The summer holiday has passed, but unfortunately, two years and a half after the first Covid-19 outbreak, we are still not able to report the good news that you will be able to travel to China again without quarantine measures, regular testing and administrative hassles. In this article we have prepared the latest update. For updated information, we advise you to check the official websites.
The timing of China’s re-opening to the world for regular travel is still difficult to predict. The Chinese government is keeping up the zero-tolerance strategy to try to beat the virus. As one of the last countries sticking to a zero-Covid strategy, China aims to stamp out every infection with strict (regional) lockdowns and by sending all cases to secure facilities. Social stability remains the highest priority in China before the National Congress, which is set to happen in October-November 2022.
Travel visa to China can be obtained, but only under specific circumstances. As from 29 June 2022, the Embassy of China in Belgium adopts new testing and ‘HDC’ (Health Declaration Certificate) code application requirements for China-bound foreign passengers (please note: if you are a passenger with the Chinese nationality, different rules apply). All non-Chinese passengers taking a direct flight from Belgium to China or are traveling from Belgium via a third country, must take double RT-PCR tests and apply for a HDC code from the Chinese Embassy before departing from Belgium. Check out the following link for more details: http://be.china-embassy.gov.cn/eng/sghd/202206/t20220630_10712819.htm.
Here are some other tips and suggestions for traveling to China from Belgium:
- Latest updates on flights: https://www.hainanairlines.com/BE/GB/Home; Hainan airlines’ European hotline 800-876-89999 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Link to upload information to receive a health code: https://hrhk.cs.mfa.gov.cn/H5/login.
- The Belgian Embassy and consulates in China regularly publish updates about the Covid-situation in China. Please check https://china.diplomatie.belgium.be/nl (Dutch) or https://china.diplomatie.belgium.be/fr (French) for more details.
- Notice on adjusting the procedure and material requirement for applying for a Chinese Visa: http://be.china-embassy.gov.cn/eng/sghd/202206/t20220617_10705733.htm
- Choose a reliable lab to deliver PCR test results, following Chinese requirements. Here are some examples in Belgium: Minervastraat 7 in Zaventem, Ecocare at Zaventem airport, Dr. Glorieux in Ronse, Synlab (in Charleroi and other locations), Van Poucke in Kortrijk, Medilab in Ghent.
- Quarantine information and tips:
- Upon arrival in China (typically Xi’an), seven days of quarantine at a centralized facility, such as a hotel (from 14 to 21 days previously), plus three additional days at home or at your final destination.
- Within China, close contacts of confirmed Covid cases need to spend seven days in centralized quarantine, followed by three days of health monitoring at home.
- You cannot choose your hotel and individuals need to quarantine separately (small children can stay with their father or mother).
- Best to prepare a local means for payment (WeChat, Alipay) – about 500 RMB per night.
- Often you cannot order food from outside. Make sure to take some extra food.
- Upon arrival at final destination, register with local police.
- Other useful information sources to get help on Visa and residence or working permits:
- Global Emergency Call Center for Consular Protection and Services of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Tel: 0086-10-12308/0086-10-59913991
- Consular protection telephone of the Chinese Embassy in Belgium: 0032-27632006
- Chinese Embassy in Belgium Health Code Consultation Email: email@example.com
- WeChat groups are an amazing tool, but they can be overwhelming and contain misinformation. A reliable WeChat group is the group named ‘Belgium – China’. Nevertheless, always make sure to double check with the airline, the embassy and the testing laboratory yourself.
Once you’ve finished your quarantine in China and have your QR code turned green, keep in mind that cities can suddenly be placed under full or partial lockdown in case infections are detected. Persons present in an affected city (or in quarantine) run the risk that their stay (or quarantine) will be extended indefinitely. Therefore, we recommend that you inform yourself about the situation in the city or region you are going to.
Finally, to end on a positive note, for travellers from China to Belgium there are no more COVID-related restrictions or conditions (PCR, vaccination certificate, Passenger Location Form are no longer required)! Just remember, there is no meal serving on the airplane, it’s recommended to bring your own snacks.
Please contact the Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce (BCECC) in case you need more information.