Travel Guide to Washington DC for Chinese Citizens

Travel Guide to Washington DC for Chinese Citizens

Although Washington DC is a long way from China, approximately 6,940 miles from Beijing, Chinese travelers make up the biggest overseas tourist market for the capital of the United States. 

Approximately 300, 000 Chinese citizens visited Washington DC for tourism in 2015, roughly 1 in 9 of all travelers from China to the US in that year. 

Part of the attraction of Washington DC for Chinese tourists is undoubtedly the attention to detail given to visitors from China in the capital, through the Welcome China DC initiative for local tourism business owners. 

This program allows local businesses to learn about the best marketing, sales and service practices to welcome Chinese visitors, with online education resources including guides to basic Chinese phrases and gift giving protocols. 

As a result of the initiative, many restaurants now offer menus in Mandarin, and hotels have implemented a number of measures including providing slippers and Chinese tea to arrivals from China, to ensure a warm, homely welcome. 

Travelers planning a group trip to Washington DC from China who want to take advantage of this hospitality can reference this travel guide to see exactly what is needed to travel to the US capital

What Do Chinese Citizens Need to Visit Washington DC?

All People’s Republic of China passport holders are required to obtain both a US visa and and register with the US EVUS (Electronic Visa Update System) before they can travel to the United States and enjoy a stay in the city of Washington. 

While Chinese citizens are required to apply for a visa from a US embassy or consulate in China prior to departing for Washington DC by attending a formal interview in person, it is possible to enroll for EVUS exclusively online. 

B1/B2 US Visa for Washington DC from China

The type of US visa that Chinese citizens will need to visit Washington will depend on the purpose of their travel to the United States: 

  • A B1 visa is issued for business purposes such as attending a meeting or conference, negotiating contracts, or hiring staff
  • A B2 visa is issued for tourism and leisure stays, and also allows the holder to receive medical treatment, or engage in amatuer sporting or music events.
  • A B1/B2 US visa is issued when the reason for the trip combines both business and pleasure. 

The duration of stay permitted in Washington with an approved US visa for Chinese citizens depends on the purpose of the travel, with the standard period permitted usually 6 months. However, in some cases, it may permit a consecutive stay of up to 1 year. 

All US tourist visas for Chinese citizens are multiple entry visas which allow multiple entries to the United States for tourism during their validity, which can range from one to ten years depending on the traveler's needs. 

EVUS Enrollment for Chinese Nationals Traveling to Washington DC

As China is one of the EVUS countries for the United States, all Chinese travelers are required to both obtain a valid B1/B2  visa and register with the Electronic Visa Update System before they can visit Washington DC. 

Introduced in 2016, EVUS was created to simplify entry into the United States for Chinese citizens.  To register, they merely have to complete the simple online EVUS application form with the details of a valid Chinese passport, and must also input the red visa number found on an approved B1/B2 visa

All travelers from China with a US visa are required to enroll with EVUS, even if they are only transiting through a Washington airport on the way to an onward destination. It should be noted that an approved EVUS is attached to a specific B1/B2 visa, and cannot be transferred to a new visa.  

Chinese travelers to Washington can complete an EVUS application as soon as they know their travel dates to the US, but are advised to enroll at least 72 hours before the trip to allow for enough processing time for the visa update.

Arriving by Air in Washington DC from China

There are 3 major airports which serve the capital of the United States and its surrounding area: 

  • Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)
  • Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA)
  • Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)

Most travelers coming to Washington from China are likely to arrive at Dulles Airport. The city centre can easily be reached from the airport by taking a 15-minute Silver Line Express Bus to the Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station. From here, it’s just a 45-minute metro ride into the heart of the capital.

When arriving at an airport in Washington, Chinese nationals should be aware that there are certain items that must be declared at customs in order to avoid any delays in entering the US. These include food products, items bought in duty-free shops, and all monetary instruments including cash and traveler's checks. 

How Much Money Can Chinese Travelers Bring to DC?

Chinese passport holders are permitted to bring up to $10,000 in undeclared monetary instruments with them when traveling to Washington, or the equivalent in foreign currency.

Monetary instruments are defined as any US or foreign coins or bills currently in circulation, as well as any money orders, travler’s checks, stocks, or other negotiable instruments. 

Any Chinese travelers to Washington carrying more than this amount are required to indicate this on an US Customs declaration form when clearing immigration, as not doing so can result in fines and other penalties. 

What to See When Visiting Washington DC from China

The first stop on any Chinese visitor’s itinerary to the capital of the United States should be the Washington DC Welcome Center, where they can pick up a tourist map and receive tips and advice about which attractions to prioritize from helpful locals. 

This information center also has a vast gift shop offering a range of DC-themed memorabilia, souvenirs, and branded T-shirts perfect to take back to friends and family in China.

After getting orientated at the Welcome Center, the biggest Washington attractions that most Chinese visitors prefer to visit include: 

  • The White House
  • The Capitol Building
  • The Washington Monument
  • The Lincoln Memorial
  • The International Spy Museum
  • The Smithsonian Institution, which includes the National Air and Space Museum, and the National Museum of Natural History. 

Chinese tourists in DC may also be interested in visiting Washington’s Chinatown. Although even smaller than the modest Chinatown in Chicago, it’s where many Chinese businesses in DC are located. The Friendship Archway, a traditional Chinese gate, is also a great photo opportunity. 

Those who don’t feel confident enough to explore the city on their own can easily locate a Chinese tour guide in Washington. Guided tours of DC are also commonly organised by Chinese travel agencies who specialize in group travel  to Washington. 

People’s Republic of China Embassy in Washington

There are 5 consulates of the People’s Republic of China scattered across the United States, but only one Chinese Embassy, in Washington DC: 

Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the USA

3505 International Pl NW, Washington, DC, 20008, United States

Telephone: +1 202-495-2266 Email: chinaembpress_us@mfa.gov.cn

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