Apply Chinese Tourist Visa

[2023 Update]How to Apply Chinese Tourist Visa?

Updated

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Most foreigners visiting China for tourism need to apply for a Chinese tourist visa.

Many may find the application process daunting, but obtaining a Chinese visa is not as difficult as it used to be.

This is an up-to-date guide on applying for a Chinese tourist (L) visa that can help you overcome many obstacles.

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Who Can Enter China Without a Visa?

There are some cases where you can enter China without a visa, including countries that have mutual visa waiver agreements with China, transit visits, and certain tour groups.

For citizens of countries like the US, UK, Canada etc., except for transit visits and tour groups, a visa is required for entry.

Here are the details of visa-free entry to China:

Countries that have mutual visa waiver agreements with China

China has mutual visa exemption agreements with over 150 countries. Citizens from these countries can enter China visa-free for tourism, business, or visiting relatives and friends, and stay for up to 30 days.

However, this generally does not include developed countries in the Americas and Europe.

24-Hour Visa-Free Transit

This policy applies to almost all travelers transiting mainland China by international flights, cruise ships, or trains for less than 24 hours. Tourists need to provide onward tickets to a third country.

Connecting through multiple cities in China within 24 hours also qualifies for this policy. For example, if the itinerary is Los Angeles – Beijing – Shanghai – Bangkok, with total time in China less than 24 hours, the passenger can still enjoy the 24 hour direct transit.

72-Hour And 144-Hour Visa-Free Transit

The 72-hour and 144-hour visa-free transit policies have similar requirements. Under the 144-hour visa-free transit policy, foreign visitors holding passports from one of 53 eligible countries can apply for a 6-day permit to enter certain cities in China upon arriving at an entry port.

They must also prove they will depart to a third country after leaving China, meaning they have to show an onward ticket to a third country when arriving in China. This is a great option for those who want a brief stay to explore different parts of the country.

The 53 countries are:

  • 24 countries in the Europe Schengen area: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. 
  • 15 other countries in Europe: Russia, United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, Monaco, and Belarus. 
  • Six countries in the Americas: the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile.
  • Two countries in Oceania: Australia and New Zealand. 
  • Six countries in Asia: South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.

You can use the Chinese government's official tool to check online if you qualify for this policy.

Hainan 30-Day Visa-Free Access

Citizens from 59 countries are now eligible for 30-day visa-free travel to Hainan province. The policy previously only applied to tour groups but has now been expanded to independent travelers.

Qualified visitors can freely explore all of Hainan province, and can take direct flights to Hainan Island from Hong Kong or any other place outside mainland China.

15-Day Shanghai Visa-Free Policy for Cruise Tour Groups

International tour groups of two or more people arriving in Shanghai by cruise ship can access Shanghai and other coastal provinces where the cruise ship docks visa-free.

These include Liaoning, Hebei, Tianjin, Shandong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan. Tourists can visit cities where the cruise docks as well as surrounding cities, including Beijing but not any cities beyond the listed provinces.

The tour group must be organized by a travel agency registered with the Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration and Shanghai Customs.

6-Day Visa-Free Access for Pearl River Delta Visitors

Citizens holding passports from countries that have diplomatic ties with China can join tour groups organized by registered travel agencies in Hong Kong and Macau for visa-free access to the Pearl River Delta region for up to 6 days.

This area includes Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Zhaoqing and Huizhou.

chinese tourist visa for us citizens Pin
chinese tourist visa for us citizens

What Visa Do You Need to Travel to China?

If you do not qualify for a visa-free policy, then you will need to apply for a visa to enter China. For independent tourists coming to China, an L visa is required.

In most cases, visitors can obtain a single-entry L visa valid for 30 days. Citizens of UK, USA, Canada and Argentina can get 10-year multiple-entry tourist visas for China.

Here is the complete list of Chinese visa types:

VISA CATEGORYDESCRIPTION
CIssued to foreign crew members of aircraft, trains, and ships, or motor vehicle drivers engaged in cross-border transport activities, or to the accompanying family members of the crew members of the above-mentioned ships.
DIssued to those who intend to reside in China permanently.
FIssued to those who intend to go to China for exchanges, visits, study tours, and other activities.
GIssued to those who intend to transit through China
JIssued to resident foreign journalists of foreign news organizations stationed in China. You shall apply for a J1 Visa if you intend to stay more than 180 days and for a J2 Visa (short-term) if you intend to stay in China for less than 180 days.
LIssued to those who intend to visit China as a tourist.
MIssued to those who intend to go to China for commercial and trade activities.
QIssued to those who are family members of Chinese citizens or of foreigners with Chinese Permanent Resident Permit and intend to go to China for a family reunion, or to those who intend to go to China for the purpose of foster care.
RIssued to those who are high-level talents or whose skills are urgently needed in China.
SIssued to those 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.
XIssued to those who intend to study in China. You shall apply for an X1 Visa if you intend to stay more than 180 days and for an X2 Visa (short-term) if you intend to stay in China for less than 180 days.
ZIssued to those who intend to work in China.

How Much Does a Chinese Visa Cost?

Chinese visa fees vary greatly depending on your nationality, number of entries required, where you apply from, and whether you need express service. Generally, the fee for US citizens is $185, while for citizens of other countries it ranges from $30 to $90.

Chinese visa price list for key nations:

Country1 Entry2 Entries
United States of AmericaUSD 185USD 185
United KingdomGBP 151GBP 151
AustraliaAUD 109.5AUD 139.5
CanadaCAD 142CAD 142
FranceEUR 126 EUR 126
GermanyEUR 125.45EUR 125.45
NetherlandsEUR 126.55EUR 126.55
New ZealandNZD 140NZD 210
SpainEUR 126.55EUR 126.55

How Much Is a 10 Year Visa to China?

china 10-year multiple entry visa Pin
china 10-year multiple entry visa

Currently, only citizens of the UK, USA, Canada, and Argentina are eligible for 10-year multiple entry Chinese visas.

The fee is:

USAUKCanadaArgentina
140 USD321 GBP142 CAD2,470 ARS

How Long China Visa Process?

Applying for a Chinese L visa now requires booking an appointment. After securing the appointment and submitting the application materials, the process is usually completed within a few working days.

1.Chinese Visa Regular Application Processing Times

If all documents meet the requirements, you can typically collect your Chinese visa on the 4th to 5th working day after submission. However, if the Chinese consulate officials request additional materials or an interview, it may take more time.

2.Expedited Chinese Visa Processing Time: Express and Rush Services

● Express Service: 2~3 working days, can be picked up on the 3rd or 4th working day.

● Rush Service: 1 working day, can be picked up on the same day or next working day.

Where to Apply for a Chinese Visa

For most countries, Chinese Visa Application Service Centers handle visa applications specifically. This includes the UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany etc.

This means you do not need to go to the nearest Chinese consulate or embassy to submit your application. You can simply apply directly through the Chinese Visa Application Service Center.

However, it is well known that the US is the most difficult country to get a Chinese visa from (and likewise, it is very hard for Chinese to get US visas).

If you are from the US, you need to personally go to the nearest Chinese embassy to submit your documents. These locations include Washington D.C., New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

China Tourist Visa Requirements

According to statements from the Chinese embassy, required documents generally include:

  1. Your passport, valid for at least six months.
  2. COVA visa form filled out online.
  3. Round-trip air ticket and hotel reservation or invitation letter from a Chinese travel agency.
  4. Passport-sized photo with a white background.

Requirements may vary slightly depending on where you are applying from. Carefully follow the instructions on the application form or seek assistance from a visa agent.

If you submit incorrect or incomplete information, your application may be rejected or delayed.

When to Apply for a Chinese Tourist Visa?

Applying around 1 month before your intended departure is usually appropriate – not too early nor too late.

However, if you encounter a high visa demand period, you will need to apply earlier in advance.

How to Apply for a China Tourist Visa (L Visa)?

China Tourist Visa (L Visa) Pin
China Tourist Visa (L Visa)

1.Have your passport ready and make sure it is valid for at least six months.

2.Book your flights and accommodation or obtain your invitation letter.

For booking flights and hotels in China, you can use booking.com or trip.com and then print the reservation confirmation.

3.Complete the application form online.

4.Make an appointment with the Chinese consulate or Chinese Visa Application Service Center with jurisdiction over your place of residence, and submit the above documents at the scheduled time.

5.Collect your passport and visa, paying the fees, on the designated date.

How Long Is a China Tourist Visa Valid?

Chinese tourist visas are typically valid for 3 months from the date of issuance.

For US citizens, they can obtain 10-year multiple entry tourist visas. The permitted stay duration is 30 to 90 days, determined by consular officials based on your travel itinerary.

Why Was Your Chinese Visa Denied?

1.Incorrect or false information submitted

You will need to fill out the application accurately and provide consistent supporting documents.

2.The applicant is from a country with frequent war, terrorism, political turmoil, a high rate of visa overstays, or strained diplomatic relations with China.

3.Applicants working in media, religious, or military fields may face higher visa refusal rates, as these occupations are deemed sensitive by the Chinese government.

FAQs

Can I Get a Tourist Visa to China Now?

Yes, you can!

As of March 15, 2023, China has resumed issuing all types of visas to foreigners, including tourist visas, port visas, and multiple visa-free policies.

How Long Can I Stay in China on Tourist Visa?

Chinese tourist visas are typically single entry and valid for 30 days.

Citizens of the US, UK, Canada, and Argentina can apply for 10-year Chinese tourist visas, allowing multiple entries to China with stays up to 2 months per entry.

How Many Times Can I Enter China on a Tourist Visa?

For a regular tourist visa, you can only enter once. If you have a 10-year Chinese tourist visa, you can enter multiple times.

Can I Rent an Apartment in China on a Tourist Visa?

Yes, you can!

There are no visa restrictions on renting an apartment in China, but tourist visas only allow short stays.
You will need to go to the local police station with your contract and passport within 24 hours of checking in to register your accommodation and update to a long-term visa.

Can I Travel to China for Business with a Tourist Visa?

Yes, you can.

Only if your visa is valid.

Can I Get Married in China on a Tourist Visa?

Yes, you can.

There are no visa restrictions for foreigners to get married in China. You can get married in China on a tourist visa.

Can I Work in China on a Tourist Visa?

No, you can't.

To work in China you need to obtain a Chinese Z visa (work visa).

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