When crossing a border into Mainland China, whether by a land crossing (e.g. Hong Kong), or sea crossing (e.g. from Taiwan) or air crossing (e.g. any international airport), you will need to follow the standard border formalities—immigration and customs.

For Customs:

China’s customs rules abide by global norms, while tending to be less strict than those for EU states, USA, Australia etc. Nevertheless, you still need to familiarise yourself with and abide by their rules. You may find a rundown of these rules by checking Google (we advise this just in case the information we provide becomes out-of-date due to new regulations. This link provides fairly comprehensive guidance on what you may/may not bring to China:

It goes without saying that illegal drugs, and anything else that you wouldn’t cross a border with in your home country, shouldn’t be brought into China.

Occasionally we are asked if you might have problems for importing certain media/book items into China. Generally, you are permitted to import media/book items for personal consumption that are considered legal globally—obviously anything that is illegal in your country will probably be illegal in China.

*In the past we have been asked whether it is okay to bring: religious books (e.g. Bibles), political books (e.g. Western authors writing about China) etc. Generally these items are fine as long as they are clearly for personal use and not for dissemination in China. There may be certain items that could be confiscated on arrival—these would be any extremely sensitive item, such as writings by the Dalai Lama or Liu Xiaobo, or books about outlawed movements, e.g Falun Gong. Airports tend to be liberal about these policies, the only border we are aware of in China that is strict is the one between Nepal and Chinese Tibet—Lonely Planet guides that depict Taiwan as a non-Chinese territory in their map, and anything mentioning the Dalai Lama have been know to be confiscated upon arrival. Likewise, at the border between North Korea and China, iPads that have anti-North Korean items, such as the film ‘The Interview’, are sometimes confiscated. The borders which our participants usually enter China through tend to be more liberal about these policies.

For Immigration:

You will be expected to fill in a short form on arrival (see below). It should be very straightforward to fill in. The only point to remember here is that the tick-box section for ‘purpose of visit’ should be in accordance with the visa type you are using.

We have advised all participants to process F visas which are for cultural exchange, internships, and short non-tourist visits. If you have an F visa, then on the form please tick ‘Visit访问’.

If you are on any other type of visa, then please tick the appropriate box:


  • Tourist (L visa) should tick ’Sightseeing/in leisure/参观/休闲’
  • Any type of study visa (X) should tick ‘Study/学习’
  • only those on work visas should tick ‘Employment/就业’, our projects are usually short-term, non-remunerated, non-work, cultural exchange projects so the majority of participants will not have processed a work visa. Most people should not, therefore, tick ‘Employment/就业’

*For more information, refer to articles on Google such as this:

Categories ○ Pre-departure questions - important information for people preparing to join us in China!