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China Visa on Arrival

Foreigners normally need to obtain a visa for a trip to China before departure, while in certain cases they are likely to get a China visa on arrival at entry ports. The validity counts from the day following your entry and only one entry is allowed. Once you exit from China, the VOA expires.

Below are two cases where you can apply for China visa on arrival:

Visa on Arrival at Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Xiamen, and Hainan for Tourists

Visa on Arrival Valid for Eligible Ports Areas Allowed to Stay
In Shenzhen 5 days Luohu (Lo Wu), Huanggang, Shekou and Fuyong ports, Shenzhen Airport Shenzhen
In Zhuhai 3 days Gongbei, Hengqin and Jiuzhou ports Zhuhai
In Xiamen 5 days Xiamen Airport Xiamen
In Hainan 30 days Haikou Airport, Sanya Airport, cruise ports in Haikou and Sanya Mainland China

In comparison with others, Hainan enjoys more privileges for issuing a VOA besides the Hainan 30-Day Visa-Free Access. The landing visa you get in Hainan can last as long as 30 days. You can use it to visit other cities in mainland China and exit from all ports open to foreigners. In addition, the VOA is also available for international cruise ship travelers who disembark in Haikou or Sanya.

Who is eligible?

Passport holders of most countries can easily get a VOA, such as the US, France, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland and Spain.

Some may apply for it by showing passports with proof that they have been issued a Chinese visa before by embassies and consulates, such as Indonesians and Filipinos.

Countries not eligible include Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Cameroon, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Israel, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Sudan, Turkey, Uganda, and Yemen.

How to apply?

When you get to the VOA office at the border, just complete the application form, take a photo and pay the fee. The visa will be issued within 5 to 10 minutes. You may need to wait longer if the room is busy.

In Shenzhen, Zhuhai, and Xiamen, what you need for the application is just a valid passport, while if you apply for the Hainan visa on arrival, return ticket and hotel bookings are required as well.

What's the cost for China visa on arrival?

It costs CNY 168 for applicants of most countries, but UK nationals have to pay CNY 304 based on a reciprocal basis. Only CNY is accepted for payment and HK dollars are not accepted.


1. There are nearly 10 ports linking Shenzhen with Hong Kong, while tourists can only get the Shenzhen VOA from Luohu, Huanggang, Fuyong, Shekou, and the airport. Please be cautious when travelling to Shenzhen from Hong Kong to find the right port.

2. Upon arriving at the Gongbei immigration building in Zhuhai, you can find the office by passing all the duty free shops; it is behind a green door on the right hand side of the immigration building. Currency can be changed at the China Tourist Services Office back downstairs in the immigration hall.

Visa on Arrival for Travelers in Emergencies

Aliens may, under circumstances where they must necessarily rush to China but have no time for an application, apply for a visa on arrival at entry ports as authorized by the Ministry of Public Security.

This always requires an invitation from an accredited Chinese organization which explains the emergency, mostly related to business purposes that from the Chinese perspective it is important that you be admitted without delay, or that you are in a life-and-death situation.

 Warning: Not all applicants are guaranteed to obtain a landing visa, thus it's advised to get a visa in advance if time permits. See details on how to apply for a China visa.

- Last modified on Sep. 10, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on China Visa on Arrival
Asked by Sean from UNITED KINGDOM | Oct. 18, 2019 11:17Reply
Hainan visa on arrival.
I am a UK Citizen and my wife is from Ecuador. We are visiting Hong Kong in January 2020. We would like to visit Hainan for a weekend. Ideally, we would arrange our own flights and hotel rather than go through an official tour.

Are we able to obtain the Visa on Arrival?

Thank you.
Answers (1)
Answered by ZUPAN | Oct. 18, 2019 12:25

I'm honestly always in favor of 30 day visa free access, but since your wife is an Ecuadorian citizens and consequently not eligible for this option and since you will fly from Hong Kong, here are the guidelines for your successful trip:

Citizens of countries or regions with diplomatic or trade relations with China are eligible for the visa on arrival when arriving in Haikou or Sanya. With the visa on arrival, you can travel to any part of China for up to 15 days total, and leave China from anywhere!

Visa on Arrival Process:

1. Before you travel, call the hot line of Hainan Exit-Entry Inspection and Quarantine Bureau to ask about the Visa on Arrival eligibility for your nationality.

Haikou Meilan Airport Visa Office Number: +86-898-65751994

Sanya Phoenix Airport Visa Office Number: +86-898-88289566

2. After arriving at the airport, go to the visa section and get your visa. (24 hours service)

3. What you need to prepare: your valid passport, one 2-inch color photo without hat (on-site photography service available), visa on arrival fee (varies from 168 to 1,000 RMB, cash only). In your case, UK citizen will be 304 CNY and Ecuadorian 168, although I cannot confirm this with 100% certainty. You are advised to buy at least 2.000 CNY at one of Hong Kong money changers before your departure to Hainan.

4. After receiving your visa, you can travel to any part of mainland China, and stay for up to 15 days, to explore the country.

5. You will need to register with the local police station within 24 hours after arrival in each place you stay. If you are in a hotel, the staff will take care of this for you, but if you are camping or staying in a friend’s apartment or other location, you will need to go to the local police station with your passport to register. This is a national law.
Asked by Jochen Mosthaf from DEUTSCHLAND | Oct. 17, 2019 21:26Reply
VOA for Shenzhen stay
Can I fly from Germany to Shenzhen, get a VOA, spend 5 nights in Shenzhen and then fly back to Germany?
Answers (1)
Answered by ZUPAN | Oct. 18, 2019 09:23

Jochen, you are advised against even a thinking about applying for a Shenzhen VOA upon arrival by plane. The truth is that we have not received a reliable testimony that anybody has successfully obtained a Shenzhen VOA at the airport for six months or even more. To be entirely open, I can tell you that you can take as granted that the airport office for this particular visa will be slowly phased out. The main reasons are a reluctance of airport airline staff to allow boarding to those who declare that they will apply for a Shenzhen VOA upon arrival and also an introduction of 144 hour visa free transit where you can use this option with a combination of Hong Kong or Macau. Trust me, I'm just trying to save your money, your time and your health from the shock when you realize that you are denied boarding because you have declared that you will apply for a Shenzhen VOA upon your arrival in Shenzhen. Please, just use 144 hour visa free transit in combination with a short trip to Hong Kong or Macau and forget about Shenzhen VOA when traveling to Shenzhen by plane.
Asked by alexandra from THAILAND | Oct. 16, 2019 09:23Reply
VOA for Xiamen
if i fly from Laos to Xiamen and stay for three days and fly to Thailand. I am german with german passport. Can i receive a Visa upon arrival for 3 days? or do i need to apply for a visa prior? I would be meeting a german friend who has a layover.
Answers (1)
Answered by ZUPAN | Oct. 16, 2019 10:11

Since you are a German citizens and your itinerary will be:

Laos - Xiamen - Thailand

You can be eligible for 144 hour visa free transit. Anyway, there are no direct flights from Laos to Xiamen, so we have a problem here.

By the way, you should definitely not to try to obtain a VOA by arriving on a plane because you will not be allowed to board the plane in the country from where you will depart to Xiamen. There are several examples where passengers willing to apply for Xiamen VOA were denied boarding even in Hong Kong!

In reality, if you find an eligible itinerary for your Xiamen trip that should look like this:

Country A - Xiamen (China = country B) - Country C

You can use 144 hour visa free transit and if you cannot create such an itinerary, you will have to obtain a Chinese tourist (L) visa in advance!
Asked by Franck from FRANCE | Oct. 15, 2019 06:36Reply
Hello i am french and want to go to Canton from Hong Kong by train for a two days stay
And then return to Hong Kong. Can i get a visa on arrival ?
Thanks for your answer
Answers (1)
Answered by ZUPAN | Oct. 15, 2019 10:35

No, unfortunately, this is not possible. In reality, there are visas on arrival, but they cover only the city areas of Zhuhai and Shenzhen. Guangzhou is not covered by any type of visa on arrival scheme.

In reality, you have an option of visa free transit, but in that case you have to fly by direct flight from Hong Kong to Guangzhou and become eligible for 144 hour visa free transit.

To return back to Hong Kong, you will have to go first to Macau by ferry from Shenzhen Shekou port. After your arrival in Macau, you can immediately take the first ferry to Hong Kong. Please, keep in mind that, in case that you decide for this option, you will have to book a ferry from Shenzhen Shekou to Macau online in advance. After the booking through TurboJet ferry website, you will receive an e-confirmation that you will have to print out and use as a proof that you will be really in a transit. Also, you will use this printout of your e-confirmation to collect your real paper ticket at Shenzhen Shekou ferry terminal. Please, keep in mind that you will have to use exactly that ferry that you have bough the ticket for.

This is the only way how you could legally escape from obtaining a Chinese visa.
Asked by Marvin from USA | Oct. 14, 2019 23:38Reply
Do I need to get a travel visa in Washington DC or I can avail the 5 day Visa on arrival?
Hi, How are you? I am travelling to Hongkong this December of 2019. I plan to go to Schenzen economic zone which my interest for a day. Do I need to get a travel visa in Washington DC or I can avail the 5 day Visa on arrival? I await for your reply so I arrange my visa over here. Thank you so much.
Answers (5)
Answered by ZUPAN | Oct. 15, 2019 10:40

Marvin, you can rely on obtaining a 5 day Shenzhen visa on arrival and it will be granted to you. Anyway, if I were you and especially because you still have enough time before your planned travel, I would opt for a prearranged 10 year Chinese multiple entry visa. When you take into account that the price for a Shenzhen VOA for US citizens is 956 CNY, then you will perfectly understand why I'm suggesting you to obtain a Chinese visa in advance.
Answered by ZUPAN | Oct. 15, 2019 10:44

When we talk about the prices, then obtaining of a Chinese visa could save you quite an amount on your air fare. For example, if you fly to Shenzhen or Guangzhou that are quite close to Hong Kong, you can usually get more affordable price than flying directly to Hong Kong. OK, now when you know some of the suggestions, it will be up to you to decide :)
Answered by Marvin from USA | Oct. 16, 2019 14:55

In the event that i will apply for a for a China Visa, part of the item in the application is a letter of invitation which I don't have. In what way can i obtain this requirement?
Answered by ZUPAN | Oct. 17, 2019 09:29

You, don't need a letter of invitation. Your flight tickets and a short itinerary with a couple of booked accommodations will be more than enough.
Answered by marvin from USA | Oct. 17, 2019 13:51

thanks so much for the info, will be working on my visa then..keep you posted
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