Here is the some common questions and our answers regarding the present visa requirements for traveling in Tibet.
About visa rules: This is to notify you for change in the rule of visa applying through chinese embassy for this year 2012 than of previous year, effective from 5th March 2012. Unlike previous year there won’t be same day visa service. We can get visa on normal policy receiving on 4th morning of the applied day; semi-urgent policy receiving on 3rd morning of applied day; and top-urgent policy receiving on 2nd morning of applied day.
In case of any emergency to get visa on same day we can manage but you have to pay additional service charge for the emergency assist depending in the situation and feasibility.
Your question: Is there any restriction or difficulties to get Tibet group visa for regular or special passport holders?
Our answer: Yes, it is easy to get Tibet group visa for the tourist carrying normal regular passport along with proper require documents.
But it is not easy and sure to get visa with having special passports. Being high security through Chinese Government on Tourist permits for the foreigners to visit Tibet, we cannot promise or most probably not possible to obtain visa for the passport holder with diplomatic and for those who engage in profession with journalist, media, government officials and expatriates. It is possible to obtain travel permit from Lhasa through your passport copies but Visa Consular of Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu can refuse the visa for such passport holders without any convincing reason.
Your question: What type of visa should I obtain to travel in Tibet? Where can I get it?
Our answer: The Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu issues a different type of visa that is called “Tibet group visa” which is valid in Tibet. The Tibet group visa will be given in a different paper sheet. The Embassy doesn’t put visa stamp on your passport.
Your question: Can I apply the Tibet group visa by myself?
Our answer: No! Tourists are not allowed to apply the Tibet group visa directly. So, you have to take help of Tibet tour operator / agency. First, you have to book a package tour with an agency and the same agency will apply Tibet group visa for you. Basic packages, such as our Budget tour accommodate travelers seeking to travel in Tibet, but who seek more basic services.
Your question:Do I have to go to the Embassy while applying the Tibet group visa?
Our answer: No! Your presence in the Chinese Embassy is not required. Your Tibet tour organizer / agency can apply it on your behalf.
Your question: How long does the visa process take?
Our answer: The visa process normally takes 4 days. It is possible to purchase rush services at an additional fee for deliver in two days. If you would like to avoid the rush fee, you have to apply 4 working days in advance.
Your question: What documents do I have to submit while applying for the visa?
Our answer: Your original passport is the most essential document regarding visa application. Apart from this, you need to fill out the “Visa Application Form” and sign it. Also, you need to submit one passport-size photo (which meets normal visa criteria: simple background, eyes visible, etc.) with the form.
Your question:Can I process the visa application with a photocopy of my passport?
Our answer: Absolutely not! The Embassy directly refuses the visa application without an original passport.
Your question: Can I apply the visa in advance?? How long in advance can I /you can process the visa application?
Our answer: We can apply for the visa only 4 working days in advance. We can’t apply the visa earlier than one week. But, if there is Chinese festival OR Chinese official holiday (within a week time), they accept the visa earlier than one week as well.
Your question: Can I travel in Tibet after the tour ends with the Tibet group visa?
Our answer: No! Chinese regulations are very strict. You are not allowed to travel in Tibet only with Tibet group visa. You must take a complete tour package through a tour operator. However, you are allowed to stay in Lhasa. The tour package for places outside Lhasa muset include a tour guide (for the entire journey), a private transport (Land Cruiser or Van) and all necessary travel permits by order of the Chinese government. Violating these regulations jeopardizes our company’s license to operate tours in Tibet. If you are caught with a permit from our company, we will be fined heavily and could lose our business license.
Your question: I want to travel in the group to keep the tour cost lower, but after Lhasa I would like to travel on my own. Is it possible?
Our answer: Yes! This is possible! We can manage a separate group visa for you and you can still travel in the group up to Lhasa. From Lhasa you can simply split with the group and travel to mainland China or fly out from Lhasa to mainland China or Kathmandu.
Your question: After finishing tour in Lhasa, can I split with my group and travel in Tibet on my own?
Our answer: After finishing tour in Lhasa, you can split with your group and travel on your own but AT PRESENT YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO TRAVEL IN TIBET INDEPENDENTLY. This is due to the 2008 riots and political conflict, which led the government to tighten regulations. After splitting with your group, you should either fly out from Lhasa OR take a train to mainland China.
If you are leaving Lhasa by flight, we have to submit the copy of your flight ticket while applying travel permits for you. If you are leaving Lhasa and travel to mainland China by Train, also we have to submit the copy of your Train ticket. The Chinese officials would like to make sure that you are not remaining in Lhasa illegally after splitting with group.
Your question: After finishing tour, can I stay in Lhasa for a couple of days on my own?
Our answer: This is possible! You can remain in Lhasa for a couple of days. But, you can’t go inside any Monastery / Palaces OR monuments. Without a guide, you cannot enter in Palaces OR Monastery.
Your question: Can I Travel in mainland China with Tibet group visa?
Our answer: Yes! The Tibet group visa is valid in mainland China too. After finishing tour in Tibet, you can travel to mainland China with the same group visa.
Your question: What is the longest possible Tibet group visa can I get from the Chinese Embassy?
Our answer: The longest Tibet group visa that can be arranged from the Embassy is for 28 days only. This means, even you book an 8 days OR 10 days, we can still provide a visa that will be valid for 28 days. After Tibet, the same visa can be used in China.
Your question: Once the Tibet group visa is expired in Mainland China, can I extend it?
Our answer: No! The Chinese government won’t extend it.
Your question: If the Tibet group visa is not extendable, can I obtain an individual Chinese visa in mainland China?
Our answer: No! Normally, it is not possible to obtain an individual Chinese visa in mainland China. But, you can try your luck anyway. If you apply through the local Chinese agency (Beijing would be better), sometimes it works. Most of the time, it doesn’t work.
Your question: What is the Tibet group visa fee?
Our answer: Please check the chart. For all the Americans, we understand your frustration. Heightened fees are a result of new trade policies with the US. (Note: Effective from 2011)
Your question: Can you apply the Tibet group visa in Chinese Embassy (Kathmandu) any day of the week??
Our answer: No! We can apply the visa from Monday to Friday. Visa apply time by 9.00 AM to 2.00 PM and visa collection time by 10.00 AM to 4.00 PM.
Working time table of the Chinese Embassy visa section in Kathmandu:
The visa section of the Embassy opens Monday through Friday. The Embassy accepts the visa application form and distribute visa only in between above mention time.
Your question: If I am traveling from Mainland China to Tibet, what visa shall I obtain and where?
Our answer: If you are traveling from Mainland China to Tibet then you should obtain Chinese Individual visa by yourself in your own country from Chinese Consulates or Embassy. Chinese Individual Visa is valid to travel Tibet if you are entering from Mainland China but it does not valid to travel Tibet from Nepal border.
Your question: When I apply for Chinese Individual Visa in my country, is it necessary to mention traveling Tibet?
Our answer: It is much better and easiest to obtain Chinese Individual Visa without mentioning your trip to Tibet in application form; you can just mention the city of Mainland China that you are visiting before Tibet. If you mentioned Tibet visit while applying Individual visa, then Embassy can ask you many documents related to permit application in Tibet and also it takes longer process for issuing visa, sometimes they may also reject without convincing reason.
Your question: Can we get Nepal visa on arrival or shall we get it from our own country and will it play any important role for getting Tibet group visa?
Our answer: You can obtain Nepal visa (Multiple entry) on arrival as well as from your own country. If you are getting Nepal visa on arrival then you must carry two pp size color photos. This Nepal visa is also important for applying Tibet group visa in Kathmandu so please do not forget to get Nepal visa stamp in your passport (the same passport from which you are traveling to Tibet). We cannot apply / get Tibet group visa without Nepal visa stamp in your passport.