China Visa | 中国签证
Applying for Visas
Since 2013, citizens of 51 countries, including
Australia, France, Germany, the UK and the USA, are
allowed to stay for up to 72 hours in Běijīng without a
visa. However, if you are staying longer, citizens of
every country, Japan, Singapore and Brunei, require
a visa. Note that visas do not allow you to travel in
areas of China, such as Tibet, that require special
permits to visit.
Your passport must be valid for at least six months
after the expiry date of your visa and you’ll need at
least one entire blank page in your passport for the
visa. You may be required to show proof of hotel
reservations and onward travel from China, as well as a
bank statement showing you have $100 in your account for
every day you plan to spend in China.
At the time of writing, prices for a single-entry 30-day
visa were as follows:
£30 for UK citizens
US$140 for US citizens
US$30 for citizens of other nations
£45 for UK citizens
US$140 for US citizens
US$45 for all other nationals
Six-month multiple-entry visas:
£90 for UK citizens
US$140 for US citizens
US$60 for all other nationals
A standard 30-day single-entry visa can be issued from
most Chinese embassies abroad in three to five working
days. Express visas cost twice the usual fee. In some
countries (eg the UK and the US) the visa service has
been outsourced from the Chinese embassy to a Chinese
Visa Application Service Centre, which levies an extra
administration fee. In the case of the UK, a
single-entry visa costs £30, but the standard
administration charge levied by the centre is a further
A standard 30-day visa is activated on the date you
enter China, and must be used within three months of the
date of issue. 60-day and 90-day tourist visas are
reasonably easy to obtain in your home country but
difficult elsewhere. To stay longer, you can extend your
visa in China at least once, sometimes twice.
Visa applications require a completed application form
(available at the embassy or downloaded from its
website) and at least one photo (normally 51mm x 51mm).
You normally pay for your visa when you collect it. A
visa mailed to you will take up to three weeks. In the
US and Canada, mailed visa applications have to go via a
visa agent, at extra cost. In the US, many people use
the China Visa Service Center, which offers prompt
service. The procedure takes around 10 to 14 days.
Hong Kong is a good place to pick up a China visa.
However, at the time of writing only Hong Kong residents
were able to obtain them direct from the Visa Office of
the People’s Republic of China. Single-entry visas
processed here cost HK$200, double-entry visas HK$300,
while six-month/one-year multiple-entry visas are
HK$500. But China Travel Service (CTS) and many travel
agencies in Hong Kong can get you a visa in two to three
working days. Expect to pay HK$650 for a single-entry
visa and HK$750 for a double-entry. Both American and UK
passport holders must pay considerably more for their
Be aware that political events can suddenly make visas
more difficult to procure or renew.
Chinese law requires foreign visitors to carry their
passport with them at all times; it is the most basic
travel document and all hotels (and internet cafes) will
insist on seeing it. You also need it to buy train
tickets or to get into some tourist sights, particularly
those which are free.
It’s a good idea to bring an ID card with your photo in
case you lose your passport. Even better, make
photocopies, or take digital photos of your passport –
your embassy may need these before issuing a new one.
You should also report the loss to the local Public
Security Bureau (PSB). Be careful who you pass your
passport to, as you may never see it again.
Chinese customs generally pay tourists little attention.
There are clearly marked ‘green channels’ (nothing to
declare) and ‘red channels’ (something to declare) at
Duty Free You’re allowed to import 400 cigarettes or the
equivalent in tobacco products and 1.5L of alcohol.
Importation of fresh fruit and meat is prohibited. There
are no restrictions on foreign currency; however, you
should declare any cash that exceeds US$5000 (or its
equivalent in another currency).
DVDs Pirated DVDs and CDs are illegal exports from China
as well as illegal imports into most other countries. If
they are found, they will be confiscated.
Antiques Objects considered antiques require a
certificate and red seal to clear customs. To get the
proper certificate and seal, your antiques must be
inspected by the Relics Bureau, where no English is
spoken. Anything made before 1949 is considered an
antique and needs a certificate, and if it was made
before 1795 it cannot legally be taken out of the