China to remove travel restrictions and reopen borders in January 2023

In brief

On 27 December 2022, China announced further relaxations of its COVID-19 controls and the reopening of its borders in 2023. Effective 8 January 2023, pre-departure HDC-code applications and post-arrival centralized quarantine will no longer be required.


Key takeaways 

The Comprehensive Team for Joint Prevention and Control Mechanisms for COVID-19 under the State Council of the People's Republic of China ("Comprehensive Team") announced on 26 December 2022 the easing of restrictions on international travel into and out of China. A day later, the Comprehensive Team and National Immigration Administration of China (NIA) further announced a series of new immigration measures that will take effect from 8 January 2023, including the following: 

  • Travelers will only be required to perform one nucleic acid test within 48 hours before their flight. Those who test negative may board their China-bound flights. The HDC-code application requirement will be removed.
  • Post-arrival mandatory nucleic acid test and centralized quarantine requirements will be removed.
  • International flight bans and seat limitations will be scrapped.
  • Port visa applications and 24/72/144-hour visa-free transit policy will resume.
  • Issuance of ordinary passports and business/travel endorsements to Hong Kong and Macau for PRC nationals will resume. 

These new measures are set to further ease international travel and lead to the full re-opening of borders in 2023. It is expected that the normal visa policies that were in effect prior to COVID-19, including issuance of tourist visas; issuance of multiple-entry business/tourist/short-term family visit visas; and 15-day visa-free stays for citizens of Singapore, Brunei and Japan and so on will also resume soon. Companies and individuals should closely follow up with relevant government authorities and Chinese embassies and consulates on applicable visa requirements prior to making their travel plans. 


Zora Mao is an associate in FenXun Partners. FenXun established a Joint Operation Office with Baker McKenzie in China as Baker McKenzie FenXun, which was approved by the Shanghai Justice Bureau in 2015.

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