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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 the 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; type-written with no blanks left.

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

4. Submit the application

Visit the Chinese embassy, consulate or Chinese Visa Application Center (CVASC) which serves your residence area. You can show up in person or ask an agent to do this for you. In some 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. 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.

- Last modified on Aug. 28, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on How to Apply for a China Visa
Asked by Wilma from NETHERLANDS | Oct. 09, 2019 23:53Reply
Amsterdam - Shanghai - Singapore
Additional question,
22 oct Amsterdam - Singapore
26 oct Shanghai - Singapore
27 Oct Singapore - Amsterdam
With this flightschedule I can use the transit free visa?
I want to go for 3 data to an trade exhibition in Shanghai
Answers (1)
Answered by Kira from NEW ZEALAND | Oct. 10, 2019 18:47

You mean your route is Amsterdam - Shanghai - Singapore? If your route is exactly like this and have no other stopovers in between, you can enjoy the 144h visa-free transit in Shanghai.
Asked by ribah from SRILAKNKA | Oct. 09, 2019 02:44Reply
how to get invitation letter from china??
Answers (1)
Answered by Jacob from USA | Oct. 10, 2019 18:45

If you apply for tourist visa, you need to get it from a travel agency in China. If you apply for business visa, you need to get it from your business partner in China.
Asked by Cristina from NEW ZEALAND | Oct. 07, 2019 01:01Reply
I purchased a tour package to China for 11 days. Visa to travel excluded. What type will I get
Answers (1)
Answered by Karl from USA | Oct. 07, 2019 19:52

You need to apply for a tourist visa, L category.
Asked by Roj Amedy from SWITZERLAND | Sep. 30, 2019 04:40Reply
Hello I’m a Swiss citizen can I go to Hong Kong Visa free?
And then apply for the Tourist Visa in Hong kong?
Answers (1)
Answered by Jassica from USA | Oct. 07, 2019 20:07

Roj, yes, you can go to HK visa free. However, I'm afraid you may not be able to get a tourist visa for mainland China from HK if you don't have residence permit there. If possible, please apply for it in your home country.
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