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Your Guide to China>> China Overview >> Railway

How to order a ticket for a foreigner

Real-Name Train Ticket Policy

The real-name train ticket policy has been applicable to high speed and CRH trains (C, G, D prefixed trains) since June, 2011. From January 1, 2012, this policy applies to all trains in China. From then on, passengers should buy train tickets and get on trains with the presentation of their own valid ID certificates.

Valid ID certificates that can be shown to buy a 'real-name train ticket' mainly include:
  • Chinese citizen ID card,
  • passport,
  • Permit of Inland Entry and Exit for Hong Kong and Macau Residents,
  • Permit of Mainland land Entry and Exit for Taiwan Residents,
  • Home-return Permit,
  • Permit for Mainland Residents to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan,
  • Residence Permit for Foreigners,
  • Aliens' Exit-Entry Permit,
  • Diplomat Certificate,
  • Consulate Certificate,
  • Seafarer Certificate,
  • Passport Loss Certificate issued by exit-entry office of local public security bureau, etc.
First four certificates are applicable for online reservation.

One valid ID certificate is allowed to buy one ticket on the same date and in the same train, except for tickets of children with accompanying adults. If you are abroad, you can ask your friends in China help you process the ticket booking by presenting the original or a copy of your passport, and also his/her own ID certificate.

The real-name policy is implemented not only in buying train tickets, but also in the check-in system. The pilot project is taken into action in Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, Guangzhou, Chengdu and their subordinates, totaling 50 stations. The passenger's name and the number of ID certificate will be printed on the ticket. Passengers should hold the train tickets with their own ID certificates, get a checkup and then pass the security and check-in in those stations.

Where to buy a train ticket?

  1. Online Travel Agency: China train tickets are not easy to buy during the peak seasons like the Golden Week (October 1 - 7) and Spring Festival. It is advisable for tourists from other countries to purchase train tickets via a reliable travel agency.
  2. Online Booking with China Railway Customer Service Center: Passengers can book train tickets online with China Railway Customer Service Center ( From the beginning of 2012, tickets of all trains are available online. While booking, it is valid to present one鈥檚 passport, mainland travel permit for Macau / Hong Kong / Taiwan residents or Chinese citizen ID card, however the website only has Chinese version and only offers online reservation service to its registered users, for tickets in 1-10 days usually (1-12 days in advance for 2012 Spring Festival Rush). Payment online are applicable for bank card of the Bank of China, China Merchants Bank, Agricultural Bank of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and bank cards stipulated by China UnionPay. The users should open up the e-currency payment service.
  3. Telephone booking is available in several cities but only for local citizens (95105105 for Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Wuhan, Nanchang, Taiyuan, Shenyang, Zhengzhou, Lanzhou, Jinan and their subordinate stations, 96006 for Chengdu and 96688 for Xian).
  4. Railway Station: At these ticket windows of railway stations, passengers could purchase train tickets on the spot or a few days in advance. In these popular cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Xian, the ticket windows at railway stations are opened 24 hours round the clock.
  5. Ticket Office: Generally, passengers could purchase train tickets 3~10 days (20 days for Z and D trains) ahead of travel time at these tickets offices distributed throughout a city. An additional service charge of CNY5 per ticket should be paid.
  6. Travel Agency: It is often more convenient to obtain your tickets through a reliable travel agency or at the Reception Desk of your hotel. While this is both convenient and can save time, relevant service charge is required, maybe more if the tickets are delivered to you.
1. The number of days of pre-sale tickets may be adjusted temporarily during the rush Chinese holidays or festivals, such as Chinese New Year, National Holiday and summer vacation. To avoid disappointment, it is suggested that you book tickets through an agency as early as possible.
2. Children between 1.2M and 1.5M are ticketed at a half price while those under 1.2M are admitted for free. Please note that children are asked to be accompanied by adults on the train.
3. If you don鈥檛 travel in Chinese holidays, big Chinese event days, or other special days, you always could find a way to get your train ticket under your plan or missing your plan one or two days later if you are not specific on hot trains. Just a reminder, always book your train ticket as soon as you get to China, that will make your life easier

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