VISA Frequently Asked Questions

China's visa requirements have been tightened in recent years. The guidelines provided here represent some "typical" questions that we received from clients. It is important to understand that it would be impossible for anyone to list every single rule that might apply. If you have a question that we did not answer here, or if you have an unusual circumstance, please e-mail us and we will be glad to reply.

The current fee for a visa to visit China is $140.

All applications for a Chinese visa must be submitted in person or by visa service. Applications sent to any Chinese Consulate by mail or express delivery service will be returned to the sender.

 

China welcomes foreign visitors.  Here is a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding Chinese Visas:

  1. What documentation is required to apply for a Chinese Visa?
  2. Can I provide the Consulate with a photocopy of my passport?
  3. For how long is the standard tourist valid?
  4. After I submitted my visa application to the Consulate for normal service, my travel plans changed and I need to depart for China right away.  Can you help me arrange for the Consulate to issue the visa to me on an emergency basis?
  5. I'd like to travel to China as a tourist. Should I provide an invitation from a Chinese travel agency or my friends?
  6. I frequently travel to China for business consultation. How can I get a multiple visa?
  7. In the application form, items 2 & 3, does "Former Name" refer to "my maiden name", and "last name" & "given name" my current name?
  8. I have a passport that has been amended to show my new, married name.  When I received my visa I noticed that it was issued in my maiden name.  Will this present a problem in China?
  9. My child is traveling to China with me.  She cannot sign on his application; can I sign it on her behalf?
  10. When I received my visa, I noticed that my name was misspelled and that they had made a mistake in my passport number.  Will this be a problem?
  11. One of the Consulate's requirements for a visa is that my passport must have 6 months validity remaining.  Does that mean that my passport has to be at least six months old, or that it must have at least six months left on it?  I just received a new passport.  Should I wait six months before I apply the Chinese Visa?
  12. I'm a German (or other country) citizen and I have an American green card.  Can I apply visa in the USA?  How much is the visa fee?
  13. My visa will expire on November 1st.  Can I depart the United States on November 1st and still be admitted to China?
  14. I have tried to call the Consulate several times, but it is very difficult to reach them.  Can you help me find out information from them?
  15. I have a friend who is disabled (handicapped). Can he apply for a Chinese visa?
  16. I know that before I go to Tibet, I need a travel permit from the Tibetan Travel Agency.  Can you tell me where I can get the letter?
  17. I'm traveling to China on June1, and my visa will expire on June 10.  Can I still stay in China for 30 days?
  18. Do I have to see a doctor to have "Physical examination record for foreigner" filled out?
  19. I would like to use your service and have you send my visa and passport back to me using USPS Priority Mail.  Do you have any idea how much postage I should pay?
  20. I am going to Guangdong province, then to Hong Kong and back to Guangdong for only one night.  Will I still need a double-entry visa?
  21. Do I need any shots before traveling to China?
  22. We have a child that we adopted from China two years ago.  Do we need to send her original Chinese passport as part of her visa application?
  23. We are having a difficult time finalizing all the details of our China travel itinerary.  Once we list our travel plans on line 16 of the visa application, can we change them after the visa has been issued?
  24. Is it possible to have the visa issued for longer than 30 days?  What if I'm in China and need to stay longer than the 30 days allowed on my visa?
  1. Q: What documentation is required to apply for a Chinese Visa?
    A: Please see our visa requirements summary.   

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  2. Q: Can I provide the Consulate with a photocopy of my passport?
    A: Never. Your must provide your actual passport.

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  3. Q:  For how long is the standard tourist visa valid?
    A: The validity period is determined at the discretion of the Consulate staff.  The standard tourist visa issued by the Houston Consulate is valid for 10 years from its’ date of issue.  During that 12-month period you may enter China multiple times and stay for up to 60 calendar days on each entry.

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  4. Q: After I submitted my visa application to the Consulate for normal service, my travel plans changed and I need to depart for China right away.  Can you help me arrange for the Consulate to issue the visa to me on an emergency basis?
    A: This is very difficult.  Since the Consulate eliminated rush service for visa applications, they have made only a very few exceptions.  You will almost certainly have to wait the four business days for normal processing to be finished.  In truly extraordinary and well-documented situations, the Consulate may be able to make an exception.  If they do grant an exception, it will be very expensive. 

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  5. Q: I'd like to travel to China as a tourist. Should I provide an invitation from a Chinese travel agency or my friends?
    A: Not necessary.  Should the Consulate need any supporting information, we will notify you immediately.

  6. Q: I frequently travel to China for business consultation. How can I get a multiple entry visa?
    A: Not a problem.  The Consulate now grants multiple entry visas (unlimited entries for 10 years) to most applicants.  You will need a letter of invitation on letterhead from the Chinese company (or Chinese office of a multinational company) that you plan to visit.   

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  7. Q: In the application form, does " Former Name" refer to " my maiden name", and " last name"& "given name' my current name? 
    A: "Former Name" does refer to your maiden name. In brief, the names used in Section 1 should be the same as they appear on your passport.  Please make certain that your passport is signed.

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  8. Q: I have a passport that has been amended to show my new, married name.  When I received my visa I noticed that it was issued in my maiden name.  Will this present a problem in China? 
    A: No, this will not present any problems in China.  The Consulate uses a machine to "read" the information encoded on the photo page of a U.S. passport and copy it to your visa. When the U.S. State Dept. amended a passport they did so by inserting the new name onto one of the visa pages, usually towards the back of the passport.  They did NOT update the original information encoded onto the passport's photo page.  As a result, when the Consulate reads the encoded information and copies it to the visa, the amendment is not carried over.  The Chinese authorities are aware of this and the Consulate has assured us that the difference in names will not affect your ability to use the visa to enter and travel lawfully in China.

    NOTE:  On Sept. 26, 2005, the U.S. State Dept. stopped amending U.S. passports.  Since then, if a U.S. citizen needs to update information (such as a name change) in their passport, the State Dept. cancels the old passport and issues a new one. 

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  9. Q: My child is traveling to China with me. He cannot sign on his application; can I sign it on behalf?
    A: Yes.  Use this format:   Child's Name by Parent's Name, (relationship).

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  10. Q: When I received my visa, I noticed that my name was misspelled and that they had made a mistake copying my passport number.  Will this be a problem?
    A: Sometimes this does happen and the Consulate has assured us that misread (misspelled) letters or numbers on the visa will not affect its efficacy, there is no need to change it or reapply.  As long as the visa has the correct dates for its validity period and the length of stay and number of entries permitted are correct, you will not have any problems using it in China.

    The Consulate has informed us that they will not correct misspelled names or transposed numbers.  They consider these to be incidental errors that will not affect your ability to use the visa in China.   

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  11. Q: One of the Consulate requirements is that my passport must have 6 months validity remaining.  Does that mean that my passport has to be at least six months old, or that it must have at least six months left on it?  I just received a new passport.   Must I wait six months before I apply for a Chinese Visa?
    A: Your passport must have at least six months left before it expires.  A new passport is good.  There is no need to wait for six months before applying for a Chinese Visa.  You may apply on the day your passport has been issued.  Make sure that you sign your passport before sending.

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  12. Q: I'm a German (or other country) citizen and I have an American green card.  Can I apply for a Chinese visa in the USA?  How much is the visa fee?
    A: The requirements are the same as for American citizens with one exception. Non U.S. passport holders must have legal status to be in the United States and the Consulate will ask for your valid residency permit (green card) or valid (not expired) U.S. visa.  If you have a green card, you will need to send the original card plus one copy of the card.  The visa fee is the same as that for American citizens.  The Consulate will issue a single-entry visa for length of stay not to exceed 30 days.

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  13. Q:  My visa will expire on November 1st.  Can I depart the United States on November 1st and still be admitted to China?
    A: No, all flights to China from the United States cross the international date line.  If you depart the U.S. on November 1st you will arrive in China on November 2nd and your visa will have expired.  There is NO grace period for expired visas and you will be refused entry into China.

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  14. Q: I have tried to call the Consulate several times, but it is very difficult to reach them.  Can you help me find out information from the Consulate?
    A: Consulate staff are very busy.  Each day they process hundreds of visas and documents.  If they stopped to take everyone's phone calls, there would soon be a backlog of visa applications and the wait for approval would be longer.  We will be glad to help you find out more information to the extent we are able.  Depending on what is involved, we may need to charge for the service.  E-mail us for details.

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  15. Q: I have a friend who is disabled (handicapped). Can he apply for a Chinese visa?
    A: Sure.  Please keep in mind that as a developing country, China has not been able to provide as much in the way of public accommodations for handicapped persons as you might be accustomed to in the U.S.  Depending on the degree of handicap involved, a disabled person should be advised that relative(s) or friend(s) should go along with him if he needs help and assistance.

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  16. Q: I know that before I go to Tibet, I need a travel permit from the Tibetan Travel Agency. Can you tell me where I can get the letter?
    A: You can contact the China National Tourist Office at 212-760-8218 for further advice and assistance, or you can visit their web page:   http://www.cnto.org.

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  17. Q: I'm going to China on June1, and my visa will expire on June 10.  Can I still stay in China for 30 days?
    A: Yes.  Most China visas are valid for 10 years from the date of issuance.  Within that validity period (please note the time difference between China and the U.S.) you can enter China.  From the date of your entrance, you can stay in China for 60 days  (the actual dates are written on the visa itself). 

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  18. Q: Do I have to see a doctor to have " Physical examination record for foreigner" filled out?
    A: This form is strictly for those who will work or study in China over 1 year (360 days). If you are to stay in China for less than one year, you do not have to see a doctor or complete this form.

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  19. Q: I would like you to use United States Postal Service (USPS) Priority Mail to return the approved visa to me. Do you have any idea how much postage I should pay?
    A:  We would caution you to avoid USPS Priority Mail.  It is not traceable.  Their new "Delivery Confirmation" service does not trace the shipment in the same way that FedEx does. We really have no idea about the postage.  Please check with the post office.

    We recommend using FedExbecause they are traceable and the service is more reliable. For FedEx, include your credit card number on the airbill and the company will charge your account.  If you must use the U.S. Postal Service, use their Express Mail service.  We have not been impressed with Express Mail reliability, but at least the service is traceable.

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  20. Q: I am going to Guangdong, then to Hong Kong and back to Guangdong for one night. Does it mean that I must have a multiple-entry visa?
    A: Absolutely.  You must have a multiple-entry visa.  This means that you may enter into mainland China multiple times during the period that the visa is valid.  Since you are going to mainland China twice (Guangdong Province), you must have at least a double-entry visa.  Although part of China, Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) and has different visa requirements.  U.S. citizens are not required to obtain a visa for entry into Hong Kong.

  21. Q: Do I need any shots before traveling to China?
    A: None are required, although your doctor might recommend some.  Check with your doctor.

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  22. Q: We have a child that we adopted from China two years ago.  Do we need to send her original Chinese passport as part of her visa application?
    A: Yes, please see our our visa requirements summary for details on the requirements for children adopted from China.

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  23. Q: We are having a difficult time finalizing all the details of our China travel itinerary.  Once we list our plans on line 16 of the visa application, can we change them after the visa has been issued?
    A: People's plans do change.  Sometimes families decide to stay an extra day or two in Beijing or another city.  Other times, people need to depart for China early - or they decide to make a previously unscheduled stop in Shanghai.  As long as you enter China within your visa's validity period and depart within the number of days allowed on your visa, these kind of schedule changes are acceptable.  

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  24. Q: Is it possible to have the visa issued for longer than 60 days?  What if I'm in China and need to stay longer than the number of days allowed on my visa?
    A: The Consulate does have discretion to issue the visa to allow for stays longer than 60 days for good reasons.  If you require a longer stay, please include a cover letter with the application and explain the reason(s) why a longer stay is required.  Approval for the longer stay may or may not be granted, but it is entirely at the discretion of the Consular Official in Charge of the Visa Office.

    If, after entering China, you find you need to stay longer than the number of days permitted on your visa, you may apply at the local Public Security Bureau or Office in most cities.  Please apply at least 7 days before your visa expires.  Your tour guide or your Chinese business contacts will be able to help you locate the correct office and to make application.  Generally speaking, reasonable extension requests are approved. 

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