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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about China Visa

There are many questions about China visas. We choose the most frequently asked questions and classify them into:
Q1-Q8: how to read a China visa correctly;
Q9-Q20: when you are applying a China visa;
Q21-Q24: when you have gotten a visa;
Q25-Q29: when you stay in China with your visa.

1. How to read a China visa correctly?

Q1. What is a China Visa?

A China Visa is an authorized permission issued by Chinese Embassy or Chinese Consulates that permits a foreign traveler to visit in China. China Visa has 17 categories. Read them.

Most visas are stamped or affixed into the traveler's passport. Visas are issued with specific limitations regarding purpose of visit, length of stay, validity of visa, etc. It is the traveler's responsibility to obtain necessary visas before he/she travels abroad. A traveler must follow very distinct guidelines and procedures established by Embassy or Consulates of a country when applying for the appropriate visa.

Q2. Do I need a visa to visit China's mainland?

Foreign citizens generally need a visa to visit China's mainland with the exception of visa-free entry according to relevant agreements and regulations. However, foreign citizens get the visa exemption when they conform to the special condition. Click here to known China Visa Exemption.

Q3. What is China visa like?

China Visa Sample

Q4. What does "Entries" mean on the visa?

"Entries" on the visa refers to the number of times the holder is permitted to enter China within the validity of a visa. It can be single-entry, double-entry, or multiple-entry. A single-entry is printed as 01, while double as 02 and multiple as M.

Q5. What should I do if the number of entries on the visa is used up?

For single-entry and double-entry visas, once the number of entries is used up, the visa becomes invalid, and you need to apply for a new visa to visit China again. A visa also becomes invalid if its validity period expires, regardless of the number of entries left. Visiting China with an invalid visa will result in denial of entry. Therefore, please check your visa's number of entries and make sure you have a valid visa before you leave for China.

Q6. What is "Enter Before"?

"Enter Before" on the visa refers to the last date for the holder to use it to enter the mainland China. You should enter before 24:00 on this date. All visas come into effect on the date of issuance. For instance, your single entry visa L was issued on May 5, 2014, which is the starting date for the holder to use it to enter mainland China.

Q7.What is "Duration of Each Stay"?

"Duration of Each Stay" on the visa refers to the maximum days the holder is permitted to stay in China.

Q8. What should I do if I want to stay in China longer than the "Duration of Each Stay" allowed?

You should apply for an extension of the duration at the local public security authorities. But your application may or may not be approved.

2. When you are applying China visa

Q9. What type of should I apply for?

It depends on the purpose of your trip to China and other factors. Consular officers have the final say on the type of visa to be issued. Read China Visa Categories for more information on the visa types: Crewmember (C), Resident (D), Visitors (F), Transit (G), Journalist (J), Tourism (L), Business (M), Reunion (Q), Talent (R), Private Visit (S), Study (X) and Work (Z).

Q10. Where should I apply for a visa?

You can apply for a visa at a Chinese Embassy or Consulate General. You are required to submit your application and relevant documents to the relevant Embassy or Consulate according to consular districts.

If you already travel away from your citizenship country, you can apply for a visa at a local Chinese Embassy or Consulate.

Q11. What documents should I submit when I apply for a visa? What are the requirements?

Necessary materials should be submitted based on the purpose of your trip to China. Read relevant Visa Applying Documents for details.

Q12. Do I have to submit my original passport for visa application? Can I submit the photocopy of my passport?

You must offer your original passport because the visa should be pasted on the blank page of your passport.

Q13. How much should I pay for visa?

The visa fees vary greatly depending on your nationality, the number of entries, the country you applying in and whether you need an express service or not. Generally speaking, the visa fees are more expensive if it has more number of entries.

Q14. How long should I apply for a visa before my planned trip?

We suggest you submit your visa application a month before your planned trip to China. If you apply for the visa too early, the visa may have expired when you need to use it. If you apply for the visa too late, you may not have enough time to get the visa. Normally, the validity of a single-entry visa is 3 months, counting from the date of application.

Q15. How long does it take to get a visa after my application?

It varies case by case: if you have submitted all documents required, it normally takes 4 working days; if you have a special or emergency situation, you may request express (2 or 3 working days) or rush service (within 24 hours) for an additional fee. Approval for such services may or may not be provided by the Chinese Embassy or Consulates General.

Q16. Can I apply for a visa by e-mail?

No. You should submit your application materials by someone else, such yourself or your entrust someone else. The form should be completed and signed by you, and take all responsibilities arising there from.

The Chinese Embassy and Consulate General do not accept mailed visa applications, or mail back your application materials and your passport.

Q17. Do I need to make an appointment for visa application?

No. You can visit the visa office anytime during working hours. You are suggested to arrive at the application hall before 10:30am. If you apply for the same-day rush service, you must be submit relevant materials before 12:00 because the application can not be processed in the same day after that hour.

Q18. Can I apply for a China Visa at the port of entry?

As a matter of convenience, you should obtain a visa before arrival in China.

Q19. Can I get a visa on arrival to Shenzhen or Zhuhai?

Yes. Shenzhen and Zhuhai are the Special Economic Zones. They can issue a special economic zone visa to foreign citizens at the entry ports. Shenzhen issues 5 days single-entry at the entry ports. Zhuhai issues 3 days at the entry ports.

Q20. Do I need a visa to Hong Kong and Macau?

Passport holders from about 170 countries or regions do not need a visa to travel in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. About 66-country passport holders enjoy free access to Macau for a certain period.

3. When you get a China visa

Q21. Can the validity, duration of each stay and number of entries be changed after I get the visa?

No, they cannot be changed. Please plan your trip before applying for a visa, and fill out the application form with accurate and complete information. You should check the contents of your visa when you get it. If you want to change your visa, you should submit a new application and pay the visa fee again.

Q22. Can I Change my trip plan after getting a visa?

Unless otherwise specified, you can change your trip plan. But you should enter China before your visa expires. The Chinese Embassy or Consulate General will not be responsible if your visa cannot be used due to changes of your travel plan.

Q23. When will my visa become valid and when will it expire?

The validity of a visa starts from the date of issue, unless other wise indicated on the visa.

A visa expires under any of the following circumstances:
a. After 24:00 (Beijing Time) of the Enter Before date shown on the visa;
b. The number of entries is used up;
c. The visa is revoked or canceled by the Chinese government authorities;
d. Other circumstances in accordance with Chinese laws.

Q24. Can I enter China after I get the visa?

You can enter China via Chinese ports open to foreigners after getting the visa. But Chinese customs/ checkpoint officials reserve the right to allow or deny a visa holder's entry into China.

4. When you stay in China with your visa

Q25. What should I know during my stay in China?

When you stay in China, you should comply with Chinese laws and regulations, and should not engage in activities unrelated to the purpose of trip specified on your visa application form or not authorized by relevant Chinese government authorities.

If you intend to work in China, you should apply for a work permit at competent authorities. Violators of relevant laws and regulations will be punished.

Q26. If visa expires during my stay in China, can I continue my stay? Can I renew my visa?

Although your visa expires, you can still stay in China until the allowed Duration of Each Stay expires.

However, you can not renew or make any changes on visa once it is issued. You have to apply for a new one again.

Q27. What should I do if I lose my passport during my stay in China?

You should report the loss to local public security authorities as soon as possible and go to your country's embassy or consulate in China to apply for a new passport or other travel document. After that, you should go to the local public security authorities to apply for a new entry and exit visa.

Q28. I get a new passport, but I have a valid Chinese visa in my old passport. Can I travel with both passports to China without applying for a new visa?

It is not necessary to travel with two passports. If your passport has expired or is going to expire in 6 months or less, you should apply for a new visa with your new passport.

Q29. As a U.S citizen, I plan to visit Beijing and then spend 7 days in Hong Kong. After that I will visit Guangzhou. How many entries do I need?

You can have 3 choices: two single-entries, a double-entry or a multiple-entry visa. You will use one entry for going from the U.S. to Beijing, and another for going from Hong Kong to Guangzhou.

If you only have a single-entry visa, during your stay in Hong Kong, you should apply for another visa to go to Guangzhou at the Commissioner's Office of China's Foreign Ministry in Hong Kong SAR. With U.S. passport, you do not need a Hong Kong visa for a visit of up to 90 days, but you need a visa to visit China's mainland.

For more information on the China Visa FAQs, please visit the official website:

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