Chinese Visa FAQ

FAQ about Chinese Visa Application

Do I need a visa to China (not including Hong Kong & Macau)?

Answer: Foreigners who visit China are generally required to apply for a visa before departure, but some aliens needn't if they come to Mainland China, for example, ordinary passport holders from Singapore, Brunei and Japan enjoy visa free access for up to 15 days. For more detailed information, you can see the Chinese Visa Exemption. 

Where can I submit my application?

Answer: Aliens should apply from Chinese Embassies or Consulates. Each Embassy or consulate has its own consular districts. Usually, applicants are required to lodge their application to the relevant Embassy or Consulate according to consular districts. For example, if you live in Idaho, you should submit application to Chinese Embassy in USA.
Applicants who reside or travel away from their country can apply at a local Chinese Embassy or Consulate. 

Can I apply for a visa at entry ports?

Answer: It is very difficult to get a VOA at the entry ports; however, you can get it in real urgent situations which are listed in details on Visa on Arrival (Issued at Entry Ports)

Can I get a visa on arrival to Shenzhen or Zhuhai?

Answer: Shenzhen and Zhuhai are the Special Economic Zones; they can issue a special economic zone tourist visa to aliens at the entry ports. Shenzhen issues Single-Entry Tourist Visa with 5 days of stay in Shenzhen at the entry ports. Aliens can also apply for Zhuhai Single-Entry Tourist Visa with 3 days of stay in Zhuhai at the entry ports.

When is the best time to submit my application?

Answer: Please apply only 1 or 2 months (at least 2 weeks) before your planned date to enter China. If you apply for it too late, you may not have enough time for the application. If you apply for it too early, the visa may become invalid before your departure for China. Generally, the validity of a single-entry visa is 3 months, counted from the date of application.

Where can I get the Visa Application Form of the PRC?

Answer: The easiest way is to download the Visa Application Form of PRC and Supplementary Visa Application Form of PRC from internet, but the form is in PDF, you should have installed the software of Adobe Reader. The form is also offered by the embassy or consulate for free.

Do I need to make an appointment to submit application? 

Answer: It depends upon the embassy or consulate. More than 90% of the Chinese embassies and consulates don't ask applicants to make an appointment. However, you need to make an appointment at Chinese Embassy/Consulate in Nigeria. The Chinese Visa Application Service Center has been in operation in UK, Italy, Australia, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, which also requires applicants to make an appointment in advance, so check with your nearest embassy or consulate before you go there.

If I can't go to the embassy or consulate in person, can someone else Go?

Answer: Yes, the application can be presented by someone else, such as your friends, relatives, visa agency or travel agency, but the form should be completed and signed by yourself. Someone else can pick up your visa for you as long as he can show the "Pick Up Form". 

Can I send my application by mailing?

Answer: More than 98% of Chinese embassies and consulates don't accept visa application by mailing. You should visit the official website of Chinese embassy or consulate to check whether it accepts application by mailing or not. Even though the Visa Mail Service is available, the embassy or consulate is not responsible for the loss or damage of your passport and other documents due to mishandling by mail service.

Hong long does it take for the application?

Answer: Generally speaking, it takes 4 working days for processing the application. Many embassies or consulates also provide 1 working day service or 2 – 3 working days service, but you need pay extra money for the service.

Do I have to submit my actual passport for visa application?

Answer: Yes, you must offer your actual passport because the Chinese visa should be pasted on the visa page of your passport. Visa can't be processed without your actual passport. If you need your passport every day, you can apply for 1 working day service and pick up your visa on the day of submission.

What are the requirements for visa application?

Answer: Basic requirements are your original passport with at least 6 months validity and two blank pages, one legibly, completely and truly filled Application Form, one recent passport photo affixed on the application form, you also should submit additional documents for different category of Chinese visa: Tourist (L), Business (F), Student (X), Work (Z), Transit (G), Crew (C) or Journalist Visa (J). For more information, please refer to Chinese Visa Types.

What is Duly Authorized Unit / Confirmation Invitation Letter?

Answer: The invitation letter is issued by an authorized governmental organization in China prescribing the visa validity, number of entries and stay period. The company/institute/company in China which invites you can apply this certificate for you in the Ministries and Commissions of the State Council, the Government of all Provinces, Autonomous Regions, and Municipalities directly under the Central Government, and Foreign Affairs Offices and Bureaus of Economy and Commerce hereunder, and departments and units recognized by the Department of Consular Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC.

How much should I pay for my visa?

Answer: The visa fees vary greatly according to your nationality, the number of entries, the country you are applying in and whether you need an express service or not. Generally speaking, the fees are more expensive if the visa has more number of entries. However, the fees are same for American citizens no matter what number of entries they apply for.

Can I renew my Chinese visa? It will expire Before i Go to China

Answer: The visa can't be renewed or made any changes once it is issued. You have to apply for a new one again. The visa is printed on your visa page of passport by computer and any change on it makes it invalid.

Do I need a visa to Hong Kong and Macau?

Answer: About 170 countries or regions don't need a visa for Hong Kong , you can read the Non-Visa to Hong Kong for Foreign Countries/Areas to check whether you need a visa or not. Passport holders from 65 countries enjoy visa free access to Macau for a certain period; other aliens can apply when they arrive in Macau , please refer to Macau Visa to get the list.

What are ENTRIES of Chinese visa?

Answer: ENTRIES vary from single, double and multiple. On the visa, single entry is printed as 01(壹), while double as 02(贰), and multiple as M(多). Entries means the number of entry you can use the visa to enter China during its validity period. Visa becomes void if it goes beyond the date of ENTER BEFORE even if there are some ENTRIES left.


Answer: ENTER BEFORE means the last date for the holder to use this visa to enter the PRC. You must use the visa to enter PRC before 24:00 on this date. All visas come into effect on the date of issuance. For example, your single visa was issued on 18 May 2007. This date is the starting day for the holder to use this visa to enter PRC.

What is Duration of Each Stay after Entry?

Answer: Duration of Each Stay after Entry means the maximum number of days the applicants are permitted to stay in China. Duration of Each Stay is counted from the date of entry.

Can I apply for extension of duration of stay after I arrive in China?

Answer: Aliens who are already in China holding the L or F visa can apply for an extension of duration of stay at a local county level Public Security Bureau. You can read the Chinese Visa Application in China to get more useful information.

Do I need a visa to Hong Kong and Macau?

Answer: About 170 countries or regions don't need a visa for Hong Kong , you can read the Non-Visa to Hong Kong for Foreign Countries/Areas to check whether you need a visa or not. Passport holders from 65 countries enjoy visa free access to Macau for a certain period; other aliens can apply when they arrive in Macau , please refer to Macau Visa to get the list.

72-hour Visa-free Transit FAQ

What documents are required for passengers from the above 45 countries to benefit from this policy and apply for permits to go out of the airport?

Answer: Passengers are qualified to transit in Beijing/Shanghai without visa only if they have valid passport or travel documents, as well as the confirmed flight ticket onward to the third country or region and valid visa (if required).

How and where can I apply for a transit permit if I plan to go out of the airport during my stopover?

Answer: You can put forward your request for transit to your airline in advance, so that the airline can declare this to the Immigration Inspection prior to your visit. You will be granted a transit permit at the airport if you meet all requirements.

I plan to enter Beijing first and then buy ticket to another country within 72 hours. Am I allowed entry and transit without visa?

Answer: According to the requirements, you must provide confirmed ticket to the third country or region when apply for the visa-free transit permit. Otherwise, you can not enjoy this policy.

I have a flight ticket from New York to PEK, and a separate ticket back to Los Angles. May I use this 72 hour visa free transit?

Answer: The answer is NO. The place of departure and destination should not be in the same country or region. If you fly from New York to a third country via capital airpprt, then you apply to this policy.

Am I allowed to visit other cities during my 72-hour free stay with transit permit? Or, if I can not depart within 3 days, what should I do?

Answer: You are not allowed to visit other cities during the transit. If you have to visit other cities, or you can not depart from Beijing or Shanghai within the 3 days allowed, then you should apply for a Chinese visa from local PSB.

I plan to take a flight to Beijing for 3 days, and then take Trans-Siberian train from there to Ulan Bator in Mongolia. Do I need Chinese visa for this trip?

Answer: Visa is required if you visit China this way. 72 hour visa free policy is for air passengers only. That is to say, the visa is exempted if you leave from Capital Airport. For passengers who plan to enter or leave China by train or cruise, they should apply for a Chinese visa in advance.

If the arrival and departure of flights is more than 72 hours, is it permissible remain in the airport for some of the time and go to the city for the 72 hours or is the timing form the flight times?

Answer: You are suggested to get a transit visa in advance if the stopover is longer than 72 hours. Because there is a possibility that you may be denied boarding by airlines if you do not have the confirmed ticket for leaving within 72 hours (here the 72 hour can be simply calculated based on scheduled landing and scheduled departure of the flights).

If I understood correctly, even with this visa-free policy for 72 hours, a transit permit has to be done at the airport when arriving? And this transit permit has to be then registered in a police station in the 24 next hours? What happens if my stay there is only of 20 hours? Can I save myself this registration which is probably time-consuming?

Answer: Yes, you are right, the transit permit should be done at the airport on arrival. But the registration will be done when you check into a hotel. It is not necessary to register yourself personally at the local police station.

Anyway, if you still have questions on Beijing /Shanghai 72 hour visa-free transit, please call Beijing Airport Immigration Inspection at 0086-10-56095400 and Shanghai Airport Immigration Inspection at 0086-21-51105100 for more information.

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