than getting the visa.
    – Bas
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 12:47

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