Planning a trip to China soon? There are plenty of incredible things to do and see in China – from the Great Wall to the Forbidden City to the many palaces and temples.
However, before you get caught up in planning all the places you would like to visit, don’t forget to secure a travel visa to China first. The majority of people will require a visa.
However, there are the following exceptions:
- You are traveling through China on your way to your final destination and will be in the country no longer than 24 hours.
- You are staying in one of the fifteen cities that have a transit policy that allows travelers to stay for 72 or 144 hours
- You are from Brunei, Singapore, or Japan and plan to conduct business, visit family, or vacation for less than 15 days.
- You are traveling to Hainan with an organized group of five or more people and plan to stay for no more than 15 days.
Where to Obtain a China Visa
The process of obtaining a China visa will depend on where you live. If you’re from the US, you can apply for a visa at the Chinese Consular office in your state. In the UK, Denmark, and Canada, for example, you can process a visa via the China Visa Application Service Center (CVASC). Check online to find where the Chinese Embassy or Consulate General is in your city or country of residence.
It’s important to mention that mailed applications are NO longer allowed. You need to present your application directly to the Chinese Consular Office of the CVASC. If for some reason you cannot personally hand-deliver your application, you may have someone deliver it on your behalf such as a family member, close friend, a visa or travel agency.
What Are the Requirements?
- Your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond stay in China
- with at least two blank pages available for China visa and entry stamps.
- Bring your original, signed passport plus one photocopy of the information page.
China Visa Application Form
- One signed visa application form.
- Answer NONE if the question does not apply to you.
- Applications must be typed in block capital letters; handwritten changes are not accepted.
- The signature on the application form must match the signature on the applicant's passport.
- One color photo that was taken within the last six months.
- It should be against an all-white background, printed on high-quality photo paper, 48 mm tall x 33 mm wide exactly.
- It should provide the full-frontal view of your head with your face centered, displaying a neutral expression - eyes open, ears visible, no background light or shadow over your face, neither eyeglasses nor headwear except for religious purposes.
- This is important. A photo that does not meet these requirements will not be processed.
Letter of Invitation:
- A photocopy of the roundtrip airline ticket and hotel reservation may be submitted instead of the official invitation from China OR an Invitation Letter for Tourist Group or Invitation Letter for Tourist by a Duly Authorized Tourism Unit, or Invitation Letter issued by companies, corporations, institutions, and individuals in China.
- Proof of Travel Arrangements: Computer generated flight or travel itinerary or a copy of airline tickets showing round trip travel to China or onward flight.
- Letter of Employment: Applicants who are self-employed must include a brief letter addressed to the Chinese Consulate containing the company profile and job description.
How Long Will It Take for My Visa to Be Processed?
If you have all the requirements. it should take between two to four working days to get a China visa if you apply for the express service.
The best time to apply for a China visa is between two months and fifteen days before your planned trip. Don't try to acquire a visa too early because it becomes invalid 90 to 180 days starting from the day you receive it.
How Much is the Cost for a China Visa?
The price varies from USD 30 to 140 depending on the type of visa you apply for, nationality, the country where you apply and the number of entries. Usually, it’s less expensive for European citizens, whereas Americans typically are required to pay the full fee of USD 140.
The following countries are exempted from paying China Visa Fees:
- Republic of Montenegro
China Visa Types Explained
There are different China visas one can apply for. Which one you choose depends on your reasons for traveling.
Listed below are the different types of visas:
- China tourist visa (L) - The Chinese L visa is the most common visa and likely the one that any traveler will be getting.
- China business visas (F and M) - The F visa is for individuals invited to China for investigations, science-related ventures, non-commercial exchanges, education, and health reasons. Reminder, you will need an invitation from a business entity to obtain this Chinese visa.
- China student visa (X) - There are two types of student visas, X1 and X2. X1 enables students to remain in China for longer than six months while X2 only permits a student to stay for six months or less.
- China works visa (Z) - If you desire to work in China and get paid, you will need a work visa. It’s critical that the company you are planning to work for can employ foreign workers and you need to satisfy certain requirements that qualify you as an expert in your field of work.
- Private visits and family reunion visas (S and Q) - The S visa or Private Visit Visa is relatively new and permits family members to visit loved ones who are working or going to school in China. The Q visa or Family Reunion Visa is for those wishing to see family members who reside in China.
- China resident visas (D) - Resident Visas are extremely hard to get. To apply for this visa, you need to have lived in China for at least five years and contributed significantly in terms of investments that resulted in considerable profits for China.
- China journalist visa (J) - There are two types of Journalist Visas, J1 and J2. J1 is for journalists who will need to be in China for a more extended amount of time while J2 is only there for a short amount of time.