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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.

Further Reading:
8 Tips for Filling Out Chinese Visa Application Form
Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid in Completing a Chinese Visa Application Form
Top 8 Reasons Why Your China Visa Gets Rejected

- Last modified on Jan. 20, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on How to Apply for a China Visa
Asked by Jane Belton from UNITED KINGDOM | Jan. 17, 2019 23:28Reply
I arrive in Shanghai and depart on a cruise ship the following day.
Can I apply for the required visa at Shanghai airport or do I need to apply before I go? Can I get the 24 hour twov?
Answers (1)
Answered by Martinez from EGYPT | Jan. 20, 2019 17:35

You can get the 24h twov if you go to a third country or region different from the last one you come from after transiting in Shanghai.
Asked by Faith from TANZANIA | Jan. 13, 2019 12:10Reply
Hello, my question is once you cancel an F visa type will it be possible to apply again
for the same type F or you will need to switch to another type?
Answers (1)
Answered by Morgan from FINLAND | Jan. 14, 2019 00:36

It's possible to apply again for the same type F if you meet all requirements.
Asked by Susan from CANADA | Jan. 06, 2019 07:56Reply
72 hour visa to Shanghai from Toronto/ final destination Singapore
In order to stop in Shanghai on way to Singapore for 72 hours do I need to do any application or paperwork
prior to arriving in Shanghai.
Thank you,
Susan from Canada
Answers (1)
Answered by Kelley from FIJI | Jan. 07, 2019 17:56

You need to inform the airlines that you want to use the 144 hour free transit in Shanghai. After arriving at Shanghai airport, you can go to the transit counter to apply for the 144 hour free transit.
Asked by Adam from UNITED STATES | Dec. 29, 2018 01:49Reply
If you are currently living in China and want to switch from a spousal to M visa
do you have to leave the country? Can you apply for it in Hong Kong or do you have to go back to your home country? Can you hire a company to do to the paperwork for you?
Answers (1)
Answered by Hunter from ANGOLA | Jan. 01, 2019 19:18

You can try to apply from the exit and entry administration of the local PSB within China. If it can succeed, you don’t need to leave China for that.
Asked by Tore Løvik from NORGE | Dec. 28, 2018 00:10Reply
Visit fabric in China
Hallo How can i get visa soon than i have a invitation to visit Xiamen liteng engineering machinery co.ltd in Xiamen China? I leave in Kristiansund it is 600 km form Oslo, and i want to go in end of january to China?
Answers (1)
Answered by King from BELGIUM | Dec. 28, 2018 17:56

You can apply for a business M type from the Chinese embassy. You should first prepare the required documents including passport and the copy, the filled-out application form, passport-style photo, an invitation letter from the Chinese business partner, as well as others. Next, submit the application to the embassy.
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