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Are Chinese Visas Hard to Get?

Most Western tourists will require a visa to travel to China. Ideally it’s a good idea to apply for the visa before you book a visit to China.

Note that we’re talking about the People’s Republic here. Separate rules apply to Hong Kong. Generally speaking you won’t need a visa if you just want to visit Hong Kong.

If you want to visit China then you’ll usually need to apply for a visa.

If you want to visit a Chinese mainland city like Shanghai, you'll need a visa

If you want to visit a Chinese mainland city like Shanghai, you'll need a visa

This involves sending your passport and an application form to your nearest Chinese embassy or visa processing centre with the appropriate processing fee.

Usually applying for a visa is just a formality. If you have a previous criminal conviction or you have a certain job (e.g. journalist) then the Chinese authorities might take a closer look at your application.

The Chinese government also restrict the numbers of people visiting certain areas of China, namely Tibet and the far North East (Xinjiang Province).

The application form is a little complicated and it’s a hassle having to wait in line in the embassy. So you might want to enlist the help of a travel company who for an additional processing fee will take all your documentation to the embassy and post you back your passport and visa.

There are a number of different Chinese visas available. Most tourists go for either a single or double entry visa. As the names suggest these allow you to make one or two entries into China.

There are various other categories of visa which are normally only issued to businessmen, residents or students.

Remember to not overstay the validity period of your visa – the fines are quite steep and you may be denied future entry into the country.

Make sure you read the current rules and regulations regarding visa validity period and duration. You need to apply for your visa in good time, but not so early that the validity period would expire before you travel to China.


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