China travel

Published on September 9th, 2012 | by Paz


Chinese Visa: The Quick and Easy Way

Getting your Chinese visa can be complicated and nerve racking. I mean you have watched 60 minutes in the last year or two and they tell you all the crazy things China does. Now you have decided to go and I am sure your family members have sent you many newspaper clippings of buildings collapsing, children starving and that once you pass through their borders you are lost to all in the world…including Facebook!!

Going to the consulate to get your visa can be daunting and if you are anything like me you are waiting for them to call you out on everything you plan to do there (aren’t they mind readers?) and deny your visa application, put you on some black list so that you can never visit their country and you will have to eat that non-refundable plane ticket you purchased.

These were my fears as I walked through those consulate doors. After over a year in China and having to help and complete over 10 Chinese visa applications I will share the quick and easy way to do yours. Do fears….they aren’t mind readers.

Okay so we know you need a visa into China, now what?

  1. Print out the visa application prior to going to the Chinese consulate.
  2. Fill out the application in its’ entirety.
  3. Find your local Chinese consulate: Remember they close between 12 – 2 pm.
  4. Take your application, 1 passport picture, passport. Most consulates have photo service in case you forgot.
  5. You don’t have to be there in person. For example: I took my husband’s and two children’s applications and they were not with me. You can hire services to this for you if the consulate is not close enough for you to go on your own. I have had family members use this service and there were no problems, however I have never personally used a visa service.
  6. Visa processing time: The regular processing time is 4 working days.
    • Express service: 2-3 working days processing,additional fee of $20 will be charged per visa.
    • Same day rush service:emergency only, additional fee of $30 will be charged per visa (applications should be submitted before 12:30pm, and may be picked up between 2:30pm-3:00pm on the same day).
  7. Visa fees. They are different for every nationality. 
    1. UK Fees here. (Multiple entry one year 180 pounds)
    2. American Fees here. (Multiple entry one year $150)
  8. Duration of visa. 
    • Single Entry “L” Visa is 30 days and can expire any where from one month to six months. 
    • Multiple Entry “L” visa is 90 days or 180 days from the date of issue and normally expire within 6 months to a year. 
      •  Meaning that you can enter China either 1 (single) or more than one (multiple) times within the the time from issued until it expires. Your duration inside of China is based on how many days you have in the country 30 or 90. 
      • *** Remember if your visa expires March 30th and you have 90 days to be in the country you can still go enter China on March 29th and stay another 90 days. However upon departure from China you will have to get another visa to re-enter. This is a good way to save $150 bucks on a visa. 
  9. What kind of visa am I most likely to get?
    • If you are applying from your home country and nothing extraordinary is taking place in China. You are most likely to get a Multiple Entry 90 day visa that is valid for one year. This is a great visa and will give you lots of time to explore China and go in and out as you please. 
Chinese Visa
Tips on filling out your application.
    • Be vague vague vague.
    • Destination address: If you are traveling around it is okay to give a  hotel’s address. I always chose a Holiday Inn in our destination city. It is well known and there are never any questions about the Holiday Inn.
    • Itinerary: You only have to give them the main cities that you will be stopping at. No need to put down every single small town you will be visiting.
    • Chinese Contact: If you don’t have anyone that invited you to China or that you will be meeting there is no need to fill this out. However if you have talked to a person or have a contact at a hostel or hotel, but down their information.
    • Don’t leave anything blank: If an certain part of the application doesn’t apply to you, make sure you put a line through it or write N/A (not applicable) this lets them know that you looked at it and it doesn’t apply, not that you forgot to fill something out.

Tips on answering common questions at the consulate.

    • Q. Do you have a round trip ticket?
      • A. I have purchased my departure ticket, and am trying to find a better price on my return ticket. I will purchase it today.
    • Q. What do you do for a living?
      • A. DO NOT SAY…Anything about a blog, media, video, website, preacher, religion, or teacher. (unless you are getting a specific visa for either of these occupations. We changed my husbands job to a engineer at his company and used the acronym for his company on the application.
    • Q. Do you have enough money to travel China? How much money do you have in your bank account?
      • A. Always exaggerate how much money, but a safe bet is that you have $10,000 USD at your disposal. They most likely won’t ask for you to bring back up documentation. They just want to see if you can answer the question, and how you do so. I was only asked this question once, and gave the 10K answer and wasn’t asked any further questions.

My funny story:

My first trip to the consulate was full of anxiety, terror, and sweaty palms. Could they deny us or tell us we couldn’t go. I had already purchased our tickets (one-way) and we had rented our house, signed a contract, and packed and purged our entire house. What would I do if they denied us? Probably cry.

CC: “What do you do?”

Me: “Sales’

CC: ‘Name of your company?” (It is on the form)

Me: “Concurrency”

CC: “What kind of company?”

Me: “Microsoft partner.”

CC: “Okay.”

CC: “What does your husband do?”

Me: “He is a web designer.”

CC: “Name of his company?” (It is on the form)

Me: “JSI”

CC: “What kind of company?

Me: “Media…..(oh shit!! I knew it as soon as the words left my lips that I had just screwed up!!) His company is a newspaper company.”

Me: “But he doesn’t have anything to do with media part, he ONLY designs the site.”

CC: “Too late, he has to have this form signed and then faxed back to us before we will issue a visa for him. He can’t have the same visa as you and your children. He will only be allowed to be in the country for 30 days on a single entry visa.”

Me: “Wait, wait, he doesn’t have anything to do with media and won’t be reporting on anything from China. He doesn’t do reporting.”

CC: “Too late, he has been red flagged already. Fax form when it is filled out and then he can get his visa. Bye!”

I was so pissed at myself. I knew better. What were we going to do? How could we be on a year visa and have my husband on a 30 day visa. How did that work and what would we do. I called Zeek (my husband) and let him know the great news….we were able to be in China for a whole year for 90 days at a time and he….hmmm had to leave in 30 days.

What would you have done given this circumstance? Find out what we did tomorrow!!


About the Author

Paz is an avid adventurer in life and food. Traveling across the globe with her family they enjoy cultural immersion and checking out the local eateries.

2 Responses to Chinese Visa: The Quick and Easy Way

  1. Pingback: Chinese Visa Outside Your Home Country: The Quick and Easy Way | International Cravings

  2. Megan says:

    Thanks for the tips, Paz! I was wondering how difficult it is to get a tourist Visa if you are living outside of your home country temporarily? I live and work as an English teacher in South Korea, and since mainland China is not too far away, I’d really like to explore during my vacation time. However, you mentioned that saying I’m a teacher is a red flag and you also mentioned you were applying from your home country. Do you know anything about the process in my situation?

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