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Different Types of Chinese Visas

Different Types of Chinese Visas

If you want to travel to China, you will need a Chinese visa. There are several exceptions, but in general you will require one. In this article you will learn about all the types of Chinese visas and how you can get one, depending on your need.

General Information

A Chinese visa does not take long to obtain. If you have all the documents necessary and have a passport with six months’ validity remaining (and two blank pages), you can get a visa between two (express service) and four working days. Some countries such as the US even have a rush service that provides a vise in one business day, but only in extreme cases, with the approval of the Consular Office. 

If you want to obtain a Chinese visa, the best time to apply is between 2 months-15 days before your trip. You will not be able to apply earlier because the visa expires after 90 days (180 in some cases) from the time you obtain it even if you do not use it. 

The prices may vary and are from $30 to $140 depending on the nationality, visa type, the number of entries and the country in which you apply. For European people, it is usually cheaper, but Americans usually have to pay the full $140 fee. 

You can get a visa in many countries, including Australia, UK, Canada and EU countries and you have to apply through the Chinese visa Application Service Center (CVASC). And if there is no CVAC in your country you can apply at the Chinese Consular Office in your province. 

The basic requirements for a Chinese VISA

These are requirements for any Chinese visa:

  • Your passport with minimum six months’ validity and that still has two blank pages;
  • Black and white photocopy of your passport page that has your photo and any past Chinese visas; 
  • Recently taken colored passport photo with light background (48mm x 33mm); 
  • Photocopy of your previous Chinese passports (if you had Chinese citizenship);
  • Proof of legal status in the province/country you are applying for visa, like a resident permit (if you apply outside your citizenship or country);
  • A filled in Application Form, printed and signed;
  • The Declaration signed and printed;
  • Printed copy of the appointment receipt (if applying through CVASC)
  • An invitation letter issued by an individual or relevant entity in China (needed for C visa, F visa, L visa (unless proof of hotel reservation for the entire duration), M visa, Q visa, S visa, Z visa). 

These requirements are necessary but not sufficient to obtain a Chinese VISA. Depending on the type of visa you want to apply for, you will need to submit additional documents.

Visa Category


Additional requirements


For foreign crew members of trains, ships, and aircraft, or for motor vehicle drivers that are engaged in cross-border transport activities and to the accompanying family members of crew members of the ships mentioned above.

Letter of guarantee given by an international transport company – if you do not possess an invitation letter 


For those who want to live in China permanently. 

Original photocopy of the Confirmation Form for Foreigners Permanent Residence Status – given by Ministry of Public Security of China 


For those who want to go to China for visits, exchanges, study tours and any other temporary activities  

Only the basic requirements


For those who have a transit in China (better to verify if you can get a 72 hr. visa exemption)

An onward train (ship or plane) ticket with the date and seat confirmed  


For resident foreign journalists of international news organizations in China. J1 for more than 180 days and J2 for less than 180 days 

Visa Notification Letter (the Information Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China) and the official letter given by the organization you work for 


For those who go to China as tourists 

A copy of the return plane ticket for China and copy of the Chinese hotel booking with the duration of your stay 


For those who go to China for trade and commercial activities.

An invitation letter issued by the registered Chinese organization or company 


For those family members of foreigners with Chinese Permanent Resident Permit (for a family reunion) or family members of Chinese citizens.

The duration of Q visa should be longer than 30 days - if you stay less, you can apply for an L visa. 

Q1 VISA for a stay longer than 180 days and Q2 for less than 180 days. 

Photocopy and original certificate (birth certificate, marriage certificate, kinship certificate given by Public Security Bureau)


For those with high-level talents or skills are urgently needed in China.

Relevant Certification


For those who go to China to visit foreigners who study or work in China and to whom they are: sons or daughters under 18, spouses, parents, parents-in-law or any who goes to Chine with private affairs.

S1 visa is for a stay longer than 180 days and S2 is for less than 180 days. In general, the duration of S visa should be longer than 30 days. If you stay less, you can apply for an L VISA.

Photocopy and original certificate (birth certificate, marriage certificate, kinship certificate given by Public Security Bureau) showing the family relationship with the inviting individual   


For those who want to study in China. X1 (for more than 180 days) and X2 (less than 180 days).

The JW201 or JW202 form and the notice of the addition of the school  


For those who want to work in China. 

Permit for Foreign Experts Working in China (given by the State Bureau of Foreign Experts),

Alien Employment License, 

Registration Certificate, 

Approval Document for Commercial Performance (provided by the Chinese Government for Cultural Affairs) 

China’s law states that illegal residence will receive warnings and, in severe cases, a penalty per day of 500 Yuan shall be imposed for illegal residence (not to exceed 10.000 Yuan total) or even detention for a period of 5 to 15 days. But the “serious case” is vaguely defined in the Chinese law, so it’s best to avoid the overstay and exit the country before your visa expires.

Photo Credit: Maxxelli

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