Travelers often worry about collecting train tickets in a different country. However, collecting train tickets in China is not as hard as you may think. You can get your tickets easily in just 3 steps.
Now, let’s find out what to prepare and where to collect ticket(s) before collecting your paper ticket(s). If you don't know how to buy a China train ticket, please read How to Buy a China Train Ticket.
What to Prepare Before Collecting Train Tickets
You only need two things to collect your online booking ticket(s):
- Your corresponding and valid original passport
- Correct collection number(s)
When collecting your tickets at the ticket window, you need to show your original passport corresponding to the ticket booking. Some stations also examine passports during the security check.
No matter which online venue you buy your train tickets from, whether via China Rail or other agencies, you will eventually receive a ticket collection number, which is needed to collect the paper tickets. The collection number is also called an “E-number” because it often begins with an “E” followed by nine numbers, such as E012343210.
- Make sure you input all the passengers’ information correctly when booking your train tickets online, as the station staff won’t give you the ticket(s) if he/she finds any information (such as your name and passport number) that does not match the detailed on the booking.
- Make sure you save the right collection number(s) or you will be rejected to by the station staff when you try to collect the tickets.
Where to Collect Train Tickets in China
There are two ways to collect train tickets:
- Collect the tickets at any train station on the mainland, China
- Collect the tickets at any ticket outlet
When to Collect Online Booking Ticket(s) in China
The stations become crowded during holidays
- You can collect your ticket(s) anytime after getting the collection number(s).
- If it is the first time you are taking a train in China, we recommend you collect your tickets at least 1 day in advance. This will leave you enough time to solve any problems if anything goes wrong.
- If you are familiar with the procedure for collecting tickets, it is okay to collect your tickets on the departure date. Please arrive at the station 30-60 minutes earlier than the departure time depending on how big the station is.
- Collect ticket(s) in advance during peak seasons. Official holidays and students’ holidays are usually the peak seasons for railway stations. There are more people than usual at each train station, so please arrive at the station at least 1.5 – 2 hours earlier to guarantee your journey. (Students’ holidays: January-February, July-early September)
- Ticket windows’ working hours: 24/7 (in some small cities, they may be closed from 11pm to 6am).
Check the Chinese official holiday dates in 2018 by clicking China High-Speed Rail Guide
Now, you have learned everything you need to know before collecting the paper ticket(s) in China, let’s formally learn how to collect your ticket(s) via stations/ticket outlets.
Collecting Tickets at a Train Station
Step 1. Go to the Station in Advance
Which Station Should I Go?
Actually, you can collect your tickets from any train station in the mainland China but, if you have enough time, we recommend you collect them at your departure station. If you collect your tickets at a station in a different city , the station staff will charge you 5 yuan per ticket as a service fee.
Step 2. Find the Right Ticket Window and Queue Up
Ticket windows with various services
Foreigners need to collect their online booking ticket(s) from the ticket windows at the station.
In new and modern stations, the ticket windows are usually located at the main hall (taxi arrival/entrance floor).
In some old station, the ticket windows may be located in an independent ticket hall, which are usually at the side of the main building.
How to Find the Right Ticket Window for Ticket Collection?
Generally, there are many ticket windows in a station with different service types, such as for ticket collection, refund (signed”退票窗口”) and cancellation (signed”改签窗口”). Please make sure that you queue at the right window, or you would waste your time.
There are two ways to find the right windows for collecting ticket(s):
- Find the windows signed “取票窗口”(Ticket collection window) in Chinese.
- Ask the clerks/station security/other passengers directly (Recommend)
If the Chinese symbols are too hard for you to recognize, don’t hesitate to ask for help. We give some translates for you at the bottom of this article.
Step 3. Hand in Your Collection Number and Passport
Send your request to the staff
Please simply hand in your passport and collection number to the staff member, tell him/her your request and get your ticket(s)!
＊ If you booked your tickets with China Train Booking (IOS, GooglePlay, Android), you just need to open the app, click “Voucher” (we’ve already translated everything you need to say on this interface), and you can simply show your smartphone to the staff member without thinking about how to communicate with him/her.
Collect Tickets at a Ticket Outlet
The steps are the same with collecting tickets at a station.
- Advantage: there are many ticket outlets in a city and usually, there aren’t many of people, so you don’t need to wait in queue.
- You need to pay 5 yuan per ticket as a service fee.
- Some outlets’ machines may fail to issue your paper ticket(s) because of some data problems.
Top FAQs About Collecting Tickets in China
Q: Do each of the passenger needs a collection number?
A: No, it depends on the allocation by China Railway. If there are several passengers in your booking, you may share with one collection number or several collection numbers. However, if there is only one passenger in a booking, he/she will only get one collection number.
Q: Can I collect a ticket for my friend? Can I pick up all the tickets for our group at once?
A: If you travel in a group, not every member needs to show up when collecting the tickets. One person from your group can pick up the tickets provided he/she has all your original passports and collection numbers.
(Excuse me, could you tell me which line I should queue in to collect my tickets?)
(Hi, I’ve updated my passport — these are my new and old passports.)
(Hi. Here are my passport(s) and collection number(s); please give me my paper ticket(s).)
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