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