You’ve planned a trip to China. Before book your China flights and China hotels, there’s one thing you should pay attention to. Generally speaking, In addition to a passport, as a foreigner, you will need to get a visa for China. Whether you need a visa and what kind of visa you need depend on what kind of trip you are planning.

Step 1: make sure whether you need a visa

Foreigners who visit China are generally required to apply for a visa before departure, but some are exempt from a visa to Mainland China, for example, ordinary passport holders from Singapore, Brunei and Japan enjoy visa free access to Mainland China for up to 15 days. For more detailed information, you can see the Chinese Visa Exemption.  

After checking the information above, if you are sure that you actually need a visa, the next step is to decide what kind of visa you need.

Step 2: what kind of visa do you need?

There are eight categories of ordinary Chinese visas, which are respectively marked with the letters C, D, F, G, J-1, J-2, L, X and Z.

L Visa: The most popular type of China visa, an L visa is also known as a tourist visa. It is issued to those who visit China for tourist purposes, family visit or other personal matters.

F Visa: Also known as business visa, an F visa is issued to applicants who are invited to China for business, research, lecture, scientific-technological and culture exchanges, short-term advanced studies or intern practice for a period of no more than six months.

Z Visa: A work visa, it is issued to those who are hired by Chinese companies to work or teach in China, and their accompanying family members.
X Visa: A student visa, issued to applicants who go to China for the purpose of study, advanced studies or intern practice for a period of more than six months.
C Visa: Issued to crewmembers on international aviation, navigation and land transportation missions bound for China.
G Visa: Issued to those who transit through China. American passport holders must obtain a transit visa to transit through all Chinese airports except Pudong International Airport in Shanghai.
D Visa: Issued to applicant who is to reside permanently in China.
J-1 Visa: Issued to foreign resident correspondents in China.
J-2 Visa: Issued to foreign correspondents on temporary interview missions in China.

Based on the information above, decide what kind of visa you need.

Step 3: apply For It

Preparation work: your original passport with at least 6 months validity and two blank visa pages, one legibly, completely and truly filled Visa Application Form( download it from the internet), one recent passport photo affixed on the application form, and additional documents for the specific category of visa you are applying for.

Submit those to a Chinese embassy or consulate.

More than 98% of Chinese embassies and consulates don’t accept visa application by mailing. You should visit the official website of Chinese embassy or consulate to check whether it accepts application by mailing or not. Even though the visa mail service is available, the embassy or consulate is not responsible for the loss or damage of your passport and other documents due to mishandling by mail service. It is strongly advised that you go to the embassy or consulate to submit the materials and pay the fees.

Step 4: pick up your visa

Generally speaking, 3 or 4 days later you can go to pick up you visa. Make a phone call to see whether the visa is ready before you go there is much wiser.

You made it! Congratulations on your new visa. Now with it you can carry out your China travel plan at any time.

Jack Li
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