China Visa

A China visa is a travel document that allows non-Chinese citizens to enter, leave or transit across China which is issued by authorized China government agencies. Foreign citizens must obtain a visa before entry into China, with the exception of visa-free entry based on relevant agreements or regulations. Due to different purpose of visiting China, different type of China visa is required. This article will present you the must-know information of China visa and how to apply a China visa for your China tours.

Basic info for China Visa

China visa types

Visas are classified into four types - diplomatic visa, courteous visa, service visa and ordinary visa according to the status and types of passports held by aliens coming to China. Ordinary visas are divided into 12 sub-categories or 16 categories:

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 (Exchange Visa): issued to those foreigners who visit China for exchanges, visits, study tours and other non-business activities;

G Visa (Transit Visa): issued to those who transit through China;

J-1 Visa (Journalist Visa): issued to resident of foreign news organizations stationed in China. The intended duration of stay in China exceeds 180 days.

J -2 Visa (Journalist Visa): issued to foreign correspondents on temporary interview mission in China. The intended duration of stay in China is no more than 180 days;

China tourist Visa

L visa (Tourist Visa): issued to those who enter China for touring, family visiting or other personal affairs (multiple-entry is not granted for this type of visa);

M visa (Business Visa): issued to those who enter China for commercial and trade activities.

Q1 visa (Family Visit Visa): issued to those who are family members of Chinese citizens or of foreigners with Chinese permanent residence and intend to go to China for family reunion, or to those who intend to go to China for the purpose of foster care;

Q2 visa (Relative Visit Visa): issued to those who intend to visit their relatives who are Chinese citizens residing in China or foreigners with permanent residence in China.

R Visa (Taleng Visa): issued to those who are high-level talents or whose skills are urgently needed in China;

S1 Visa (Visa): issued to Foreigners who intend to go to China to visit the foreigners working or studying in China to whom they are spouses, parents, sons or daughters under the age of 18 or parents-in-law, or to those who intend to go to China for other private affairs. The intended duration of stay in China exceeds 180 days.;

S2 Visa (Private Visit Visa): issued to Foreigners who intend to visit their family members who are foreigners working or studying in China, or to those who intend to go to China for other private matters. The intended duration of stay in China is no more than 180 days;

X1 Visa (Private Visit Visa): issued to those who come to China for study for a period of more than 180 days;

X2 Visa (Study / Student Visa): issued to those who come to China for study for a period of no more than 180 days;

Z Visa (Working Visa): issued to those foreigners (as well as their family members) who are taking up a post or employment in China;

China Visa Free Countries

Citizens holding ordinary passport of Singapore, Brunei and Japan are not required to apply for China visa to stay in mainland China for tourism, business or visiting relatives & friends no longer than 15 days.

Number of Entries

Chinese visas are divided into three types according to the number it allows holder to enter China: Single-entry visa, Double-entry visa and Multiple-entry China visa. A visa becomes invalid if there are no entries left, or there are entries left but the visa validity expires.

  • Single-entry China visas allows visitors to enter China mainland once.
  • Double-entry China visas are for visitors who need to leave or re-enter mainland China.
  • Multiple-entry China visas are for visitors who need to leave or re-enter mainland China for multiple times during its validity
  • China visa for China special areas:

    ■ Visa for Hong Kong SAR:

    As a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, Hong Kong carries on its own entry regulations. Normal China visas are not valid for Hong Kong and vice versa. You may need to get both China visa and visa for HK SAR if you’re going to visit both of them.

    Visitors from over 160 countries are exempt from a visa to visit Hong Kong for a stay from 7 to 180 days. People from other countries are required to get a Hong Kong visa before going to Hong Kong. Check HKSAR visa requirements for foreign countries / territories.

    ■ Visa for Macau SAR

    Macau has its own entry policy as a special administrative Region of China. Visitors from over 60 countries and territories can visit Macau for a certain period without a visa, and from most other countries can apply for an entry permit (so-called “visa-upon-arrival”) on arrival.

    Starting from 1 July, 2010, visitors from Bangladesh, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam are required to apply for a valid Macau “visa” in advance through a Chinese embassy or consulate.

    ■ Travel Permit for Tibet

    Foreigners are required to apply for a Travel Permit to enter Tibet area besides a China visa. It may be required to book and issue flight or train tickets to Tibet and is a must to board a train or plane to Tibet.

    How to get your Travel Tibet Permit: Travel Tibet Permit is issued by the Tourism Bureau of Tibet Autonomous Region. As it is not allowed to apply for the Tibet Permit by visitors independently, you need to find a China-based travel agency like Easy Tour China, to apply it for you. After you book a China tour with us and get your China visa, we will apply the Tibet Permit for you with the copies of your passport and China Visa around 3 weeks before your arrival.

    Hong Kong and Macau Travelers who hold Chinese SAR passports, Return Home Permits or Exit-Entry Permits for Travelling to the Mainland are not required to apply for Tibet Permit for a Tibet tour.

    China Z visa (Working Visa) holders need to provide additional documents ofResidence Permit (居留许可证) and Certification from your company (工作证明).  

    How to apply China visa

    Document required for applying a China L Visa (Tour visa)

    Passport: Original signed passport with at least six months of remaining validity and blank visa pages, and a copy of the passport's data page and the photo page if it is separate.

    Chinese passport

    Visa Application Form: China Online Visa Application

    Photo: See Photo Requirement for Chinese Visa application

    Tour Itinerary: Documents showing the itinerary including air ticket booking record (round trip) and proof of a hotel reservation, etc.

    Invitation Letter issued by a relevant entity or individual in China. The invitation letter may be in the form of fax, photocopy or computer printout, and must be signed by the inviter and/or company seal in case of a business invite. An applicant may be required to provide the original invitation letter as deemed necessary by a consular officer.

    Fingerprint/Biometric Requirement for Chinese Visa Applicants: With reference to international practices and mature experience, according to relevant Chinese laws and regulations, the Chinese Embassy and Consulates issue Biometric visa and implement fingerprint requirements for Chinese visa applicants. Visa applicants are required to submit the application in person to get fingerprints and photo take at the Visa Application Centers. Visitors to China whose fingerprints and photo do not match may be denied entry and should bear all the consequences.

    Exemptions for the fingerprint requirements are granted to:

    1. Children under the age of fourteen;

    2. Seniors above the age of seventy;

    3. Persons for whom the collection of fingerprints is physically impossible;

    4. Diplomatic passport holders or applicants enjoy reciprocal arrangement.

    Where to apply a China Visa

    ■ Apply for a China visa at a Chinese Embassy or Consulate General in your country.

    ■ Apply your China Visa via a China Visa Application Service Center or a China Visa Agent.

    ■ Mail-in visa application is not accepted.

    How to get an Invitation Letter for applying a China L Visa

    ■ If you’re going to apply a China tourist Visa (L Visa) for upcoming China tour, you might be required an invitation letter from your travel agency based in China as one of the documents to submit visa application.

    ■ On request, Easy Tour China can prepare an invitation letter for you after you book and pay (deposit or full payment) for the China tour. You're required to provide scanned copy of your passport.

    ■ For citizens of some countries (e.g. Pakistan, Nigeria), an invitation letter from Duly Authorized Unit is required to apply for a Group Visa. Such invitation letter is issued by a Chinese Government agency like Provincial Tourism Bureau. There must be minimum 5 adults in the tour group and all members are required to enter and exit China at the same time.

    China Transit Visa Exemptions

    ■ What is Transit Visa Exemption: Foreign travelers transiting through China to reach another country/region may be eligible for the Transit Visa Exemption. Currently there are 24-Hour, 72-Hour, and 144-Hour Options which allow travellers a visa-free visit to China for 24, 72, or 144 hours.

    ■ Area limitation for China Transit Visa Exemption: Generally, the transit visa exemption only allows the traveler to visit the province of their arrival. But travelers make transit at Shanghai, Hangzhou and Nanjing can travel within Shanghai, Zhejiang province and Jiangsu province. Travelers entering China visa via Beijing, Tianjin, Shijiazhuang, and Qinhuangdao can travel within the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.

    ■ Categories of China Transit Visa Exemption

  • The 24-hour Transit Visa Exemption: Under the 24-hour visa-free transit rule, no visa is required for international flight, ship, or train passengers who transit directly through mainland China and will stay for less than 24 hours. Passengers should hold tickets to a third country or region and have a confirmed seat.
  • The 72-hour Transit Visa Exemption: Passport holders of 53 countries and regions can be granted a visa-free stay up to 72 hours while transiting via airports of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Shenyang, Dalian, Harbin, Xian, Guilin, Kunming, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Tianjin, Qingdao, Nanjing, Changsha, and Xiamen.
  • The 144-hour Transit Visa Exemption: Passengers from 53 countries and regions can be granted a visa-free stay up to 144 house while transiting via 27 ports across 20 cities: Beijing, Tianjin, Shijiazhuang, Qinhuangdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Shenyang, Dalian, Qingdao, Chengdu, Xiamen, Kunming, Wuhan, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Jieyang, Chongqing, Xi’an, and Ningbo. Read more about 72-Hour/144-Hour China Transit Visa
  • Convenient Visa for 144-hour Stay in Guangdong Province: Foreigners who visit Hong Kong and Macau can easily go to Guangdong Province by obtaining a Convenient Visa for 144-Hour Stay. To apply such visa, visitors must be the ordinary passport holders of nations with diplomatic relations with China and they are required to join guided tours (minimum 2 persons) organized by a registerred Hong Kong travel agent after arriving Hong Kong or Macau. The most popular entry cities are Zhuhai and Shenzhen.
  • Hainan Visa Exemption: Visitors from 59 eligible countries and regions can travel to Hainan province visa-free for up to 30 days. Visitors to Hainan enjoying visa-free access do not need to be traveling to a third country, but they must book their visits via travel agencies registered in Hainan and approved by China’s National Tourism Administration.
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