Visa Policy of China
Reciprocity - the Guiding Principle in China's Visa Policy
China uses - and always sticks to - a tit for tat principle. That is, China sets visa policies depending on its counterparts in other countries. For example, if your country has strict visa policies against China, then it's very likely that China will do the same. If your country's visa is costly for Chinese citizens, you may also need to spend a considerable amount of money for a China visa. Visa-exemption policies for certain countries are also on the basis of bilateral agreements.
Do I Need a Visa for China?
China requires visitors to get a visa in advance unless they are eligible under the visa-free policies, which are mostly applicable to tourists transferring in China or citizens of countries who have signed bilateral visa waiver agreements with China. Holders of a valid Chinese Temporary Residence Permit or Permanent Residence Permit can also enter China without a visa.
For individual passengers making an international transfer in China:
2. 72-hour visa-free transit
3. 144-hour visa-free transit
For tour groups:
2. 15-day visa-free policy for cruise tour groups to Shanghai
3. 6-day visa exemption for tourists to Pearl River Delta
4. 6-day visa exemption for ASEAN tour groups visiting Guilin
For citizens from certain countries having visa-exemption agreements with China:
Can I get a China visa upon landing?
China can issue a visa on arrival at Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Xiamen, and Hainan, but not for all countries. The rules change every now and then, thus VOA is not recommended. To guarantee you a smooth trip, get your China visa in advance. In addition to the cities mentioned above, other port cities also issue VOA but only in urgent situations.
1. Prepare your documents: passport, application form, passport-style photo, travel itinerary, invitation letter, etc.
2. Submit your application to the Chinese embassy / consulate / Visa Service Application Center (CVASC) in person or by mail.
3. Collect your passport and visa on the appointed date and pay the fee.
See more details:
China Visa Application Form
Visa Application Requirements
China Visa Mail Service
China Visa Fees
Possible Factors for China Visa Approval and Refusal
It is common sense that consular officers won't tell you the reasons for approving or rejecting a visa application. However, certain factors may cause your application to be rejected, such as your nationality, previous experiences and records, and your country's relation with China.
The rules are not normally applied to their fullest extent but at any time the government may apply the regulations more strictly against an individual, to applicants from certain nations, or when special events are taking place such as the Olympic Games. Thus, at any time you might be asked to supply full travel bookings, show a minimum amount of funds, or have invitations from Chinese individuals or organizations.
Hong Kong & Macau Adopt Different Visa Policies from Mainland China
Hong Kong and Macau have different immigration systems from mainland China. In comparison, their visa policies are much looser than that of mainland China. Many countries enjoy visa-free entry to Hong Kong and Macau, with a granted stay duration raging from 7 days to 180 days, depending on the visitor's nationality. Because of the differences in border control policies, a Chinese visa cannot be used to enter Hong Kong or Macau. A separate visa should be obtained if your country is not on the visa-free list.
We are German individual surf travellers and usually book flights, accomodation and rental cars online and on our own. So I am not sure how I can apply for the VOA in Hainan...
Do you have any suggestions what would be the easiest way for us to get the Visa? Booking a flight via any German travel agency this time, and they would arrange it? Or any other idea?
Sorry, I am a bit clueless right now and already tried to phone several embassies and project bureaus, but nobody had decent advice either... Thanks for your help in advance :-)