How To Apply for a Chinese Visa

Obtaining a Chinese visa is a relatively straightforward matter. Note that the following requirements apply to citizens of North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Requirements might be different for other countries. General requirements for the most common visa types are as follows but you should always double-check exactly what is needed with your local Chinese consulate.

Tourist (L) Visa
1. A valid passport with at least six months before expiry and at least two blank pages.
2. A completed visa application form.
3. One passport photo (standard, color headshot with the whole face clearly visible) attached to the application form.

Business (F) Visa
The same documents that are needed to apply for a tourist visa are also required to apply for a business visa. Additionally, you need a letter of invitation (a fax is also okay) from a Chinese Government Department or a Chinese company. A letter of introduction from your company in your country stating the reason for your visit to China is also usually sufficient.

Note that in recent times business visas have become a little more difficult to obtain. A letter from your own company might not suffice if you are applying for a long-term multiple entry visa, but it’s still worth trying. If you are being invited by a Chinese company, they need to obtain and official invitation from a Bureau of Commerce in China. An informal letter will generally not be sufficient.

Student (X) Visa
The same documents that are required for a tourist visa as well as a Foreign Student Visa Application Form (JW201 or JW202) as well as a letter of enrolment from your school in China. Note that your school should provide you with both these documents. US Citizens also need to submit a ‘Physical Examination Certificate’ if they will be studying in China for more than 6 months. More information about this certificate is available on the consulate’s website.

If you will be studying in China for less than 6 months then you will be issued an F Visa (though you should still provide the required documents for an X Visa when applying).

Employment (Z) Visa
The same documents that are required for a tourist visa as well as an Employment Permit from the Ministry of Labor and Social Security and an official invitation issued by an authorized agent (the Chinese Government or an authorized company). You need to show the originals of these documents and leave copies with the consulate. Note that your employer should provide you with both these documents.

Transit (G) Visa
The same documents that are required for a tourist visa as well as a visa for your final destination (if applicable) and a ticket to your final destination. There’s not much point applying for this type of visa – it’s just as easy (actually, easier) to obtain a tourist visa.

China Visa Fees

Citizenship Single Entry Double-Entry 6-month Multiple Entry 12-month Multiple Entry
USA US$130 US$130 US$130 US$130
UK £30 £45 £60 £90
Europe €30 €45 €60 €90
Australia AU$30 AU$45 AU$60 AU$90
Canada C$50 C$75 C$100 C$150
New Zealand NZ$60 NZ$90 NZ$120 NZ$180

Application fees should be paid by cash, money order or bank check. Credit cards are accepted at some consulates. Personal checks are never accepted. Fees are paid on collection of the visa.

China Visa Processing Time

The standard processing time for a Chinese visa is four working days (ie. an application submitted on a Monday morning can be picked up on Thursday). Express services (including same-day services) are usually available for an extra fee.

Mail Applications for Chinese Visas

Applications by mail are generally not accepted by Chinese consulates (not under any circumstances in the USA, UK and Canada). If you can’t make it to the consulate yourself then you need to find someone to apply on your behalf (a friend or relative is fine) or otherwise pay a visa agent to apply for you. Visa applications are occasionally accepted by post in Australia, but only if you live in a state or territory where there is no consulate.