How to Get a Visa for China

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You will need a Visa to travel to China.
You will need a Visa to travel to China. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

If you plan to visit China, you will need a passport and a visa. A visa is a permit that allows foreigners to enter, travel through or leave a specific country. In order to obtain a visa to travel to China, you'll need to apply to the Chinese embassy or consulate nearest to you. Visas are issued according to the purpose of your trip, and they are valid for different lengths of time.

First, be sure your Passport is current, will not expire in the next six months and that it has a blank visa page. Your visa will be stamped onto a blank page in your passport.

Determine which Chinese Visa you need. The following is a list of the subcategories of regular Visas for China:

C Visa - for international crew members and their family members who must perform on-board duties on trains, airplanes and other vessels D Visa - for aliens who will reside in China permanently F Visa - for aliens who are invited to China for less than six months for an investigation, a visit, a lecture, scientific or technological and cultural exchanges, business, short-term advanced studies or an internship G Visa - for aliens who travel through China J-1 Visa - for foreign resident correspondents in China J-2 Visa - for foreign journalists who make short trips to China for assignments L Visa - for aliens who visit China to on vacation, to visit family or for other private reasons X Visa - for aliens who travel to China for study or internships for longer than six months Z Visa - for aliens, who travel to China for a post or for employment, and their family members

Download the correct visa application and complete it. Attach one passport photo to your application, and be sure to include your actual passport. If you are applying for a business visa, you will also need an official invitation from a Chinese company or a government department or organization.

Hand deliver the completed application and other materials to your state's Visa Office of the Embassy or Consulate. If this is not possible, you can send someone else on your behalf or hire a travel/visa agent to submit your application. You can also use the mail-in service to complete this process.

If you hand-deliver you application, processing generally takes 4 business days, although you can pay extra to have your application processed in 1 day. Processing mail-in applications can take 7 to 10 business days or more.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check the Chinese embassy's website for Visa guidelines for non-U.S. citizens.
  • Don't rush yourself. Allow enough time to get a Visa for China.

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