Visa for China

On the way to NZ, we’re stopping off in China for 2 weeks and have recently been granted a tourist visa.
if you’re thinking about a trip to China, here are a few tips for what you need to include and how we found the process.

This post is only based on our experience and I am not qualified to give official visa advice.

We applied via China Visa Service Centre who accept applications through appointment and by post. We opted for post as the visa centres are in London and Manchester and would require you to make 2 visits within 1 week.

You can fill the application form online and save as you go. You’re given an application number which is best to keep safe for when you log in again.

We are lucky to be staying with my uncle in Shanghai so we applied for a ‘Tourist and Family visit (L-visa)‘ for this we needed to send:

  • Completed visa application form (downloaded)
  • Original passport (must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of application with 2 or more blank visa pages)
  • Photocopy of passport photo page
  • A recently-taken passport photo (48mm high x 33mm wide – see photo guidelines)
  • Invitation letter from a permanent resident in China (or a Chinese organisation) needs to contain: full name, gender, date of birth, purpose of visit, date of arriving and leaving China, place of visit, relations between the applicant and the inviter, financial support during stay in China) and information of the inviter: name of organisation, contact number, address (stamp of the organisation, signature of the organisation’s representative – if relevant).
  • If the inviter is a Chinese resident, his/her ID copy is required to provide; if the inviter is non-Chinese who is living in China, photocopies of his/her passport information page and valid Chinese visa page/valid residence permit of living in China is required to provide.

We had only included a scan of the front of our inviter’s ID card and were contacted by the centre to also provide a scan of the back.

China visa

We were a bit reluctant about sending our actual passports away but we sent them via Special Delivery and included a pre-paid envelope for their return. The advantage is that the visa is already in our passports, rather than needing to complete anything additional at the airport.

If we couldn’t provide a letter from an inviter, we would have applied for a ‘Transit (G-visa)‘ and this would require the above and:

‘A valid visa to and an onward air ticket on international flight to the destination country or region.’

Our visa took 5 days to process and cost £84.
Regular processing time is 4 days and you are advised to submit your application no earlier than 3 months before your trip.

We will be spending most of our time in Shanghai, plan to visit Beijing and will fly out of Hong Kong to NZ. We now have the task of planning how to divide our time during the fortnight!

As ever, we took to Facebook for some China tips and received the following wisdom from our friends:

  • Shanghai is way cooler than Beijing, though I loved everything!
  • Etihad Airlines are awesome to fly with
  • Food standards are diabolical, generally speaking
  • Residents may be interested in your appearance and want to take photos

Hong Kong

  • Get a jet boat to Macau for a day trip
  • Go to Lantau island to see what used to be the biggest sat down Buddha at Po Lin Monastery, have dinner with the monks
  • Go up the Peak on the crazy steep train on a clear night
  • Visit the Peninsula (poshest hotel in the world) for afternoon tea while the musicians play

As always, any tips on where to visit/stay/eat are gratefully received 🙂


3 thoughts on “Visa for China

  1. Ah yes, I’ve heard that’s a place for great views. Will see if we can make an evening trip and enjoy a few cocktails at the same time! Thanks for the tip. is there anywhere else you’d recommend? Thanks, Lucy

    • If you’ve got time, the islands are really good for a day trip/hike. Lantau is a good choice – you’ve got to go to Tai O fishing village if you’re there. Lamma Island is a close second with no cars, good beaches and seafood restaurants.

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