A Chinese visa is an endorsement/authorization issued by the Chinese visa authorities, permitting the passport holder entry into, exit from or transit through the Chinese territory. It's almost always appended onto one's passport. The Chinese visa authorities are Chinese Embassies, Consular offices and other Chinese institutions administrated by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Refer to Chinese Embassies and Consulates in Foreign Countries for a list of Chinese Embassies and Consulates in Foreign countries.
About China Visa
The Chinese visas are classified into: diplomatic visa, courteous visa, service visa and general visa according to foreigners' status, their purposes for coming to China and the passport type. Among them, general visas are divided into nine sub-categories, which are respectively marked with Chinese phonetic letters C, D, F, G, J-1, J-2, L, X, and Z.
- C Visa (Crewmember Visa): Issued to crewmembers on international aviation, navigation and land transportation missions and their accompanying family members.
- D Visa (Residence Visa): Issued to foreigners who are going to live in China permanently.
- F Visa (Business/Visit Visa): Issued to foreigners who are invited to China for a visit, research, lecture, business, scientific-technological and cultural exchanges or short-term advanced studies or intern practice for a period of less than six months.
- G Visa (Transit Visa): Issued to those people who transit through China.
- J-1 Visa (Journalist Visa): Issued to foreign journalists who are posted to China for at least one year.
- J-2 Visa (Journalist Visa): Issued to foreign journalists who are on temporary assignment in China.
- L Visa (Tourist Visa): Issued to those who enter China temporarily for touring, family visiting or other personal affairs (multiple-entry is not granted for this category).
- X Visa (Study/Student Visa): Issued to foreigners who come to China for study or intern practice for a period of six months or above.
- Z Visa (Work Visa): Issued to foreigners who have been approved for employment in China, and their accompanying family members.
Below is a list of detailed information for Chinese visas.
|Visa Categories||Entries of Visas||Validity||Duration of Stay|
|Crewmember Visa (C)||Single / Double||3 months||1- 30 days|
|Residence Visa (D)||Single||3 months||Not Available|
|Visit / Business Visa (F)||Single / Double / Multiple||3 months 6 / 12 months||1-60 days|
|Transit Visa (G)||Single / Double||3 months||7 days|
|Journalist Visa (J-1)||Single||3 months||Not Available|
|Journalist Visa (J-2)||Single||Not Available||Not Available|
|Tourist Visa (L)||Single / Double||3 months / 6 months||1-90 days|
|Study / Student Visa (X)||Single||3 months||Not Available|
Tourist visas can be extended for an extra month at the Foreigners Section of the Public Security Bureau.
Applying for a Chinese visa from within the United States
The Chinese consulates in the United States do not accept mail-in visa applications at this time. You can apply for Chinese visa in person at the Chinese consulates in Washington, DC, New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Houston. The Do-It-Yourself information link is provided here. Alternatively, most travel agencies and tour operators provide visa application services on behalf of you for a fee. It may be very convenient for you since you can just mail your materials to the travel agencies/tour operators and they will do the leg-work for you.
Cost of a Chinese visa from within the United States
|Passport Type||US Citizen||Non-US Citizen|
|Double Entry within 6 months||$130||$45|
| Multiple Entry within 6 months|
(30 days stay per entry)
| Multiple Entry within 1 year|
(30 days stay per entry)
The above does not include any service fees charged by any third-party handlers if you don't apply it by yourself.
Procedures and cost of applying for a Chinese visa from other countries
For further detailed information, the best way is to the nearest Chinese visa authorities. Refer to Chinese Embassies and Consulates in Foreign Countries for their phone numbers, email addresses, and web sites.
The basic procedure and necessary materials should be prepared and fulfilled for Chinese visa are:
- Your valid passport. It should be valid for at least 6 months. Single or double entry visa requires a passport valid for at least 6 months. For multiple entry visas, a passport should be valid for at least 9 Months. Your passport should have at least one blank "Visa" page. Pages for endorsements or amendments cannot be used as a visa page.
- Visa Application Form listed below in the "Downloadable Required Forms" section. If you cannot open the pdf form, please download the Acrobat Reader from here.
- One recent 2"x2" color photo affixed on the visa application form. Only STANDARD color passport-type full-face bareheaded photo with both ears visible is acceptable.
- BORN IN CHINA - If you were born in China and there is no previous Chinese visa on your current passport, you are required to submit your Chinese passport or last foreign passport. Actual passport is required because photocopies are not allowed.
- FOREIGN BORN CHINESE CHILD - If you apply a visa for your child under 18, who is a Chinese descent born in foreign country, you must include photocopies of your child's birth certificate and your or your spouse's foreign passport or foreign permanent resident card. Photocopies only, no originals are necessary.
- The full visa fee will apply.
Hong Kong visa
- Hong Kong has the special visa requirement. Refer to Hong Kong visa requirements for Foreign Countries or Territories, or their official site Hong Kong Visa for details.
- Macau has the special visa requirement. Citizens of US, Canada and other 53 countries may visit Macau without visas. Citizens from the other countries may apply the visa when they enter Macau. Refer to Macau visa requirements for Foreign Countries or Areas, or their official site Macau Visa, or Macau's official visa hotline (853) 2837-0777 for details.
Downloadable Required Forms
- Visa Application Form of the People's Republic of China
- Hong Kong Visa/Entry Permit Application Form (fillable new form)
- Form of Physical Examination Record for Foreigner
- Mutual Visa Exemption between China and Foreign Countries
Some special situations
- No visa is required for crew members and foreign passengers with through tickets who transit China by international flight or who stay in China's airports for less than 24 hours.
- Also no transit visa is required for passengers who transit through China via Shanghai Pudong or Hongqiao Airport and staying in Shanghai for less than 48 hours, as long as they are the national citizen of following countries: South Korea, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Austria and Greece.
- Visa is not required for the ordinary passport holders from Singapore, Brunei and Japan for their business, travel, visit or transit, but they should leave China within 15 days after their arrival to China.
- China has signed the agreements on Mutual Visa Exemption with about 64 foreign countries. Please refer to Mutual Visa Exemption between China and Foreign Countries for details.
- China has also set up port visa institutions in some cities and regions. Port visa is designed to help foreigners who want to enter China for emergency matters but fail to apply for a visa before hand, obtain a visa in the port at where they arrive.
- Travelers who want to visit Tibet need to acquire the consent of the Tourism Administration of the Tibet (西藏) Autonomous Region or any one of its foreign representative offices.
- Foreigners requesting to visit Shenzhen (深圳), Zhuhai (珠海), Xiamen (厦门) and other Special Economic Zones may apply directly to visa authorities in these zones for tourist visas. Foreign tourist groups from Hong Kong for a 72-hour visit to the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone are exempt from entry visas.
- Chinese Embassies and Consulates
- Foreign Embassies and Consulates
- Hong Kong visa requirements for Foreign Countries or Territories
- Macau visa requirements for Foreign Countries or Areas
- Travel Essentials
New Visa Rules
Update: The Chinese Embassy has announced that it has relaxed the requirements for tourist and business visas. Applicants for the visas no longer need to provide their hotel confirmation and flight itinerary. Tourist visa applicants need only submit a valid passport, visa application and photo.
The special China Visa policies implemented before and during the Olympics do not apply any more.
Update 28 June 09
Strangely the Chinese Embassy in Dublin insists on sight of the flight and hotel bookings when applying for a visa - also it should noted that the Chinese Embassy in Ireland refuse to accept postal applications - they are open from 9-12 mon to fri only and the visa application has to be dropped off and collected by a person (not necessarily the visa owner).