Visa Guidelines

To apply for a China visa, you need to complete an application form attached with your recently-taken color photo, prepare a valid passport, and submit them along with other supporting documents to China Visa Application Service Center, Chinese embassy or consulate which is in charge of your residence area. Check the step-by-step guide on how to apply for a China visa below for details.

1. Check whether you need a visa

An essential thing to do is to check whether you need a visa before starting the following process. As long as you are eligible for China's visa-free policies, you don't need the visa, but some documents like your passport, in and out transportation tickets and sometimes sufficient funds still need to be prepared for immigration check.

2. Check which visa you need to get

Based on your travel purpose, determine which visa you are going to get. Read China Visa Types to select one which suits you most. For tourists, the L visa is suitable.

3. Prepare all documents needed

Documents required for all types of visa include passport and visa application form attached with a recently-taken photo. Besides, other supporting documents are required, but they vary according to the visa type you are applying for. For instance, if you apply for a tourist L visa, the supporting documents will refer to round-trip tickets, hotel bookings or an invitation letter from your China travel agency. See detailed China Visa Application Requirements.

Be sure your documents meet the requirements of Chinese embassy or consulate.

  • Passport: with a remaining validity of at least 6 months; have blank visa pages.
  • Visa Application Form: truthfully completed online, printed out and signed. Click to fill out China Visa Application Form.
  • Photo: taken within latest six months; full face against a light background; size: 48mm x 33mm; bare-headed unless for religious causes.
4. Make an appointment & submit the application

Make an appointment with the Chinese embassy, consulate or Chinese Visa Application Center (CVASC) which serves your residence area and lodge the submission at the scheduled time. Prior appointment may not be mandatory in some embassies or consulates, like China Consulate in Los Angeles. Click to make an appointment for China visa application submission.

In most cases, applicants, especially those aged 14-70, need to show up in person. In a few cases, one can entrust someone else or an agent to do this. In a few consular offices and CVASCs, mail service is also available.

The normal processing time is four working days including the day you submit the application and the day you collect. Remember there might be additional non-working days for Chinese public holidays. By paying an additional fee you can usually have your application processed faster. It is normally possible to have your application processed overnight, for collection in the following afternoon, though some offices might offer a same-day service if you arrive in the office soon after opening. In general try to apply for it well in advance to allow for any delay.

5. Pay the fee and pick up your visa

Go to the place where you apply for China visa on the date appointed at the pick-up slip. Pay the fee and you will get your passport back with visa. Sometimes, one may need to pay the fee on the day of application submission. See China Visa Fees.

The best time to apply for China visa is one or two months before your departure date. Usually, a China visa is valid for only three months from the date of issue, which indicates that the earliest time you can apply is three months before your departure.

For more detailed information, please consult the embassy of the People's Republic of China in your country. If any further assistance needed, contact us via email: