How to get a Chinese visa

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While there are plenty of wonders in the world, China is home to seven of their own. It has the most complex and most spoken language in the world, the Great Wall and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, known as Roof of the World just to name a few. With so much to do, see and taste, it’s tempting to buy your ticket and never look back.

There are many countries U.S. citizens can travel as tourists – Canada, Mexico and European countries – without needing a visa. However, China requires all short-term tourists to obtain a visa before entering the country. It’s best to get this Visa a month before you travel, as processing times can vary. 

Getting a visa can be challenging if you’ve never done it before… Knowing which documents to bring and how to fill out the application can be confusing, trust us. We just went through the process ourselves. 

Know the differences

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Here are just a few of the different types of Visas you can apply for. If you are planning to study abroad in China, Visa Category “F” would be the Visa you need. 

There are many different types of Chinese Visa – 16 if we’re counting! The key is selecting the application for the type of visa you need. If you are visiting as a tourist, then you will need the “L Visa.” This is for foreigners who intend to go to china as tourists.

Passport and photocopy

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If you’re traveling the world, you gotta have a passport! If you don’t have one, start with our article How to get a passport for beginners. If you have your passport, make sure it is still valid for another six months. The visa goes inside of your passport, so also make sure that there are enough pages for it to fit inside.  Also, bring a photocopy of the information page of the passport – where your name, birthday and photo are located.

Complete Application

The visa application is a four-page long PDF document you can find online. Fill it out in CAPITAL LETTERS in English completely and clearly. Be sure to review all information to make sure all address and numbers (social security and passport) are correct, you can get declined if this information is incorrect. 

Part one asks for personal information such as your name and passport information. The application also requires you to list major family members, so only list your immediate family members. 

Part two inquires about your travel information. Here, be sure to fill out carefully your purpose of visit and how many days you will be in China. This section will ask you for your itinerary, be sure to put the detailed address of the hotels or Airbnb you will be staying in.

Part three requires other information about previous trips to China. If you are traveling with someone who will be sharing your passport with you, their information should be entered here too.

Part four is your signature and date. If you are younger than 18, your parent or guardian should sign this for you.

You can access the tourist visa here.

Plane tickets and hotel reservations

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Upon applying for the visa have your printed round trip plane tickets and proof of hotel reservation. If you’re staying in an Airbnb, have the confirmation page for that trip printed. If you have a letter of invitation to China, be sure to have that too. 

Location

Where you live will dictate where you go to apply for your visa. On the Chinese Embassy’s website you can find Chinese Consular post that has jurisdiction over your location. Going to the incorrect location, it may result in delay or denial of application. If you live in a U.S. territory outside of the United States’ mainland such as Hawaii or Puerto Rico, you may want to find a credible tour or travel company to assist you in obtaining a Visa. The location where you apply is also where you pick up your visa. Upon pick up, you will pay. The cost for a Visa is $140.

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