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ben boyd

Travelled to 10 countries / regions

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From LA, living in Hong Kong, go to China a lot

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Asia > China > Useful Info
Updated on Nov 22, 2018 Useful Info

How long it takes to get a Chinese tourist visa and where to apply

  • The tourist visa to China is the "L" visa. Its processing time is standardized across the world at 4 business days for regular service
  • However, for extra fees you can get:
  • 3 business days for "Express Service": fees in the US is an extra US$25 per visa
  • 2 business days for "Rush Service": fees in the US is an extra US$37 per visa
  • Again, these processing times are pretty much the same no matter which country you're applying from
  • Keep in mind, though, that the 2-4 days is just the visa processing time. In additional to this, it takes:
  • 1-2 days to get all the required documents ready from my experience
  • 2-6 days for the mail to get to and from the consulate/visa processing centers if you don't happen to live in a city with a consulate or visa processing center


Where to apply for Chinese visas:

  • You can apply for Chinese visas at either 1) what's called Visa Processing Service Center (these are not agents; they're officially sanctioned places for Chinese visa application), or 2) at a Chinese consulate or embassy
  • Generally speaking, if you're in a country that has Visa Processing Service Centers available, that's where you should apply instead of at a consulate or the embassy
  • Here's the website and a list of all the locations of Visa Processing Service Centers in the world
  • To find the locations of Chinese embassies and consulates, you should go to the websites of your country's Chinese embassy, which will contain a list of all the consulates in your country where you can apply to visa from (assuming your country doesn't have visa processing centers). For example, this page has a list of Chinese consulates in the US


How to apply for Chinese visas:

  • The website of the Visa Processing Service Center contains a page with detailed step-by-step guide of how to apply for Chinese visas for your location. This is the page for Toronto, for example. Go to the home page of the Visa Processing Service Center, pick your country and city, then click "Step By Step Guidance"
  • If your country doesn't have a Visa Processing Service Center, go to the embassy's website and find information there. This is the visa application info page from the Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C.


How long in advance to apply for Chinese visa:

  • The official guidance is 50 days before your departure
  • Speaking from personal experience, if you live in a city with a Visa Processing Service Center or consulate/embassy, you'll be fine if you start working on your application 3-4 weeks before departure. If you don't live in such a city, then start working on your application 4-5 weeks in advance
  • Keep in mind that the visa is valid for 3 months from the issue date (for a single entry visa), so don't to apply too early lest the visa becomes invalid too soon