Do you need a visa for China?

Yes, you will most likely need a visa for China. Citizens of most countries do require a tourist visa to travel to China for any period of time, and most travellers receive a standard 30-day single-entry tourist visa for a trip to the mainland.

If you are travelling to Hong Kong, many citizens, including those from the EU, Australia, USA, Canada and South Africa, currently do not require a visa to visit for a short period of time. If you wish to visit Hong Kong from mainland China and want to re-enter China afterwards, you will need to apply for a different visa to allow for double entry.

To gain a Chinese visa, the process usually takes around a week, but can be longer depending on the country you are from and the documentation you provide. Once you receive your visa, you have a specific period of time to enter the country, so time your application accordingly.

Please note that requirements can vary at any time, and particularly for this region, the process and requirements continually change. Make sure to check your local Chinese consulate or embassy for up-to-date details or consult a reputable Visa Application Service Centre to assist you with your application.

How to apply for a Chinese visa

  1. Visit your local Chinese embassy website to work out what visa you can apply for and what you need to do to apply.
  2. Gather all required documentation to support your application. This includes (but is not limited to): a passport with at least 6 months’ validity and one empty visa page left, a completed visa application form, and two passport photos.
  3. For those travelling on a tourist visa, gather and provide a detailed itinerary and flight/accommodation list, plus an invitation letter, if required.
  4. Submit all required documentation and payment to your local Chinese embassy or consulate and wait to find out the status of your application.

Common documentation needed to get a Chinese visa

  1. Detailed travel itinerary: List the destinations you will visit in China in chronological order on your application form.

    IMPORTANT: Do not mention Tibet anywhere on your application form, even if your tour goes here. When travelling with Intrepid, you will be given a specific itinerary to use if booking a Tibet trip. While Tibet is not off-limits to travellers, you must obtain a Chinese visa first, before Intrepid can apply for your Tibet permit on your behalf. Including Tibet on your visa application without being booked on a government-arranged tour will lead to your visa being rejected.
  2. Name of host/inviting organisation: This will be supplied at the time of booking a tour.
  3. Hotel list: When travelling with Intrepid, this will be sent to you at the time of booking. If you do not receive this, email with your booking number and trip details.
  4. Official invitation from a licensed Chinese tourism company: This will be provided from Intrepid Travel together with the Hotel List to all travellers regardless of whether it is required by your home embassy or consulate to assist with your application.
  5. Itinerary: For those travelling with Intrepid Travel, print off a copy of your specific trip itinerary from the website and include it with your application, marking the dates you will visit each destination if required. An exception applies to any tours that travel to Tibet, so please see relevant Essential Trip Information for more details.
  6. A photocopy of your passport.
  7. Passport-sized photos: Up to four may be required.

The page is for general information only and may be subject to change. It is your responsibility to obtain relevant visa and travel information required for entry, departure and travel to each country or region you visit on your trip. You should confirm these with the relevant embassies and/or consulates.

Last updated: 20 March 2023

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