Visa for China - How to Get It Quickly and Efficiently ULTIMATE GUIDE

We have all been there; we needed a visa for China and dreaded that whole bureaucratic process. Collecting the paperwork, not being sure if we have everything, filling out long application forms, long queues at the embassy and embassy officials not being helpful at all. And above all that not being sure which visa type is the right one and confusing government websites.

We know all your troubles and we decided to make an ultimate guide to make all this easier for you.


1. What is a China visa and do I need it?

Visa is, first of all, a mandatory travel requirement for certain countries. It is usually in a form of a sticker which goes into a passport and it is glued to a whole passport page. China is one of the countries that is very strict about its travel requirements and you probably do need a visa in order to visit this country.

You need a valid visa for China unless you are:

In case you do need a visa, please read on. Getting a visa for China is not exactly an easy task.

2. Contents of China visa

China visas have both Chinese and English field names. You can also immediately distinguish them since they have besides the Chinese coat of arms also a picture of the famous Great Wall of China. On the picture below you can see the example of the Chinese visa and read more in detail what it contains.

china visa example

3. Types of China visas

There are many China visa types, 16 to be exact. Each visa type is for a specific purpose and has specific entry requirements. For example, you are not allowed to work in China on a tourist visa. Here we will go through them all with a short description of each of them. Make sure to double check which visa type is the right one for you.

4. Difference between China business (M) and China tourist visas (L)

Now that you learned about all the types of the Chinese visas, let’s go into more depth about the differences between China business visa (M) and China tourist visa (L), and explain a bit more what is the difference between the business (M) and the non-commerce visa (F).

China business visa (M) is a visa for foreigners travelling to China to conduct business, that is trade and commerce activities, negotiations, hold employees’ interviews and so on. To get this visa, you need a business invitation from your Chinese business partner. This is one of the mandatory documents and without it you won’t be granted the business visa. We will explain the business invitation in the next section. Take note that this visa is not the same as the work visa (Z). You are not allowed to work on the business visa.

On the other hand, China tourist visa (L) is for tourist purposes. In case you wish to travel to China for leisure, vacation, sightseeing and other similar activities, you can apply for this visa type. However, you won’t be able to stay in a private accommodation with this visa since you need to provide your hotel/hostel reservation. This also includes the Airbnb accommodations since they are considered private accommodation as well. You need to provide your hotel/hostel bookings. In case you are planning to stay with your family or friends, therefore in a private accommodation, you will either have to apply for a private visa (S1, S2) or a family visa (Q1, Q2). Check the difference in the previous section.

There is also a difference between a business visa (M) and a non-commerce visa (F). While you are allowed to conduct business activities, such as trade and commerce on a business visa, the non-commerce visa does not allow that. With the non-commerce visa, you can do a business visit, go to a lecture, conference and attend other similar activities.

Abide by the rules and apply for the visa that applies to your purpose of travel. In case the authorities see that you are abusing your visa, you can get deported. If you do get deported, you will also be banned and won’t be able to enter China for a certain time period.

5. China visa requirements

Each Chinese visa has a particular set of requirements. Here we will provide you with a list of the general mandatory requirements. Depending on each specific visa, you will also need to provide additional documents. For example, in case you are applying for a study visa, you will also need to provide the proof of your enrolling in a Chinese school/university. For the work visa, you need to provide the proof of your employment, and so on.

6. How to fill out the China visa application form

In case you want to apply for your Chinese visa through the embassy or consulate, then read ahead. However, if you wish to save some time, apply online on our website and read why you should opt for us in section 7.2.

So you decided to fill out the form and apply through the embassy. Here’s a quick overview.

Part 1

This part of the application form is for the applicant’s personal information and photo. (Check the photo requirements in previous section 5). In case you don’t have an answer for some questions, for example you don’t have a Chinese name, write “NA”. Read carefully each question before you answer.

Part 2

The second part is reserved for information about your trip. Here you need to provide your purpose of travelling, itinerary, visa type, places of stay, etc.

You can choose between these visas types:

Part 3

This part consists mostly of various short questions about your previous trips to China (if any) with provided checkboxes.

Part 4

In this part you need to sign the visa application form on the provided line and write the date.

Part 5

This part is relevant only in case someone else is applying on your behalf, for example, Viselio. In this case, this section is for our visa agents and you shouldn’t write anything here.

For more details on how to properly fill out your visa application form click here.

7. How to apply for a China visa

Here we will explain to you how to apply by yourself through a Chinese embassy or Chinese consulate and also how to do it the easier way - online.

7.1. How to apply through a Chinese embassy or Chinese consulate

You can apply for your Chinese visa at the Chinese embassy or consulate, depending which is available in your country.

After you determined the visa type you need, you must check which documents you need.

Book your accommodation and your means of transportation since you need the copies of your hotel/hostel reservation and travel tickets.

Depending on your visa type you will need additional documents, for example, a business invitation letter for a business visa.

Once you collected all the necessary documents, it’s time to visit the embassy. Arrive early to secure your place in the queue. The officer will maybe ask you some additional questions about your trip and check your documentation. Once you applied, you will receive a pick-up form and a date when your visa will be ready. Payment will be done when you apply or on the date your Chinese visa is issued depending on the embassy’s rules. Don’t lose the pick-up form since you need to show it at the embassy to get your passport back.

Applying in Switzerland?

Embassy’s address: Lombachweg 23, 3006 Bern

Working hours: Monday to Friday 9:00 - 12:00

Telephone: 0313514593 (consultations 14:00 - 17:00)


china embassy Switzerland

Applying in Germany?

Embassy’s address: Märkisches Ufer 54, 10179 Berlin

Working hours: Monday to Friday 8:30 - 12:30, 13:30 - 17:00, Consular matters 9:00 - 12:00

Telephone: 030-27588 0


china embassy Germany

Applying in Austria?

Embassy’s address: Neulinggasse 29/1/11, 1030 Vienna

Working hours: Monday, Wednesday 08:30 - 11:00, 14:00 - 16:00, Friday 08:30 - 11:00

Telephone: 01-7103648, can be reached only on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 09:00 - 11:00


china embassy Austria

7.2. How to apply with Viselio

You are probably wondering if there is an easier way. Can I apply for a Chinese visa online?

The answer is: of course.

The best part?

You don’t have to go to the embassy and deal with all the paperwork.

Viselio is a visa provider for three markets: Austria, Switzerland, Germany. It is a fully automated service, which means that the application form is not filled out by hand. This minimises the chances of making mistakes and it is quick and a timesaver. The customer needs to fill out the visa application form online and then the completely filled form is delivered to their inbox and they only have to print it, sign it and send it to us together with their passport. We are simplifying the process that could take hours or even days.

After you applied, you will receive a checklist with all the necessary documents you need to send to us. You can check the status of your application at any point by clicking the link provided in the email we sent to you. There you can track the whole process and see the estimated time of your passport pick-up from the embassy. After our visa agents get your passport with the visa back, they are shipping it to you. Simple, right? And all that from the comfort of your home. No visits to the embassy, waiting in lines and worrying about whether your paperwork is complete. Apply today for your China visa!

Check in the table below our advantages when compared to the embassies.

compare Viselio and embassy for china visa

8. How to register your residency in China

This registration is free, however, it is mandatory. Foreign travellers must register after their arrival within the 24 hours. The registration is done at the local Public Security Bureau.

In case you are staying at a hotel, the receptionist will register you as you are the hotel’s guest.

If you are staying at your family’s or friend’s accommodation, you will have to do the registration by yourself. And here’s how.

Before you go to the local Public Security Bureau, you must visit the local police station and get there your registration slip. The other documents that you need are:

Keep in mind that if you change your place of stay you will have to register again!

9. How to extend or renew your China visa

It is not possible to extend or renew your China visa. However, there is a possibility to apply for a new visa while staying in China. Find your closest Public Security Bureau and apply there for your new Chinese visa. This visa will be valid from the date of issue. Pay attention to this, since the visa you applied for in your country is valid from the date of entry. You must apply for the new visa at least 7 days before your previous visa expires.

10. Additional questions

This section is dedicated to additional information that you might need depending on whether you are travelling to the destinations mentioned below.

10.1. Travelling to Tibet

If you wish to visit Tibet, you will need a China visa and a Tibet permit. This is needed since Tibet is the autonomous part of the People’s Republic of China. To get this permit, you must book a tour with a registered travel agency in Tibet. For more information about the required documents and the whole process check our blog post about Tibet.

10.2. Travelling from Hong Kong to Shenzhen

For people travelling from Hong Kong to Shenzhen (mainland China), there is a special Shenzhen visa. This is a type of a visa on arrival, which means that you can apply and receive the visa immediately once you arrive in Shenzhen. However, this visa is valid for 5 days only and it’s a single entry. To find out more about it and to learn about the application process, head over to our blog post about the Shenzhen visa.

10.3. Visa for foreigners of Chinese descent

Good news for people of Chinese descent. Since February 2018, persons who have a Chinese relative are eligible for a multiple entry visa which is valid for 5 years. There is no limit on the number of generations between the applicant and their Chinese relative or ancestor as long as the applicant has all the necessary documents and proofs of family ties. For more information about this visa and whether it applies to you find in our blog post on this topic.

11. Potential issues with the China visa application form

Let’s go through the most often problems that people face when filling out the Chinese visa application form.

Sections 1.15 Current occupation(s) and 1.17 Employer/School need to correspond. They are shown below.

chinese visa application form

1.15 Current occupation(s)

chinese visa application form

1.17 Employer/School

Here are a couple of examples how to properly fill these two sections.

Next up is the section 2.5 Longest intended stay in China among all entries. It may also be confusing because of its wording. But it’s quite simple. Here you need to put the number of days you are planning to stay for in China.

chinese visa application form

The longest duration of stay

For most popular Chinese visa types, that is a tourist (L), business (M) and non-commerce (F) visas, duration of stay is 30 days and this is a decision made by the Chinese authorities, in this case, Chinese embassy or consulate.

So what should you do?

Don’t put more days than it is allowed to stay for the visa type you selected. Also, remember that you cannot overstay your visa. You may get deported and pay a fine and even get banned from entering China.

Don’t forget to sign your application form! Even this seems like a simple task, many people forget to sign the form in the end. Your signature needs to be in section 4.3 on the provided line where it says Applicant’s signature (see the picture below). DO NOT sign anything in part 5 of the Chinese visa application form.

chinese visa application form

Applicant’s signature

12. Further help

Do you need more help? Contact our Customer Support or check our FAQ.