While those new to international travel may think they can simply take a few minutes during their lunch break to walk into a consulate and walk out with a valid visa, bureaucracy just doesn’t work this way. Navigating the paperwork for visas to any number of foreign countries can be a nightmare even when everything goes as smoothly as possible.
China is well known for having strict requirements and high fees for US citizens due to reciprocity. If you are planning to fly into Shanghai or Beijing this year, knowing how to get a visa for China is a necessity. Unlike countries in Southeast Asia which attract budget travelers with flexible plans due to their low cost of living, China demands a rigid travel itinerary with confirmed reservations and proof of departure, assuming you don’t need a Chinese citizen to write an invitation letter.
How to get a visa for China in a hurry
If you are looking for a reliable way to process your Chinese visa application without the hassle, Travel Visa Pro has you covered. Our team of travel experts has over 40 years of experience between them and has built relationships with consular staff through professional contacts and years of working together. Using these, we can make the difference between a visa application arriving late one afternoon or early the next morning.
If you’re unfamiliar with visa applications and simply need a travel expert to walk you through the paperwork, Travel Visa Pro is ready to help. With our Concierge Service, someone will be personally assigned to your application and help fill in any blanks that could potentially delay or cancel a Chinese visa.
As mentioned above, be aware of the processing time for tourist visas; though the consulate can expedited their services for a price, this still means your US passport will be in consular officer hands for a matter of days; unless you have a second passport book, you’ll be unable to apply for another visa or use it as a form of identification.
How to get a visa for China on your own
Unless you’re transiting to another country – in which case 24-, 72-, and 144-hour visas are available (https://www.travelvisapro.com/blog/getting-24-hour-transit-visa-china/) – all US citizens must apply for a visa prior to their arrival in China. Tourist (L) and Transit (G) visas are among the most commonly issued, with Business (F/M), Student (X), and Work (Z) visas requiring more paperwork and preparation.
Locate the nearest Chinese embassy or consulate and check their hours for consular services. To get a visa to China, you should bring a US passport valid for at least six months and with a minimum of two blank pages. The Chinese visa application form must be completed and submitted with one passport-sized photo. Tourist visas require presenting a travel itinerary with confirmed hotel reservations, or an invitation letter from a Chinese national in the event you’re traveling for work or planning on staying with them.
The US Department of State currently charges Chinese citizens $160 for tourist visas. As a result of reciprocity, the fees imposed by China for their tourist visas are almost equally as high for Americans – $140 – while citizens of other countries are charged $30 or less. There also may be additional fees if you need expedited service for your Chinese visa application.
If you have more than a few weeks prior to your flight to China, regular service for processing your visa should be sufficient. Express service is available for $20 more if you plan to travel within a few weeks, and rush service for $30 if you’re more comfortable getting your visa by the week’s end.
Whether you choose to visit a Chinese consulate on your own or entrust your documents to Travel Visa Pro, make sure everything in your application is up to date, your passport meeting the aforementioned requirements, and your travel plans set in stone. Enjoy your trip!
Have you already traveled to China? What would you recommend for newbies?