Immigration and Customs
Before landing, your international flight attendants hand out an Arrival Card for you to fill out before landing. When you arrive, you will first go through China’s quarantine inspection. Then, proceed to the immigration (border control) counter to submit the Arrival Card and have your passport inspected. The Chinese immigration officer will put a stamp in your passport indicating your date of entry. Normally, you can stay in China up to 30 days with a tourist (L) visa. Should you need to extend your stay beyond the 30-day period, you will need to fill an application with the city public security bureau. After immigration, you will go to the carousel to claim your checked luggage. From there, you will go through Customs.
There are two channels, red and green, in China customs. Take the green one if you have nothing to declare. Take the red one if you to need to declare anything or if you are uncertain which channel you should take. Visitors are allowed to carry into China a limited quantity of duty-free goods including: no more than 1500ml (12% volume) of alcoholic drinks, 400 sticks of cigarettes or 100 sticks of cigars, and US$ 5000.00. You must also declare if you bring into China any articles valued at over RMB2000 will remain in the territory, radio transmitters and communication security equipment, or goods of commercial values. Prohibited imports include: fresh fruit, arms, ammunition and explosives, printed matter, films or tapes “detrimental to China”, narcotic drugs, animals and plants.
When leaving China, you must declare if you take out of China the following items: cash over US $5000.00, gold or silver, cultural relics, endangered animals or plants, radio transmitters or communication security equipment, or goods of commercial value. China prohibits the following from taking out of China: antiques, gold and silvers, traditional Chinese medicinal products that exceed the amount allowed by law, and medicinal products extracted from rare animals. When you leave China, you will also need to fill out a Departure Card and go through immigration. The Chinese immigration officer will stamp your departure date in your passport.
Upon entering the U.S., you must go through U.S. immigration and customs inspections at the port of entry. Each family must fill out a U.S. Customs Declaration Form
Please visit U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s website for detailed information about Customs regulations and procedures that apply to travelers entering or exiting the United States.
Never drink the tap water. Even avoid it when brushing your teeth or taking a shower. Also avoid ice in your cold beverage when you are not sure the water source. Boiled water is sometimes offered in thermos bottles in hotel rooms but you also need to make clear whether it is fresh. Drink bottled mineral water is widely available in stores, restaurants and street kiosks. Sometimes a bottle or two is provided free in your room by the best hotels.
To learn more about water and food safety, please visit the website of Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Breakfast is normally served in most hotels as buffet style. Lunches and/or dinners which are included in your itinerary are serviced most in local restaurants and occasionally at hotels. A fixed supply of beverages per person is included with the meals at no charge. Restaurants charge guests for additional beverages they consume. China is known for its great schools of cooking, differing in flavor and characteristics by region: An excellent Chinese meal should simultaneously gratify sight, smell, touch, taste, and even sound. The flavor of Sichuan cuisine is mainly sour, tingling, spicy and piquant.
Shandong is characterized by its emphasis on aroma, freshness, crispness and tenderness; the flavor is mainly light, fresh and tender. Guangdong is for cooking exotic animal meets; the flavor is mainly light, crisp, tasty and fresh. Hunan stresses tasty ingredients and its flavors highlight hot and sour. Keeping an open mind and being willing to try different foods is part of cultural experience which can give you’re a deeper understanding of the local culture. If you are a vegetarian, there are a lot of vegetable dishes available.
Over the years, tipping has become customary and acceptable in China’s tour industry. Tips are not included in our tour fees. The people who provide services and expect tips include: the tour guides, drivers, and bellboys/luggage persons. In China, tips to restaurant and hotel waiters are not expected.
Laundry and dry-cleaning services are always available at each hotel. Items collected in the morning are returned the same evening. Charges are added to your room bill which you will pay upon checking out. There may be local laundry shops near the hotel. They definitely charge less than the hotels. But, their quality of service and return time vary. Ask your local guide for recommendations or advice if you want to take your laundry out to those businesses.
China is a beautiful country to photograph. You can and will probably take a lot of pictures of your trip. However, please keep in mind that taking photographs is forbidden in most museums, palaces, temples and other cultural sites. These places usually have signs to let you know if taking photographs are not allowed. Ask your guide if you are not sure. Do not take photographs at aerodromes, military installations, or other politically sensitive areas. Be courteous before you take pictures of adults, children, or their possessions and first asking their permission.
China is relatively safe for foreign travelers. However, like in any place, petty crimes such as pick-pocketing and purse snatching occur specially in crowded areas. So, be cautious with your personal possession in public place and use common sense to avoid potential problems. Do not show off your money in public. Keep enough money for your immediate needs in your pocket, and hide the rest on your body or leave your backup supply in a safety deposit box at your hotel.
Always keep valuables in a safety deposit box at your hotel instead of leaving them in your room. Never carry your passport/visa, credit cards, traveler’s checks or other travel documents in your shoulder bag or wear a bag or purse on your street-side shoulder which could be an easy target.
Be familiar with the values of different local banknotes to avoid being deceived.
Hopefully no emergencies will occur during your visit to China but, just in case, here are some tips on how to deal with them. In China, the Public Security Bureau (Police) is responsible for public safety and order. In addition to traditional police responsibilities, the Bureau is in charge of issuing visa extensions. If you lose something of value, please notify immediately your hotel, tour group leader, transportation authorities and/or the police.
If your credit cards or traveler’s checks have been lost or stolen, call the issuer as soon as possible. If you find yourself in a serious situation, you might also contact your embassy and/or consulate. If you lose your passport, you should report the matter as soon as possible to the nearest Public Security Bureau (Police) and to your embassy or consulate in China.
In order to get a new visa from the Chinese authorities, a Police report about the loss/theft will be needed. For any other emergency, you should contact your hotel staff for assistance or dial: 110 for the police, 119 in case of fire or 120 for an ambulance.