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Cases that Chinese Railway Tickets Can Not be Successfully Collected after Booking Online

Published: May. 19, 2014

Since January 1st, 2012, real-name ticket policy has been applied to all China trains. To further combat scalpers, identity verification policy was implemented on March 1st, 2014. However, this new policy has caused many inconveniences for passengers, especially foreign, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan passengers. Here below are the cases. Some are based on true stories while others are listed to save possible troubles.

Case 1:

A name on passport
In China, the name order is Surname + Given Name while it is Given Name + Surname in many western countries. Once upon a time, we booked railway tickets for one of our customers with Given Name + Surname on official booking system successfully. When our customer went to pick up the tickets at Beijing Railway Station, he got denied as the name order on his passport was Surname + Given Name and the official considered them as two different persons. Although our staff hurried there to explain the different naming habits of two cultural backgrounds and proved they were one person, it did not work. We had no choice but to accept cancellation of the tickets. What's risible was the official did not issue the tickets but cancel and refund them. Since then, we have had to book train tickets with the Surname + Given Name to save troubles.

Opinion: Book China train tickets with complete full name identical to your passport name (the name on your passport should be read from top to bottom and left to right): if it is in the Surname + Given Name order, book with the Surname + Given Name; if there is a middle name, do not omit or abbreviate it.

Case 2:

A Sample of Mainland Travel Permit
There are two names on the Mainland Travel Permit for Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan Residents: English name and name in traditional Chinese characters. As the traditional Chinese characters are not accepted by name column of the booking system, we have booked with customers' English names for a long time and it worked smoothly. Suddenly one day, one of our Hong Kong passengers got denied in Shenzhen when collecting the booked ticket under his English name. Fortunately, theticket was issued after negotiation.

Concerning this, we made several phone calls to custom service of the official booking site for solutions. Here below are the replies:
12306 in Guangzhou: Use Chinese name and it is the rule.
12306 in Beijing: Use Chinese name. If traditional Chinese characters are not accepted, replace them with similar characters.
12306 in Shanghai: Use Chinese name. Replace unaccepted traditional Chinese characters with their Pinyin.

Opinion: These solutions go against the identity verification policy, because the replacements cannot be found on the Travel Permit at all. They just increase the risk of being denied. We still think using English names is safer. At least, they are presented on the Travel Permit.

Case 3:
Names including a hyphen or an apostrophe cannot be recognized by the booking system.

Opinion: Omit the hyphen or apostrophe. It works on our experience.

Case 4:
The name column on booking system only accepts 30 characters at most. But there are names longer than 30 characters.

Type in as many characters as you can. We have done it this way and it worked smoothly.

  • Questions & Answers on China Tourism News
    Asked by KOH from SINGAPORE | Mar. 03, 2019 01:13Reply
    Booking train tickets online for others
    I have 2 relatives from Australia joining me in Singapore later in April to travel to China. We intend to travel part of our journey in China using high speed train. Without their physical passports with me, can I go ahead to book our train tickets in advance from Singapore.
    Answers (3)
    Answered by Hank from GERMANY | Mar. 03, 2019 18:04

    It is okay if you have their name information of the passports and it doesn't matter whether you have physical passports or not.
    Answered by KOH from SINGAPORE | Mar. 03, 2019 19:05

    Thank you Hank, how will the train tickets be issued to me?
    Answered by Hank from GERMANY | Mar. 04, 2019 18:17

    Hi, there are two ways and you can choose any of them.

    For self-collected ticket, it will be issued online and you will receive the pickup No. by email. With this pickup No. and the passport used for booking, you can collect the tickets at any of the railway stations in Mainland China before departure.

    For delivery tickets, the tickets can be delivered to your appointed address in China.
    Asked by Yoninna from SAMOA WESTERN | Jan. 23, 2019 05:12Reply
    Passport Name
    Hi, my passport name is Surname: MATAIA TAMASESE, and Given Name: YONINNA SERA VAI

    when I book ticket yesterday, I cant filling my name is because its too long according to the length limit. So I put only my full surname and my real name, not my middle name, which is: MATAIA TAMASESE YONINNA.

    Do you think that my ticket will get successfully on China Train Station without my middle name? (*Middle Name: SERA VAI)
    Answers (3)
    Answered by David from UNITED KINGDOM | Jan. 23, 2019 16:57

    Hi, it is hard to say and you may cannot pass through some large railway stations. It is suggested to use the complete name to book tickets. If you booked it on TravelChinaGuide, you can send your copy or photo of passport to them. Hope helpful.
    Answered by Yonina from SAMOA WESTERN | Jan. 23, 2019 17:38

    Hi, thanks for the respond...well, I did tried the exact name from my passport, but it doesn't success, how is it possible if my full name is not put on their ticket system?
    Answered by David from UNITED KINGDOM | Jan. 24, 2019 16:49

    Well, it you cannot contact the staff service, you can fill your name as follow: MATAIA TAMASESE SERA VAI, just omit YONINNA.
    Asked by Alicia from MALAYSIA | Dec. 04, 2018 19:14Reply
    My name
    My name shown on my passport is : Alicia Tok Qui Xin. TOK is my surname, ALICIA is my first name and QUI XIN is my middle name.
    So how do I key in my names in the booking system on TCG?
    Answers (3)
    Answered by Anne from UNITED KINGDOM | Dec. 05, 2018 21:45

    Hi, you can type Alicia Tok in surname and Qui Xin in given name. You can also provide your photo of passport to make sure they receive a right name.
    Answered by Alicia from MALAYSIA | Dec. 05, 2018 22:06

    Thanks Anna. But is it okay if I were to put ALICIA TOK as my surname?
    Answered by Anne from UNITED KINGDOM | Dec. 06, 2018 18:46

    There is no problem but you'd better give them a photo of your passport.
    Asked by Suma from INDIA | Sep. 20, 2018 20:19Reply
    I do not have a surname in my passport and the online system mandates to enter the surname
    I do not have a surname in my passport and the online system mandates to enter the surname. Can I enter 'NIL' as my surname in the column? Would there be a problem if I do so while picking the tickets?
    Answers (1)
    Answered by Anna from UNITED KINGDOM | Sep. 20, 2018 23:00

    Hi, if you don't have a surname, you can fill in your name twice and then send a copy or photo of your passport to the bookingtravelchinaguide.com.
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