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Tibet Travel Permit

Tibet travel permit is a necessity for foreign tourists who plan to travel in Tibet Region. According to laws of the People’s Republic of China, foreign travelers need gain a Tibet visa before they enter to Tibet, which mostly is entrusted to deal with. If foreigners would explore the area around Tibet frontier and some unopened places, such as Mt. Kailash and Mt. Everest, they need additional approval by Chinese government. All these services could be attended by Tibet Discovery Tour with high efficiency and sincere serving belief.

This information has been updates on February 27th 2017.

Understanding Tibet permits and visas may seem complicated at first but it is really quite simple. Basically all you need to do is contact Tibet Discovery and we will guide you through the procedure and apply for all documents for you except the Chinese Visa which you get from your local Chinese Embassy. Just book your tour and email us a copy of your Chinese Visa and passport and we will handle the rest. Make arrangements at least 20 days ahead of your tour date so that there is item enough for visa and permit applications. For free consultation about Tibet travel permits and visas contact us at Tibet Discovery. Let me break it down for you:

Visitors can enter Tibet from Nepal or from China and each has slightly different entrance requirements.

REQUIRED PERMITS AND VISAS WHEN ENTERING TIBET FROM CHINA
Tibet is a province of China and a special region with its own entrance requirements. To enter Tibet via mainland China you will need:
• A Valid Passport
• Chinese Visa
• Tibet Travel Permit (TTP)
• Alien’s Travel Permit (ATP) For entrance to some areas of Tibet
• Military Permit For entrance to some areas of Tibet

REQUIRED PERMITS AND VISAS WHEN ENTERING TIBET FROM NEPAL
You can enter Tibet directly from Katmandu, Tibet without going via Mainland China. The permit and visa requirements vary slightly. To enter Tibet from Nepal you will need:
• A Valid Passport
• Tibet Group Visa (the equivalent of a Chinese Visa)
• Tibet Travel Permit (TTP)
• Alien’s Travel Permit (ATP) For entrance to some areas of Tibet
• Military Permit For entrance to some areas of Tibet

CHINESE VISA

A Chinese Visa is only necessary if you will be entering Tibet from mainland China. If you will be entering Tibet from Nepal you will need a Tibet Group Visa instead (more about that below). Apply for a Chinese Visa at your local Chinese Embassy in your home country.

Chinese Visa TIP: The political climate in Tibet is sensitive and so sometimes a visa to China can be denied if you list Tibet or locations within Tibet on your visa application itinerary. It is recommended that you do not list Tibet as one of your destinations on your Chinese Visa application. Instead you can name cities within China (but not within Tibet) where you will be visiting or passing through like Beijing, Shanghai etc.

TIBET TRAVEL PERMIT (TTP)

When entering Tibet from China – Tibet Travel Permits can only be arranged by tour agents and not by private individuals. This is not a “Tibet Visa” but rather a permit granting access to the Tibetan Autonomous Region. In order to arrange for a TTP contact a Chinese tour agency; book your tour and finalize your Tibetan itinerary which is listed in detail on the permit application. Tour agents can only apply for tourist permits for travelers who have booked a tour and intend to travel with the tour company to Tibet. In other words there is no “permit-only” service. Emailed us copies of your Chinese Visa and passport then we can then apply for the TTP on your behalf. The TTP is issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau which requires that all permit applications be submitted at least 20 days before the planned date of travel. If you are traveling into restricted areas within Tibet (see below) then you should allow even more time for your application.

Once the TTP has been issued Tibet Discovery will contact you. If you are traveling to Tibet by train we will send a scan of the permit to your hotel in China or to your email address as you will need to show it when you board the train. If you are flying to Tibet we will send the original permit document to you as you will need the original in order to board a flight to Tibet. Foreign visitors cannot board a flight or train to Tibet without their TTP.

When entering Tibet from Nepal – You will also need a TTP when entering Tibet from Nepal. The procedure is basically the same and you cannot apply for the permit directly but will need to go through a local company like Tibet Discovery. You join a tour to Tibet, provide your tour company with copies of your passport and they will arrange the visa invitation and TTP for you from the Tibet Tourism Bureau. This could take about 5-7 days and you should be in Katmandu about 2 days before your travel date. Your tour company will deliver the permit to your Katmandu hotel.

Exceptions TIP: If you hold a Chinese student or work visa rather than a tourist visa (L) then you will need to include a letter from your company or school in your permit application. Journalists, diplomats, professional media photographers and government officials cannot apply for a TTP via a regular tour agency. Travelers of these professions can only travel to Tibet by arrangement with the Foreign Affairs Department, Economic Development Committee etc.

ALIEN’S TRAVEL PERMIT (ATP)
If you are traveling to/through one of the following restricted areas in Tibet you will need an additional document called an Alien’s Travel Permit:
 Ali Prefecture (Far Western Tibet)
 Basum Tso Lake (Eastern Tibet)
 Chamdo (or Qamdo in Far Eastern Tibet)
 Guge Kingdom (Western Tibet)
 Kyirong (or Gyirong on the Nepal border)
 Mount Kailash
 Mount Everest Base Camp
 Ranwa (site of Ranwa Lake in Eastern Tibet)
 Sakya Monastery (Shigatse Prefecture)
 Shalu Monastery (Shigatse Prefecture)
 Tsochen (Cuòqín)
 Samye Monastery (Dranang, Lhoka Prefecture)

The ATP is issued by the Public Security Bureau in Tibet which is a branch of the local police which deals with foreign visitors. The permit is arranged by your tour operator and can only be applied for once you are in Tibet. Once in Tibet your tour guide will take your passport to the local Public Security Bureau to apply for the ATP on your behalf. Basically this permit is necessary for any travel in Tibet outside of Lhasa.

MILITARY PERMIT
If you will be traveling to/through one of the following politically sensitive areas and border regions of Tibet where territories are in dispute with neighboring countries then you will need a Military Permit:
 Ali Prefecture (Far Western Tibet)
 Guge Kingdom (Western Tibet)
 Kyirong (or Gyirong on Nepal border)
 Lake Manasarovar (South of Mount Kailash in Far Western Tibet)
 Mount Kailash (Western Tibet)
 Tsochen (Cuòqín)
 Nyima County (Nagchu Prefecture)

The Military Permit is issued by the Military Office in Lhasa and can only be applied for by tour operators once you are in Tibet. To apply you will need to provide your passport and TTP.

TIBET GROUP VISA
If traveling to Tibet via Nepal you need a Tibet Group Visa to cross the Nepal/Chinese border. When traveling to Tibet from Nepal it is not a problem to list destinations within Tibet on your application. A Tibet Group Visa is needed when entering Tibet from Napal, regardless of whether you have a Chinese Visa. A Tibet Group Visa is obtained only from the Katmandu Chinese Embassy and is issued to a group traveling together. All members of the group named on a Tibet Group Visa must enter and exit Tibet together. The visa lists all members of your group with their name, gender, nationality, date of birth, occupation, passport number and date of entry and exit from Tibet. A Tibet Group Visa can consist of any number of travelers. A Tibet Group Visa is not attached to your passport but rather issued on a separate piece of paper.

Duration of a Tibet Group Visa – The Tibet Group Visa is usually only valid for the duration of your organized tour although it may be possible to extend the visa for an additional few days if you are remaining in Lhasa only. The Tibet Group Visa can be for up to 30 days but in order to receive this extension you must inform your tour company in advance.

Tibet Group Visas are only issued to travelers holding a visa invitation from the Tibet Tourism Bureau. Once you have booked a tour with us and supplied us with the relevant information we can apply for the visa invitation. Tibet Discovery must know the length of your proposed stay in Tibet in order to include that information in the application for the invitation letter from the Lhasa Tibet Tourism Bureau. The duration of your stay in Tibet must be included in the information on an invitation letter. Tibet Discovery will fill in the entry date and exit date and length of your visit on the application form for the invitation. If the Tibet Tourism Bureau approves your application then an invitation letter will be issued and Tibet Discovery will forward it to our partner agent in Katmandu so that they can apply for the Tibet Group Visa on your behalf.

Our Nepal agent will apply for the Group Visa armed with your original passports and the invitation. Allow for at least two days in Kathmandu to get your Tibet Group Visa issued by the Chinese Consulate in Kathmandu. You cannot apply for Tibet Group Visa independently; you must go through a tour agency.

Two original copies of the Tibet Group Visa are issued at the Katmandu Chinese Consulate. One copy is presented at the Nepal/Chinese boarder on entry and the second copy is presented at the boarder when you exit Tibet and return to Nepal. Note: The Tibet Group Visa is a single entry visa and cannot be extended.

New Restrictions for Tibet Group Visas: As of January 1st 2017 the Chinese Embassy in Katmandu has named 26 countries where nationals wishing to visit Tibet from Nepal must obtain their Chinese Visa or Tibet Group Visa from the Chinese Embassy in their home country. These countries are: 1.Pakistan; 2.Sri Lanka; 3.Bangladesh; 4.Afghanistan; 5.Lebanon; 6.Azerbaijan; 7.Syria; 8.Iran; 9.Iraq; 10.Kazakhstan; 11.Tajikistan; 12.Kyrgyzstan; 13.Turkey; 14.Albania; 15.Usbekistan; 16.Democratic Republic of Congo; 17.Cameroon; 18.Ghana; 19.Kenya; 20.Mali; 21.Libya; 22.South Sudan; 23.Somalia; 24.Nigeria; 25.Chad and 26.Tunisa.

Tibet Group Visa TIP: If you intend entering Tibet from Nepal then don’t get your individual Chinese Visa in your home country before you travel as it will be canceled when you apply for a Tibet Group Visa at the Katmandu Chinese Embassy. The Tibet Group Visa is good for both Tibet and Mainland China for the time period specified on your visa (not more than 30 days). A Chinese Visa issued previously automatically expires when the Tibet Group Visa is issued.

Costs of group visas for different nationalities
Category Working days to obtain visa USA Canadian Romanian Other nationalities
Standard 5 days US$140 US$120 US$80 US$50
Urgent 3 days US$144 US$135 US$95 US$65
Extremely Urgent 1.5 days US$175 US$155 US$115 US$85

Note: The local Nepalese agencies charge a service fee of USD20-50 per person according to the number of people in the group.

USEFUL TIPS FROM TIBET DISCOVERY TOURS
Annual Closure of Tibet TIP: For several months each year there is a freeze on Tibet travel permits; in 2017 there will be no Tibet travel permits issued from February 25th 2017 to March 31st 2017. From 1st April 2017 the service will resume.

Who needs a Tibet Travel Permit TIP: All foreigners; oversees Chinese with no Chinese passport; Tiawan passport holders; Hong Kong citizens and Macau citizens.

When is a Tibet Travel Permit Checked TIP: At the train station; airport; Tibetan borders; hotels in Tibet and when entering Tibetan attractions.

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