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How do I acquire a Chinese visa?

From the USA

For a China travel visa request, the Chinese Embassy or Consulates require the following:

  • Your passport, which must have at least six (6) months of remaining validity and at least one blank visa page in it.
  • A recent passport sized photo;
  • A completed Chinese visa application form;
  • An applicant who was born in China is required to submit his/her Chinese passport or last foreign passport with a Chinese visa when he/she applies for a Chinese visa with a new foreign passport
  • To apply for a Multiple Entry "L" Visa valid for 6 months or 1 year, you need to submit documents that certify you will come to China frequently for family visits or sightseeing. Acceptable documents include an invitation letter from a family member in China or proof of the relationship; or ownership certificate of real estate in China, or sale agreement or lease agreement of an apartment in China; or a copy of an adoption certificate or the child's former Chinese passport if he/she has adopted a child from China.
  • Foreign Chinese born in China who have visited China at least twice in the past 12 months, need to submit a copy of the visa(s); or submit an official letter issued by the host institution in China, or an application letter which explains why you need to visit China frequently for tourism.

Notes: You must go to the visa office of the Embassy or Consulate General in the consular jurisdiction in which you live to submit the application; or if you cannot go in person, you may entrust someone else or a travel/visa agent to go to the visa office of the Embassy or Consulate General in the consular jurisdiction in which you live for the application process.

For more detailed or up-to-date information, please check the USA Chinese Consulate website: http://www.China-embassy.org/eng

From the UK

For a China travel visa request, Chinese Embassy or Consulates require the following:

  • Your passport, which must have at least six (6) months of remaining validity and at least one blank visa page in it.
  • A recent passport sized photo;
  • A completed Chinese visa application form;
  • You need particular documentation depending on the type of visa you are applying for: Tourist visa: itinerary or flight booking. Business visa: invitation letter from a Chinese Government department or government-authorized company. Please get in touch with your local consulate for more information.

Notes: You need to visit the Chinese Embassy or Consulate to apply for and pick-up your visa (unless you use a travel agency that will do it for you).

For more detailed or up-to-date information, please check the UK Chinese Consulate website: http://www.chinese-embassy.org.uk

Other Regions

Click to visit ChinaTravel.net for a list of Chinese Embassies by region and a thorough Q&A on the visa application process.


Generally, a visa is valid for entry within three months from the date of issue. Please apply for your visa no more than three months in advance, but not too close to your departure date in case any problems arise.

Processing Time: Normal processing time for a visa is a minimum of five business days after the date the Chinese Consulate receives the application. (However in the UK, it just takes three working days after a successful application.)

Types of Business visas and validity

F - Visa
Business Visit Visa
Z - Visa
Work Visa
Issued to foreigners who are invited to China for a business visit. Maximum stay is 30 days for each entry.
Issued to foreigners who are to take up a post or employment in China, and their accompanying family members.
For foreigners staying in China, you will need to register with your local PSB within 30 days of entering China.

Where can I get a Chinese Visa Application Form?

Click the link below to open the application form. The form can be filled in and printed directly from your browser window. To download the form, right-click the link and select "Save Target As…" or "Save link as…"

Chinese Visa Application Form (PDF, 438K)

What is the best time to go to China?

The best time to visit China really depends on the regions you intend to visit and the weather you prefer, because China is a large country with various unique climates.

In winter, most parts of China will be cold, especially in the north. In spring or summer, it gets very hot throughout China. Your clothing should be casual and comfortable. During the rainy season, from May to August, a raincoat is necessary. For more detailed information, please refer to the table below. Don't forget that China is a large country, and in one season the temperature varies depending on which part of the country you are planning to visit (i.e. the south is usually a lot warmer than the north)

What should I bring with me to China?

Before you leave make sure to have a useful checklist:

  1. Make sure to bring enough money with you.
  2. Do your research into political, cultural and economic conditions of the countries to which you will be traveling. Ask friends who have been there, travel agents, foreign missions, and consult guidebooks before you leave.
  3. Draw up a flexible itinerary and budget. Leave a copy with someone at home.
  4. Find out about weather conditions. Pack appropriate footwear and the minimum amount of clothing.
  5. Purchase a supplementary health insurance plan that is appropriate for the type of trip that you are taking.
  6. Carry proof of insurance coverage.
  7. Know how to contact your insurer, and make sure that your traveling companion(s), travel agent and someone at home know how to do so as well.
  8. Photocopy the identification page in your passport. Keep a copy separate from the passport, and leave another copy with someone at home.
  9. Ensure that you have all the required vaccinations.
  10. Keep any medication that you require in its original container, and carry a doctor's prescription for any controlled drug.
  11. Carry a medical certificate for syringes if you require them for medical purposes.
  12. Ensure that you have the required visas. Make photocopies of your visas, and keep them separate from the originals.
  13. Investigate whether or not you or any of your family members are also considered nationals of any of the countries you plan to visit.
  14. Learn a few phrases in the language of the country you plan to visit.

Do I need to learn a little Chinese?

China is a vast country with people speaking a wide range of different dialects. The official and most widely used language is Putonghua, called Mandarin by many westerners. Another major language widely spoken in south China and Hong Kong is Guangdonghua (Cantonese). If it's your first time traveling in China, especially in major cities, you will be surprised to find many city dwellers are able to communicate in English. Many of them want to practice English with foreigners. Chinese people are generally open, friendly and willing to lend a hand to foreigners. So, it's not necessary to learn Chinese before coming China. However it's always a good idea to learn some common phrases.

What is the best itinerary to see China?

China is a vast country, so you cannot expect to see everything. On the first trip, you'd be best visiting the major cities. Refer to this list of the major attractions:

  • Travel to Shanghai and Beijing and visit the small cities around them.
  • Explore Tibet.
  • Visit Xi'an, Luoyang and Kaifeng. These are all Chinese ancient capitals.
  • Visit famous Chinese mountains such as Lushan, Huangshan, Taishan and Wuyishan.
  • Enjoy the beaches in Hainan, Dalian, Xiamen and Qingdao.
  • Go to Guilin, Zhangjiajie or Jiuzhaigou to view the beautiful landscape.
  • Take a ride down the Yangtze River from Chongqing.