China and Visas


The PRC follows the international system and issues visas according to its laws and regulations which may be modified from time to time.  The information provided on this page is about entry to the PRC mainland only: it does not include entry rules for Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan. In some limited situations visa is not required, but most foreign travellers need one. Generally, travellers requiring one must obtain it prior to travel, but there are a few exceptions.

Foreign travellers holding connecting tickets to pass through China are exempt from visa requirements provided they stay in the transit area of the airport for a no longer than 24 hours.

Some can only be applied for outside China, some both, and one ‘visa equivalent’ – the temporary residence permit – can only be obtained inside China

The regulations include a number of factors such as your nationality, whether you have family in China, and whether you were previously a Chinese citizen, and of course which type you are applying for, as well as that, each issuing office has some discretion in how they implement the regulations.  This makes it impossible to explain here exactly what will happen, or to provide any certainties. However, these guidelines will be relevant to most situations.

The regulations are not normally applied to their fullest extent but at any time the government may issue a directive to apply the regulations more rigorously against an individual, to applicants from certain nations, or when special events are taking place such as the Olympic Games.  Thus, at any time you might be asked to supply full travel bookings, show a minimum amount of funds, or have invitations from Chinese persons or organisations.

Visas can be issued for various durations; immediate or later start dates, and allow one, two (dual), or multiple entries.  Any exit from the mainland of the PRC, including to Hong Kong and Macau will require that you have a valid entry to the mainland to permit you to re-enter.  Otherwise you will need to apply for a new one at a consulate (or equivalent in Hong Kong) before entry is permitted.

The Chinese visa is usually a paper sheet glued into your passport but it can occasionally be a rubber stamp.

Nationality Makes a Difference

Depending on the nationality of your passport, the rules vary.  Here, we try to provide some guidelines but as always, if you have any doubts contact the appropriate office.

Like most countries, China applies has stricter regulations than it actually applies most of the time. It may be that nationals of some countries have been found to overstay more frequently than others, or have a higher incidence of crime, or be nations associated with terror, or simply ones where diplomatic relations are currently strained. It seems that at present, applicants from certain Asian countries are being required to get invitations and show adequate funds.


Visa fees also vary considerably according to nationality


  Business or Trade Purposes (M visa)

M is a new business visa category from 1st Sept 2013, which is issued to foreigners coming for commercial and trade activities.



1. Application Form with a recently-taken color photo glued to or stapled on.

2. Valid passport and a copy of information page.

3. One of following documents:

a. Invitation letter issued by the Chinese business or trade partner.

b. Invitation letter or confirmation letter of Invitation issued by duly authorized Chinese institutes or relevant units.

c. Invitation letter of Trade Fair.

d. Business License or Certificate approving the establishment of enterprise which shows the applicant as the enterprise’s investor or owner.

4. For application of a multiple entry M: copy of all previous Chinese visas (on one A-4 sized paper) should be attached.


How to Apply

You can submit your application to the consular office of Chinese embassies or consulates by yourself, or ask someone else (such as your friends, relatives) or entrust an agency to do so on your behalf. The power of attorney is not required.


Processing Time

It regularly takes 15 working days for processing the application. However, the express service and rush service are also available if you want to pick up your visa earlier. Extra US$ 30 for the same-day collection; and additional US$20 for the second or third day collection.

Visa Fees

The fees vary according to your nationality and number of entries. Generally speaking, the fee is higher if the number of entries is m