How to get shooting persmissions in China

If you are planing a shooting in China and want some shots of landmarks or just some typical city B-rolls, it is important to know that there are more shooting restrictions in China and it varies a lot according to locations and uses.

For some places, you have to get shooting permissions if you don’t want “surprises” during the shoot. 

For example, a lot of our clients want to get some B-rolls or do photo shooting in Forbidden City. It is for sure that with a tripod/reflector/ a big camera/ black suitcases, you will be stopped filming/taking photos or even cannot enter. Focus Film China knows who to call in this case. However, it takes time and could be expensive. So we often ask our clients: is it really worth going through the procedure for this project? If you just want some “Chinese look” shots, we know other options. If you just want very few beautiful shots of Forbidden City, let’s send our local one-man-band videographers to get some footage. We know where and when it is most likely not to be disturbed during shooting. If you have time/budget and want absolutely to shoot in Forbidden City, let’s call our contact and start the procedure. 

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For some places, it is just impossible to get shooting permissions. 

Some filming crews may never understand why filming on a “normal” street can draw attention of police. The answer varies, but check if it is one of the cases:

  • You have foreign crew members and you are trying to interview people on the street. 

China has very restrict rules for foreign media. You think it’s just a simple interview on the street on a light topic, but if you interact with people on the street and you happen not to have the proper visa for that, you are in big trouble. Also, unfortunately, some Chinese people are very alert when they see foreign faces and cameras. People could call the police even you are not trying to interview them. For further advice, check our blog post “ how to choose a cameraman in China” .


  • The location is too close to government buildings, such as ministry of foreign affairs, state/city governments, police station, etc.

Don’t do B-rolls randomly on the street, especially in Beijing. Make sure that there is no government buildings nearby. The best solution is to let fixers/producers of Focus Film China guide you to do that or order footage from our experienced cameramen.

  • Your shooting date is too close to sensitive dates in China.

Now it comes to the important question: what are the sensitive dates in China? The 4th June is definitely one of them. If you don’t know what happened on that day in China in the history, you can do your research as it’s too long to tell the story here. But if you film in late May/early June in Beijing, near a government building, with a foreign crew member, the chance you got stopped by the police could be really really really high, even you just want some city B-rolls. You are gonna spend a long time with the police. Trust us! 

Want to know other sensitive dates/period in China that you should avoid for your video/film project? Contact us at It is really important to know if you want to shoot in China. 

For some places, you might be surprised that you even need shooting permissions.

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Just want to film B-rolls/interviews inside a campus or a park? Sorry to tell you that it is not as easy as in other countries. Actually, nowadays with COVID restrictions, it is very hard to enter into any campus. If you don’t have a person in the university who assists you with all the papers, don’t even try to enter. 

Filming in places such as airports or subways also demands shooting permissions. The good thing is we have done that before and know who to call. 

Focus Film China has a local and experienced filming crew based in Beijing and we can assist you getting shooting permissions all over China. Our bilingual crew leaders/fixers/producers have good contacts of almost every important landmark site in China. Make sure to contact us in advance, as sometimes it takes time to get shooting permissions in China. If you don’t have much time or budget to get official shooting permissions, our experienced crew leaders/fixers/producers can also help you avoid doing so with our expertise. Want our advice? Contact us at