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Chinese Visa – How to Obtain a Tourist Visa to China

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A Chinese tourist visa is a requirement of all U.S. citizens who would like to do tourism on the mainland. While the Chinese consular services offers several differnt types of visas, this article will provide information on how to apply for a China tourist visa.

Visa applications by mail are no longer accepted by the Chinese consular services. The application can be submitted personally by you or you can get another person to do it for you. A family member, friend, travel agent or visa expediter can do this for you.

The validiy on a China visa can be either 3, 6 or 12 months. You have the choice of single-entry, double-entry or multiple-entry visa. You will have to obtain a special travel permit to get into a non-open city. This can be obtained at the local public security bureau in China.

The China Tourist Visa

A China tourist visa, also known as an L visa, is usually valid for 30 days from the day of entry. Upon arrival, your documents will be examined by an inspection agent. If all your documentation is in order, an entry seal will be stamped in them. If you want to extend your stay after arriving in China, you need to apply to the local public security bureau.

The tourist visa only allows you to travel to China for sightseeing or to visit family. If you want to travel to any area not yet opened to tourists, you will have to apply for a Foreign Travel Permit at the local public security organ.

Chinese Visa Requirements

The following items are required in order to obtain a tourist visa to China.

Declaration Form

All travelers who apply for a China visa are required to also complete the Declaration Form. You need to fill in your full name, nationality, passport number and the countries or U.S. states you have visited in the two weeks before filling out the form.

Valid United States Passport

You are required to submit your current U.S. passport together with the tourist visa application. Your passport needs to have six months validity beyond your date that you arrive in China. Your passport also needs to have at least one completely blank visa page.

A Passport-Style Photo

The photograph must be 2×2 inches in size. It is recommended that you obtain the photo at a location that has experience with passport photos. Acceptable photographs are those that are clear, high resolution and have the proper contrast with a white background.

Completed China Visa Application

The China visa application has seven sections. The first section is for personal information such as name, sex, nationality, date of birth, passport number, occupation, etc. The second section is where you provide information about your trip to China. You have to submit the reason for your trip, the number of entries you want, when you plan to arrive in China and how long you plan to stay.

Questions about your health and prior travel are found in Section 3. You need to include information about previous trips to China. Your contact information should be given in the fourth section. This includes your home address, work or school address, address for contact in China, telephone numbers and email.

The fifth section is for additional declarations about your trip. The sixth section asks information about the person that completed the form if other than the person requesting the visa. You sign the application in seventh section.

How to Get Your China Tourist Visa Quickly

Regular processing of your visa to China can take 4 business days or more. If you are in a rush to get your visa, you can request express or same day rush service. It takes 2 to 3 business days for express visa processing. It only takes one business day for rush processing. Both these expediting services require the payment of an additional fee.

If you cannot get to the Chinese embassy or consulate general and you do not know anyone who can go in your place, then you need to apply through a private visa expediting service. An expediter can submit your visa application and documents to the consulate for you. This allows you to get your China visa expedited as quickly as the same day.


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