China Visa

What’s a Chinese Visa and its sample?TOP

A Chinese visa is an officially approved document issued by authorised bodies of the Chinese government, in accordance with the laws and regulations, to foreign citizens to enter, leave or transit through China. 

1.      Name
2.      Date of birth
3.      Passport number
4.      Date of issue
5.      Date of expiration
6.      Number of entries
7.      Duration of each stay  
8.      Category of visa issued

Who needs a visa to visit China?TOP

Most of foreign citizens need a China visa when entering China except those who hold the ordinary passport of Singapore, Brunei and Japan, visiting China (mainland) for tourism, business, family reunion, or transit purpose, and whose stay within China is not to exceed 15 days.

What type of China visa should I apply for?TOP

Chinese visas are divided into diplomatic visas, courtesy visas, public service visas and ordinary visas. Ordinary visas can be further classified as the following 16 categories. Check the following detailed information and choose the most appropriate visa category according to your major purpose of visiting China.

Visa Categories Description of Ordinary Chinese Visa
L-Visa Issued to foreigners who go to China with the purpose of tourism.
C-Visa Issued to foreign crew members of International transportation, including aircraft, trains and ships or motor vehicle drivers engaged in cross-border transport activities, and their accompanying family members.
D-Visa Issued to foreigners with the purpose of permanently residing in China.
F-Visa  Issued to foreigners go to China engage in exchanging, inspection and such activities.
G-Visa Issued to foreigners need to transit through China.
J1-Visa Issued to resident (more than 180 days) foreign journalists of foreign news agencies in China.
J2-Visa Issued to foreign journalists go to China for short-term (less than 180 days) interview or news reports.
M-Visa Issued to foreigners who go to China with the purpose of business activities
Q1-Visa Issued to foreigners go to China with the purpose of long-term (more than 180 days) family reunion. They need to be the family members (spouses, parents, children, brothers, sisters, grandparents, grandsons, granddaughter, and parents-in-law) of Chinese citizens or foreign citizens with permanent Chinese residence.
Q2-Visa Issued to foreigners with the purpose of visiting their relatives (Chinese citizens reside in China or foreign citizens with permanent Chinese residence) for short-time( less than 180 days).
R-Visa Issued to high-level foreign talented persons or persons with urgently needed special skills in China.
S1-Visa Issued to the spouses, parents, children under 18 years old of the foreigners who work or study in China for long-time visit (more than 180 days).
S2-Visa Issued to the spouses, parents, children under 18 years old of the foreigners who work or study in China for short-time visit (less than 180 days).
X1-Visa Issued to foreigners go to China for long-term (more than 180 days) study.
X2-Visa Issued to foreigners go to China for short-term (less than 180 days) study.
Z-Visa Issued to foreigners go to China with the purpose of working in China.


When to apply for a visa?TOP

Usually it is recommended to submit the application about one month prior to your planned entry date of China. The application process generally takes three to five working days, but in case of delays in the mail post, or should any unexpected situation arises regarding the application, allowing more time for the application would be beneficial. However, if the need for a visa is unexpected and urgent, express service is available at the China visa application center with extra charge.

Is there visa exemption in China?TOP

Yes, foreign citizens visiting China are exempt from visas if one of the following situations is applicable.

1) Direct Transit

Foreign citizens who are planning to transit China are exempt from visas, as long as they are presenting documents for a booked seat of an international connecting flight, and their stay in the city of transit is not to exceed 24 hours, and they may not exit the ground of the airport during the stay.

From 1st January 2013, citizens of the following countries holding a valid travel document, a transit flight ticket with a confirmed seat and date leaving within 72 hours, transiting via Beijing (Beijing Capital International airport) or Shanghai (Shanghai Pudong International airport and Hongqiao International airport) to a third country (region) may be exempt from a transit visa, provided that their stay within the Beijing or Shanghai administrative regions does not exceed 72 hours: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Russia, United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, USA, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.

From 1st August 2013, Guangzhou Baiyun International airport is holding the same privilege, and so is Chengdu Shuangliu airport from 1st September 2013.

2) Travellers to the Pearl River Delta or Hainan Island

1. Foreign citizens holding ordinary passports of a country with diplomatic relations with China, are exempt from a visa, if they are already in Hong Kong or Macao, and wish to enter the Pearl River Delta region (including Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen, Zhaoqing and Huizhou) as a member of tourist group organised by a travel agency legally registered in Hong Kong and Macao, and also if their stay will not exceed 6 days.

2. Citizens of the following countries holding ordinary passports are exempt from a visa, if they travel to Hainan Province in a tourist group (more than five people inclusive) organised by an international travel agency registered in Hainan Province and approved by China National Tourism Administration, and also if their stay is not to exceed 15 days: the U.S., Malaysia, Thailand, Republic of Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, Germany, the U.K., France, Austria, Italy, Russia, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Netherlands, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Finland, Denmark, Norway, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Japan, and Singapore. Among the listed countries, visitors from Republic of Korea, Germany or Russia may stay for 21 days if their group includes more than two persons inclusive.

3. Citizens of Singapore, Brunei and Japan are exempt from a visa when entering the border via a port open to foreigners, if their visit to China is for the purpose of tourism, business, meeting relatives and friends, or transiting, and their stay is not to exceed 15 days. However, a visa will be required if the stay is to exceed 15 days; the passport held is an ordinary one, and the purpose of the visit is study, work, settlement, official visit or news coverage in China; or the visitor holds a Japanese diplomatic or a public service passport.

4. Holders of valid APEC business travel cards

An APEC business travel card is equivalent to a three-year visa with multiple-entries. Holder of such a card together with a matching passport is entitled to multiple entries into China during the validity period of the card, and the maximum length of each stay is two months.

5. Holders of valid certificate of permanent residence issued to foreign citizens by the People's Republic of China

6. Holders of valid residence permit issued to foreign citizens by Chinese public security authorities.

Foreign citizens who come to China to pursue study or to take employment, and resident foreign journalists, must register with the public security authorities for a residence permit after arriving in China. Within the validity period of the residence permit foreign citizens may reside in China or make multiple entries into and exits from China without having to obtain another visa.

7. Bilateral Agreements

Citizens of some countries having bilateral agreements, either signed or reached with China, are exempt from a visa if they meet certain requirements. For further information please check the list of agreements on visa exemption signed between China and foreign countries.

Can I have a Visa on Arrival (Visa Issued at Entry Ports)?TOP

According to the Entry and Exit Regulations of People's Republic of China, visitors should apply for Chinese visas at relevant authorities prior to the journey. However, there are certain situations in which aliens are granted visas on arrival. Visitors who hold letters or telegrams from authorized organizations in China and ordinary passports issued by countries that have diplomatic relations or official trade contacts with China might apply for visas to Chinese port visa agencies in case of an urgent visit to China due to the following reasons:

1) Being invited at the last moment by the Chinese side to attend to a trade fair in China.

2) Being invited to China to submit a tender or sign a formal economic or trade contract.

3) Coming to China by appointment to supervise over export shipment, inspect import commodity or check on the completion of a contract.

4) Being invited to China to take part in the installation of equipment or make rush repairs

5) Coming to China at the request of the Chinese side for settling claims.

6) Being invited to China to offer technical advisory services.

7) Being invited to China for a last-minute replacement or addition to a visiting group approved by the Chinese side after the visas are granted.

8) Coming to China for visiting a patient in critical conditions, or making the funeral arrangement.

9) Due to force majeure, the transit visa holders are unable to leave China by original airplane within 24 hours or have to leave China by other means of transport.

10) As other invited guests who truly do not have enough time to apply for visas to the above agencies abroad, but hold letters, or telegrams from authorized organizations approving the application for visas at port visa agencies.

Where can I check on information about validity period, number of entries and duration of each stay?TOP

The following table provides some information about validity period, number of entries and duration of each stay of the visas.

 Visa Categories
 Entries entitled
 Duration of each stay
 Crewmember Visa ( C )
 Single / Double
 3 months
 1-30 days
 Residence Visa ( D)
 3 months
 Visit Visa ( F )
 3 / 6/ 12 months
 1-60 days
 Transit Visa (G )
 3 months
 7 days
 Journalist Visa (J-1)
 3 months
 Journalist Visa (J-2)
 Tourist Visa ( L )
 3 months
 1-60 days
 Study Visa (X)
 3 months

When will my China visa start to take effect? And when will it expire? TOP

China visa takes effect from the issue date and expire on the “Enter Before” date given on the visa page.

Do I need to apply for another visa should I wish to leave and re-enter the Chinese land? TOP

Yes, a visa of double or multiple entries would be demanded once the traveler exits the mainland China and wishes to re-enter. For example, you are a USA citizen and your planned itinerary is China mainland (e.g. Beijing), third country or region (e.g. Vietnam), then back to China Mainland (e.g. Shanghai), you will need to apply a double-entry China visa. Please note Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan are regarded as the third region, too.

How to apply for a China visa?TOP

Applicants can apply for a China visa at a Chinese Embassy or a Chinese Consulate-General, or the China Visa Application Service Center (only for ordinary visa application). After readying the necessary documents, a personal visit or post are available for submitting the application. However, application by post might not be accepted by consulate-generals or embassies in certain countries and regions and the way of payments also varies. Please kindly check with relevant China visa issuing authorities for accurate information.

What do I need to provide when applying for a China visa? TOP

When applying for a Chinese visa, applicants need to provide necessary materials and complete the basic procedures:

1) Original passport with validity of at least 6 months and at least two blank visa pages.
2) A copy of the passport’s data page and the photo page (if it is separate).
3) A completed Visa Application Form with genuine and accurate information about the applicant.
4) One color Passport-size photo (48x33mm, taken within 6 months, full face, front view against a light background)
5) Supporting documents. For China Tourist Visa application,itinerary documents including air ticket and hotel reservation, etc. or an invitation letter issued by a relevant entity or individual in China.

How long can I stay in China with the visa? TOP

The duration of stay is specified on the visa. Normally, a regular Chinese visa is granted for 30 days, but applicant may make a request for longer stays of 60 or 90 days as long as he/she states the necessity of it clearly on the application form. However, the Chinese consular officials reserve the right on making the final decision.

How long would it take to get the visa?TOP

Generally speaking, the visa takes 3-5 working days to process, but that is under the premise that all required documents are submitted and all information provided is genuine and accurate. Should a visa is demanded for an emergent situation, express services could shorten the processing time down to 2 days.

Do I need visa for visiting Hong Kong?TOP

Citizens of the United States of America, United Kingdom and over one hundred countries and regions that have signed bilateral agreements with Hong Kong Special Administrate Region are entitled exemption of visa or entry permit before visiting. If you are not sure whether an entry permit is required, detailed information can be found on the Hong Kong Immigration Department website,

Where can I get the China Visa application form?TOP

Visa Application Form of the People's Republic of China at the website Visa Application Form (V.2013), or other websites of the Chinese consulate or embassy in your country.

How to apply for a Hong Kong or Macao visa?TOP

So as to apply for a Hong Kong or Macao visa, personal visit to the consulate or embassy is needed, but applying through travel agencies or other entrusted third parties can as well do the job. Applications by post will not be accepted. No appointment is required and the processing time is not confirmed.

Do I need visa for visiting Macao?TOP

In accordance with the Macao Entry Regulations, the Macanese government grants a 30-day visa-free stay to citizens of United States of America in Macao upon arrival, and a 90-day visa-free stay to citizens from European Union and Japan and six months for British citizens. For visitors from other countries and regions and more details, please visit the official website,

When do I need visa extension and how long in advance do I need to apply for it?TOP

If you would like to prolong your stay in China and your China visa is going to expire, you will need to apply for the China visa extension at the Exit and Entry Administration office of the municipal Public Security Bureau (the city you plan to stay in). It is recommended that the applicants apply for the visa extension about 10 days prior to the visa expiry date.

How many entries do I need if I visit Shanghai, then Hong Kong and Guilin with a British passport?TOP

You will need a double-entry China visa. First entry in Shanghai from UK and second entry in Guilin from Hong Kong (Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan are regarded as the third region)

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