Following the relaxing of pandemic-related travel restrictions, including quarantine requirements for inbound travellers, British and Chinese airlines are resuming their regular services to China for the first time in over two years.
The British Chamber looks forward to increased business engagement in 2023 as a result of these changes – read on to find out more about the latest flights available, entry policies and visa requirements.
Flights between the UK and China increasing
British Airways (BA) and Virgin Atlantic have both announced that they will reinstate their daily flights to China – BA’s flight Shanghai-bound flight will depart from Heathrow on 23 April, while Beijing-bound flights will begin from 3 June, operating four flights a week.
Virgin Atlantic will also resume flights to Shanghai, with the first flight leaving on 1 May. Several Chinese airlines are also operating direct flights to China, including Air China (to Beijing), China Southern (to Guangzhou), and China Eastern (to Shanghai).
There are of course many other flight routes to China involving transfer via Europe, Hong Kong, or other destinations – if taking a non-direct route, please note pandemic/visa requirements in the transit country as well.
Click here to read more about the new flights (in English), or visit airlines’ websites directly for full ticketing information.
Entry requirements to China
As of 8 January 2023, all travellers to China need a negative PCR test to enter the country – this should be done within 48 hours of your flight TO CHINA – please note these timings if you are transiting through a third country. Tests are available at major UK airports including Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester and Edinburgh airports, or you can search for a local provider. Companies such as Randox have multiple locations across the UK providing PCR tests for travel – click here to read the full list of Randox testing locations.
This test result will be checked upon your departure from the UK, and a physical printout is recommended. You will also be asked to fill in a Health Declaration Form from China Customs on arrival in China – a QR code will be available to scan and complete this form upon arrival.
Please note all children over 2 years old also require a negative PCR test result.
Entry requirements to the UK
If you are travelling to the UK from China, you are also required to take a pre-departure Covid test (as of 5 January 2023) for anyone aged 12 and over. Please note the test result must include ENGLISH translation – please check in advance with your local hospitals to find one which can provide testing in English.
The test can be either printed or in the form of an email or text message – to read the full list of requirements, please click here to visit the UK government website.
Getting a Chinese visa as a UK national
Applications for business visas, work visas and other visa types are open, although tourist visas remain unavailable for the time being.
The UK has Chinese visa centres in London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Belfast. After making an online application, applicants will be required to attend the visa centre in person and have their fingerprints collected (excepting children 13 and under, and adults 70 and over).
To find out more about Chinese visa requirements and to apply directly, click here to see the latest announcement from the Chinese Embassy in the UK (updated on 8 January 2023).
Getting a visa for the United Kingdom as a Chinese national
The visa type you need will depend on the purpose and length of your stay – the UK government has a tool on their website for you to check the visa type you need to apply for. There are 15 UK visa centres in China; please note you will need to apply online and confirm your appointment before attending in person.
Click here to find out more about how to get a UK visa – guidance available in Chinese once you select which visa you are applying for. To find out where your nearest UK visa centre is and what you need to bring, please click here.
Please note that this article is up-to-date as of its publication on 6 February 2023. Travel requirements may change at any moment – we recommend you follow the links provided in this article to the UK government websites and Chinese Embassy in the UK for the most up-to-date information.
If you or your business are facing any issues with flights, visas or entry requirements, please let us know at: