If you decide to travel to the land of the Red Dragon and explore the Wonders of China, then you must begin the process to acquire your China tourist visa.

No need to worry, it is a painless process and we will walk you through it.

Obtaining your Chinese tourist visa is a lot easier than you think, continue reading if you want to learn everything you need to know about China tourist visa application process.

Why do I need a tourist visa?

Due to the Bilateral agreement between China and the United States Government, all U.S citizens are required to issue a visa in order to enter Chinese territory.

Where can I request a Chinese visa?

If you want to start the application process to obtain a China tourist visa you must contact the Chinese Embassy or one of the Chinese Consulates in the United States. The Chinese Embassy is in Washington DC, below is their contact information.

Visa Office of the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC:

Address: 2201 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W. Suite 110, Washington, D.C. 20007

Phone: (202) 337-1956 (9:30-12:30 Monday to Friday)

Email: visaoffice.dc@gmail.com

Due to the limited hours of the Embassy a better option may be to contact one of the 5 consulates. It’s easy toe find out which consulate is closest to you, we have done the leg work for you.

On the embassy’s web page you’ll find a “Consulate Generator”, this tool will simply ask you to choose the city that is closest to you and it will redirect you to the website of that consulate.

We have created the list below with all Chinese Consulates:

New York: Tel: 212-2449392 / 212-2449456 (9:00 am—12:00 am, 1:30 pm—5:00 pm, Monday-Friday, excluding Holidays)

San Francisco: 415-872-9091(09:00AM — 17:00PM)

Los Angeles: 213-807-8088

Chicago: 312-642-5981

Houston: 713-520-1462

How can I request a visa if I don’t live near a Consulate/Embassy? 

It’s no longer necessary for you to physically visit a Chinese Consulate to obtain the tourist visa. There are several online agencies that can issue the documents for you.

You only need to send your documents to the agency of your choice and pay the fee established by them. If you decide to acquire your visa through an agency be sure to read their privacy policy before sending your official documents.

There are many agencies out there to research. iVisa.com is one that we recommend.

Keep in mind that the process for obtaining the visa online might take longer than if you go in person.

Photo by thom masat

Do I need a Chinese visa to visit Hong Kong or Macao?

Back in 2013, the Chinese government opened different free trade zones all over the country’s territory.

These free trade zones were meant to expose China to new economic and social growth. Hong Kong and Macao are two free trade zones. Therefore you can visit both cities for short periods of time(90 days) without a visa.

What kind of visa do I need?

There are 16 different types of Chinese visas, but the one you need to solely visit the mythical lands of China as a tourist is the “L” visa. This type of visa allows tourists like us to freely travel the territory with the exception of Hong Kong.

Keep in mind that there are two types of “L” visas; the one with only one entry, and the one with several entries.

If you want to visit Hong Kong during your trip you must request a visa that authorizes several entries. Visiting Hong Kong implies using an entrance in addition to the one that’s needed to enter the rest of the Chinese territory.

Photo by Elizabeth Camp 

Do I need to book my flight before making an appointment?

It’s always a better idea to buy your flight to China with one or two months in advance. Usually airlines have better deals when the date of purchase is further from the departure date.

So the sooner you buy your plane ticket, the cheaper it will be. Besides the government of the Republic of China requires your flight and hotel reservations to issue any types of visa.

We recommend Skyscanner or Google Flights to book your flight.

How can I make an appointment?

The consulate does have a walk-in service for the visa procedure, so you are not required to schedule an appointment. Even if you decide to acquire your visa through an agency you might be needed to go to the consulate/embassy for an interview.

What documents do I need to apply for a China tourist visa?

As a result of the current state of international politics has caused several changes in the visa agreement between the US and China. Which has caused constant updates in the requirements for the visa applications.

If you are a US citizen applying for a tourist Chinese visa you must check the embassy’s web page for further changes in the requirements for your application.

These are the documents you need to present to a member of the consulate to process the china tourist visa application.

  • Your original passport with 6 months of remaining validity and blank visa pages. 
  • One copy of your passport
  • Visa Application Form (V.2013) 
  • A passport photo 
  • Flight reservation
  • Hotel reservation
Photo by Amin Salehi 

What is the China Tourist Visa processing time?

The worst part about applying for a visa is waiting… long… periods… of time before receiving it. However, the members of the Chinese Consulate have made our lives much easier and they process the visas in just 4 business days!

If you are in a situation where you absolutely need your visa in a shorter period you can pay an extra for an express or rush service. The express service will process your visa in 2 business days and if you need it even faster the rush service can get it done in 1 day.

The rush service is only available in extreme situations and the request has to be approved by a Consulate member.

What is the fee for the visa?

The Chinese Embassy has established one price for the four different types of tourist visas. The cost of one visa is $140.

The express and rush services are separate extra charges. For that reason, the express service will cost you an additional $20, and the rush service will add another $30 to your total.

Where can I collect my tourist visa?

Neither the consulates or embassy have mail-in service.

Hence you or your agent must pick up your passport with the printed visa with the pick-up slip in the consulate/embassy where it was issued.

How can I pay for the Chinese tourist visa?

Once your tourist visa application has been processed and approved you must pay the fee for the visa and the type of service you received.

For that reason, the Chinese government offers a wide variety of methods of payment for this document. You can pay for your visa with a credit card (Visa or Mastercard only), Money Order, Cashier’s Check or Company Check.

How do I know my visa was processed correctly? 

When you finally receive your visa you should check it was issued correctly. These are the things you should look for in your visa.

  • Your name is spelled correctly
  • Your birthday has been correctly written
  • The number of entries you have been authorized
  • The validity of your entries
  • The duration of your stay, or the period of time you’ve been authorized to stay in China.
  • As you can see it seems that the process of obtaining a Chinese tourist visa is a lot easier than most people think.

We hope that you found all this information helpful and that we have made your china tourist visa process a little less tedious. 

Finally, if you have other questions that we were not able to answer you can find more information by calling your nearest consulate or by visiting the Chinese embassy website.

Do you have more questions before you book your trip to China? Check out these essential tips to know before you visit China.

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An avid adventure lover that has been in awe of nature since he was a kid. He has 15+ years of experience in the outdoor adventure arena. His favorite pastimes include; mountain climbing, trail running, kitesurfing. This passion for adventure has lead to the creation of LocalAdventures. Daniel’s mission is to share these amazing experiences with the world.

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