How to Apply for a China Tourist Visa

Before embarking on your China trip, it’s necessary to obtain a Chinese tourist visa, aka L visa or travel visa, unless that you are eligible for China's visa exemption policies. No matter you will join a group tour or travel independently, you need to apply for the visa on your own in most cases, but there is a slight difference in the two scenarios.

Sample of China Tourist Visa
Sample of China Tourist Visa

Join a group tour

If you book a tour from a China agency like TravelChinaGuide, the process might be easier. You can ask for an invitation letter from the agency, which is of great help in visa application and can improve the chance for visa approval to some degree.

Travel independently

Round-trip tickets and hotel reservations are required for tourist visa application for independent travelers. Submit as detailed supporting documents as you can to justify your travel itinerary. Usually the hotel bookings should cover your whole stay length in China and be consistent with the dates of arrival and departure shown on your tickets, otherwise your visa may get rejected.

What Are the Requirements for China Tourist Visa?

Generally the required documents include:
1. Your passport, which should be valid for at least six months
2. A complete Chinese Tourist Visa Application Form attached with your passport style photo
3. Round-trip tickets and hotel reservations or an invitation letter from from a travel agency in China
4. For some first-time applicants or citizens from certain countries, they may need to provide extra documents such as bank statement, employee certificate and tax return form to prove their financial status.

China Tourist Visa Requirements
China Tourist Visa Requirements

5 Steps to Apply for a Tourist Visa for China

1. Prepare your passport and ensure its validity is no less than six months.
2. Book round-trip tickets and hotels, and print the booking records. Alternatively, book a tour from a travel agency and get the invitation letter.
3. Complete the application form. (See 8 Tips for Filling out Chinese Visa Application Form)
4. Submit the above documents to the Chinese embassy / consulate or CVASC which has jurisdiction in your residence area.
5. Collect your passport and visa on the appointed date and pay the fee.

How Much Does a China Tourist Visa Cost?

US Citizens Canadian Citizens UK Citizens Australian Citizens
USD 140 CAD 142 GBP 151 AUD 109.5

Here we only list single entry tourist visa fees for some major countries. Click on China Visa Fees for more information.

How Long Does It Take for the Application?

It normally takes only four working days. In case you are in a hurry, you may apply for the expedited services like same day collection service or 2-3 day collection service. Of course, such services require an additional fee.

How Far in Advance Do I Apply for a Tourist Visa for China?

It's recommended to apply six weeks ahead of your planned visit, which is neither too early nor too late.

How Long Is a China Tourist Visa Valid?

A China tourist visa is normally valid for three months from the date of issue. For US citizens, they may get a multiple-entry tourist visa valid for 10 years. The allowed stay duration ranges from 30 days to 90 days decided by consular officers on the basis of your travel itinerary.

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You may also be interested in:
China Travel Tips
China Tour Planning
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- Last modified on Jun. 14, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on How to Apply for a China Tourist Visa
Asked by niki from CANADA | Jul. 18, 2019 14:40Reply
I'm Canadian citizen but my husband is PR card holder we need Chinese tourist visa .please guide how
can we both apply at same time
Answers (1)
Answered by Linda from USA | Jul. 19, 2019 02:30

Dear, you should bring valid passport, application form and recent photo, your husband's RP card, round trip air tickets and hotel reservation. Plus, you can apply at the same time.
Asked by Allen Wildermuth from UNITED STATES | Jul. 11, 2019 16:06Reply
Is my China VISA (2012) still Valid?
My wife will visit two ports in China during our cruise. We each have VISA's with

* Category "L" and
* Entries "M" (Chinese Character) and
* Duration of each stay 030

Each port visit will be for one day

We each have new passports, but no information has changed.
Answers (1)
Answered by Lucy from UNITED KINGDOM | Jul. 12, 2019 00:33

Allen, do you mean that your visa is on your old passport, but now you have new passport? You can use both passports to enter China as long as the visa is still valid, ie., the Enter Before Date has not come yet.
Asked by Monique from CANADA | Jul. 06, 2019 09:05Reply
Could I travel to China without hotel reservations,
I'm from Canada and I thought I could travel across the country.
I do not know in advance where , or when I would stay in
various parts of China. Travelling for 3-weeks.
Thank you.
Answers (3)
Answered by Flora from USA | Jul. 08, 2019 01:33

Dear, you may not obtain tourist L type if you don't have hotel reservation.
Answered by Monique from CANADA | Jul. 09, 2019 06:26

Can I apply for a VISA " tourist L type" if you I have HOSTELS reservations rather than HOTELS reservations ? Thanks for replying.
Answered by Linda from USA | Jul. 09, 2019 18:03

Dear, Hostels reservation is OK.
Asked by Doreen from USA | Jun. 13, 2019 17:11Reply
Question on 144 hour Visa Exemption for Shanghai as part of a cruise from Singapore to Japan
Cruise on NCL Spirit departs from Singapore, goes to Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam, then on to Hong Kong for 2 days, a day at sea and then Shanghai for 2 days before going to Hiroshima, Kochi, Kobe, Shimizu and ending in Tokyo. We would fly into Singapore from USA 2 days early to start the cruise and then fly home from Tokyo 2 days after cruise ends.

I think we might need something for Vietnam, but my biggest concern is Shanghai...does the cruise itinerary above qualify for the 144 hour VISA exemption for our 2 day stop in Shanghai?
Answers (1)
Answered by Kelly from USA | Jun. 14, 2019 00:40

Doreen, your itinerary is eligible for 144h visa exemption transit.
Asked by pontsho from SOUTH AFRICA | Jun. 10, 2019 07:38Reply
iam from south Africa and I got accepted for a summer school scholarship for a week,which visa must I apply for?what process do I need to follow?
Answers (1)
Answered by Billie from USA | Jun. 11, 2019 01:27

Hi, you can apply for X2 type. You should prepare the required documents and submit the application to CVASC in South Africa.
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