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Documents needed to visit Tibet

There are three levels of bureaucracy you need to get through to travel in Tibet: a visa to enter China, a Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB) permit to get into Tibet and an Alien Travel Permit to travel to certain regions of Tibet.

1. Chinese Visa
1) Travel to Tibet through any country except Nepal
Firstly, please be noted that Chinese visa and Tibet permit is two things totally different.

To enter Tibet, or any part of China excepting Hong Kong and Macao (Visitors to Hong Kong, holding passports from the some countries DO NOT need a visa when staying for a specified free period), a valid passport including a standard Chinese entry visa is essential. Such visas are generally obtainable from most Chinese embassies and consulates. The cost of a standard Chinese tourist visa varies from US$12-120 according to the nationality of the applicant and the type of visa required. Individual visas may be issued for single or parties of five and over, for the specific duration of a fixed itinerary (single or double entry). Multiple entry visas are normally issued for business or educational purposes only, ranging in validity from 6 to 12 months, and are more expensive (US$120-250). Normally three working days are required to process an application from the date of its submission, but express services are also available at a premium. It may be best to obtain it before leaving your home country unless you are taking a package tour to enter Tibet overland from Nepal.

The first rule when applying for a visa as an independent traveler is to expect that you will be refused a visa if you mention plans to visit Tibet. There is a trick that when you apply for the Chinese visa, you can't tell the officer that you have the plan for traveling to Tibet; you can only inform them you want to travel to somewhere else of China. Or else the application would become complicated and arduous.

Keep in mind
*When entering China it is best to have a visa covering the expected duration of stay. Getting extensions inside China can involve delays and other difficulties.

*You need to apply for a double- or multiple entry visa when you need to leave and re-enter mainland China. Please note that, even when you leave for Hong Kong or Macao from mainland China, you still need to have a double- or multiple entry visas.

2) Travel to Tibet through Nepal
If you entry Tibet from Kathmandu, Nepal, you are required to obtain a Chinese visa in the consulate of P.R China in Kathmandu, the opening time for the Consulate of P.R China in Kathmandu is only available from 9:30AM-11:00AM on every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please note this visa application is compulsory despite you have already had a Chinese visa in your country or not since this is regulated by the border treaty signed between Nepal and China.

The Chinese visa you get in Kathmandu is a "group visa". A "group visa" is not entered in travelers' passports but is a separate sheet of paper issued in duplicate by the Chinese consulate in Katmandu, listing all members of the group. It usually allows a stay of 15 or 20 days. A "group" may be any number of travelers, and may be just one traveler. One or more travelers entering Tibet together with others may wish to have their own separate group visa so they are able to separate from the others.

We have reliable cooperative agency in Kathmandu, with their help, you can easily get your Chinese visa. The visa application fee is as follows:

Normal: (visa to be delivered in 05 days from the day of visa application) (ex: applying on Monday- get on Friday)
US$ 70.00 including stationeries (photocopies, paper works etc) + service charges (for the citizens except U.S nationals)
US$ 155.00 including stationeries + service charges (for US citizens)
Urgent: (Visa to be delivered in 03 days from the day of Visa application) (ex: applying on Wednesday- get on Friday)
US$ 90.00 including stationeries (photocopies, paper works etc) + service charges (for the citizens except U.S nationals)
US$ 175.00 including stationeries + service charges (for US citizens)
Top Urgent: (Visa to be delivered in a same day i.e.: applying either on Monday, Wednesday or Friday and get on the same day.
US$ 125.00 including stationeries (photocopies, paper works etc) + service charges (for the citizens except U.S nationals) 
US$ 210.00 including stationeries + service charges (for US citizens)
Please note that our partner in Nepal need to get all the relative documents including Visa Application letter from TTB and the original passports to apply visa for Tibet Autonomous Region of China in advance, and all these required documents need to be submitted to the consular section of the embassy before 10:30 hrs only on the Visa working days i.e.: Monday, Wednesday and Fridays...

The required Visa Fees must be paid to our partner in Nepal in CASH by the clients before the day of Visa Application.

3) Get China visa in Hong Kong?
It is usually very easy to apply for a China visa in Hong Kong. You can get a visa yourself at:

Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China
5th Floor, Lower Block
26 Harbor Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Tel: ++852-25851657 OR ++852-25851680 OR ++852-25851794

1) You need to go there Monday to Friday during business hours.
2) 'Fast Process' means: the visa should be processed the same day.

Requirements to obtain a Visa in Hong Kong
A. One recent passport photo.
B. Passport which needs to be valid at least more than 3 months.
C. Call the office before your visit.
D. China Tourist and Business (F) Visa can be obtained easily in Hong Kong. It can be obtained with the help of a travel agent but at least 3 full working days should be allowed for this procedure.

2. Tibet Permit
1) Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB) Permit
Tibet Tourism Bureau (TTB) Permits are necessary for entry to Lhasa or any other part of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, and are obtained through tour operators as part of arrangements for travel; A TTB permit does not obviate the need for an Aliens' Travel Permit for any closed areas that may be visited. But the clients can get them easily from our Lhasa office.

Important Issues about Tibet Travel Permit
1. All kinds of people can get Tibet permit through a travel agency except diplomats, journalists, and government officials who should travel to Tibet under the arrangement by the Foreign Affairs Office of Tibet Government.
2. After having a permit, a travel agency could buy you the air tickets, and you can pass the check-in at the airport and the check point reroute with the permit.
3. Only the guide could hold the permit after you establish yourself on Tibet land. You are not allowed to bring with the TTB permit and travel to anywhere outside of Lhasa city you want because except Lhasa you need another permit named as "Aliens' Permit".
4. Generally it needs three work days to get the Tibet permit if you could supply the full necessary documents. But it needs another 3 days (or more) to Express Deliver the permit.

How to get the Tibet permits?
After you decide to travel with us, we will help you to obtain your Tibet Travel Permits. It will be quite simple for you, just need to send us:

Full name | Gender | Date of birth | Passport number | Nationality | Occupation

Also, we need you copies of passport and Chinese visa.

- All should be exactly the same as on your passport. And you need to tell us your occupation because journalists and people that could be involved in political matters could be revoked (they need more complicated procedure to get a permit).
- Please note that if you do not book any tour from us, we can not help you get the permits. We don’t provide "permit-only" service. A must service includes land cruiser and guide.

2) Aliens' Travel Permits (PSB's)
These are required to visit closed areas - much of the Tibetan Autonomous Region outside the Lhasa prefecture-level district, and scattered counties elsewhere. They are usually only obtainable through tour operators, for tours by four-wheel-drive car.

Permits to visit places that are not declared open are known as Aliens' Travel Permits, or PSB’s. They are issued by the police (Public Security Bureau, "PSB"). A single permit is normally issued to all the people who are traveling together, the permit naming just one of them and stating how many others are accompanying him; the passports, or at least photocopies of passports and visas, of all persons traveling must be presented in order to obtain a permit.

If you want to do an overland tour from Yunnan, Sichuan, Qinghai or Xinjiang province to Tibet, we need your Entry Stamp to China to apply the PSB before your tour starts.

3) Military Permit
Sensitive border areas such as Mt. Kailash and eastern Tibet require a military permit an a foreign-affairs permit. And if you want to do an overland tour from Yunnan, Sichuan or Xinjiang province to Tibet, a military permit is required as well. You need to give us the full information and documents at least 3 weeks prior to your departure.

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