China visa

China visa

Traveling to China

China is a popular travel destination for tourism, business, education, and other purposes. 

Depending on your nationality and the type of China visa you are applying for, certain foreign nationals are exempt from a China visa, while others are eligible to travel to China and obtain a China visa on arrival. All other foreign nationals must apply for a China visa before traveling to China.

China visas may be issued single, double, or multiple entry, and visa validity dates and permitted durations of stay may vary, depending on the applicant’s nationality and visa type being applied for.

China visa types

If you are a foreign national who is required to obtain a China sticker visa prior to traveling to China, you must apply for the appropriate China visa based on your purpose for traveling to China. The 11 China visa types are: 

  1. Tourist Visa (L)
  2. Business Visa (F)
  3. Work Visa (Z)
  4. Student Visa (X)
  5. Permanent Resident Visa (D)
  6. Transit Visa (G)
  7. Crew Visa (C)
  8. Journalist Visa (J-1, J-2)
  9. Commercial Visa (M)
  10. Family Visa (Q1)
  11. Private Visa (S1, S2)

China visa requirements

The following items are required to apply for all China visas:

Passport

Valid passport for at least 6 months with one blank page for official use

Passport copy

Photocopy of the biometric data page

Personal photo

One passport photo, taken within the last 6 months, borderless and on white background, size 33x48mm

Soft digital photo

One soft copy passport photo, between 354 pixels x 472 pixels and 420 pixels x 560 pixels, in JPEG form, size between 40KB and 120KB.

Application form 

A completed and signed China visa application form

Accommodation

Hotel reservation

Ticket

A return or onward ticket

Invitation letter

An invitation letter (in lieu of onward ticket)

Passport/visa copy

Photocopy of previous China visas or Chinese passports (only for Chinese citizens or existing Chinese visa holders).

Some types of China visas have additional requirements than those listed above. Accordingly, you are advised to check the requirements for the specific China visa type you are applying for.

China visa application

To apply for a China visa, foreign nationals should apply through the China Online Visa Application system (COVA) and follow these steps.

China sticker visas can now be pre-applied for online, with the rest of the application process finalized at your nearest China embassy or representation office. 

  1. Apply online for China visa

    • Fill out and submit the application online
    • Print out the completed application form and COVA confirmation page

  2. Book your appointment online

    • Select your nearest China embassy or representation office
    • Print out the appointment page

  3. Attend your appointment at the China embassy or representation office you applied at

    • Submit your COVA application, confirmation page, appointment page, and other required documents
    • Pay visa fees

  4. Wait for China visa decision

    • If approved, pick up China visa from the Chinese embassy or representation office where you applied
    • Verify that all information is correct and matches your passport

Where to apply for China visa

Foreign nationals required to apply for a China visa should pre-apply through the China Online Visa Application system (COVA), and will then complete the application process at their nearest China embassy or representation office. 

China visa processing time

The China visa process is normally 4 business days from the date of application submission.  For an extra charge and subject to approval, applicants may have the option of Express 3-day service or Rush 2-day processing service. In all cases, you are advised to start the application process early, in case of delays.

China visa FAQ

How many types of China visas are there?

There are 11 types of China visas: 
1.     Tourist Visa (L)
2.     Business Visa (F)
3.     Work Visa (Z)
4.     Student Visa (X)
5.     Permanent Resident Visa (D)
6.     Transit Visa (G)
7.     Crew Visa (C)
8.     Journalist Visa (J-1, J-2)
9.     Commercial Visa (M)
10.  Family Visa (Q1)
11.  Private Visa (S1, S2)

What type of visa is needed for travel to China?

The 11 China visa types define the traveler's intended purpose for traveling to China. Depending on whether the travel is for tourism, business, official duty, education, or another specific purpose, the China visa applicant will apply for the appropriate China visa type.

Do I need a visa to travel to China as a tourist?

Depending on your nationality, certain foreign nationals are exempt from a visa or can travel to China and obtain a visa on arrival. All others must apply for a China visa prior to traveling to China.

How do I get a visa to travel to China?

Foreign nationals required to apply for a China visa initiate the application process through the China Online Visa Application system (COVA), after which the process is completed at the nearest China embassy or representation office abroad.

Can I apply for a China visa online?

All foreign nationals required to apply for a China visa prior to traveling to China begin their application process online through the China Online Visa Application system (COVA).

What are the documents required for a China visa?

The documents required for a China sticker visa include a passport valid for at least 6 months, with one blank page for official use; photocopies of biometric and photo passport pages; a paper passport photo taken within the last 6 months; a digital color passport photo; a completed and signed China visa application form; proof of accommodation; an onward ticket or an invitation letter; and photocopies of previous China visas or Chinese passports (only for Chinese citizens or existing Chinese visa holders).

How long does a China visa take to process?

China visa applications are normally processed within 4 business days from the date of application submission. Applicant’s wishing to speed up the process can apply for Express 3-day service or Rush 2-day processing service, for an extra charge and subject to approval.

Who needs a China visa?

Depending on nationality and the type of China visa being applied for, all foreign nationals require a China visa, unless exempt or eligible to obtain a visa on arrival.

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