How to Apply for a Chinese Tourist Visa

Two Parts:Preparing to Obtain your Tourist VisaSubmitting Your Application

To enter the People’s Republic of China, a U.S. citizen must have a valid U.S. passport and Chinese visa with the exception of Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. British passports are also exempt from the Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan visa requirement. Several other countries are exempt as well. Americans are allowed in Hong Kong and Taiwan for 90 days and in Macau for 30 days without a visa. An "L" visa is the Chinese tourist visa type. You will need a Chinese visa if you plan to enter the mainland from Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan,

Part 1
Preparing to Obtain your Tourist Visa

  1. Image titled Apply for a Chinese Tourist Visa Step 1
    Ensure the validity of your passport. To get a tourist visa to visit China, you must have a valid passport with at least six months of remaining validity, so if your passport will expire in less than six months, you will need to renew before you can get a tourist visa to visit China.[1]
    • You must have blank visa pages in your passport as well, plus a copy of the data page of your passport (including the photo).
  2. Image titled Apply for a Chinese Tourist Visa Step 2
    Complete a Visa Application Form and attach a photo. The Visa Application form (Form V.2013) can be downloaded on the Chinese embassy website and should be filled out completely. You'll also need to provide a recent passport photo, which you will attach to your visa application.[2]
    • You can get your passport photo taken at shipping centers such as FedEx and UPS as well as membership stores/agencies like Costco and AAA and pharmacies/retail stores like Walgreens and CVS. Additionally, you may get a passport photo from a professional photo studio that offers this service or a US passport application acceptance facility.[3]
  3. Image titled Apply for a Chinese Tourist Visa Step 3
    Consider a multiple-entry visa. If you plan on leaving China and re-entering multiple times throughout your stay, you will need to get a multiple-entry visa.[4] This is true even if you are only planning on traveling to Hong Kong and/or Macau.[5]
    • To apply for a multiple-entry visa, you will use the same form (Form V.2013) as when applying for a regular tourist visa.[6] When you are filling it out, make sure you indicate in Section 2.2 that you are intending to make multiple entries.[7]
  4. Image titled Apply for a Chinese Tourist Visa Step 4
    Apply for special permits, if necessary. If you are planning on traveling to the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), you will need to get a special permit from a Chinese travel agency.[8] Permits usually cost around $30 for a single-entry permit and are valid for three months.[9]
    • If you receive a permit (they are not always granted), you will be restricted to traveling only to Lhasa and parts of Shan Nan.[10] Be aware of any restrictions and make sure you understand them before traveling to these regions.
  5. Image titled Apply for a Chinese Tourist Visa Step 5
    Provide proof of legal stay or residence status if you are a non-US citizen. If you are not an American citizen, you will have to provide the original visa or other official document from the authority in whichever country in which you are currently staying.[11]
  6. Image titled Apply for a Chinese Tourist Visa Step 6
    Provide copies of previous Chinese passports or visas if you were formerly a Chinese citizen. If you used to have Chinese citizenship but have a different citizenship now, you'll need to provide a photocopy of your (now invalid) Chinese passport. If you have had a Chinese visa before and now have a new passport without any Chinese visa stamps, provide a photocopy of the old passport's data page.[12]
  7. Image titled Apply for a Chinese Tourist Visa Step 7
    Provide an itinerary to show your flight and accommodations in China. You will need some kind of document showing your flight arrangements and hotel reservations while you are in China. If you will be staying with a friend, you must have an invitation letter that includes your information (name, date of birth, gender, etc.), information about the visit including the duration and planned sightseeing, etc., and information for the person that has invited you, including their name, telephone number, address, an official stamp, and signature.

Part 2
Submitting Your Application

  1. Image titled Apply for a Chinese Tourist Visa Step 8
    Locate a Visa Office of Chinese Embassy/Consulate General that serves your area. Visit the Chinese Embassy website to find a location. There are six locations in the US to serve Americans wishing to obtain tourist visas to visit China and one office in England for British citizens. Check the embassy website for offices in other countries. You must either come to the Embassy or Consulate personally or you may entrust someone else or an agent for the application process (a power of attorney is not necessary).[13]
    • You may have to come to the office personally for an interview if the consular officer deems it necessary or you may not have your visa application approved.
  2. Image titled Apply for a Chinese Tourist Visa Step 9
    Submit your application. You will be able to submit your application to the office during regular office hours without and appointment and you will be given a receipt with a pickup date printed on it. You or your representative must appear in person on the pickup date to collect your tourist visa—mail service is not available.[14]
    • Regular service processing time is four days, express service is two to three days (with a surcharge of $20), and rush service is one day and only available in extreme emergencies pending consular officer approval (with a surcharge of $30).
  3. Image titled Apply for a Chinese Tourist Visa Step 10
    Pay the fee. The cost for a tourist visa to visit China is currently $140 for a single entry. You will pay for the visa when you pick it up from the office. You may pay using a Visa or Mastercard, money order, cashier's check, or company check. Cash, personal checks, and online payments are not available.


  • Citizens of some countries who are visiting an airport or city in China for less than 72 hours and have a reservation on a plane traveling out of the country during that time may be exempt from the need for a visa. Check here to find out more.
  • Citizens of Singapore, Brunei and Japan do not need a visa to enter China through a port that is open to foreigners, provided they are tourists, visiting for business, visiting friends or relatives, or in transit and do not stay more than 15 days.
  • The validity of an "L" visa is 90 days or 180 days from the date of issue. This means the holder of the visa shall enter China no later than 90 days or 180 days from the date of issue, otherwise the visa is expired and is null and void.
  • Mailed applications are not acceptable.


  • You may need to apply for a multiple entry visa if you plan to visit Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, or other countries besides China during your trip. If you don't apply for a multiple entry visa, you may experience complications upon arrival and departure.
  • People suffering from mental disorders, leprosy, AIDS, venereal diseases, contagious tuberculosis, or other such infectious diseases will not be granted a visa to enter China.
  • These instructions are applicable only for the People's Republic of China, not Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan. Immigration authorities of Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan will not accept a Chinese visa for extended stays there.
  • Children born in the US to Chinese parents have different visa requirements. See the Chinese embassy page for more information.

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Categories: Official Travel Documentation