China Visa FAQs
- Should I apply for a visa now, or should I wait until closer to the time of travel?
- What type of visa should I apply for for my group: a group visa or individual visas?
- How do I obtain a China Visa?
- What do I need for a visa application?
- What do you mean by passport photo?
- How do I get an invitation letter from your company for my visa application?
Visas for Specific Regions
- Do I need a visa for a visit to Hong Kong?
- Do I need a visa to enter Macau as a tourist?
- How do I get a visa for a visit to Shenzhen Special Economic Zone?
- What type of visa do I need? Should I apply for special visa when leaving and re-entering mainland China?
- Can I travel to Tibet independently?
When in China...
- How do I get my visa extended?
- What should I do if I lose my passport during my stay in China?
- What are the requirements for a UK man to be able to reside in China when married to a Chinese national?
General Visa Application Questions
The Chinese visa is generally valid to enter Chinafor 3 months from the issue date. Please apply for your visa within 3 months of entry into China, according to your travel itinerary, and avoid expiry of the visa. Also don't apply too late to avoid the extra cost of express application processing.
Usually it is recommended to apply about 6 weeks prior to travel and not to book things (like flights) that can't be refunded until you get a visa. Typically tourist visas are processed in four working days.
Please also decide the duration of stay in China. The permitted duration of stay of Chinese tourist visas are generally up to 30 days. If you need to stay longer, it is suggested that you contact the Chinese Embassy before making the application or ask your travel advisor for more information.
You should apply for individual visas. Tour groups with China Highlights usually don't require a tourist visa.
A group visa is usually applicable to an organized group, which is arranged by tour companies in the originating country or in China. It requires the tourists to enter and exit the country at the same time as a group, and the Chinese Embassy in your country would ask for a special document that requires an official stamp from the tourism bureau in China. China Highlights does not issue this type of document.
China Highlights recommends that you obtain your visa before leaving the country where you live. The costs and the length of time to process a visa vary from country to country. Please check the website for the Chinese Embassy in your country to find the information applicable to you.
Your passport (original, not a copy), which must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of travel, with at least one blank visa page (amendment pages and pages with bar codes are not acceptable for visa stamping). One completed, signed Visa Application Form and two passport photosfor each passport.
Application forms can usually be downloaded from the embassy website. Thisvisa application form (2013) is used for most visa applications. Download it, print it out, and fill it in.
The Chinese consular departments requires a photo similar to the one in your passport. They only accept photos which are head-only (a little neck and shoulders is ok), full head shown without adornment (unless usually worn, e.g. glasses and religious headgear), with a white background, approximately 45mm by 35mm. Cut-outs from personal photographs are not acceptable.
We can supply an invitation letter to our clients upon request after written confirmation of the tour booking.
The following information is required to complete the invitation:
- 1. names of all making the tour exactly as on their passports;
- 2. genders;
- 3. dates of birth as on their passports;
- 4. passport numbers;
- 5. nationalities.
Your travel advisor can give you more information about it when you apply for the visa. Upon receiving your information, we will fax you your tour confirmation letter on our official stationery with our company seal.
Visas for Specific Regions
Residents of most countries can enter Hong Kong without applying for a visa in advance and are allowed to stay for 90 days. A visa will be issued on arrival. See our Hong Kong visa information.
A valid passport or Travel Entry Permit is required to enter Macau, but not necessarily a visa. The period of validity should be 30 days at least. Macau Visas are required for all travelers to Macau except:
- a) Holders of the "Hong Kong Identity Card", "Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card" or "Hong Kong Re-entry Permit" can stay up to one year;
- b) Passport holders of France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg, Egypt, Greece, Holland, Finland, Austria, Hungary, Czech, Norway, Iceland, Britain, Ireland, Romania, Estonia, Slovenia, Croatia, Tanzania, Cyprus, Lebanon, Poland, Lithuania, South Korea and Malta can stay up to 90 days;
- c) Passport holders of South Africa, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Philippines, India, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, Thailand, USA, Uruguay, Turkey, Indonesia, Liechtenstein, Samoa, Seychelles, Monaco, Namibia, Israel and Kiribati can stay up to 30 days;
- d) Nationals of China's mainland with valid Macau entry/exit documents.
If you join in a tour group your visa should be processed by your travel agency in Macau.
See our Macau visa information.
You can apply for a China visa in your home country before leaving for China or in Hong Kong, or ask a travel agency to apply for a 114 Group Visa if there are 3 or more people in your group.
How do I get a China visa in Hong Kong?
Get a visa yourself at Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC.
- Address: 7th Floor, Lower Block, 26 Harbor Road Wanchai, Hong Kong
- 24-hour recorded visa information service: 852-34132300;
- Live answering telephone: 852-34132424 (available hours: 10:00-11:00am and 3:00-4:00pm on workdays);
- Fax: 852-34132312
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: http://www.fmcoprc.gov.hk/eng/zgqz/bgfwxx/default.htm
- Office hours: 9:00am–12:00pm and 2:00–5:00pm, Monday to Friday (except on Hong Kong public holidays)
Call the office before your visit. A China Tourist and Business (F) Visa can be obtained easily in Hong Kong. It can be obtained with the help of a travel agent, but at least 3 full working days should be allowed for this procedure. You will need:
- a recent passport photo;
- your passport (valid for at least 3 months)
"Within One working day" means the visa should be processed within 24 hours. "Fast Process" means the visa should be processed the same day.
For safety reasons all applicants and their belongings are required to go through a security check at the entrance of the visa office. It is suggested that applicants do not take luggage to the visa office.
What type of visa do I need? Should I apply for special visa when leaving and re-entering mainland China?
Single-entry China tourist visas are usually valid for 3 months after the issue date, and will permit you to stay in China for a maximum of 30 days. This visa will allow you to travel as a tourist or conduct general business activities. Most people need only to apply for a single-entry.
You need to apply for "double entry" or "multiple entry" visa if you need to leave and re-enter mainland China. Even when go to Hong Kong or Macau from mainland China you still need to have a "double entry" or "multiple entry" visa.
China's official regulations prevent independent foreign travelers from traveling to Tibet. All foreign travelers must book a tour through a Tibet travel agent and be accompanied by a Tibet tour guide.
China Highlights Travel offers great Tibet tour packages, and we will also take care of your Tibet Entry Permit (through our Tibet agents). A China visa is required in addition to the Tibet Entry Permit. Read more on Tibet Travel Permits.
When in China...
Foreigners who want to stay in China beyond the duration of their visa need to apply for an extension.
A visa extension application should be made to the local Public Security Bureau seven days before the expiration date of the visa. Visitors traveling with a group on a group visa, and who want to stay longer than the group, should apply for individual visas. Visa extensions require the following:
- 1. valid passport and visa;
- 2. a completed visa extension application form containing the reason for the extension.
The length of the extension depends on the type of visa, and multiple-entry visas can not be extended. You are advised not to overstay the duration of your visa, or fail to apply for an extension before your visa expires, as you risk being heavily fined and have your travel plans disrupted. Please contact your travel advisor for assistance on visa extensions.
Be sure to check if your passport is indeed lost before you report it. Once it is reported lost, it is cancelled and no longer valid, and you’ll need a replacement. Also note that offices handling such issues usually close on weekends and public holidays.
Ask your tour guide for assistance, and immediately report the loss to the nearest Public Security Bureau, who will issue a passport loss report. Go to your hotel and ask for a stamped proof of your residency. You will need those for a new passport application, along with:
- any other original proof of identity or proof of citizenship (must be the original government-issued photo ID document);
- about eight passport photos (45mm by 35mm with a white background: two photos for the new passport application, photos to apply for another visa, and photos for an emergency passport);
- a copy of your passport (we suggest you take several copies of your passport with you on your trip).
With all the things prepared, locate the nearest embassy or consulate of your own country and apply for a replacement passport in person. You’ll be required to complete a new passport application, and there will be fee charged for replacing passport. The processing time is about two working days. However, in some cases, a replacement may take weeks to process, and it may be valid only for a limited time. (If you travel with a tour group, and the processing time means you you cannot comply with the group's travel schedule, you need to apply for separation from the group visa.) So take special care of your passport during your journey!
After the new passport is issued, go to the Public Security Bureau and apply for new visa, so you can continue your trip or leave for your country.
What are the requirements for a UK man to be able to reside in China when married to a Chinese national?
When married to a Chinese you are entitled to a one-year L visa, obtainable by presenting your marriage certificate (or authorized translation if not Chinese), wife’s identity card, registration of residence certificate (you must register where you live at your local police station), passport, and fee at your local visa office.
On an L visa you can’t legally do paid work or study an officially recognized course in China, so if you want to do either of these you should apply for the appropriate visa, usually at the Chinese embassy in the UK.
Permanent residence in China is difficult to obtain. For more information about relevant requirements, see http://www.gov.cn/english/2005-08/29/content_27379.htm.