If passengers cannot travel on the train as designated on the ticket, rebooking must be completed the trains departs. You may rebook either at ticket counters or, for those who have booked online, via the Internet (provided more than 2 hours remain before departure). CRH passengers who have missed their train may also rebook onto another train on the same day following departure. Group travellers must rebook 48 hours before departure.
For personal tickets, both the ticket and the matching ID document (originals only) must be presented when registering transfers (transfer tickets only), at ticket pickup, when registering ticket losses, or when refunding tickets. The station has the right to check tickets and IDs. Ensure that your name and ID are the same on your ticket as that on your official ID document.
Please note that different rules may apply if you change your destination instead of time of travel.
Detailed information about rebooking your trip:
- You can only rebook once. You cannot change it twice. Thankfully, the one-time rebook is provided free of charge.
- Paper tickets: You can rebook at any railway station in China that offers networking ticketing (which is the vast majority of stations).
- Internet e-tickets (PRC citizens of the mainland with valid ID cards only): You are allowed to rebook (once only, as well) on the Internet, at the 12306.cn website. A ticket that has been rebooked online cannot be rebooked at the counter a second time.
- Regular rail passengers: You are only allowed to rebook before your train departs.
- High speed railway (CRH) passengers: You are allowed to rebook even after your train departs, as long as you are leaving on the same day (in general).
- For regular rail passengers who can prove that they have “special circumstances”, you are allowed to rebook up to 2 hours after departure. See the Station Master on Duty for more.
- Also see the Station Master on Duty if you missed your train that you bought via Internet (only if you have not changed it for a paper ticket).
Here is how you rebook:
- First, a note: DO NOT go to the regular authorised ticket agents outside of railway stations. They will redirect you back to the stations.
- At the railway station, look for the Rebook (改签) counter. Sometimes it may be “lumped” together with Transfer Registration (中转签证) or the Refund (退票) counter.
- Present ticket staff with your original ticket and the same document of identity you used to purchase the ticket in the first place.
- Tell staff the train you wish to change to. They will need the train number, time of departure, and your destination, as well as your class of travel. In general, you will be assigned random seating, although if you know exactly what seat you want (and if that seat is free), you may choose your own seat (and your selected carriage).
- You are allowed to either upgrade to a higher class or transfer down to a lower class. Any surcharges or refunds must be paid in cash or with the same credit or debit card you used to buy the original ticket with in the first place.
- Confirm and double-check your ticket. Make sure details are correct — ideally best before they print out the ticket!
- Your rebooked (new) ticket will bear the characters 始发改签 which means “ticket rebooked at destination” (or “ticket rebooked” respectively). The same characters will appear regardless where the ticket change was completed.
- Important: You will not be allowed to refund your ticket if it bears the added inscription 开车后改签不予退票 (rebooked after departure, no refunds possible), except for very exceptional circumstances. In that case, see the Station Master on Duty (值班主任) at the station. This rule does not apply if the ticket was rebooked following a printing or information error which is the fault of the railways.
- On the Internet, follow all links or button that say 改签 (rebook) and apply for a change with the same details you need in real life. Select your date and time of departure, choose your train, verify or change your class of travel, and finally, confirm the ticket change online.