Tibet Permit

What is Tibet Permit?

Issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau, Tibet Permit is a two pages A4 size document that authorizes you to enter and travel in Tibet. Tibet permit has been existed since the 1980s when Tibet firstly opened its door to foreign tourists.

There are three kinds of different permits, and the Tibet permit we frequently mention refers to the Tibet Entry Permit. On this permit, your full name, nationality, passport number and itinerary in Tibet are written clearly item by item, all the info will be checked at airport or train station; only all the info on the permit matches that on your passport correctly, can you get onboard of train or flight to Lhasa. So, Tibet Entry Permit is the first permit, also the most important permit you need for your Tibet tour.

Besides the Tibet Entry Permit, the second most common permit is the Alien’s Travel Permit (ATP). This permit is required only if you visit some special restricted areas, such as Mt. Everest, Syaka Monastery, Samye Monastery, Mt. Kailash and etc. This permit will not be issued to you before the tour; it will be issued at local Public Security Bureau which administers the attractions. For example, if you have Mt. Everest on your visit, you can only get the ATP at Public Security Bureau in Shigatse, because Mt. Everest is located in Shigatse, while if you have Samye monastery on your visit, you can only get it at Public Security Bureau in Tsedang, because Samye Monastery is in Tsedang. However, you will not go to apply for ATP by yourself, your guide will help you to get the ATP at Public Security Bureau, you just have to wait for your guide in the vehicle, the process takes about 1 hour and maybe more depends on how many tourists there.

The third permit, Tibet Military Permit, is not required unless you pass some military sensitive areas, such as trekking tours around the border, Mt. Kailash tours and overland tours to Lhasa from Sichuan or Kunming. It takes nearly 2 weeks to get this special permit.

How to apply?

If you enter Lhasa by train or flight from a Chinese city, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Xining and etc., you have to firstly apply for a Chinese (tourist) visa in your own country. And you have to send by email the clearly scan or photo copy of your valid passport and Chinese visa to your Tibet tour operator, note this must be done at least 15 days before the trip; while, if you plan to visit Mt. Kailash, this has to be done at least 25 days beforehand as the military permit really takes longer time.

You have to tell your tour operator your occupation too, because journalist, politician cannot travel to Tibet via tour companies.

While, if you enter Tibet by overland or flight from Kathmandu, Nepal; the Chinese visa and Tibet permit rules are totally different compared with entering from Chinese side, for more detailed info, please refer to our page of Chinese visa from Nepal.

Where to get it?

About 5-7 days before the trip, Tibet (entry) permit will be issued to your Tibet tour operator. Then, your tour operator will send you the permit depending on how you enter Lhasa.

If you fly from a Chinese city (Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and etc), your tour operator will courier the original permit to your booked hotel in Beijing, Shanghai or Chengdu where you take flight to Lhasa. The courier takes at most 3 days; generally, you can get the permit at the reception upon check-in, so please tell your tour operator the right name and address including phone number of the hotel you book. The permit will be checked at the airport before you get your boarding pass to Lhasa. You have to give the original permit to your guide who will pick you up at the airport in Lhasa.

If you take train into Lhasa from a Chinese city, your tour operator will just send the scan copy of permit by email to you. You just need to print it out, either in color or black and white, a printout of permit is sufficient for you for a train ride to Lhasa. The printed permit will be checked before boarding, after boarding and even when get out of Lhasa train station. You have to give the printed permit to your guide who will pick you up at train station in Lhasa.

If you enter by overland or flight from Kathmandu to Tibet, your Tibet tour operator does not have to send you permit by courier or email. Your tour guide from the company will pick you up at Gyirong Port or at airport in Lhasa with the original permit. For more details, please refer to our page of Chinese visa from Nepal.

When to get it?

For a normal Tibet tour, including tours to Mt. Everest, permit application must be carried out 15 days before the trip starts. The permit application checking and approval takes about 9 days. So, it’s about 6 days before the trip the permit can be issued to your Tibet tour operator. The Tibet Tourism Bureau does not accept early-bird application, like 20 or 30 days before the trip, so it’s impossible for you to get your permit very early.


Rough timetable to get your Tibet permit depends on your entry to Lhasa
Day 1 Submit permit application to the Tibet Tourism Bureau
Day 2-7 Permit application check & approval by different governmental departments
Day 8-9 Obtain permit from the Tibet Tourism Bureau & send the permit by email to those who take train into Lhasa; print the permit out (get it)
Day 10-12 Courier the original permit to a hotel in China for those who take flight into Lhasa; claim the permit at the hotel reception (get it)
Day 13-15 Take flight to Lhasa with original permit


To conclude, it will be about 3 days before the trip you can get the original permit if you take flight into Lhasa; while, it will be about 5 days before the trip you can get the permit sent to you by email if you take train into Lhasa.