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How to Apply China Visa

How to apply China visa is the most concerned question for international tourists who plan to travel to China. Here you will find the useful information about China visa requirements and instructions. Also the China tourist visa application procedure is listed for your reference.

Understanding Chinese Visa Types and Categories

Before diving into the application process, it's essential to understand the different types of Chinese visas and their corresponding categories. Each visa type has specific requirements and documentation, so ensure you apply for the one that aligns with your travel purpose. Here are some common visa categories as follow:

Tourist Visa (L Visa): Ideal for travelers planning to explore China's rich cultural heritage, visit friends or relatives, or engage in leisure activities.

Business Visa (M Visa): Designed for individuals traveling to China for business-related purposes, such as meetings, conferences, or negotiations.

Transit Visa (G Visa): For travelers transiting through China to reach their final destination in another country, allowing a short stay in China during transit.

Read more: China Visa Types

Gather the Documents for Your Visa Application

Now that you've identified the type of visa that aligns with your travel plans, it's time to gather the necessary documents and information for your visa application. While specific requirements may vary depending on your nationality and visa type, the following documents are commonly required:

Basic Application Documents (required for any visa application)

- The valid passport
Original passport valid for at least 6 months with blank visa pages, and a photocopy of data page (with your photo on it)
China visa application form and photo
The applicants must fill in a complete Visa Application Form and attach it with a recent-taken color passport photo. Fill in the website online: 中国签证在线填表 (mfa.gov.cn)
So what is the requirement of the photo? The photo you submit must be passport-type (bare-head, full face) and standard with the correct dimension and background color.
The Consulate and passport agency require passport type photo i.e. full face frontal, 2" x 2", with white or off-white background. You can obtain this type of photo anywhere that advertises "passport photo" service. If you print your own photo, it must be high resolution and needs to be printed on special photo paper. Cutout from personal photograph is not acceptable. Please glue or staple the photo to the application form.

Specific requirements for visa photos: Sample

Effective proof of legal stay or resident status (it applies to those who do not apply for China visa in their countries of citizenship)
In case that you are not applying for China visa in your country of nationality, you are supposed to provide the original and photocopy of valid proof of the legal stay or resident status, or valid visa of employment or student status, issued by the relevant authorities of the county where you are currently staying in. 
Your previous Chinese passport or previous Chinese visa (it applies to those who used to be Chinese citizens and have got foreign citizenship)
If you are applying for China visa for the first time, you must provide your previous Chinese passport and a photocopy of data page and photo page. 
If you once obtained China visa and now are applying for China visa with a renewed foreign passport, you must provide a photocopy of the data and photo page of your previous passport and a photocopy of your previous Chinese visa (If the name of the new passport is not in conformity with the previous one, an official document of name change issued by the authorities shall be provided).

Supporting Application Documents (application materials other than basic application materials)

For C-Visa, a letter of guarantee issued by a foreign transport company or an invitation letter issued by a relevant authority from China side shall be provided.
For D-Visa, the original and a photocopy of foreign permanent residence identification form issued by China's Ministry of Public Security shall be provided. 
For F-Visa, an invitation letter issued by relevant authorities or individuals from China side shall be provided. 
For G-Visa, an onward air (train, bus, ship) ticket with confirmed date and seat to the third country or region shall be provided. 
For L-Visa, the tour itinerary and documents with round trip flight tickets and accommodation reservations, or an invitation letter issued by relevant authorities or individuals from Chinese side shall be provided. 
For M-Visa, documents of business activity, trade fair invitation letter or other invitation letter issued by trade partners in China shall be provided. 
Further reading: China visa knowledge and types
how to apply for China visa

Submit Your Application and Pay the Visa Fee


Once you have all your documents ready, you can submit your application in one of the following ways:

In Person: Visit the nearest Chinese embassy, consulate, or visa application center.
Through an Agent: Use a reputable visa service agency to handle the process on your behalf.

Be sure to follow the instructions provided on the embassy or consulate's website carefully, including any specific requirements or forms of payment for visa fees.

Collect Your Visa

After processing, which typically takes a few days to a week, you can collect your visa. You can get your visa by post or you can collect your passport by visiting the Visa Centre.
For people who travel to Tibet, they should present their doctor’s certificate showing that they have normal blood pressure and heart condition in view of the altitude stress. 

>> Frequent asked questions:

When to apply my China visa? How long is a China Visa valid?

When to apply my China tourist visa, how about the China visa validity, duration about apply China tourist visa are listed for your reference.

Suggested Time to Apply

We suggest that you apply ONE month in advance but no earlier than THREE months. Because the validity of Chinese visa is 3 months from the date of issued, lacking of time to apply may cause extra cost and unpleasant mood for your China tour.

Validity of Visa

Normally speaking, a visa (both Single and Double Entry China visas) is valid for 3 months (90 days) from the date of issuance (date of application) and on any day within this period, the visa holder may enter China.
To the people who hold the Multiple Entry China Visa (for business only) is valid within 6 months.

Duration of Stay Specified in the Visa

Normally speaking, a visa holder may stay in China for 1 month which counts from the date of his/her entrance into China. To stay longer, you need to specify your request in your application form and it'll be subject to the permission of the consul in charge.

How to Extend China Visa?

From optimal situation, people who want to extend the China visa can just go to a Public Security Office in any Chinese city, and then, fill in a visa extension form. That’s all. But this situation is not very often to happen because of the safety consideration.
Usually, Chinese officers may demand applicant to represent some “evidences” to support the application. Some Public Security (Police) departments will require a letter explaining the reason for your wish to extend the visa. You may have to gain the help of a Chinese friend to write a letter explaining the reasons for you extended stay in China.
Generally, the following materials should be provided:
  • Your valid passport and visa
  • The visa extension application form with real information about yourself
  • Reasons or evidences of extending visa
  • It is necessary for you to contact with your travel advisor on the visa extension issue, he/she can help you and give you many useful tips in the practical application process.
The process of applying for and extending visas is becoming a lot easier, but depending on where you go. So it can still be a confusing and frustrating experience. Please note that a tourist visa is only extendable up to a maximum of 90 days, after that you must leave the country.

Something Should Be Paid Attention

L Visa Extension: travelers who come to China with L Visa, if couldn’t leave within the expiry of visa, may apply one extension with his/her valid passport, for the period not exceed one month.
Activities should not engage in: A foreigner who holds L Visa in China could not engage in activities beyond the capacity as a tourist, such as employment, religious propaganda and illegal journalist interviewing.