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How to obtain a Chinese Visa?


  • Travel to China

Our Expert


CTS Horizons

The UK's number one operator for China and beyond. We offer superb private journeys and tailor-made holidays to the world's most fascinating destinations!

The thought of applying for Chinese Visa can be quite traumatic and time consuming.


But obtaining a Visa for the People’s Republic of China needn’t be difficult or stressful. We can guarantee that by reading the following guide you will feel confident to start that visa application process and commit yourself to a trip to China.

How do I apply for a visa to China?


If you are a UK passport holder and are planning a trip to the Peoples Republic of China, you will require a visa. If you don't have one you will be refused entry at the passport control. The rules are strict, but not dissimilar to those for the USA or India. As long as you calmly and carefully fill in your application you should have no problems.

There are several different types of visa, each one having a letter to identify it (such as 'L-Visa'). The letters refer to the sound of the Chinese word in the Chinese alphabet, and can be quite confusing to Chinese speakers and non-Chinese speakers alike. The main visas are the tourist visa, or L-Visa and the business visa or F-Visa. If you’re travelling with CTS you’ll almost defiantly be travelling on an L-visa.

It is extremely important to note that for all visa types, your passport MUST have at least six months validity left on it, and MUST have two empty visa pages.

You can apply for your visa in a number of ways. Firstly is to apply directly through the Chinese embassy in London. Using this method a traveller will need to make sure that they have filled in all their forms correctly and enclosed all relevant supporting documentation. This is the cheapest and easiest method, but also the most unsecure.


The second is to pay a visit to the Chinese visa Service centre located in London or Manchester. Here you would need to bring all supporting documentation for your application and then meet with one of the advisors at the centre’s to fill in and submit your application. This method can be good for those with complicated itineraries and people who live within the vicinity of the centres. However I implore people to bear in mind that the centres do not offer appointments and are operated on a first come first serve basis.

The final option is to apply through a visa specialist. For this you will need to submit your visa forms and supporting documentation to the specialist who will then make sure everything is correct before making an application on your behalf. This method is a little more expensive than the others, but is by far the most secure and convenient method of application.

Once you have decided on that method which suits you best your Chinese Visa application typically take 3-4 working days to be processed.

Submitting your application - You will require:

·         The application form completed

·         Passport and passport photograph

·         A photocopy of the main page of your passport

·         A photocopy of any expired Chinese visa you may have in your passport

·         Copy of your international flights

·         Itinerary

·         Hotel list

Are there any exceptions?

Yes, if you hold a British Citizen passport and are transiting by air through Beijing Capital International airport, Shanghai (Pudong and Hongqiao), Chengdu, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Dalian, Shenyang or Kunming, and travelling on to a third country, you can enter China visa-free under a 72-hour visa waiver. You must remain in the city municipality (or within Guangdong province in the case of Guangzhou) and have evidence of your onward journey. 

Do I need a visa for Hong Kong or Macau?

No, British passport holders may stay up to 180 days in Hong Kong visa-free and Macau 3 months visa free. However, if you visit Hong Kong or Macau from the mainland of China and wish to return to the mainland, you will need a visa that allows you to make a second entry into China.

We hope that by reading this you will see that applying for a Chinese visa is not difficult and can be a simple and easy process. This year why not think about a Tour in China and enjoying a holiday of a lifetime in one of the most fascinating and beautiful countries on the planet.  You can contact us for a free advice. Alternatively, check our wide range of tailor made tours to China.


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