Complete Guide to Tibet Travel Permit (2024)

Planning a trip to Tibet? Don’t forget that you need a travel permit! It doesn’t matter whether you start the journey from China or any other country in the world.

Tibet travel permit is a topic that creates confusion for many first-timers. Where to get the permit? How much does it cost? This article will help you understand the whole process.

Quick Overview and Process of Obtaining a Tibet Travel Permit

To obtain a Tibet Travel Permit, also known as a Tibet Entry Permit, you must follow these general steps:

  1. Plan Your Itinerary: Decide where you want to go in Tibet. Note that some areas require additional permits.
  2. Book a Tour: You must book a tour with a registered travel agency as independent travel in Tibet is not allowed for non-Chinese citizens. The travel agency will arrange your itinerary and apply for the necessary permits on your behalf.
  3. Provide Necessary Documents: You will need to provide scanned copies of your passport and Chinese visa to your travel agency. If you are entering Tibet from mainland China, a Chinese tourist visa (L visa) is typically sufficient. If you are planning to travel to Tibet for non-tourist purposes, make sure to obtain the correct visa type.
  4. Apply for the Permit: Your travel agency will submit the application for the Tibet Travel Permit to the Tibet Tourism Bureau. This should be done at least 15 to 20 days before your planned travel date.
  5. Wait for Approval: The permit processing time can vary, but it usually takes about 10 working days. During peak travel seasons, it may take longer.
  6. Receive the Permit: Once approved, the Tibet Travel Permit will be issued to your travel agency, who will then forward it to you. You will need the original permit to board the train or flight to Lhasa, and you may be asked to show it at various checkpoints throughout your journey in Tibet.
  7. Additional Permits: Depending on the areas you plan to visit in Tibet, you may need additional permits such as the Alien’s Travel Permit or the Military Permit. Your travel agency will advise you on this and apply for these permits after your arrival in Tibet.

What is Tibet travel permit?

All international travelers entering Tibet Autonomous Region need a Tibet travel permit. Sometimes people refer to the permit as Tibet Visa.

There is no way around this rule. The authorities will ask to see the permit in all the following situations.

  • Boarding a flight to Tibet from any airport in China or Kathmandu (Nepal)
  • Boarding any train to Tibet in China
  • Entering Tibet in any other overland approach
Tibet Travel Permit

The Tibet Tourism Bureau issues the Tibet travel permit. The A4 size document is around since 1980s. That’s when Tibet opened up to international tourists. The permit allows you to enter Tibet and travel in the Lhasa prefecture. Of course, independent travel isn’t allowed. You need to sort out the need of having a tour guide.

You’ll find personal details on the permit, such as…

  • Full name
  • Nationality
  • Passport number

This permit contains your itinerary in Tibet as well.

Tibet Travel Permit Guide

But wait, there are more permits?

Yes. This may seem a bit confusing at first. Tibet travel permit mostly refers to the Tibet Entry Permit. This is the first and the most important permit you must get.

The Tibet Entry Permit guarantees entry only to Lhasa prefecture. Do you plan on touring any other prefectures? Then you need more permits. Let’s take a closer look at what’s on the table.

Alien Travel Permit

You’ll need this permit to enter any other prefectures besides Lhasa. Say, you want to visit Mount Kailash or Mount Everest Base Camp. These are restricted areas. Hence, you need a further permit.

Aliens' Travel Permit

There’s a crucial difference here. Alien Travel Permits aren’t issued before the tour. Unlike the Tibet Entry Permit, that is. You apply at a local Public Security Bureau (PSB).

For example, you plan to visit Mount Everest Base Camp. In this case, you apply at the PSB located in Shigatse. That’s because Mt Everest lies in Shigatse prefecture. But you don’t have to apply in person. The usual routine sees you waiting in the car while the guide takes care of the documentation.

Generally, obtaining this permit takes a few hours at most. The specific duration depends on the number of applicants and people staffing the bureau.

Tibet Military Permit

This is the third permit. It’s definitely rarer than the others. You need to apply through your Lhasa travel agency before arriving in Tibet.

Tibet Military Permit

The name derives from military-sensitive regions, like Mount Kailash region. Overland trip from Yunnan province, Nyinchi prefecture, and other sensitive regions or itinerary combinations.

Generally, getting this permit takes more than a week. All the paperwork could require a month in total.

Hold on. What about Chinese Visa and Tibet Group Visa?

We have more issues to clear here. People often mention for the need of a Chinese Visa. You need a Chinese visa whenever entering Tibet from somewhere in China. That’s only not the case when you enter and exit via Nepal.

Remember that Tibet is a politically sensitive region. The Chinese Embassy in your country might refuse your application when listing Tibet as your destination. It’s better to add Chengdu or Shanghai instead. People already working and study in China don’t have to worry about the Chinese visa part, of course.

Got it! And the Tibet Group Visa?

The final frontier in our inquiry into travel permits concerns Tibet Group Visa. You need Tibet Group Visa when you enter Tibet from Nepal. It’s essentially the same as the Tibet Travel Permit. The difference is you get this from the Embassy of China in Kathmandu, Nepal. And it doesn’t replace the TTP. Consider the Tibet Group Visa as an additional permit.

Group Visa Invitation Letter

The prerequisite for this is a visa is invitation letter from the Tibet Tourism Bureau. This has to be sent by a Tibetan tour agency. Your tour company in Tibet will help you with all the formalities.

Attention! Already have a Chinese visa and entering Tibet from Nepal? No difference. You still need the permit.

So, how much does all of this cost?

The Tibet Tourism Bureau hands out the permits free of charge. Yet, obtaining these permits requires time and effort from the tour company’s side. The agency’s rep has to submit the application in person. The same goes for picking it up. The process doesn’t work online.

Therefore, you’ll encounter various costs depending on how much the tour company charges for the service. Keep in mind that this isn’t a scam. People put actual work hours into dealing with permits. For keeping things simple, the costs are usually included in the tour’s full price.

Other permits come with fixed fees. However, these fees are subject to changes and depend on your country of origin. Contact us for more details about your personal situation.

The bottom line: what’s the deal with Tibet Travel Permit?

Getting the Tibet Travel Permit is essential for your trip to Tibet. Any international traveler entering Tibet needs this document.

But depending on your itinerary and point of entry, you might need additional permits. We outlined the details in the previous paragraphs.

If you have any questions about Tibet permits, don’t hesitate to contact us!


How can I obtain a Tibet Travel Permit?

To apply for a Tibet Travel Permit, you should provide a scanned copy of your passport and Chinese visa to your Tibet travel agency, along with your planned tour details. It is recommended to submit the permit application at least one month in advance. Once submitted, the agency will typically secure your Tibet Travel Permit around 5-7 days before your trip begins.

How do I receive the Tibet Travel Permit?

The original permit will be delivered to you in the last city you visit before entering Tibet. If you are traveling by train, the permit will be sent to you via email, and you can board the train to Lhasa using the printed copies. Please note that this exception does not apply if you are boarding from Chongqing, Lanzhou, or Xi’an, where the original permit is required.

What is the cost to apply for a

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