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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 modified on Aug. 13, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on How to Refund / Cancel a China Train Ticket
Asked by Volha from BELARUS | Aug. 13, 2019 17:33Reply
hard seat instead of hard sleeper
Hi, if i want to change from hard sleeper to hard seat on the same day in the same direction but for a later time, will i be charged any fee?
Answers (1)
Answered by Lindsey from LITHUANIA | Aug. 13, 2019 19:44

If for downgrade, there is no extra fee to pay. However, the station will charge some fee from the price difference refund.
Asked by I renewed yong from UNITED KINGDOM | Jul. 23, 2019 03:14Reply
When should I buy the train tickets.
I am taking the train from the 13th September onwards.
Answers (1)
Answered by Eden from FRANCE | Jul. 23, 2019 20:49

Maybe at early August, tickets release for sale on the 30th day before travel date.
Asked by Samantha from AUSTRALIA | Jun. 28, 2019 20:37Reply
Missed train; can we get refund?
We missed our train from HK to Shenzhen. Is there ant way of getting a refund?
Answers (1)
Answered by Mr. labarca | Jun. 29, 2019 01:25

oh, it is so pity! You could not get any refund if you missed it.
Asked by avner bergner from ISRAEL | Jun. 26, 2019 14:33Reply
I have to collect train ticket at the station (train from Beijing to Shanghai).
How long before do I have to be at the station?
Answers (1)
Answered by Prince | Jun. 28, 2019 04:00

If for early morning train like at 6 or 7am, maybe 1 hour would be OK. If during other time, it would be better to be there around 1.5 hours.
Asked by Elane Zhang from SINGAPORE | May. 31, 2019 21:11Reply
my flight is delayed
Hi, My flight is delayed in Singapore so I might be late to catch my train in Chengdu tonight. Can I request to collect my ticket fast at ticket station. If not, I won’t be able to catch the train. I would like to seek your advice please
Answers (1)
Answered by TravelChinaGuide | Jun. 01, 2019 00:11

Thanks for contacting us. Can we have your Tracking No. so that we could check your order for you. We are sorry you could only collect the ticket at the railway station. If you could not catch your train, you could also try to change it to later ones at the station.
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