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How to Refund / Cancel a China Train Ticket

Generally, China train tickets can be refunded at any railway station in Mainland China before departure. A cancellation fee of 0-20% of the ticket fare is charged by China Railway Corporation. The ticket or ticket pickup number, and the ID certificate used for buying it should be shown to the railway staff. If it is an e-ticket booked on 12306.cn, it can also be canceled on that official website of China Railway Corporation and no document is required.

If you book through an agency, you'd better confirm the regulations of the specific agency before booking. Some agencies do not accept cancellation and some agencies may ask extra cancellation fee.

When can I refund my China train ticket? - Before Departure

You are advised to make it before the train leaves; and the earlier, the less you pay the cancellation fee.

There are no refunds after the train leaves. Minor exceptions can be allowed under the approval of the stationmaster within 2 hours after the scheduled departure time.

Where can I refund my China train ticket?

Train Ticket Change and Refund Window
Ticket Change and Refund Window

One can handle it at any railway station in Mainland China. At some big railway stations, there are special counters dealing with refund.
Chinese Phrases Used at Railway Stations

If it is an e-ticket, it can also be cancelled on the official website of China Railway Corporation, 12306.cn. However, there are two cases an e-ticket must be canceled at the railway station:
1. It is less than 30 minutes before departure;
2. Tickets of some popular trains, including those to/from Tibet, can only be refunded at railway stations by passengers themselves with their ID certificates used for booking. The specific train numbers are not published but are displayed during booking.

What documents are required to refund a China train ticket?

Documents are required when canceling a ticket at the railway station. No documents are required when canceling an e-ticket on 12306.cn. 

Ticket Type Refund on Your Own Someone on Your Behalf
Paper Ticket
Original of your ID certificate
Copy or original of your ID certificate, 
Original of that person’s ID certificate
Original of your ID certificate,
Ticket pickup number
Original of your ID certificate,
Ticket pickup number,
Original of that person’s ID certificate

How much do I need to pay for canceling a China train ticket?

The cancellation service fee varies based on when you submit it. Generally, the earlier you cancel it, the less you pay. 

China Train Ticket Cancellation Fee

Cancellation Time before Departure Cancellation fee by China Railway Corporation
More than 15 days None
15 days - 48 hours 5% of the original fare par value, at least CNY2
48 hours - 24 hours 10% of the original fare par value
Within 24 hours 20% of the original fare par value
1. If the departure time is changed from 15 days - 48 hours ahead to over 15 days ahead and then ask for a refund, still 5% of the original fare will be charged as cancellation fee.
2. If the ticket has once been changed and the changed departure date is within Spring Festival Travel Rush, 20% of the original fare will be charged whenever you submit it.

Where does the refund go?

If paid by cash, passengers will get the cash back; if paid by bank account, the money will go back to that account; if paid by online payment tool like Alipay or WeChat, the money will go back to that specific online payment tool. 

Most agencies buy tickets for their customers on the official website, so the refund may go back to the bank account of the agency. If you hold an e-ticket, you’d better ask for a refund from the agency. If you have already had the paper one in hand, you need to refund it at the railway station. The railway staff will then give you a receipt; you can show the receipt to the agency to have your money back.

 Note: The above rules are only applied to tickets of those trains running within Mainland China, but not applied to international trains and those to/from Hong Kong.

 Further Reading: 
How to Change China Train Tickets

What to Do if You Lost Your China Train Tickets

- Last updated on Sep. 26, 2023 -
Questions & Answers on How to Refund / Cancel a China Train Ticket
Asked by Trefor Williams from UK | Sep. 10, 2023 11:07Reply
Return train tickets in advance from Hong Kong to Guangzhou
To obtain a Chinese visa I need to show travel bookings. How can I get a train reservation 2-3 months in advance from Hong Kong to Guangzhou and return? If the visa is not issued can I get a refund? I intend travelling 15 December and staying in Guangzhou for 1 to 2 weeks, but I need to apply for a Chinese visa well in advance.
Answers (1)
Answered by Molly | Sep. 12, 2023 00:15

As I know, you can reserve the tickets easily from this website, TravelChinaGuide, even 2-3 months before departure. And you can get the full refund if the tickets have not been issued. Usually the ticekts can be issued at most 15 days before departure.
Asked by Urs B. from SWITZERLAND | Jul. 07, 2023 00:48Reply
Reservation (for Visa) before purchase
Good morning,
is it possible to get A RESERVATION only ( for visa purposes) before buying the tkt. From HK to Beijing. (So we don't need the refund routine if visa is not granted)

Answers (1)
Answered by Elsa | Jul. 07, 2023 02:10

Yes, the reservation is generally enough.
Asked by Mr.n from THAILAND | Nov. 25, 2019 09:28Reply
Can I cancel the train ticket in this website directly?
Answers (1)
Answered by TravelChinaGuide | Nov. 27, 2019 02:25

Thank you for your inquiry.

To cancel the tickets, please kindly advise us your request by email in advance. We will deal with cancellation after getting your email confirmation. If for emergency, you can call us as well: +(86 29) 8523 6688 Ext 555
Asked by daisy from SINGAPORE | Oct. 17, 2019 16:36Reply
Can i change my ticket to today's date
HI, can I change my ticket instead of traveling tomorrow, 10/19, I will travel today, 10/18?
Answers (1)
Answered by TravelChinaGuide | Oct. 17, 2019 19:13

Thank you for your inquiry.

The ticket can be changed one time after being confirmed. Did you booked tickets with us? If yes, would you please advise us your tracking number, we will check your booking and contact you as soon as possible.
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