Home / Embassy / Visa /

How to Apply for a China Visa

To apply for a China visa, you need to complete an application form attached with your recently-taken color photo, prepare a valid passport, and submit them along with other supporting documents to China Visa Application Service Center, Chinese embassy or consulate which is in charge of your residence area. Check the step-by-step guide on how to apply for a China visa below for details.

How to apply for China visa

1. Check whether you need a visa

An essential thing to do is to check whether you need a visa before starting the following process. As long as you are eligible for China's visa-free policies, you don't need the visa, but some documents like your passport, in and out transportation tickets and sometimes sufficient funds still need to be prepared for immigration check.

2. Check which visa you need to get

Based on your travel purpose, determine which visa you are going to get. Read China Visa Types to select one which suits you most. For tourists, the L visa is suitable.

3. Prepare all documents needed

Documents required for all types of visa include passport and visa application form attached with a recently-taken photo. Besides, other supporting documents are required, but they vary according to the visa type you are applying for. For instance, if you apply for a tourist L visa, the supporting documents will refer to round-trip tickets, hotel bookings or an invitation letter from your China travel agency. See detailed China Visa Application Requirements.

Be sure your documents meet the requirements of Chinese embassy or consulate.

Passport: with a remaining validity of at least 6 months; have blank visa pages.

Visa Application Form: truthfully completed online, printed out and signed. Click to fill out China Visa Application Form.

Photo: taken within latest six months; full face against a light background; size: 48mm x 33mm; bare-headed unless for religious causes.

4. Make an appointment & submit the application

Make an appointment with the Chinese embassy, consulate or Chinese Visa Application Center (CVASC) which serves your residence area and lodge the submission at the scheduled time.  Prior appointment may not be mandatory in some embassies or consulates. Click to make an appointment for China visa application submission.

In most cases, applicants, especially those aged 14-70, need to show up in person. In a few cases, one can entrust someone else or an agent to do this. In a few consular offices and CVASCs, mail service is also available.

The normal processing time is four working days including the day you submit the application and the day you collect. Remember there might be additional non-working days for Chinese public holidays. By paying an additional fee you can usually have your application processed faster. It is normally possible to have your application processed overnight, for collection in the following afternoon, though some offices might offer a same-day service if you arrive in the office soon after opening. In general try to apply for it well in advance to allow for any delay.

5. Pay the fee and pick up your visa

Go to the place where you apply for China visa on the date appointed at the pick-up slip. Pay the fee and you will get your passport back with visa. Sometimes, one may need to pay the fee on the day of application submission.  See China Visa Fees.

Best time to apply for a China visa

The best time to apply for China visa is one or two months before your departure date. Usually, a China visa is valid for only three months from the date of issue, which indicates that the earliest time you can apply is three months before your departure.

Usually you cannot renew and extend China visa once you are granted, but it can be done when you are in China at the local Exit and Entry Administration under the Public Security Bureau.

Sometimes you may need to get China visa while you are en route or residing in a third country. Things may get different for such cases. A proof of legal stay in the country where you apply for a China visa is usually additionally needed unless you enjoy visa-free access to the third country.

Further Reading: How to Apply a China Visa in Hong Kong

- Last updated on Jun. 17, 2024 by Brenda Lian -
Questions & Answers on How to Apply for a China Visa
Asked by Sau Lee from USA | Jun. 16, 2024 22:24Reply
Birth certificate?
My husband and I do not have birth certificates from Hong Kong or China. We are US citizens, lived in the US since elementary school age, first time applying for the Chinese tourist visa. What documents do we need besides a valid passport? How can we make an appointment to submit the application, on-line or by phone?
Answers (1)
Answered by Lori | Jun. 17, 2024 02:15

Main requirements for a tourist L visa:
Passport with at least 6-month validity
Visa Application Form (fill it online, print it out and sign it)and Photo
Documents showing the itinerary including air ticket booking record (round trip) and proof of a hotel reservation, etc. or an invitation letter issued by a relevant entity or individual in China.
No need to make an appointment to submit the application, the Embassy provides walk-in service for applicants.
Asked by David Atchison from AUSTRALIA | Jun. 03, 2024 19:41Reply
Is visa on arrival for Shenzhen area available to Australians in 2024?
Is visa on arrival for Shenzhen area available for Australians in 2024?
Answers (2)
Answered by Joshua | Jun. 04, 2024 18:36

Yes it's available for you. For sightseeing type, it costs CNY130.
Answered by David | Jun. 05, 2024 04:01

Thank you Joshua.
Asked by John Haworth from NEW ZEALAND | Apr. 03, 2024 05:08Reply
ID Number
Where do I receive an ID number to gain an application
Answers (1)
Answered by Lori | Apr. 06, 2024 19:59

ID number? You just need to write down your passport no. when filling in the application form.
Or do you mean Application ID? It is automatically generated while filling.
Or the reservation number? You can submit the application directly to the consular office or visa centers without prior reservation.
Asked by Vinh Trinh from USA | Feb. 21, 2024 20:12Reply
Visa for china
I applied online do I need appointment to come in the consulate in la ?
Answers (1)
Answered by Rita | Feb. 21, 2024 22:02

As I know, online application is not available and you have to go to the consulate in person. However, appointment is not needed anymore and you can directly walk in to apply.
Asked by Philip Tsai from USA | Jan. 27, 2024 11:45Reply
Visa application itinerary
How detailed does the itinerary need to be? That is, Exact dates of flight, including flight number, dates of departure, and arrival; dates of arrival and departure and name of of all hotel Stays? Is proof of payment/reservation required?
Answers (1)
Answered by David | Jan. 28, 2024 23:47

If you are a American citizen, as I know, tourist visa applicants within the United States will no longer be required to submit round-trip air ticket booking record, proof of hotel reservation, itinerary or invitation letter.
Ask a Question
Question Summary (100 characters)
Details (optional) (2,000 characters)