Getting a visa for China

Visa to China

Are you intending to travel to China? You probably are aware requesting a visa usually is compulsory. Chinese visa application requirements might vary slightly depending on the country you are from. Learn about what supporting documents you might need to provide when applying for a visa for China: a passport valid for at least six months, travel and repatriation insurance, round-trip tickets… Nationals of many countries may request a visa through the Chinese Visa Application Service Centre, which simplifies procedures. To prepare your stay in China, apply for a visa about one month prior to departure.

Who needs a visa?

Except for specific very short stay cases, any person wishing to travel to China must have a visa. There are four main types of visas:

  • tourist and family visit visas (L-visa)
  • business visas (F-visa)
  • student visas (X-visa)
  • work visas (Z-visa)

Visa-exempt countries

Nationals of the following countries can stay in China without a visa for up to 15 days: Brunei, Japan and Singapore.

Nationals of 45 countries are eligible for 72-hour visa-free transits through Beijing or Shanghai: Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States.

Citizens of 24 countries do not need a visa to travel to Hainan Province on a group tour (organized by an agency approved by the National Tourism Administration of China and registered in Hainan Province) lasting less than 15 days: Malaysia, Thailand, Republic of Korea, Philippines, Indonesia, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Austria, Italy, Russia, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Spain, Netherlands, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

Visa-free regimes also apply to nationals of specific countries holding diplomatic or service passports and travelling to China for less than thirty days.

Chinese visa application requirements

You will be supplying different documents depending on the country you are from and type of visa you are applying for. Fees vary according to visa categories and number of entries.

Always required

When applying for a visa for China you will always need to provide at least the following documents:

  • a passport valid for at least six month starting from the date of application and containing at least one or two blank pages (depending on the country you are from),
  • the visa application form which you will either complete online through the Chinese Visa Application Service Centre website or download from the Chinese embassy or consulate’s website in your country.

You will only need to pay the visa fee only once you collect your visa.

Additional documents, depending on type of application

Additional documents are always requested. Depending on the type of visa you are applying for, several of the following documents might have to be enclosed in your application:

  • a travel and repatriation insurance certificate valid for the entire stay in China,
  • a medical certificate,
  • a copy of the identification pages of your passport,
  • a passport-sized photo,
  • your round trip ticket,
  • your hotel reservations,
  • an invitation letter from a Chinese organization or a permanent resident in China,
  • an invitation letter of a Duly Authorized Unit or a Confirmation letter of Invitation,
  • Employment Approval documents,
  • a school admission notice.

To find out more about travelling to China:

Get additional information about the different visa types on the Chinese Visa Application Service Centre website.
Learn about visa application procedures on China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

Date of publication May 17 2013

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