Chinese Visas

Visas:

Hong Kong Visas

Don't worry about a Hong Kong visa. US Citizens can stay up to 90 days in Hong Kong without a visa (6 months for UK citizens). However, they will stamp your passport on entry and departure, so budget half a passport page for each visit to Hong Kong.

Types of Chinese Visa

  • Type L Tourist Visa
    • Valid for 1, 2 or 3 months
    • Single or Double entry
  • Type F Business Visa
    • Valid for 6 months
    • Multiple Entry

1 and 2 month single entry Tourist visas are usually available when applying in the UK.
3 month Tourist visas are probably not available if applying in the UK, but are available in Hong Kong.
6 month multi-entry Business visas are easily obtained in Hong Kong, provided you have fairly recent Chinese entry stamps in your passport

Note that visa expiry dates are not all calculated the same way:
Some visas are valid for a fixed period starting from when you first enter China; these do not have a "Valid Until" date marked on them, as it depends upon your date of entry. They do, however, have an "Enter Before" date marked - if you have not used the visa to enter China by this date, then it becomes void.
Other visas are valid for a fixed period starting from the moment they are issued; these do have a "Valid Until" date marked on them.

Chinese Visas in Hong Kong

The Japan Travel Agency in Kowloon seems to be the best place to go, with low prices, no hassle (tell them what sort of visa you want, give them your passport and a passport photo, and then pay on collection) and services ranging from same-day to 3-day.

Rm 507-510, 5/F, East Ocean Centre, 98 Granville Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Tel +852 2368 9151 Fax +852 2723 6120
Their opening hours are: Mon - Fri : 9am - 6pm, Sat : 9am - 12pm, Sun & Public Holidays : Closed.

Note that in 2003 the Chinese government doubled visa prices for passport holders of some nationalities. Regardless, it is still cheaper to get your visa in Hong Kong than abroad in most cases.

Chinese Visas abroad

You will need:

Your current valid and actual passport, with at least six (6) months validity left before expiration and at least one blank page left in it.

One completed Visa Application Form US or UK with an additional passport photo.

Tips for filling out your application (for a Type L Tourist visa):

  • Occupation: Engineer is a good choice--suitably vague but respectable. Don't put journalist or speleologist or student.
  • Purpose of Journey: Tourism
  • Places to visit in China: Guilin, Yangshuo, Lijiang, Kunming, Dali are good choices. Name at least 3 popular tourist destinations, but do not list anywhere in Tibet.
  • Name, address and phone number of inviting organization/person in China (if applicable): leave blank
  • Number of entries: Single
  • Duration of stay in China: 60 (or 30), you can get 60 day visas in London, I'm not sure about the US.

Visas issued overseas are only valid for 90 days after their issue, so don't apply too early.

Online the embassies claim to want a copy of your airline ticket and itinerary before issuing a Chinese visa, although no-one on a Hong Meigui expedition has ever been asked to provide this.

Here are some links:
The State Department's foreign entry requirements
Chinese Embassy in the UK
Visas for UK Citizens
Chinese Embassy in the US
Visas for US Citizens

Chinese Visas in the US

Where

To obtain a Chinese Visa in the US, you must go through your local consulate.

  • Walk-in Service. To apply for a visa, applicants may appear in person at the visa office of the Chinese Embassy or appropriate consulate-General, or designate a representative or travel agency to appear. The regular processing time is four (4) business days. Applicant may request expedited processing with the approval of the consular official. Additional fees of $30 for one (1) working day processing and $20 for 2-3 working days processing will be charged.
  • Mail-in Service. Applicants may also apply by mail. The processing time is 7-10 business days. You must follow Instructions for Mail Service carefully before mailing your application to Chinese Embassy or consulates-general.

How much?

The Embassy & Consulates do not accept personal checks. Please pay in cash, money order, or bank check. Please make the check payable to Chinese Embassy or Chinese Consulate.

A Single entry 30 days visa costs $30. For mail service, they charge an addition $5.

Chinese Visas in the UK

Where

Applicant should come in person to the Visa Section of the Chinese Embassy during office hours. Due to the reason that problems occur constantly in the procedures of postal visa applications, it is recommended that all applicants apply for Chinese visas either in person or through third parties (e.g. travel agencies, delivery agents, etc.). Those that have real difficulties in doing so may make applications by post, but an extra 20 pounds per applicant will be charged as the postal service fee and two weeks processing time is required. There is no express mail service. Cash or Postal order only. Applicant can also apply from the Chinese consulates-general in Manchester or Edinburgh:

A visa is normally ready for collection at the Visa Section during office hours in 3 working days (72 hours) from the date that the application is accepted. 24-hour service is also available upon request.

Address of the Visa Office in London:

31 Portland Place, London W1B 1QD
Telephone: 0207-6311430 (14:00-16:00)

Visa Section Office Hours: 09:00-12:00 (Monday-Friday)
24-hour Visa Information: 09001-880808
Web Site: http://www.chinese-embassy.org.uk

Address of the Chinese Consulate-General in Manchester:

Denison House, 49 Denison Road, Manchester M14 5RX
Telephone: 0161-2248672

Address of the Chinese Consulate-General in Edinburgh:

43 Station Road, Edinburgh EH12 7AF
Telephone: 0131-3164789

Money

Cash only. Pay on collection.

Visa Extensions

A 60 day visa can be extended to 90 days by going to the Public Security Bureau (PSB = police) and filling out a form. In Kunming processing takes 3 working days, and costs 125 Y. Note that in Kunming the PSB has moved to posh new digs on East Renmin Road, about 4 blocks east of Beijing Road on the #47 bus route. Don't forget to bring a passport sized photo--otherwise you'll have to pay 40 Y for a sheet of not very flattering photos. They might also ask to see a receipt from your hotel, or a room key.

If you are involved with a chinese Work Unit, it may be possible to get an extension on a 6 month Type F (Business) visa. You will need the Work Unit to write a letter to the PSB (police) Visa Office, bearing the Work Unit's official stamp, requesting that they extend your visa. It is quite possible, however, that the request will be denied.