What is Tibet Travel Permit

According to national laws, in view of Tibet’s special ethnic traditions, cultural relics and ecological environment protection needs, and also because of Tibet’s traffic conditions, tourist service facilities and reception capacity, the government stipulates that non-Chinese citizenship holders, that is, foreign tourists, must handle the “Tibet Travel Permit” issued by the Tibet Autonomous region Tourism Bureau before entering Tibet. At the same time, it is also stipulated that foreign journalists and diplomats cannot enter Tibet as tourists. Self-travel is not allowed during your stay in Tibet, regardless of the number of guests, group tour must be organized and planned. 

About Tibet Travel Permit

Firstly, a Tibet Travel Permit (TTP) is NOT a visa or any other kind of stamp that goes in your passport. It is a completely separate document that is issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau. It has two pages: the first page is the “permit” page and lists the name of the registered travel agency that is responsible for the organized tour as well as the dates and planned itinerary(place names within the Tibet Autonomous Region); the second page lists the names, passport numbers, nationality, age, and profession of each group member.

Without a Tibet Travel Permit, you cannot enter Tibet. You will not even be permitted to board a flight or a train to Lhasa. Foreign travelers must have the original permit in their possession; a copy is not permitted. Furthermore, it is highly likely that the smallest mistake on the permit will result in being prohibited to board your flight/train or to enter Tibet. This document and it’s accuracy are very important.

Who Needs a Tibet Travel Permit?

The Tibet Travel Permit refers to non-Chinese citizens, non-Chinese passport holders, and non-Chinese identity card holders need to handle Tibet Entry Permit to enter Tibet.

1. Non-Chinese Identity Card Holder-Tourists from Taiwan, China

2. Non-Chinese Passport Holder-Foreign Passport Holder

3. Non-Chinese Citizen-Foreign Tourists

Please note: Overseas Chinese who do not have a Chinese passport also need to apply for a Tibet Travel Permit. Besides, it has now abolished the requirement that people from Hong Kong and Macao regions must provide Tibet Travel Permit for entering Tibet for tourism. Visitors from Hong Kong and Macao are allowed to travel to Tibet on their own with the Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative region passports and Home Return Permit or Mainland Travel Permit for Hong Kong and Macau Residents. 

The Brief Procedure of Applying for Tibet Travel Permit

A. Preparing Necessary Documents

1. Passport and Visa(Suitable for the foreign guests who come to China for Tourism)

2. Passport, Residence Permit and Work Certificate(Suitable for the foreign guests who work in China)

B. You cannot process a TTP on your own. A registered travel agency in Tibet must be hired to process your Tibet Travel Permit for you. The law in Tibet(TAR only) requires foreigners to book a tour with a registered Tibet travel agency and to have a guide accompany them for the duration of their time in Tibet. After you purchase a tour package or agree on an itinerary with your chosen Tibet travel agency, they need two items from you to process your TTP: a scanned copy of your passport and a scanned copy of your Chinese visa.

C. After Tibet Travel Permit is issued, the permit will be sent to the tourists according to the Itinerary. For the tour group to Tibet by train, the copy of TTP is permitted to buy ticket and get on the train; For the tour group to Tibet by air, only the original TTP(not a copy) is permitted to board a flight to enter Tibet.

Please Note: 

1. Visitors to Lhasa, Shigatse and Namtso Scenic Area only need a Tibet Travel Permit.

2. Travel to Nyingchi, Everest and other scenic spots, in addition to Tibet Travel Permit, but also need to apply for Alien’s travel permits.

3. Travel to Bome, Shannan, Ngari and other closed areas, military approval document is needed, processing time will take about half a month, so go to these places, please confirm the team more than 20 days in advance.

4. The law in Tibet(TAR only) requires foreigners to book a tour with a registered Tibet travel agency and to have a guide accompany them for the duration of their time in Tibet. Therefore, no foreign guests groups are allowed to travel by themselves.

5. If you hold a tourist visa to apply for Tibet Travel Permit, you only need to provide scanned passport and visa. If you hold a work visa, visit visa, or study visa, you need to issue a work certificate or certificate letter when you provide the passport and visa.

6. After entering Tibet, TTP will be handed over to the tour guide. After the tour, the travel agency will return the Tibet Travel Permit to the tourism bureau for filing. Any TTP will not be allowed to leave Tibet.

7. Chinese embassies and consulates cannot process Tibet Travel Permits.  Only the Tibet Tourism Bureau has the authority to issue a TTP, and the application must be made on your behalf by a registered travel agency.

8. The Tibet Tourism Bureau does not charge anything to issue the permit. Any cost associated with processing the TTP is charged by the travel agency that you hire, and is usually just included in your tour price. 

9. Foreign tourists can enter Tibet with their Tibet Travel Permit from any city within mainland China that offers a flight and/or train. This includes cities such as Beijing, ShanghaiChengdu, Xian, Xining, Kunming, Kanding, Xiahe and Shangari-la, etc. The only international flight to Tibet is from Kathmandu. 

How Long Does it Take to Handle A Tibet Travel Permit?

Generally speaking, 20-30 days after the required documents are handed, the Tibet Travel Permit can be completed, the specific time depends on the low season and the peak season. This means that travel to Tibet must be planned in advance by booking a tour with a registered travel agency ahead of time so they can obtain your TTP for you. Then they must get the original permit(not a copy) to you before you board your flight to Tibet.