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How to Change a China Train Ticket

In general, a China train ticket can be changed once at any railway station in Mainland China, either it is a paper one or an electronic one booked on the official website of China Railway Corporation, 12306.cn. An e-ticket can also be changed on that official website over 30 minutes prior to departure. No document should be shown unless changing an e-ticket at the railway station, which requires the passenger’s ID certificate and ticket booking number. The earlier you make the change, the more choices you will have. 

Where can I change my China train ticket? 

In most cases, a China train ticket can be changed at any railway station in Mainland China, either it is a paper one or an electronic one. Usually, there are a few counters designated for the change at the station. However, when the train leaves, one can only handle it at the departure railway station of that train. 

Chinese Phrases Used at Railway Stations

China Train Ticket Change Counter
Designated Counter for Ticket Change
An e-ticket booked through 12306.cn can also be changed on that website at least 30 minutes prior to departure. If it is less than 30 minutes prior, it needs to be changed at the railway station. Online bookings of some popular trains also need to be changed at railway stations.

What documents are required for China train ticket change?

No document is required, unless changing an e-ticket at the railway station. In that case, your original ID certificate used for booking and the ticket booking number are required. If you ask someone else to handle it on your behalf, the railway staff may also ask for that person’s original ID certificate. A paper ticket will be given after the change.

What items on a China train ticket can be changed?

Allowed Change Items Before Departure After Departure
>48 hours ≤48 hours
Seat Class
Departure city
Departure station
Arrival city
Arrival station
Earlier date
Earlier time
Later date
Later time
1. The seat or sleeper can also be changed onboard if there is one available. The extra service fee of CNY 5 will be charged by the railway staff.
2. The group and joint ticket cannot be changed to others with different arrival cities, even if it is over 48 hours prior.

How much do I need to pay for the ticket change?

 Price of the changed ticket higher than the original one: price difference
 Price of the changed ticket the same with the original one: none
 Price of the changed ticket lower than the original one: service fee; the price difference will be returned to you

China Train Ticket Change Service Fee by China Railway Corporation

Changing time before departure Change fee by China Railway Corporation
15 days - 48 hours 5% of the price difference, at least CNY2
48 hours - 24 hours 10% of the price difference
Within 24 hours 20% of the price difference

If you book through an agency and ask the agency to handle the change issues, they will usually charge an extra amount of service fee. 

How to pay & get the return

If the original ticket is paid by cash, the price difference will be charged or returned by cash. 

If the original one is paid by bank card or online payment tool:
1. Changed ticket fare is higher than the original one: one should pay full fare of the changed ticket through that same bank card or online payment tool and the fare of the original ticket will be
returned to the original payment account;
2. Changed ticket fare is lower than the original one: the price difference minus service fee will be returned to your original payment account

If the original ticket is bought from an agency, then you’d better ask the agency to handle the change for you, as the price difference will be returned to or charged through their bankcard, either it is an e-ticket or a paper one.

What to do if you miss your train? 

You can change to a later train on the same day and the same route. Your original paper ticket is required for this change. If tickets on the same day and same route have been sold out, the missed train tickets cannot be changed or refunded and you need to take the loss on your own.

The change rules and procedures are the same as mentioned above. 
 Note: The above policies are only applied to domestic routes within Mainland China. They are not applied to international trains and those to/from Hong Kong.

 Further Reading:
How to Refund China Train Tickets

What to Do if You Lost Your China Train Tickets

- Last modified on Apr. 16, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on How to Change a China Train Ticket
Asked by Elaine from USA | Apr. 15, 2019 14:06Reply
Using a ticket for a different train
If I miss the 3PM buillet train from Guangzhou south railway to HK, can I use the same ticket for the 5PM train?
Answers (1)
Answered by Warren | Apr. 16, 2019 02:28

No, it is a pity that for this trip to Hk, if you miss the booked one, the ticket is useless, you cannot change to other ride.
Asked by mm from SINGAPORE | Dec. 06, 2018 23:50Reply
board in different station
hi, just want to know, if i buy a train ticket, but depart not from the original city (because i have change the plan) and want to board in the city enroute /within my train ticket , can i do that? just skip 1st stop

Answers (4)
Answered by Audrey | Dec. 07, 2018 01:22

Yes, fine. YOu can board from the stopover stations. However, you need to make sure you have the paper ticket in hand before the departure time of original city. By the way, please make sure it did have a stop at the station you want to board.
Answered by Mm from SINGAPORE | Dec. 07, 2018 05:25

Yes, it does stop at the city i want to board, it's just not the starting city... And when i put the ticket at the machine for enter the platform, there will be no rejection, right?
Answered by Belinda | Dec. 07, 2018 21:57

If the stops of your train is A-B-C-D, you have ticket from B to D, then you could take the train on C, but not A.
Answered by mimi from SINGAPORE | Dec. 10, 2018 01:13

yes , that's exactly what i mean... thanks a lot for all the answers, i will continue my plan now
Asked by James from HONG KONG | Sep. 26, 2018 00:59Reply
can a ticket bought and issued in Hong Kong be changed in China?
example: original round trip was bought in Hong Kong at Kowloon West Station, paid in HK Dollars, for round trip Hong Kong to Changsha on G80, returning on G99 several days later.
after arrival in Changsha, can the return ticket be changed to another train (G79) departing several hours earlier?
Answers (1)
Answered by Kim | Sep. 27, 2018 03:11

If you bought it at West Kowloon Station in Cash, not credit card, you can change the one from Changsha to HK in a station in mainland
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