2023 Tibet Travel Permit Update
Updated On 21, FEB, 2023
Tibet Travel Permits Update 14th Oct 2022
Due to the pandemic Tibet tourism industry was badly affected and all tourism industry in Tibet was paused since Aug 8th 2022. Prior to that the Tibet travel permit was issued for foreigners living in China with certain paper requirements. Here Explore Tibet put the required papers and documents together as below.
Important information on Tibet travel permit & Tibet Group Visa This page provides you important and first-hand information about Tibet travel permits and documents needed to apply for the permits. Tibet is officially a province of China, so a valid China visa must travel to Tibet (except if you enter Tibet from Nepal, please see the Tibet group visa section). As Tibet is different from other places in mainland China, you need some additional travel documents or permits to travel. Please check the details below:
The Four Tibet Travel Permits and Visas required for a foreigner to travel to Tibet.
1) China visa or Tibet Group visa
2) Tibet Travel Permit (TTP)
3) Alien’s Travel Permit (ATP/also called PSB permit)
4) Military permit
The Tibet Travel Permits are vary based on the region/places that you travel in Tibet, so the Chinese visa/Group visa and Tibet travel permit are compulsory for all types of Tibet tour, where the Military Permit and Alien’s Travel Permit are only needed if you travel to restricted areas like Everest Base Camp, Mt.Kailash, Ranwu and so on.1) Chinese Visa / Tibet Visa or Tibet Group Visa
Tibet is officially a province of China, so every traveler must have a valid passport and Chinese visa to enter Tibet (except if you are entering from Nepal). A Chinese visa is generally obtainable from most Chinese embassies and consulates in your area and must be obtained in advance.
Tips: Since Tibet is a politically sensitive area, the Chinese Consulate or Embassy may refuse your visa application if you list Tibet as a travel destination. We recommend choosing an alternate city in mainland China such as Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai, and your destination.
If you enter Tibet from Nepal, you will need to obtain a Tibet Group Visa from the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu. It is an A4-size sheet of paper with the name, sex, nationality, passport number, date of birth, and occupation of each member listed in your group. The dates of entry and exit are precisely recorded. All travelers in the group must enter and leave China together.
To apply for the Tibet Group Visa, you will need a visa invitation letter from the Tibet Tourism Bureau sent by a tour agency in Tibet. Our office in Lhasa can prepare the necessary arrangements and send them to our local agent in Nepal to help traveler apply for the Tibet Group Visa.
For detail of the visa application and formalities, please check your regional Chinese Embassy website HERE.
2) Tibet Travel Permit (TTP)
Often mistakenly known as the “Tibet Visa,” the Tibet Travel Permit (TTP) is actually the entry permit to enter the province. TTP must be applied through a local tour agency in Tibet. Foreign tourists can’t board a train or flight to Tibet without a TTP. The permits specify every destination and attraction you will visit on your tour and cannot be changed once you arrive in Tibet. Therefore you must confirm your itinerary with your tour operator before they apply for the TTP. If you hold a visa different from the (L) Tourist visa, such as a student or work visa, you will need a letter from your school or company to clarify the purpose of your visit.
3) Alien’s Travel Permit (ATP)
If your itinerary includes passing through destinations within a restricted area, you will need an Alien Travel Permit (ATP). The ATP is a travel document issued by the Public Security Bureau, a police branch that handles affairs with foreigners. When you travel to a restricted place in Tibet, your tour guide will take your original passport to the local Public Security Bureau and apply for the ATP on your behalf.The lists of the restricted places in Tibet that need Alien’s Travel Permit:
4) Military Permit
The military permit is a travel document issued by the military authority in Tibet. You need to enter politically sensitive areas and border regions where territory is disputed between China and neighbouring countries. The lists of the places that need Military Permit：
It is important to note that you are only responsible for the Chinese visa and deciding your itinerary. Explore Tibet will apply for all necessary permits after you’ve sent us the documents required.
How to obtain the Tibet Travel Permits (TTP) Documents required to apply for the Tibet Travel Permit for foreigners living and working in mainland China.
- 1. Scan copy or clear image of the main page of the passport.
- 2. Scan copy or clear image of the main page of Chinese Visa or Residence Permit.
- 3. Scan copy or clear image of one of the following:
- 4. Work Permit /Foreign Expert Certificate
- 5. Company Invitation Letter (including traveler’s name, passport number, and date of birth).
- 6. The applicant’s company or local police station, or residential committee issued a letter to prove that you haven’t left Mainland China within the last 28 days. This information can be written in the same letter as your company invitation letter.
- 7. Screenshot of Green QR Health Code issued by your city.
- 8. Recent COVID-19 Nucleic Acid negative test report (suggested within 7 days). This is needed when applying for the Tibet Travel Permit.
The Tibet Travel Permit (TTP) is necessary for foreigners to get into the Tibetan Autonomous Region. Explore Tibet can apply for the permit for you. According to the Tibet tourism bureau policy, all the permit applications should be submitted at least 15 days before the trip starting date.
Still, if you are traveling into restricted areas, you need more additional permits and documents, which will take longer. Once you confirm your trip with us, we request you to send us a clear scanned copy or photo of your passport and Chinese visa at least 20 days in advance by email as it is required for applying for the Tibet Travel Permit. When the permit is issued, we will send a copy or original of the permit to your hotel in China.
If you fly into Tibet, then we will send the original permit to your hotel in China as you need it to board the flight. If you take the train into Tibet, we will send a copy of the permit by email, and you can bring a copy to board the train.
Note: Diplomats, Journalists, professional media photographers, and government officials cannot issue their Tibet permit through ordinary travel agencies. They can only travel to Tibet under the arrangement of the Foreign Affairs Department, Economic Development Committee, etc.
Important Tips from Explore Tibet – How to apply for a Chinese visa
It’s best not to mention Tibet or any places in Tibet as your travel destination when applying for a Chinese visa (the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu is the only exception). Since Tibet is politically sensitive in China, your consulate may refuse your visa application if you mention traveling to Tibet in your application form, so please keep this in mind when applying. You can mention any city of mainland China such as Beijing, Xi’an, Shanghai, Chengdu-Sichuan, Yunnan, etc., as your travel destination.
Tibet Group Visa—Documentation for entering Tibet from Nepal
Entering Tibet via Nepal by land or air If you plan to enter Tibet from Nepal, you must get your Tibet group visa from the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu. Whether you already have a Chinese visa or not, a Tibet group visa is compulsory for all tourists entering Tibet from Nepal. The Tibet Group Visa is an A4-size sheet of paper with the name, sex, nationality, passport number, date of birth, and occupation of each member of your group listed. The dates of entry and exit are precisely recorded. Usually, the visa is valid only for the length of the trip you have booked, but it’s possible to extend the visa for few additional days, but only for staying in Lhasa. There will be two original copies of the Tibet Group Visa, one for immigration at entry and another for the exit. Explore Tibet can easily help you obtain the Tibet Group visa through our partner agent in Kathmandu. We highly recommend you don’t apply for an individual Chinese visa in your country if you decided to enter Tibet from Nepal. When you apply for the group visa for entering Tibet, the Chinese embassy will cancel your individual Chinese visa.
What are the requirements to apply for the Tibet Group Visa in Kathmandu？
When applying for the Tibet Group Visa at the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu, you can’t apply by yourself. You have to apply for the Tibet group visa through a local Nepalese agent. There are three main requirements for the application, which are:
- Valid and original passport.
- One passport-sized color photo with 33mm width x 48mm height, white background photo, your ears must be seen, shouldn’t wear earrings, necklace or jewellery, and caps and should be straight looking head in the photo, check the below sample photo.
- Visa application form, our Nepal agent, will bring you the visa application form, and you need to fill in detail the correct information.
If you don’t have the passport size photo or not the right one, then you can take it in Kathmandu, which will cost USD5-8.
What is the duration of the Group visa that I can apply for? Can I get the Tibet Group Visa longer than my Tibet tour length?
Yes, you can obtain the Tibet Group Visa maximum of 30 days. Still, to obtain the 30 days Tibet Group Visa, you need to clarify it to your Tibet tour company right from the beginning so that when they apply for the Tibet Group Visa invitation letter from the Tibet tourism bureau in Lhasa, they need to put the duration on the invitation letter. There are blanks on the Tibet Group Visa invitation form to fill in the entry and exit date, the duration of your stay, so these should be filled based on your need. The Tibet tourism bureau will approve the invitation form with their stamp and signature on it. Then a copy of the letter is sent to the Nepal agent, and they can apply for the Group Visa with their original passports.
Note: The Tibet Group Visa is single entry and can’t extend
Below are the costs of group visas for different nationalities How long does the Tibet Group Visa Application Process Take?
There are three main visa processing types based on different costs, which are Ordinary, Urgent, and Top Urgent,
1. Ordinary Process:
This process will take 5 working days. You must arrive in Kathmandu before 5 working days, then submit your original passport, color passport size photo, and the visa application form to our Nepalese agent.
2. Urgent Process:
This process will take 3 working days. You must arrive in Kathmandu before 3 working days, then submit your original passport, color passport size photo, and visa application form to our Nepalese agent.
3. Top Urgent Process:
This process will take 2 working days. You should arrive in Kathmandu before 2 full working days, then hand your original passport, passport size color photo, and visa application form to our Nepalese agent.
Our Nepalese agent will give you the visa application form and request you to fill it when you meet at your hotel or another scheduled place. Then the passports and Tibet group visa will return to you in the afternoon when it is processed.
Tibet Permit Related Articles
Tibet Group Visa & Permit FAQs
Once you have confirmed your tour with us, we need you to send us clear scanned copies of Passports and China Visas for every member of the group to apply for the Tibet Travel Permit. If your China Visa is not an “L” visa, then you must also provide additional documents such as student certificates, work permits, residence permits and so on.
Normally, Tibet permits can be issued around 15 days, but if your tour itinerary covers some restricted or unopened areas like Mt. Kailash, Sichuan-Tibet highway and Yunnan-Tibet highway, it needs several different permits, thus it would take around 20 working days.
To obtain Tibet Travel Permits, it is compulsory to make your Tibet tour arrangements through a local travel agency, and then provide clear scan copies of you passports and China visa to apply for the Tibet permit (TTP). Please note that it’s impossible for a foriegners to board either flights or trains to Tibet without the Travel Permit. The permits themselves specify every destination and towns that you would visit during the tour and cannot be changed once you have arrived in Tibet; therefore, make sure that you have listed all your interested places in the tour with your tour operator before they apply for the permit. It usually takes 5 to 10 working days for the Tibet Travel Permit to be issued, then if your tour included restricted areas like Mt.Kailash or further eastern Tibet, then you will another permit from the Tibet Military department which would take another 5 to 7 days. After the Tibet Permit is issued, we will mail it to your last hotel in Mainland China by making a confirmation call to your hotel in advance if you take plane to Lhasa(Tibet), FYI, if you only have stopover at one of the Airports, such as Chengdu, Beijing, Shanghai and so on, please make sure that the stopover would be more than 3 hours so that our agency is able to to hire an agent to deliver the Tibet Permit to the Airport for you, but this method may cost some Additional Fee.
If you plan to enter Tibet from Nepal, you must get the TIBET GROUP VISA from the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu despite whether or not you already have a Chinese Visa. The Tibet Group Visa is an A4 size sheet of paper, with the name, sex, nationality, passport number, date of birth and occupation of each member of your group listed. The dates of entry and exit are precisely recorded. Usually, the visa is valid only for the length of the trip you have booked but it’s possible to get the visa extended for few additional days, for stays in Lhasa only. There will be two original copies of the Tibet Group Visa, one for immigration at the entry and one for the exit. We can easily help you with the Tibet Group Visa application. We also highly recommend if you enter Tibet via Nepal not to apply for an individual Chinese Visa in your country; when you arrive in Kathmandu, you will need to apply for the Group Visa to enter Tibet and the Chinese Embassy will cancel your individual Chinese Visa when you receive the Group Visa.
Please Note: If you plan to travel to Tibet from Nepal, you don’t have to apply for the Chinese visa, all you need to do is to send us your scaned passport and clear photo, we will apply for the Tibet Travel Permit at Lhasa, at the same time we will obtain the Tibet Group Visa invitation letter from Lhasa and will send it to our Nepalese Agent in Nepal. Then the agent will meet you at your arrival in Kathmandu and collect your passprt to apply for the Group Visa which is compulsory for every traveler entering Tibet from Nepal. You have to pay for the Group Visa Fee and the agent’s service fee to the agent separately as such fees are not included in our tour cost. For the Fee, you can refer to this link http://www.exploretibet.com/visa-permits/, just for reference.
Your schedule in Kathmandu will be like below.
Day 1: Arrive in KTM
Day 2: Apply the Group Visa ( Must be Embassy working days)
Day 3: Collect the Group Visa( Must be Embassy working days)
Day 4: Obtain the Group Visa by 11:00 A.M ( Must be Embassy working days)
Day 5: Fly to Lhasa(Tibet)
If you are interested in Overland Tours in Tibet, you will only be able to travel from Chengdu, Qinghai and Yunan from within China or from Kathmandu in Nepal. The overland drive takes longer but can add an element of adventure. When you decided your traveling dates, please check with us regarding the availability since parts of the Chengdu-Tibet and Yunnan-Tibet routes are frequently closed due to political sensitivity and landslides during the monsoon season.
Normally, the Tibet Travel Permit application process would take 10-15 days depending your travel plan, if you just vist Lhasa and around or EBC (Mt Everest Base Camp), then the permit would take around 10 days, if you go further west of Tibet and to Mt Kailash, then the permit would take around 15 days. But we highly advise you to book your Tibet tour as early as you can, so it give us more time to process the permit and hassel free. If you fly into Tibet, you should have the original permit to board the flight, so you should provide us with details about your hotel or residence address in China (including the correct name under which the booking is made) and we will send the original permit to you by Express which takes 24hrs to 3 days within China, we never mail it abroad as it takes longer and could be delayed or lost. If you don’t have a long layover or overnight in China, you can send us your detail international flight information and we can arrange someone to deliver the permit to you at the airport.
If you take the Train to Tibet, we will send you a copy of the permit by email and you can print it and bring the copy to board the train.
To visit Tibet you should have a valid passport, a Chinese visa and Tibet Travel Permit, it is also called a Tibet Entry Permit or Tibet Visa. If your visa is not Tourist Visa, type L, work permit or invitation letter need to be provided. When you book the tour from us, we will obtain the Tibet Travel Permit for you from the Tibet Tourism Bureau, so all what you need to do is to send us scan copies of your passports and Chinese visa by email and we will take care of the rest. You can also check the latest Tibet Travel Permit by clicking this link.
To avoid any problems you might encounter to obtain the Chinese visa in other countries, we suggest you to obtain the Chinese Visa from the Chinese Consulate in your home country before you leave. Explore Tibet also strongly suggest you not mention your trip to Tibet on your visa application form, because Tibet is a politically sensitive area and mentioning it as a destination on your application might reject the visa. You can use your return flight tickets and hotel reservation in other cities of China to get the visa
Number of Working Days to Obtain it
Cost for American Passport Holders
Cost for other Nationalities
Note: You can only apply for the Tibet Group Visa on Monday, Wednesday and Friday (three days a week). Also, the local Nepalese agencies have a service charge of $20-50 (USD) per person normally based on group size.
Above information are updated on Aug.20th, 2011.
Please click HERE to check more detail of the Tibet Group Visa and its application.
Military and PSB Permits are only needed for those trips going through sensitive areas or a border region; these trips include the Mt. Kailash trip, Sichuan-Tibet Overland Tour, Tibet-Kashigar Overland Tour and so on. Alien’s Travel Permits are necessary if you are going to Mt. Everest Base Camp, Samye Monastery (southern part of Tibet), Nyinchi (Eastern part of Tibet) and Mt. Kailash, but these can be issued from the local PSB just before you enter the region.
There are two main ways to get into Tibet from Nepal, either through a direct flight from Kathmandu to Tibet (normally available on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday) or by an overland drive to Tibet. The overland drive poses a greater risk of getting Altitude sickness due to the extreme increase in elevation along the way.
No, it is not necessary to have multiple China visas to visit Tibet. Tibet is under Chinese sovereignty and the China Visa is valid in Tibet. Example: Chengdu-Tibet-Beijing, only a single entry China Visa is required.