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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 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

For citizens from certain countries having visa-exemption agreements with China:

Singapore, Japan, Brunei, UAE, Grenada, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Mauritius, and some others.

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.

 Further Reading:
Do I Need A Visa for Guangzhou If Traveling from Hong Kong?

- Last modified on Mar. 20, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on Visa Policy of China
Asked by Larry nim from USA | Aug. 14, 2019 13:57Reply
Question for apply China Visa
I'm us citizen, I want to go apply China Visa for tourist. Do I need my bank statement and job verification ? . I only go stay at China a week.
Thank you
Answers (1)
Answered by Bonnie from USA | Aug. 14, 2019 23:41

In most cases, you do not need that. Instead, you need to provide round-trip tickets, hotel bookings and your travel itinerary. If you book a tour, you can also ask the tour agency in China to issue you an invitation letter.
Asked by Chuah from MALAYSIA | Jan. 10, 2019 18:23Reply
If apply for VOA at Gongbei on 14th Jan and what date do we need to depart?
Answers (1)
Answered by Gloria from IRELAND | Jan. 10, 2019 19:48

If you apply for a 5-day VOA, you need to depart on 19th Jan.
Asked by Ellen from USA | Nov. 29, 2018 18:21Reply
Flight with connection thru peking
I arrive on a cruise ship to Shanghai and stay there 3 days. My departing flight to the USA connects in Peking. Do I need a visa?
Answers (1)
Answered by Shay from SAN MARINO | Nov. 30, 2018 01:29

Yes, you need a visa for the trip.
Asked by Chako from MACEDONIA | Oct. 26, 2018 06:21Reply
China Required visa for Macedonian citizens ?
Answers (1)
Answered by Shea from GERMANY | Oct. 28, 2018 19:29

Hi, I suppose you need to apply for a visa for visiting mainland China beforehand.
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