- China Health and Travel Vaccinations
- Beijing Travel Insurance
- Seven Step Beijing Trip Planning
- Internet Access
- Chinese Visas
- Chinese Embassies Abroad
- Foreign Embassies in Beijing
- Chinese Telephones and Phone Cards
- Chinese Language Guide and Phrase Book
- Getting around: Beijing Transport
- Chinese Toilets
- Chinese Finger Counting
- Chinese Money & Currency Exchange
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Travel InsuranceWe strongly advise you purchase comprehensive travel insurance before you leave. BME can recommend JS Insurance for travellers from the UK and AIG Travel Guard for travellers from the USA.
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Chinese visas – what type you need and how to get it
The most common types of Chinese visa are the L visa, for tourists, the F visa, for business, the X visa for study, and the Z visa for work.
For the four main types of visa, you need to apply to the embassy or consulate with:
- A completed visa application form.
- A passport photo.
- A passport valid at least six months (9 months for a multiple entry visa) beyond the date of entry into China, with a blank double page.
And in addition to those you’ll also need:
L Visa: Itinerary or flight booking. In practice, this just means writing on the application form where you intend to go in China (except for same day processing, see below).
F Visa: A letter of invitation from the relevant government department or authorised company. Reputable companies should be used to issuing these.
Z Visa: A work permit from the Labour Ministry or Bureau of Foreign Experts, and an invitation letter from the employer. (Your employer should sort all of this out for you).
X Visa: A letter of invitation from the educational establishment, and a JW-201 or JW-202 form from the Education Ministry. (The school can get hold of these for you, but start the process at least two months before you leave to be safe)
There are also C visas for ships’ crew, G visas for transit only, D visas for permanent residence in China, and J-1 and J-2 for journalists.
Chinese Visa Duration
The basic length is 30 days, but you can get up to 3 months before the price starts going up
Chinese Visa Cost
For visas processed in the UK (Prices in GBP):
Entries Single Double Multiple (6 month) Multiple (1/2-5 year)
UK Citizens 30 45 60 90
US Citizens 30 50 65 100
Other Nationalities 20 30 40 60
In the US, the cost (in US$) are
US Citizens 50 75 100 150
Non US Citizens 30 45 60 90
In the UK, processing a visa usually takes 3-4 days. In the US the standard time is four days. In both countries, it would be sensible to leave yourself a little leeway.
Chinese Visa Postal Applications
Embassies and consulates in the US, Canada and the UK no longer accept visa applications by post, though there are numerous agencies who can apply on your behalf. Postal visa applications are still accepted in New Zealand and Australia, but not encouraged by the embassy. Apply 1-2 months in advance. You should included a postage paid, addressed return envelope with your application, and add NZ$10/Aus$15 to the cost. Beware that some embassies have separate postal addresses and street addresses. Check their website to make sure.
Same Day/ 24 hour Chinese Visa Services
In the UK, you can apply for a same-day visa for a surcharge of 20GBP (apply AM, get it back PM). Next day processing costs 15 GBP.
In the US, it’s US$30 for 1 working day processing, which means PM pickup if you apply before 11.30AM, or next day if you apply later. 2-3 working day processing costs US$20 in addition to the standard charges.
Same day processing requires that you bring evidence of the flight booking.
Chinese Visa Extension
To extend your visa whilst in China you need to visit the Public Security Bureau in whichever city you’re in. In some areas of the country this can be a frustrating process, in others it’s almost suspiciously straightforwared. How long you can get varies greatly too. In Beijing you’ll only get a month and need to go to:
No. 2 (èr hào lóu),
Dōngchéng District (Dōngchéng Qū),
Some Beijing residents, however, find it more convenient to nip down to Hong Kong and get a new visa. (See below)
Getting/Extending your Mainland PRC Visa in Hong Kong
Some people resident in China choose to travel to Hong Kong to periodically renew their visa. Ordinary 1-3month visas are available from virtually any travel agency and even some hotels, and cost around HK$100 (~US$13). For visas over three months, head to one of the branches of China Travel Service. There are multiple entry business visas (which conveniently don’t require proof of your intended business) valid for six months, which cost around HK$600.
Hong Kong Visas
Nationals of Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the US are all entitled to 90 days visa free stay.
Where to get your Chinese Visa
The best and most straightforward thing is to get your visa sorted out while still in your own country, but there are Chinese embassies throughout the world where you can have your visa processed. See Chinese Embassies Abroad.
Citizens of Japan, Brunei and Singapore can stay in the PRC for 15 days for the purpose of business or travel without needing a visa.
Additional Information (From the website of the Chinese Embassy to the US):
Any person suffering from mental disorder, leprosy, AIDS, venereal diseases, contagious tuberculosis or other such infectious diseases shall not be permitted to enter China.
Website of the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau
What to see and do around Beijing
Wonder at the Great Wall, be awed by the magnificent Forbidden City, drink in the scenery from a boat on the Summer Palace’s Kunming Lake.