How to Get a Tourist Visa for China

Whether you want to see the iconic wall yourself, soak up the rich culture or simply dive head-first into authentic Asian cuisine, China is on the must-visit list for many travellers. But going there is not as easy as simply booking a flight and getting to the airport on time. You need to get a China tourist visa to be allowed entry into mainland China.

Endless paperwork will pay off in the end. China tourist visa
Endless paperwork will pay off in the end

How To Apply For A China Tourist Visa

If you’re familiar with applying for visas, the process how to apply for a China tourist visa for entry into China is pretty straight-forward. But if this is the first time you’ve ever dealt with travel visas, it can be more than a little overwhelming! To help you fly through the application process so you can start planning your amazing trip, we’ve put together a list of instructions to guide you through the process of getting a China tourist or visitors visa.

Get tourist visa to enjoy amazing Chinese sunsets. China tourist visa.
Get tourist visa to enjoy amazing Chinese sunsets

Collect all necessary documents

You need:

  • Your passport with a minimum of six months validity and blank visa pages
  • A copy of the passport’s photo page
  • A completed printed copy of the visa application form with one recent colour passport photo with a white background attached
  • A copy of your itinerary, including flight/boat/bus/train tickets and accommodation

Present your documents in person

When you’ve got all your paperwork together, take it to the Chinese Embassy or Chinese Consulate in your country (you can find these easily by searching online) and apply for your tourist visa in person. Most applications sent through the post are denied, so you really do have to go down there yourself, or give someone else permission to apply for your visa on behalf if you can’t make it. You don’t need an appointment, you simply show up and wait to be seen.

If all that sounds like too much time and work, let Visa First take care of the hassle. This specialist company has been organising 60,000+ visas every year since 2003 and can organise your China tourist visa quickly and efficiently on your behalf, leaving you with more time to spend getting excited about your trip.

Waiting in line. China tourist visa.
Waiting in line. Flickr: Tagosaku / CC BY-ND 2.0

Processing time

After you’ve presented your paperwork, most Chinese tourist visas are processed in four working days, after which you’ll receive a phone call telling you to return to the Chinese Embassy or Consulate to collect your visa. If you’re in a rush, you can pay extra to have your China tourist visa application processed on the same day.

Visa fees

The cost of a Chinese tourist visa varies hugely depending on your nationality and how many times you want to enter China within the China tourist visa period. The only countries exempt from Chinese visa fees are: Micronesia, Slovakia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, the Maldives and Pakistan.

There isn't one set fee for a Chinese tourist visa. China tourist visa
There isn’t one set fee for a Chinese tourist visa.

Extra tips to boost the success of your visa

It’s important to fill in every space on the China tourist visa application form. If you can’t provide an answer or there’s something that doesn’t apply to you, write N/A. If the form isn’t filled out honestly, fully or legibly, your visa could be delayed or even refused.

If you can’t provide a copy of your itinerary, you need to provide an invitation letter issued by an entity or individual in China which includes: full name, gender and date of birth of the applicant; arrival dates, departure dates and places of visit; name, contact number, address, official stamp and signature of the inviting entity or individual.

Just visiting Hong Kong or Macau?

If you’re just visiting Hong Kong or Macau and won’t be entering mainland China, you don’t need a visa at all.

About Nicola Quinn


Nicola is a travel and food writer living in the Canary Islands who loves exploring far-off places, pushing herself to the limit and trying local eats wherever she goes.

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