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Tibet Travel Permit

Permit Updates: According to the latest policy from April, 2014, it has become EASY to get the Tibet permit approved after the same-nationality and group-size restriction been removed. However, make sure to send us the required documents 2 weeks before the tour, otherwise, the government will simply not accpet the permit application due to late booking

Tibet is one of the most dreamed travel destinations for all the global travelers; it has lots of special charms in its great culture and beautiful nature. Yet, like many other tourist destinations, Tibet has its special travel rules too, the most distinctive one is you have to enter Tibet by a travel permit issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau and to tour in Tibet under a tour package including at least an escorted tour guide; that is to say, when you travel in Tibet, your tour operator who is responsible for issuing you the travel permit will also arrange you a tour guide to escort you after your arrival in Lhasa until you leave Tibet. However, this does not mean your tour guide will be around you 24 hours around, he or she will only escorts you when you are visiting a particular tourist attraction, you are on your own at non-sightseeing time.

At this part, you will have a detailed understanding about what is the Tibet Travel Permit and how to get it; also you will find some useful information about some nice tourist attractions in and outside of Lhasa.

A. Introduction to Tibet travel permit.

Due to various reasons, Tibet is not fully open to tourists; even Chinese tourists have to apply for some kind of special permit if they want to travel to some restricted areas. As to the non-Chinese tourists, including tourists from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as well as overseas Chinese, they must obtain in hand a Tibet Travel Permit (generally known as Tibet visa, but not a visa in fact) from the Tibet Tourism Bureau firstly, the copy of permit is the only certificate for you to get on board of train or flight heading to Lhasa, otherwise you are unable to get onboard.

However, the Tibet Tourism Bureau does not issue this permit directly to the tourists; you have to refer to your Tibet tour operator whom you book tour with, and which is the only channel. When you book a tour with your tour operator, the minimum package should include a permit (compulsory) and a tour guide (compulsory), but often tour operator provides accommodation and tourist vehicle too as part of package because Tibet is so large and tourist sites are generally far from each other.

B. How to obtain the permit from your tour operator.

To obtain the permit from your Tibet tour operator, you have to send them by email or fax a clear copy of valid passport and Chinese visa. Make sure the category of your Chinese visa is "L" which means tourist visa. At the same time, your occupation is also required because journalist and politicians have to refer to other channels which could be more complicated to get the permit.

You have to send the above required documents at least 15 days in advance of your tour departure day as the permit application and approval costs at least 4 or 5 working days. After obtaining the permit, your tour operator has to also deliver the permit to the address you appoint; and generally this address is the hotel you will stay at the entering city to Lhasa. On the other hand, if you plan to take train into Lhasa, the tour operator has only to email you the electronic copy of permit, you are kindly required to print it out and bring it along with you until your arrival in Lhasa, because the officers at train station or on the train will check that permit.

C. Categories of permits.

There are three kinds of essential permits in a Tibet tour, namely Tibet Tourism Bureau Permit (TTB, known as Tibet entry permit), Aliens' Travel Permit (ATP) and Tibet Military Permit (TMP).

Generally speaking, a TTB (Tibet Tourism Bureau) permit is the most basic permit you have to obtain if you want to travel to Tibet. To enter Tibet, you must get on board of flight or train heading to Tibet by showing this permit to the officers at airport or train station; otherwise you are not allowed to get onboard. That not only accounts for why TTB permit is the most basic and important, but also why it is called the Tibet Entry Permit.

Aliens' Travel Permit (ATP) is only required when you travel to some restricted areas like Mt. Everest, Syaka, Tsedang, Nagri and etc. This permit can only be obtained after your arrival in Tibet, for example, if you want to travel to Mt. Everest, after arriving in Lhasa with Tibet Entry Permit, you have to also obtain Aliens' Travel Permit in Shigatse(the second largest city in Tibet after Lhasa )with the help of your tour guide.

Tibet Military Permit is required if you plan to travel to some military sensitive places, such as Nyingchi, Nagri and some places bordering to other countries. Most of time, tourists do not have to obtain this permit unless they plan to travel to those remote areas.

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