Usually, foreign travelers need a visa when traveling or establishing a business in the People's Republic of China. This China Visa Guide will help answer your questions to almost everything you need to know before applying for a China Visa, including visa types, requirements, application, cost, visa-exemption countries, visa-free transit policies, Visa on Arrival, etc.
Applying for a visa
China Visa Types
The type of visa you need to apply for depends on the main purpose of your visit to China. There are four major categories of Chinese Visa : including Chinese Diplomatic Visa, Service Visa, Courtesy Visa and Ordinary Visa. When speaking of China Visa, we usually refer to the Ordinary Visa types of mainland China.
1. Ordinary Visa
- C (China Crew Visa): issued to foreign crew members of means of international transportation, including aircraft, trains and ships, or motor vehicle drivers engaged in cross-border transport activities, and to their accompanying family members.
- D (China Resident Visa): issued to those who intend to reside in China permanently.
- F (China Visa for Non-Commercial Visits): issued to those who intend to go to China for exchanges, visits, study tours and other activities.
- G (China Transit Visa): issued to those who intend to transit through China.
- J1/J2 (China Journalist Visa): J1 is issued to resident foreign journalists of foreign news organizations stationed in China; J2 is issued to foreign journalists who intend to go to China for short-term news coverage.
- L (China Tourist Visa): issued to those who intent to go to China as a tourist.
- M (China Business Visa): issued to those who intend to go to China for commercial and trade activities.
- Q1/Q2 (China Family Reunion Visa): Q1 is issued to those who are family members of Chinese citizens or of foreigners with Chinese permanent residence and intend to go to China for family reunions; Q2 is issued to those who intend to visit their relatives who are Chinese citizens residing in China or foreigners with permanent residence in China.
- S1/S2 (China Private Visa): issued to family members of foreigners residing in China for work, study, etc. S1 permits long-term duration of stay exceeding 180 days, while S2 permits short-term to no more than 180 days.
- R (China Talent Visa): issued to those who are high-level talents or whose skills are urgently needed in China.
- X1/X2 (China Student Visa): X1 is issued to those who intend to study in China for a period of more than 180 days; X2 is issued to those who intend to study in China for no more than 180 days.
- Z (China Work Visa): issued to those who intend to work in China.
China Work Visa issued in Hong Kong
2. Hong Kong SAR & Macau SAR
Hong Kong and Macau are two Special Administrative Regions (SARs) in China, which are regarded as third regions from mainland China. They set up their own visa policies and a China Visa is NOT valid for visiting HK or Macau.
- Ordinary passport holders of 170 countries are visa-exempted to enter Hong Kong. Click Hong Kong Visa for the full list.
- Macau also provides visa exemption for passport holders of 79 countries. Click Macau Visa for the full list.
3. Visa on Arrival for Tourists – Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Xiamen, Hainan
|Visa on Arrival
||Eligible Ports of Entry
||Permitted Area to Stay
||Luohu, Huanggang, Shekou and Fuyong ports
||Gongbei, Jiuzhou and Hengqin ports
||Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport
||Haikou Meilan International Airport
4. Tibet Travel Permit
Non-Chinese passport holders and Taiwanese have to get a Tibet Travel Permit (or Tibet Visa) under the help of a China-based travel agency, like China Travel, before visiting Tibet. It is not allowed to do the application and travel in Tibet independently. You have to travel with a tour guide.
Tibet Travel Permit
China Visa Requirements
When to Apply
To apply for a Chinese visa, you must make sure that you have an original signed passport with at least six months of remaining validity and blank visa pages. Therefore, three months before your expected day of travel is sensible to allow time to audit your passport.
Where to Apply
Find out your visa type and submit your application to the visa office of Chinese Embassy/Consulate General based on your own countries. A travel agent or a visa agent can also help you to deal with the visa in the embassy or consulate office.
Documents for A China Visa
- Passport: valid for more than six months with at least two blank visa pages
- Visa Application Form: downloaded from the Chinese embassy website.
- A recent passport-type photo: 35mmx45mm
- Relevant proof according to your purpose to China
China Visa Fees
|6 Months Multiple
|12 Months Multiple
- According to the reciprocity agreements, visa fees for some non-U.S. citizens may vary from the list above. Please check with the Visa Office.
- Express I service: pay an extra fee of USD25 for each
- Express II service: pay an extra fee of USD37 for each
China Visa Free Policies
Visa-Free Transit in Mainland China
There are three types of transit without visa (TWOV for short) policies in mainland China: 24-Hour, 72-Hour, and 144-Hour.
||Nearly all countries
||Most Chinese cities
||Guilin, Xi’an, Chongqing, Harbin, Changsha
||Beijing, Tianjin, Shijiazhuang, Qinhuangdao, Qingdao, Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Jieyang, Shenyang, Dalian, Chengdu, Kunming, Xiamen, Wuhan
|Means of Transport
||By air, cruise, train
||By air, cruise, train
|Areas Allowed to Stay
||The transiting area
||The transiting city
||The transiting city or region
- Since 1 December 2019, Chongqing, Xi'an, and Ningbo also provide 144-hour visa-free transit at airports.
Hainan 30-Day Visa-Free Stay
From May 1, 2018, ordinary passport holders from 59 countries can have a visa-free entry to Hainan if they are received by Hainan-based travel agencies. They need to apply for the visa-free stay at least 72 hours before arrival and enter/exit from Sanya or Haikou by flight with hotel booking confirmation voucher. They can stay and travel in the whole Hainan Province for up to 30 days without a Chinese visa. Check Hainan’s official tourism website for updated visa-free info and find the eligible travel agencies.
The full list of the qualifying 59 countries are:
Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Finland, Norway, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Belgium, the Czech republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Monaco, Belarus.