If you have all the necessary documents and hold a passport with at least six months validity and two blank pages, it should take between two (if you apply for the express service) to four working days to get a Chinese Visa.
Note that the rush service (one business day) is only available in some countries (the US, for instance) and only for cases of extreme urgency, upon the approval of the Chinese Consular Office.
The best time to apply for a Chinese Visa is between two months and fifteen days before your departure. You can’t apply for your Visa too early because if you don’t use it, the Visa will expire after 90 days (or 180 days, in some cases), starting from the day you obtained it.
Where can I get a Chinese Visa?
In many countries, including the UK, Australia, Canada and EU countries, you must apply through the CVASC .
However, if in your country there is no CVASC , you shall still apply at the Chinese Consular Office that serves your province. This is also the case of people living in USA.
Keep in mind that the government may abruptly decide to restrict or change Visa requirements in any moment, just like they did in 2008 (before the Olympic Games in Beijing) and in 2013. I don’t want to scare you; just be prepared to deal with the unforeseen.
What are the basic requirements for getting a Chinese Visa?
The basic requirements for getting any kind of Chinese Visa are the following:
• Your original passport with at least six months of validity and two blank pages;
• A black and white photocopy of the passport page with your photo, and of the pages that contain any past Chinese Visas that you have obtained (only applicable if you have already been to China);
• A recently-taken color passport photo (48mm x 33mm) with light background;
• A photocopy of previous Chinese passports (only applicable to foreign citizens who were once Chinese citizens and have obtained foreign citizenship);
• Proof of legal status in the country where you’re applying for the Visa, such as a resident permit (only applicable if you’re applying for the Visa outside your country of citizenship);
• A printed copy of the appointment receipt (only applicable if you’re applying through the CVASC – you will be able to make an appointment directly on CVASC’s website.)
• An invitation letter issued by a relevant entity or individual in China. The invitation letter is only needed if you’re applying for a C Visa (unless you have a letter of guarantee issued by a foreign transport company), F Visa, L Visa (unless you have proof of a hotel reservation for the whole duration of your stay in China), M Visa, Q Visa, S Visa or Z Visa. See the next section for details on the different types of Chinese Visas.
Although normally the invitation letter can be in the form of a fax, photocopy or computer scanned printout, in some cases, you may be required to submit an original invitation, provide other supporting documents, or schedule an interview with the consular officer.
If you don’t have your previous passport anymore, or you have a gap between your old and new passport (for instance your old passport expired in May and you got a new passport in July), then you shall include a statement explaining the situation.
Update: We received several comments from readers that claim being denied a Chinese Visa because they had a previous entry stamp from Turkey in their passport. Further, this problem may also happen when having passport stamps from other Middle East countries, beside Turkey.
An invitation letter may only be issued by a Chinese citizen, a foreign citizen with a Chinese Resident Permit who lives in China or a Chinese entity (for instance a Chinese company or trade fair).
If you’ve been invited by an individual, he/she must also attach a copy of his/her Chinese ID, or a copy of his/her passport and Resident Permit (if he/she is not a Chinese citizen). Note that if you’re applying for a Q Visa, the inviting individual must be a Chinese citizen or hold a Permanent Resident permit (Temporary Resident Permits are not allowed for Q Visa application invitation letters).
In the case you’ve been invited by an individual, he/she shall also attach a copy of his/her Chinese ID, or a copy of his/her passport and Resident Permit (if the his/her is not a Chinese citizen). Notice that if you’re applying for a Q Visa, the inviting individual must be a Chinese citizen or hold a Permanent Resident permit (Temporary Resident Permit are not allowed, for Q Visa application invitation letters).
If you’ve been invited by a Chinese entity, the company’s business license – or other applicable documents – must be attached to the invitation letter.
Finally, if you’re applying for a Z Visa, the Invitation Letter must be issued by a “Duly Authorized Unit”; in other words, your Chinese employer must have a permit to hire foreign workers.