Mainland China requires a visa for any kind of travel there. A visa is required in advance, and is not available on arrival with the exception of the transit visa. For more information on China’s 72 hour transit visa read our guide here.
There are many different types of visa for visitors to China but these are the most common types that travelers from North America and Europe apply for. For a full list of all other visa types visit the official Chinese embassy website here.
Type L visa – For travelers who intend to visit China as a tourist.
Type M visa – For those who intend to go to China for commercial and trade activities.
Type F visa – For visitors to China on exchanges, school visits, study tours and other non-business activities.
Type G visa – For those who intend to transit through China. (read more about this visa)
China requires a number of documents in order to apply for a visa. What is actually asked for can vary depending on the visa processing centre, but having the following prepared will help to prevent delays.
1) Required documents
- Your valid passport with at least six months of remaining validity and blank visa pages, and a photocopy of the passport’s data page and the photo page if it is separate.
- Completed visa application form and a recently-taken color passport photo (bare-head, full face) against a light background (size:48mm x 33mm)
- Proof of legal residence status if you are applying outside of your country of citizenship
- If you were Chinese citizen and have obtained foreign citizenship, a photocopy of previous Chinese passports or previous visas is required. If you have the original, it is recommended that you also bring it with you.
- Bring any old/expired passports with you for them to check for previous visas/stamps. Although this is not always required, this could be asked for at any time.
Depending on the visa type, additional supporting documents can be required. Please check the Chinese embassy website for related detailed information.
Related Article: The 72 hour transit visa (how to travel to China visa free!)
2) Submitting your application
Submit your visa application in person to the closest Chinese Visa Service Centre.
- The visa application form should be filled out on a computer and printed out for submission. Any false or incomplete information given in the application form may result in delayed processing or even the refusal of the visa.
- Visa officers will decide the period of validity, number of entries and duration of each stay according to the relevant Chinese laws and regulations.
- Regular service: 4 working days.
- Express service: 2 working days. Visa can be picked up on the 3rd working day.
- Rush service: 1 working day. Visa can be picked up on the 2nd working day.
Related Article: Top things to do in Beijing in a 72-hour visa
3) Visa Fees
1) Canadian passport holders: $100 for all types of visas
2) US passport holders: $140 for all types of visas
3) Holders of other countries’ passports (except those who have agreements with China):
- Single Entry: $50
- Double Entry: $75
- 6-month Multiple Entry: $100
- 12-Month Multiple Entry: $150
- Group Visa: $40 per visa
- Note: US passport holders will be charged $140 if applied individually and $120 per visa if applied as a group.
Express service: an additional fee of $35 per visa will be charged.
Rush service: an additional fee of $50 per visa will be charged.
Hong Kong, Taiwan & Macau have different visa rules to the mainland. US, Canadian and many European citizens can visit Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau for up to 90 days without a visa.
Hong Kong, Macau & Taiwan also count as a transit destination for the 72-hour transit visa
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