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Visa Policy of China

China follows the international system and issues visas according to its laws and regulations which may be modified from time to time. Generally speaking, the visa policy of China is stringent but is becoming more open with visa-free transit policies being adopted in more and more Chinese cities and the introduction of a 10-year China visa to US, Canadian and Argentina citizens.

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 citizens from certain countries enjoying visa-free travel to China:

France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Spain, Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Hungary, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, UAE, Grenada, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mauritius, and some others.

For individual passengers making an international transfer in China:

1. 24-hour visa-free transit
2. 72-hour visa-free transit
3. 144-hour visa-free transit

For tour groups:

1. Hainan 30-day visa-free access
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 

See also: How to Travel to China without a Visa


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, visa application form, travel itinerary, invitation letter, etc.
2. Submit your application to the Chinese embassy / consulate / CVASC at the appointed time.
3. Collect your passport and visa on the appointed date and pay the fee. One may need to pay the fee when submitting the application in some countries. 

See more details:
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.

 Further Reading:
Do I Need A Visa for Guangzhou If Traveling from Hong Kong?
How to Apply a China Visa in Hong Kong

- Last updated on Mar. 08, 2024 by Gabby Li -
Questions & Answers on Visa Policy of China
Asked by Shan from INDIA | Jun. 16, 2023 22:12Reply
Changing L visa to S1
My wife is currently in China. Since she has one and half year course left, currently she is having 6 months visa, later she will get one one year visa.. Is it possible for me to get S1 visa, since her current visa is expiring in September? Or is it possible for me to take L visa and go there, later change it to S1?
Answers (1)
Answered by Bella | Jun. 18, 2023 20:45

It's more possible for you to get an S1 visa after your wife get the one-year visa after September.
It's not easy to change an L to an S within China.
Asked by Markus from SWITZERLAND | May. 19, 2023 14:12Reply
Extension of a Chinese driving licence on a tourist visa
I am Swiss, lived in China for many years but left for Switzerland 2 years ago. Now I want to get an extension of my Chinese driving license issued in Shanghai. Is an extension possible on a tourist visa? Another possibility would be to get a Q2 family visa, but in Hainan province. Would that be a better possibility? Thanks!
Answers (1)
Answered by Harry | May. 22, 2023 20:17

It doesn't matter which kind of visa you hold. Generally, they are both eligible for the driving licence extension. You can choose according to your convenience.
Asked by Craig from U.K. | May. 03, 2021 02:24Reply
Will a “spent” conviction prevent me from getting a Z Visa?
I have a conviction from over twenty years ago, which is now considered “spent” in the U.K. On my police certificate, it says “no live trace”. I was 17 years old when I received the conviction (I’m 37 now), I didn’t go to prison, and I only received a small fine. Do you think I have a reasonable chance of getting the work visa? I’ve been offered a great job and I really want to accept it.
Answers (1)
Answered by David | May. 16, 2021 23:50

It's not a big deal. Take it easy.
Asked by George from ITALY | Mar. 03, 2021 02:13Reply
Can university make any troubles for me?
Greetings, dear support.

I want to ask the question if university can make something bad if I want to chance x1 visa to work permit while on 2nd year on education only.

Because of epidemic situation, the budget to pay for myself is very low, so I need to find a work, and I found it a job. So they can provide visa for me. The reason why I am thinking about because they always want to in-prison students in the campus without letting out, with no conditions to live properly.

So if I will change that sneaky and then say I can either online-study, or can leave - can they make any troubles like make me pay for something, or I don't know. I am very afraid of that. The behavour and pressure for students is very high so I am aware. Thank you for your future answer.
Answers (1)
Answered by Diana | Mar. 14, 2021 22:57

If you want to work you China, you have to change your visa to a work visa and your study has to end. While you change the visa, you may need some documents from the school, so I think they may be unwilling to cooperate with you at that time.
Asked by Sanu from SRI LANKA | Mar. 01, 2021 03:41Reply
How can the Student and her spouse go to HK together
My wife got a scholarship in HKUST and got the offer letter and accepted it. Now Uni is giving her visa(she is filling the application Id995A still not submitted).

Can her spouse(me) go with her or do I only can go after her?

Can we both apply visa together?
As my id997 dependent visa requests documents from sponsor(my wife) for HK ID, HK accommodation receipts etc which can only be obtained after she gets her visa and go to HK.

Can I the dependent put her offer letter for these documents.

I know many married couples go together for such situations so I want to know the procedure to do this to go together.
Answers (1)
Answered by Linda | Mar. 14, 2021 22:55

You can apply for the visa together by providing the copies of your wife's visa application documents.
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