If you’re planning a trip to China, there are a few things you need to know about getting a Chinese visa.
But don’t worry, it’s not complicated! This guide will walk you through applying for and receiving your Chinese visa.
Determine the type of China Visa you need
To determine the type of visa you need, first, ask yourself what the purpose of the visit is.
There are four basic categories: tourism, business travel, study abroad, and exchange programs.
Each type has its own set of requirements for obtaining a visa.
If your trip will be tourism-related (you’re going to China as a tourist), your best bet is to apply for single or multiple entry visas.
A single entry visa allows you to visit China once within its one-year validity period; multiple entry visas will enable you to enter and exit from China several times within that same time frame (usually valid for three years).
But, if you’re travelling on business or studying there for an extended period (more than six months) or participating in some exchange program—then it’s best to apply for an M Visa instead.
Identify where you will apply.
- Applying in person: You can apply for a visa at a Chinese embassy or consulate in your home country.
- Applying online: If you live in a country that does not have a Chinese embassy or consulate, you can apply for a visa online from any other country.
Complete a China Visa Application Form
You can find the China Visa Application Form, complete it online, print it out, or do all this in person at a Chinese embassy.
If you choose to complete the form yourself and bring it in person to the embassy, be sure to fill out each section.
If you use a visa agency certified by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), they will help you fill out most, if not all, the forms.
Gather the required documents and photographs
To get a Chinese visa, you must submit the following documents:
- Passport (valid for at least 6 months from the date of entry into China)
- The Visa application form includes your current passport number, full name and date of birth, and your gender and marital status, if applicable. Please note that all applications must be submitted in English or French for non-Chinese citizens unless otherwise requested by embassy staff.
- Two passport photos measuring 3 x 4 inches (or 5 x 7 cm) with white backgrounds are attached to the Visa Application Form (VAF). Your Photo ID should not exceed one year after the expiry date on your VAF. You may be required to take new photos upon arrival in China at customs if they do not meet these standards.
- Proof of travel insurance covering medical expenses during your stay in China, valid for at least one year after departure from China or until the expiration date on your VAF if shorter than 12 months, according to regulations issued by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs regarding health insurance requirement for foreign experts’ work permit application in 2017 (No 16).
Determine if you qualify to use an expedited (rush) processing service
If you are applying in person at a Chinese embassy or consulate, you can choose to use the rush processing service. If you are applying by mail, using an agency (such as VFS Worldwide), or through a travel agency (like China Travel Service—CTS), then you cannot use this service.
- If you’re applying in person: The process is not complicated and involves paying an additional fee at the time of application submission. You must provide proof of your eligibility to use these services with your application documents. This proof could be in the form of a letter from your employer or university stating that they will pay for any visa fees if needed.
Pay the application fee.
The application fee is paid by credit card or bank transfer. If you use a China visa agency to apply for your visa, they will handle this for you, and it will be taken care of at the time of your appointment.
If you apply in person at the relevant Chinese embassy or consulate or through the mail, this can be taken care of by paying with a credit card.
Submit your application package in person or by mail
It’s time to submit your application package. The following two options are available:
- Mail your application to the Chinese embassy or consulate in your country.
- Apply for the visa in person at the embassy or consulate. If you choose this option, be sure to bring with you:
- Passport (with at least 6 months validity remaining)
- Visa Application Form (Form V2013 from any Chinese Embassy/Consulate General)
Wait for the visa to be issued.
The visa is valid for three months from the date of issue.
The application process can take five to 20 days, depending on your situation.
If you are applying in person, you will likely need to wait in line, while those who apply by mail may be able to avoid this inconvenience.
You should also remember that when your visa has been issued (and received), it’s not time to celebrate!
You must get your passport with this new stamp within 30 days or risk losing the document—a costly mistake for any traveller!
Pick up your passport and visa from the visa agency if you used one, from the Chinese embassy/consulate if you submitted it in person or at your home address if it was mailed back to you.
If you used a visa agency, go to the agency and pick up your passport and China visa.
If you submitted your application in person or had it mailed back to you by the Chinese embassy/consulate, go to their office, where they will give you your passport and China visa.
Pack for travel
You will travel to a fantastic place and want to look your best.
To that end, we recommend packing clothes that you can layer and wear and clothes appropriate for the weather.
You may also want to bring along some extras if something happens during your trip.
You might also be interested in our blog post on The Best Backpacks for Traveling!
If you want to learn more about China, check out our other blog posts or Google it. We can’t wait to see what you do next.
The Last Word
I hope this guide has helped you understand the steps to getting a China visa.
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