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Aliens' Travel Permit

Last Update: July 16, 2019

High up in the mighty Himalayas, on the highest plateau in the world, lies the region of China known as Tibet. Once the center of a mighty empire, Tibet is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia, with hundreds of ancient monasteries and temples, a unique culture and religion, and some of the most stunning landscapes in the world.

Unlike many countries around the world, travel to Tibet cannot be done as an individual tourist, and all tourists to the Tibet Autonomous Region are required to make their tour bookings through a recognized Tibet tour operator. We are one of the oldest tour operators offering organized tours of Tibet, and with our decades of experience, we have a unique insight into tourism in the region, and can make your tour the best you have ever experienced.

One of the requirements of traveling to Tibet is the permits that you need in order to get into and around the region. Apart from the Tibet Travel Permit, which is required to board the train or plane and travel in the area of Lhasa, there are other permits that are required for different areas of Tibet, and the Alien’s Travel Permit is one of the most important of them all.

What Is the Aliens' Travel Permit?

The Aliens' Travel Permit, issued by the Tibetan Local Public Security Bureau, is also known as the PSB Permit. Compared with the Tibet Travel Permit (also known as the Tibet Entry Permit), the Aliens' Travel Permit is not a must for entering Tibet, but a must for foreign travelers to visit the “unopened areas” in Tibet, like Shigatse, Nyingchi, and some other areas outside Lhasa city. It is easily applied for in Lhasa and Shigatse, so tourists can apply for the Aliens' Travel Permit after entering Tibet.

Alien's Travel PermitAlien's Travel Permit is a required permit

The Alien’s Travel Permit is not applied for by you personally. Instead, it is applied for on your behalf by the tour guide, using your original passport and Tibet Travel Permit. Once in Lhasa (or Shigatse if you prefer), your tour guide will visit the local office of the Public Security Bureau (PSB) to obtain the permit on your behalf.

If you are not traveling to the areas of Tibet that require the permit, which restricts you only to the area of Lhasa, then obtaining the permit is not necessary.

Regions and Main Attractions that Required Aliens' Travel Permit

Lhasa is the only area of Tibet that does not require the Alien’s Travel Permit in order to visit it, despite traveling through Nagqu Prefecture on the train journey to Tibet. Since you are not permitted to disembark on the train to Lhasa, the permit is not yet needed.

Tibet Map of Areas required Aliens' Travel PermitTibet Map with main attractions that required Aliens' Travel Permit to visit

The Alien’s Travel Permit is required for traveling to Ngari Prefecture, for attractions such as Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar, and Shigatse Prefecture, so that you can visit Mount Everest, Rongbuk Monastery, Sakya Monastery, and Pelkor Chode Monastery, with its unique Kumbum stupa. The Samye and Trandruk Temples in Shannan Prefecture also require the Alien’s Travel Permit to visit them, as does Basum Tso Lake and Bomi in Nyingchi Prefecture, especially for the Peach Blossom Festival in April.

While the Alien’s Travel Permit is also required for Nagqu Prefecture and Qamdo Prefecture, there are few attractions that tours visit in those areas of Tibet, though if you do wish to visit, you will definitely need the permit.

How to Apply for the Aliens' Travel Permit

Compared with the Tibet Travel Permit (the entry permit), it is quite easy to apply for the Alien’s Travel Permit after your arrival in Lhasa.

Applications for Alien’s Travel Permit cannot be made in person, and must be done by the representative of your tour operator, as with all permits for Tibet. You will complete and sign the application form our guide will supply you with, before giving your passport and Tibet Travel Permit to the guide, who will make the application at the PSB office.

It normally takes around 1-2 hours to process the permit applications, and the permit should be ready to be collected by your guide by the time you have finished touring Lhasa’s sights, such as the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, and Drepung and Sera Monasteries. Once you have the permit, you can travel outside Lhasa, and on to the other destinations of your Tibet tour, which you cannot do without the Alien’s Travel Permit. Permits are often checked at the various road checkpoints around the region, and failing to have one of the required permits could cause serious problems.

The Alien’s Travel Permit is normally applied for on most tours whilst in Lhasa, as most tours spend the first few days in Lhasa touring the amazing sights of this stunning capital city. However, it can be applied for in Shigatse, once you arrive there, and before you travel to any other part of the Prefecture, or visit any of the sights. The process will still only take around 1-2 hours, but this could be a boring time for you waiting in the car, so getting it in Lhasa is an advantage.

Other Required Travel Permits for a Tibet Tour

The Alien’s Travel Permit is not the only permit that is required for traveling to and around Tibet, and the other permits are just as necessary for traveling to certain parts of the region that are strictly controlled.

Tibet Travel Permit

The Tibet Travel Permit is the primary permit for travel into and around Tibet, and is the most important permit of all, since you cannot even book the flight or train to Tibet without it. It is also needed to board the trains or flights, and will be required to be checked at any time whilst in Tibet.

Tibet Travel PermitTibet Travel Permit

The Tibet Travel Permit allows you to travel into Tibet, as well as travel in the area of Lhasa, including the city itself, and even to Lake Namtso, which is in Damxung County of Lhasa Prefecture.

Applying for the Tibet Travel Permit, which is issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau in Lhasa, is done by the tour operator, and we require your passport and visa photocopy if you are entering Tibet from China, and your passport photocopy if you are entering from Nepal. The processing time is around 15-20 days, so it is best to make your booking early so we can guarantee your permit is ready when you arrive in China or Nepal to take your tour.

Chinese Visa

For those entering the region from China, a Chinese Entry Visa is required, which must be obtained by you from the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in your home or resident country. China does not have a Visa On Arrival or E-visa service, and all visas are issued by their embassies around the world.

If you plan to enter Tibet from Nepal, you need to apply for a Group Visa from the Chinese Embassy at Kathmandu upon your arrival in Kathmandu. It is suggested to arrive in Kathmandu at least 5 days before your departure.

Military Area Entry Permit

The Military Areas Permit is required for visitors to certain “sensitive” areas of Tibet that are under military control. The areas included in requiring the Military Areas Permit are:

Ngari - All areas, including Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar
Nyingchi - All areas including Basum Tso, Bomi, and Nyingchi City
Chamdo - All areas including Chamdo, Riwoche, and Zogong

The Military Areas Permit is applied for by your guide once you arrive in Lhasa, and it takes only 1-2 working days to process. The permit is issued by the Military Affairs Office in Lhasa, and cannot be applied for without having a pre-booked tour. If applied for as soon as you arrive, then it should be ready for your guide to collect before you are finished with your tour of the Tibetan capital.

For certain areas, such as the eastern areas of Tibet, as well as Tholing and Tsaparang in western Tibet, the Foreign Affairs Permit is also needed, and in some cases, a permit from the Cultural Antiquities Department, which can take up to 15 days to process. If you are traveling into Tibet overland via Nyingchi, or expecting to travel to the far reaches of western Tibet (excluding Mount Kailash), then your applications need to be made at least 20 days in advance of your tour starting.

Frontier Pass

The Frontier Pass, sometimes known as the Border Permit, is also required for travel to areas of western Tibet that lie close to the border with Nepal. This is issued by the Foreign Affairs Office in Lhasa, and must be applied for at least 15 days in advance of your tour, as it takes 1-2 weeks to process.

The Frontier Permit is required for those visiting the areas of Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar, Mount Everest, and those crossing the border into Nepal at the end of their tour. Tourists are not permitted to exit the region without the Frontier Permit.

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