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What is a China visa?

A China visa is a travel authorization document usually required by China for entering its borders, which is issued by a Chinese embassy or consulate, affixed in your passport.

Who Needs a China Visa?

Usually, foreigner travelers need Chinese visas when traveling or establishing a business in the People's Republic of China. But Chinese nationals abroad can go back to visit their families and travel without visas.

The China tourist visa, also called the L visa, has several versions depending on the number of entries including single entry, double entry, and multiple entries for 6/12/24 months.

Foreign travelers usually need single entry L visas to travel in China. A foreign traveler with an L visa is not allowed to do other activities including employment and journalist interviews. You have to apply for a work visa or business visa to create a business, or a journalist visa to take part in journalist interviews.

Category of China Visa

Chinese Single Entry L Visa

In general, Chinese single entry visas are valid for 90 days, which begin at the issue date. If the holders of the visas don’t enter China in the valid duration period, the visas will be null and void. Foreign travelers can stay for 30 days starting from the date of entry. Chinese Double Entry L Visa

Chinese double entry visas are valid for 180 days starting from the date of issue. Foreign travelers need Chinese double entry visas if they plan to return to the mainland from Hong Kong and Macau SAR.

Tibet Travel Permit/Visa

Foreign travelers have to get a Tibet Travel Permit if planning to travel in Tibet. It is easier to obtain a permit when traveling with a foreign group. Tourists can also go to the Tibetan Tourism Bureau to get the permit.

Shenzhen Tourist Visa

People from most countries can get a special visa for Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, which lasts for 5 days, except the USA, France, India, the Philippines, and Vietnam. The Shenzhen five-day visa is only issued at the Luohu border. The Shenzhen visa cannot be extended so foreign travelers have to leave Shenzhen when it expires. During their stay in Shenzhen, travelers can’t go to other cities in the mainland.

Visa Policy for the British to Hong Kong

When a passport is valid for more than six months, a British citizen is granted six months in Hong Kong without a visa. When a passport is valid for less than six months, a British citizen can only stay for another month after the scheduled stay with a valid passport.

Documents for a Visa

Passports must be valid for more than six months and also have two blank visa pages because the first empty page in the passport cannot be used in China. Applicants should prepare one recent photo of 35mmx45mm square and a visa application form with true and correct information about themselves. The documents and information must be correct, or the visa will be refused.

When to Apply for a Visa?

Three months before your expected day of travel is sensible to allow time to audit your passport. Pay attention to your "ENTER BEFORE" date.

Usually, you will have 30 days for your stay in China. The number of days will be printed after "DURATION OF EACH STAY"

Where to Apply for a Visa?

Foreigner travelers can apply for a visa in person in the visa office of the Chinese embassy or consulate in their own countries. A travel agent or a visa agent can also help you to deal with the visa in the embassy or consulate office.

How Much Does a China Visa Cost?

American Passports in the US:

  • Multiple entry - 5 days processing US$140
  • Multiple entry - 8 days processing US$140

UK Passports in the UK:

  • Single entry £96
  • Double entry £111
  • Multiple entry - 6 months £171
  • Multiple entry - 12 months £261

How Can I Extend My China Visa?

Foreign travelers who want to stay longer in China need to apply for an extension. To get an extension on your L visa, you need to submit a form to the Local Public Security Bureau 7 days before the expiration date of your visa. Most visas are issued for 90 to 120 days.

The materials required for extending your L visa are as follows:

  • Valid passport and your current L visa
  • Application form for a visa extension
  • Color photo (35mm x 45mm)
  • Registration Form of Temporary Residence
  • Bank account records proving savings of at least 21,000 yuan for a 30-day stay
  • Reason for the extension

How long you can get an extension for depends on the type of your visa. Multiple entry visas cannot be extended.

72-Hour Visa-Free Transit

Visitors from 45 countries can benefit from the policy:

28 countries in the European Union: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Three other European countries: Russia, Romania, and Ukraine.

Six countries in the Americas: United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile.

Two countries in Oceania: Australia and New Zealand.

Six countries in Asia: Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.

Travelers who fly to the designated airports and have a flight ticket to a third country can enjoy a 72-hour visa-free service since January 1st, 2013.

These airports facilitate the 72-hour visa-free stopover:

  • Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK)
  • Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport (SHA)
  • Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG)
  • Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN)
  • Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport (CTU)
  • Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport (CKG)
  • Shenyang Taoxian International Airport (SHE)
  • Dalian Zhoushuizi International Airport (DLC)
  • Guilin Liangjiang International Airport (KWL)
  • Kunming Changshui International Airport (KMG)
  • Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport (HGH)
  • Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport (XMN)
  • Xi’an Xianyang International Airport (XIY)
  • Changsha Huanghua International Airport (CSX)
  • Nanjing Lukou International Airport (NKG)
  • Tianjin Binhai International Airport (TSN)
  • Wuhan Tianhe International Airport (WUH)
  • Harbin Taiping International Airport (HRB)

144-Hour Visa-Free Transit

Shanghai and some cities nearby allows travelers from 51 countries stay in certain cities for up to 144 hours (6 days) without applying for a Chinese travel visa to experience local culture and life.  You can enjoy a journey in China easier. See more on China Travel: Visa-Free Transit n China for Up to 144 Hours