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China Travel

Cornell China Center (Beijing)

The University's China ffice in Beijing can provide advice and limited services for members of the Cornell community traveling to China on University business. The office also has individual workspace available with basic office amenities and rooms to host meetings. Please email us for more details.

Passports and Visa Photos

Members of the Cornell community traveling for business or personal reasons are encouraged to take advantage of Cornell's preferred visa services vendor, Travel Document Systems (TDS), which gives Cornell travelers a 25% discount off its standard processing fees. First time users will need to create an account on the "new order" page on the TDS website. Payment is due at the time of application. We recommend using the TDS online visa photo option: upload a selfie and pay $12, and TDS will provide a correctly formatted China visa photo (no printing necessary when applying for a China visa thereafter with TDS).

Technology Issues in China

Accessing and using technology when in China can be challenging and risky. Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, and many of Cornell’s cloud-based services are not accessible from internet networks in China. Cornell recommends that individuals traveling to China use loaner laptops and mobile devices, and leave other devices at home. Faculty should utilize Cornell’s High Risk Travel Loaner Program. Never travel to China with a device that contains proprietary, confidential, or controlled information.

Data Protection Abroad

If you decide to bring or access data when traveling, there is no way to fully guarantee protection of data. However, the following steps can mitigate the risks:

  • Cornell recommends that faculty traveling to China use loaner laptops and mobile devices, and leave other devices at home. See the High Risk Travel Program page for more details.
  • Utilize CRADC when working with restricted research data.
  • Work with IT@Cornell to ensure data is adequately protected.

Business Cards

  • Cornell University Business Cards (English to Chinese): Free of charge for Cornell faculty and staff. You will receive a printer-ready file that you can submit to the University's Print Services for printing at your own expense. Please email a scanned (PDF) copy of your English business card to Please allow 7 to 10 business days for turnaround.

Health and Safety

  • Register your Cornell-related travel. For peace of mind and expedited access to critical travel support services, students, staff, and faculty traveling with students must register their travel in the Cornell Travel Registry. We strongly recommend that faculty register their travel as well to enable Cornell to alert and assist you in case of an emergency.
  • The Travel Clinic at Cornell Health provides pre-travel consultation, immunizations, and health information for members of the Cornell community.
  • Cornell provides a general travel planning checklist.

Beijing transportation

  • Beijing has a highly developed public transportation system. Visitors not familiar with the Beijing public transport system may find travelling by taxi a more convenient way of travelling. English is not widely spoken, and it is recommended that you take a written copy of the address in Chinese to show to the taxi driver. You should also note the contact number(s) of the people/organization you are visiting. Most taxi drivers will have a cellphone and can call the contact person for directions if necessary.
  • Taxi fare from the Beijing International Airport to the Cornell China Center (Beijing) can be anywhere between 80-120 RMB depending on traffic conditions. Fares are always paid in RMB cash. Official taxis have meters that should always provide a printed receipt. Beware of taxi drivers who go out of their way to get your attention; they are often unofficial taxis and may overcharge.
  • Beijing is notorious for traffic congestion, particularly during work day rush hours (7am to 9am and 5pm to 7pm). It can be extremely difficult to get a taxi during these hours. Pan sufficient time to cover your intended journey.
  • Depending on where your destination is, for example, a location outside of the down town area, you may find it hard to catch a taxi returning to your hotel. If you are not familiar with your destination location, consult a local for advice.

Cash vs. Cards

  • China is largely a cash-based economy, and for most day-to-day transactions that visitors are likely to encounter (e.g., taxis, restaurants, supermarkets, subway tickets, etc.) payments must be made in Chinese RMB cash. ATMs are often available at hotels, shopping centers and office/business buildings. Hotel front desks may also be able to change money.
  • U.S. credit and debit cards are generally only accepted at high-end international chains of hotels, restaurants, and shops. In general, Visa and Mastercard are more likely to be accepted than American Express; however, even if a vendor accepts Visa and Mastercard payments, it is only possible to be absolutely certain that a particular card will work by trying it out.