Do you need a visa to visit China?

You will need a visa depending on where you are going. Each type of visa has its own requirements. The process to obtain a Chinese visa takes approximately one week. However, it can take longer depending on where you're from and what documentation you have. You have a time limit to enter China once you have received your visa. You should be aware that the requirements and process can change at any moment. For the most current information, check with your local Chinese consulate/embassy or contact a reliable Visa Application Service Centre for assistance. Below mentioned are important details of the Chinese visa.

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Visa Types 

There are four types of visas for China: diplomatic visa, ordinary visa, courtesy visa, and service visa. The following are the categories for ordinary visas:

  1.  A Tourist Visa (L Visa), is granted to a Chinese citizen who visits China for a brief stay to visit family, or for other personal reasons.
  2. A Business Visa (F Visa), is issued to foreign citizens who are invited to China to visit, study, lecture, do business, or exchange in the field of science, technology, culture or advanced studies. It is valid for no more than six months.
  3. A Student Visa (X Visa), is granted to a foreign national who visits China to study, advance study or do an internship for a duration of at least 6 months.
  4. A Work Visa (Z Visa), is issued to a foreign national who travels to China to perform commercial or academic activities. It also applies to the spouse and minor children.
  5. Crew Visa (C Visa), This visa is granted to crew members of international trains, airlines, or vessels who are foreign citizens and come to China on business.
  6. Journalist Visas (J-1, J-2 Visa)
  7. A Transit Visa (G Visa), is issued to a foreign national who intends to transit through China to reach a third country or region. It is valid for up to 24 hours.
  8. A Permanent Resident Visa is granted to a Chinese citizen who is authorised to live permanently in China.

How to apply for a Chinese visa

  1. To find out which visa is available for you, visit the website of your local Chinese Embassy.
  2. All documentation required to support your application should be collected. These documents include, but are not limited to: A passport with at minimum 6 months validity, one visa page left, a completed Visa Application Form, two passport photos.
  3. If you are travelling on a tourist visa, prepare a detailed itinerary, flight/accommodation lists, and an invitation letter.
  4. Send all documentation and payments to the Chinese Embassy or Consulate. Wait for confirmation about your application.

The validity of each Visa for China, the number of entries and the duration of each stay

  1. Visa Validity ("Enter Before") refers to visas that are valid or can be used to enter China between the date of issue and the "Enter Before", the date on the visa (Beijing Time). The visa holder can enter China if it has not been used by the due date at 24:00 (Beijing Time).
  2. The number of times the visa holder is allowed to enter China during its validity. If there are no more entries, or if the visa validity has expired, the visa is invalid. The visa holder must apply for a new visa if it becomes invalid. An invalid visa will prevent you from entering China.
  3. The "Duration of Each Stay" refers to the maximum time a visa bearer can stay in China every day. It is calculated starting on the second day of entry.

Final words

You may have heard that visas are required to enter China if you plan on visiting the country. This is not always true. A visa is not required if you plan to enter China for less than 30 days. You can instead apply for a visa-free permit. A visa for China is required if you plan to stay in China for more than 30 days. A Chinese visa can be applied for at the Chinese consulate or embassy in your country. For more information about the visa process and application, you can check out our website

About This Author

Philip Diack is Founder and Managing Director of Passports and, a national passport and travel visa service with offices in Atlanta, Miami, Washington, DC, NYC, Denver and San Francisco.

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