In this section of our site, you will find questions that we are frequently asked about Chinese visas and some general answers to them.
We try to ensure that information contained in this section is accurate and up to date, however if you don’t find what you are looking for here or have specific questions, please either check our forum for answers, post you own question to the forum or contact us, and we will be happy to help.
If you are completing your application with us then we will tell you all you need to know, but feel free to take a look the FAQs below if you require peace of mind!
Under Chinese law, foreign nationals of 51 countries travelling by air to a third country via Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalian, Guanghzou, Guilin, Kunming, Shanghai, Shenyang and Xi’an are entitled to enter the People’s Republic of China without having to obtain their visas in advance, and are allowed to remain on the territory of these cities for up to 72 hours of their arrival.
The 144-hour visa-free transit program has been in operation in Jiangsu, Hangzhou and Shanghai since 30th January 2016.
List of countries that qualify for Chinese visa-free entry:
Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, USA.
This policy only applies to foreign nationals travelling by plane who meet all the following requirements:
Please note: The 72-hour visa-free policy does not apply to passengers travelling by train, ship or other transport!
The 72 hours will be counted from the time when the transit permit is granted, not from the time when the flight landed at the airport and unless staying in a hotel, tourists must register their transit permit at a police station within 24 hours.
Travellers must notify their airline companies/carrier about their travel plans before they arrive. The airline companies/carrier then report the visitors to the Chinese Frontier Inspection Organisation to ensure that they can go through the immigration formalities successfully. All passengers must carry their valid passports and certificates during their stay in China.
During the 72-hour period, travellers are not allowed to leave the city where they got their visa-free transit stay permit. Consequently, they must depart from the same airport as they arrived (for example, if they arrived in Beijing they cannot leave from Shanghai even if Shanghai has the same policy).
This policy only applies to foreign nationals who meet all the following requirements:
The 144-hour free stay period does not start until 00:00 of the day following the passenger’s arrival.
Travellers must notify their airline companies/carrier about their travel plans before they arrive. The airline companies/carrier then report the visitors to the Chinese Frontier Inspection Organisation to ensure that they can go through the immigration formalities successfully.
During the 144-hour period, foreign visitors can travel within the administrative regions of Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang, but cannot leave for other cities and all passengers must carry their valid passports and certificates during their stay in China.
Under Chinese law, tourists who need to leave Beijing/ Chengdu/ Chongqing/ Dalian/ Guanghzou/ Guilin/ Kunming/ Shanghai/ Shenyang/ Xi’an for another Chinese city must apply for visas at the local Public Security Bureau.
Visitors who do not exit China after 72 hours from their arrival due to unavoidable reasons, such as treatment of sudden disease or flight cancellation, must apply for visas at the local Public security bureau. Otherwise, they cannot apply for an extension of stay in China.
Currently Beijing, Chengdu, Guanghzou and Shanghai airports have already optimized the transit formalities with Customs, Entry-Exit Inspection, Quarantine Bureau and Frontier Inspection Stations. The airport terminals have installed free-visa stay tourist exclusive service areas for offering foreign currency exchange, mobile phone or car rental, luggage deposit and other services for free-visa stay travellers.
This will depend on the type of visa you need as well as the processing and delivery options chosen. A standard Chinese business or tourist visa service for UK nationals will take 10 business days to process at the Consulate in addition to the days necessary for us to process your application, collate the information to send to the Consulate and delivery. We also offer an express service which will cut down the processing time for Chinese business and tourist visas to 9 business days.
The Chinese visa application process is fairly standard for most visitors, however there may be a few additional difficulties that arise such as the need to provide additional documentation with your application if you are un/self-employed or have a profession that is deemed ‘sensitive (see ‘will my profession affect my application?’. Nationals of certain countries may also be required to complete fingerprint identification.
Business visas are generally used by people who travel to China on official or private business and may be single entry, double entry or multi-entry and allow for trips of up to 90 days during each entry.
For UK passport holders a business visa is valid for 2 years and allows multiple visits for a 90-day-stay each entry. Please be aware, that you cannot apply for this visa more than 90 days before the first entry.
For other nationals the visa can be issued for single, double or multiple visits with a validity “window” that starts from the date the application is made to the Consulate and you should enter China before this validity “window” expires. For single entry visas the validity “window” is 90 days, for double entry visas it is either 90 or 180 days and for multiple entry it may either be 6 or 12 months. One can stay in China up to 30 days during each entry.
Please note: If you visit Hong Kong from China, and then intend to return to mainland China, that you will need a double entry visa.
In rare circumstances it may be possible for travellers to apply for a visa online and obtain this from Beijing airport. Please be aware that this is only an option in emergency or urgent situations only and this is not guaranteed, even in these circumstances we recommend applying for a visa in the usual way if this can be avoided. You may be able to obtain a visa at Beijing airport in the following cases:
If you have an active Chinese visa in an expired or cancelled passport and wish to transfer this to a new passport then you will have to visit the Chinese Visa Application Centre directly along with the passport you wish to transfer from and the passport you wish to transfer your visa over to. Unfortunately, it cannot be done without your presence.
This will depend on when you are looking to travel. You should not apply for a Chinese visa more than 90 days in advance, as your first entry “window” will expire before you come to China.
It is advisable to apply at least one week before your trip to China, to be able to process the visa on standard service (4 working days) which is the most cost-effective.
All visas require a passport photo that meets criteria specified by the Chinese Government. You should make sure that your photo meets the following criteria:
The documents you need for us to submit your application to the consulate depend on your nationality and the type of Chinese visa you need. In some cases you may be required to apply directly at the consulate in person. Passport holders of the UK require the following:
If your visa is lost or stolen, you will need to apply for a replacement visa.
Firstly, you will need to contact a local police department and request an official statement confirming that your visa was lost. We recommend stating that your documents were lost, not stolen as this can make processing a replacement visa easier.
Once you have completed these steps, you will then need to get a new passport from the British Embassy in China.
China official public holidays include:
Please note: Most, if not all official offices, including the consulates in the UK will be closed on these days — and often, processing times are slower before and just after.
We start processing your visa application immediately upon receipt of your order, therefore we are only able to refund the consulate tariff and postage cost if you cancel your order before we submit your visa application to the Chinese Consulate.
If you have already submitted your application to the Chinese Consulate when you cancel your order, or in the unlikely event that your visa application is refused, we will be unable to provide a refund unfortunately.