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Americans interested in visiting the People’s Republic of China now have fewer hoops to jump through in order to apply for a tourist visa.

As of Jan. 1, 2024, applicants for a tourist visa (L-visa) in the U.S. will no longer be required to submit a roundtrip air ticket booking record, proof of hotel reservation, an itinerary, or invitation letter as part of the application process, the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Washington, D.C., announced.

The simplification of the visa application process is intended to further facilitate people-to-people exchanges between China and the U.S.,” the embassy said.

Tour Operators Look Forward to Ease of Visa Restrictions to China

“This is all very good news,” said Laudie Hanou, sr. v.p. of California-based tour operator SITA World Tours, whose destinations include China, Hong Kong and Macau. “The doing away of red tape will markedly simplify the visa application process for the American market, thus increasing vital leisure tourism to the destination, which, as a USTOA tour operator, we are all eagerly anticipating.”

Tourist visa applications for travel to China will continue to be considered on a case-by-case basis, the embassy said. Applications can be submitted online, via the Chinese embassy in Washington, or at one of the nation’s consulates in the U.S., located in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Houston.

Under some circumstances, U.S. citizens also can travel to China without a visa.

The destination allows U.S. citizens who are traveling to a third country or region to remain in China for up to 72 hours visa-free.

Travelers by plane, ship or train must still apply for a preliminary entry permit at the Chinese border to take advantage of visa-free entry, however, and must also have a confirmed flight ticket to a third country departing within 72 hours of arrival in China.

The 72-hour visa-free travel policy is valid for international travelers passing through airports in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Dalian, Guangzhou, Guilin, Chonqing, Chengdu, Kunming, Xian, Xiamen, Wuhan, Harbin, Qingdao and Changsha.