Tibet Travel Permit

Tibet Travel Permit

1. What is a Tibet Travel Permit?


Firstly, a Tibet Travel Permit (TTP) is NOT a visa or any other kind of stamp that goes in your passport. It is a completely separate document that is issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau. It has two pages: the first page is the “permit” page and lists the name of the registered travel agency that is responsible for the organized tour as well as the dates and planned itinerary (place names within the TAR); the second page lists the names, passport numbers, nationality, age, and profession of each group member.


Without a Tibet Travel Permit, you cannot enter Tibet. You will not even be permitted to board a flight or a train to Lhasa. Foreign travelers must have the original permit in their possession; a copy is not permitted. Furthermore, it is highly likely that the smallest mistake on the permit will result in being prohibited to board your flight/train or to enter Tibet. This document and it’s accuracy are very important.


2. Who needs a Tibet Travel Permit?

With the exception of Hong Kong and Macau citizens, all foreigner travelers are required to process a TTP to enter Tibet. Diplomats, journalists, and certain professional media photographers are not permitted to enter on a TTP and must apply through the diplomatic channels of their respective countries, or media company they represent.

3. How do I process a Tibet Travel Permit?


The first step to processing a TTP is to obtain a Chinese tourist visa. You cannot process a TTP on your own. A registered travel agency in Tibet must be hired to process your Tibet Travel Permit for you. Why? The law in Tibet (TAR only) requires foreigners to book a tour with a registered Tibet travel agency and to have a guide accompany them for the duration of their time in Tibet. After you purchase a tour package or agree on an itinerary with your chosen Tibet travel agency, they need two items from you to process your TTP: 1. a scanned copy of your passport and, 2. a scanned copy of your Chinese visa.


Be aware that travel agencies in Tibet are prohibited by law from mailing the completed permit overseas, and do so at risk of losing their license. They are only permitted to mail the permit to a domestic address in China. Therefore Tibet travel agencies work with partner agencies in other Chinese cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, etc. to deliver the permit to travelers at their hotels before boarding their flight/train to Lhasa.


Chinese embassies and consulates cannot process Tibet Travel Permits*.  Unbelievably, they have no authority to do so. Only the Tibet Tourism Bureau has the authority to issue a TTP, and the application must be made on your behalf by a registered travel agency.


*ENTERING TIBET FROM KATHMANDU. The one exception to this is for travelers who are entering Tibet from Kathmandu, Nepal. In this case a GROUP VISA needs to be applied for through the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu. For such visitors entering from Kathmandu, the group visa consists of one piece of paper that lists all travelers’ names. The group must both enter and exit the TAR together and the visit is limited to 15 days. Extensions are generally not permitted.

Chinese visas issued from other places are not valid for travel to China from Kathmandu.

4. How much does a Tibet Travel Permit cost?

The Tibet Tourism Bureau does not charge anything to issue the permit. Any cost associated with processing the TTP is charged by the travel agency that you hire, and is usually just included in your tour price. Such charges are understandable due to the time and hassle required by the agency to send staff in person to both submit the application and return to pick it up. Online submissions are not possible.

5. How long does it take to process a Tibet Travel Permit?

Processing a TTP can take up to two weeks. In theory, it can be completed as quickly as 3-4 days but often takes longer. This means that travel to TAR must be planned in advance by booking a tour with a registered travel agency ahead of time so they can obtain your TTP for you. Then they must get the original permit (not a copy) to you before you board your flight or train to Tibet.

6. From which cities can I enter Tibet with my Tibet Travel Permit?


Foreigners can enter Tibet with their TTP from any city within mainland China that offers a flight and/or train. This includes cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Xian, Xining, Kunming, etc. There are increasing numbers of cities that offer flights to Lhasa, including small county level airports in places like Kangding, Labrang (Xiahe), and Shangri-la.


*The ONLY international flight that operates to Tibet is from Kathmandu. All other flights originate from mainland China.


7. When is a Tibet Travel Permit checked while traveling in Tibet?

Foreign travelers are checked for their TTP at the following times and places:
  • the departure city for Lhasa, Tibet
    • train stations
    • airports
  • the entrance port on arrival in Tibet: Zhangmu, Lhasa, Tuotuohe River (when traveling overland from Xining)
  • each hotel/guesthouse visited in Tibet
  • major Tibet attraction sites (Potala Palace, Everest, etc.)

*Once you arrive in Tibet your guide will assume responsibility for your TTP and use it for checking you into your hotel, purchasing tickets to tourist attractions, and processing the permit when traveling outside of Lhasa.


Remember, a Tibet Travel Permit is only required if you plan to visit the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) where Lhasa and other iconic sites such as Yamdrok Lake and Everest are found. If you are interested in having the most culturally authentic experience possible in Tibet, this will be found in the Kham and Amdo areas outside of the TAR where there are far less tourists. For travel in Kham and Amdo Tibet, nothing more is required than a Chinese visa.


Comments 12

  1. Good day,

    My name is Raisa, from Romania I am interested to visit Tibet.
    Begining of February, with a departure to tibet from Hong kong or Nepal one of thouse location will have to check.
    How long it will take to take the permit to enter in Tibet?

    My best regards,

    1. Post
  2. Hi
    I am in Bangkok and want to go to Tibet. I hope to have my Chinese Visa on Wednesday and can e-mail my scanned passport today and visa on Wednesday.
    Is it possible to get my permit to Tibet on Friday night in Chengdu? Or am I too late?
    I do not know what tour to book yet but I am a budget traveler. But I would like to go outside Lhasa and maybe see the basecamp of Everest.

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  3. We are planning to go to Tibet in May 2019. Is it possible to drive a rental car from China to Lhasa without a TTP, if not, is it possible for a foreigner to travel on their own schedule without hiring a tour agent. How to get a permit if we don’t want to arrange a tour with an agent.

    1. Post

      Unfortunately, it is impossible to travel in the Tibetan Autonomous Region without a permit. We can help you get a permit, if you’d like (email info@extravagantyak.com). Otherwise, there are many areas in Eastern Tibet (Sichuan Province and Qinghai Province) that are open to travelers without a permit. These areas are just as authentically Tibetan (some even more so) than areas within the TAR. Also, feel free to email us with any other questions you may have. Cheers!

  4. I am going to Lhasa from Shangri-La by flight.I will stay there for 3/4 days. Plz let me know the minimum cost for tour with Tibet permit.I have China Visa.

  5. Hello,

    I am Filipino residing in HK (permanent resident) and am planning to visit Tibet on July and will apply china visa on May. How do I apply the Tibet permit and will you be able to mail the Permit to me in HK?

    Thank you.

  6. Hello!
    I want to cycle into Tibet from Chengdu. Is this possible without a group / guide?

    1. Post

      Hi, Gijs, You can’t cycle to Tibet without Tibet Travel permit and Guide. For Foreign travellers, you have to work with a local Tibet Travel agency to get your permit and provide your trip services in TAR area. You will find more information about getting permit to visit the website: http://tibetpedia.com/tibet-travel-faqs/tibet-travel-permit/
      You can’t travel by yourself in TAR area and you have to have a guide which is arranged by a travel agency. You don’t need Tibet permit to travel to the Kham and Amdo Tibetan areas. You only need a Chinese tourist visa to travel to these areas. Tibet Travel Permits (TTP) are required for all travelers wishing to visit the open tourist areas of the Tibetan province (TAR). Your guide will keep the original document with him/her at all times during your travels. Your guide will need to present it along with your passports for inspection in order to pass through airports, train stations, bus stations and roadside checkpoints.
      I can recommend you to contact Tibetpedia’s sponsored company Extravagant yak to get to get more information on cycling to Lhasa Tibet. info@extravagnatyak.com
      Hope it’s helpful

  7. Hi I want to go to tibet from delhi… I plan to go to kathmandu and get the chinese visa and tibet pass from there, will i be able to go to Lhasa using the document i get from the chinnese embassy as well or Would I need the travel agency help as well?
    Also how long would it take to process the Chinese visa? coz i’ll have to wait in nepal for that duration.

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