Chinese Visas

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  • Anonymous

    Tom Otley

    Following up on an article we wrote on visas earlier in the year

    Access granted: Your travel is confirmed – but you won’t be going anywhere unless you have the right visa. Tom Otley provides a guide to getting it sorted —full story »

    I was doing some research on the cost of Chinese visas.

    A tourist visa (L) costs £85.

    A compulsory £66 (inc VAT) service fee charged by the Chinese Visa Application Centre

    Schedule of current fees here

    For a couple visiting China for a short leisure visit, that would be £151 x 2 so £302 if using the Standard service.

    Express service would add another £12 each (£24), and if you can’t attend in person and use the postal service, the service charge goes up to £90 per application, which means the total cost of the leisure / tourist visa is £175 (£350 for two people)

    Business visas and multiple entry visas are more expensive.

    Has anyone attended in person to get a Chinese visa? I’d be interested to hear about the experience.


    For the record…..the single entry visa has been scrapped,
    You are now forced into getting a multiple entry.
    The whole thing used to be about £80 for a once off, but now it is over £150 as you say.
    What a way to deter tourism.


    To be fair, the Chinese Govt. do provide the opportunity for ‘taster’ stopover visits, so before committing £100s in visa fees one can sample some of the local delights and decide if a longer visit would be of interest:

    I believe that this policy is now extended to several other Chinese cities.

    As for the fees, they cost about as much as UK APD to travel to China in ‘comfort’.

    What a way to deter flying long haul from the UK!

    Tom Otley

    That’s true, but since it’s defined as a transit, you can only use it if you were (for instance) flying from the UK to Beijing and then on to a third country – it wouldn’t work if you were planning a long weekend break in the city from London.

    With regard to the single entry visa, it still seem to be there on the website – the cost of a multiple one is the same, however.


    These things tend to be reciprocal. When the US dropped their visa charges for Chinese citizen and started issuing 10-year multiple entry visas China did the same. It’s $140 all in for ten years.

    The UK could have the same if the government thought it was worth discussing with the Chinese.


    I submitted my Chinese visa application at the outsourced Visa application centre a couple of months ago for a Standard Service.. Received a 1 year multiple entry visa within 4 business days.. No issues at all apart from the high cost!


    I needed to obtain a visa for business purposes back in late Feb and I visited the visa centre near Bank tube station.

    I wanted a multi entry 2 year visa, so the relatively recent changed worked in my favour.

    I filled in the various forms, collated what was required and booked an online appointment. The earliest appointment was about 10 days in advance. (With 1 hour time slots provided).

    On arrival at my designated time slot there was a queue of 5-10 mins to check in, then I waited around 20 mins to be seen by an official. The official took about 2 mins to check everything and I was then on my way, with my passport retained until the visa was issued.

    I returned 4 to 5 business days later to collect and pay, which resulted in around another 30 min wait. I opted not to pay more to have my passport sent back to me as I was departing for China the following week and wanted to be sure there were no issues in getting it through the post.
    Just to note they only accepted my UK issued visa card and not my US issued one, which I had planned to use.

    A fairly time consuming process, around £150 in cost plus train tickets, but pleased not to have to this again for another 2 years and as I’ll likely visit China 6+ times in this period, overall quite content.


    China has recently introduced flat rate of fees regardless of Visa type – so worth getting 2 year multiple entry Business Visa instead of single / double entry as used to be the case. Saving a lot of hassle for clients.

    Many of my clients use a Visa Handling agency – saves a lot of time & effort so worth the extra in fees and much less hassle. I’m surprised corporates consider sending people in person – known CEO’s to waste so much time getting caught up in process in order to save a few quid – time which should be spent on their businesses as more value there.


    I use the visa agency for all my staff, sometimes though you dont get the visa you request. Currently with relations ok we have applied for double entry, in one case they got a 1 year multi 30 days max stay, the other they got 2 year multi max stay 90 days. so they ended up saving

    like most things in China, no consistancy


    I regularly use the service centre in Edinburgh to submit the application in person on behalf of our travellers. Usually only takes 10mins while they check the form is correct and all documents required are satisfactory. Very straight forward process unless there’s something missing from your application. It used to be that they required 2 single entry visas in the passport from previous visits before they would issue a double entry, but now they are all multi-entry visas.


    While this may not be relevant to many readers, citizens of participating APEC member countries (and permanent residents of Hong Kong) can get an APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) in order to get visa-free access to a large number of participating economies. I have mine as a permanent resident of HK, and just renewed. For about forty quid, I get visa-free access to China and a dozen other countries for three years. I am constantly amazed at how many of my peers and colleagues seem unaware of this scheme or don’t take it up.

    Admittedly only for business travel (although I don’t recall ever being asked about the purpose of my trip at the immigration counter), but incredibly useful.

    Oh, and it gets you expedited immigration clearance as well (even at non-participating economies such as the US, where cardholders are entitled to use the crew lane).

    Tamsin Cocks

    Hi IanFrom HKG – I have to admit I’ve never heard of the ABTC either but it sounds really good…almost too good to be true!
    Have you ever had any problems with it?
    Does anyone else on the forum have experience using it?


    My recollection is (if you are doing it all yourself rather than through a visa agency) that you first have to book an appointment online which may be in a week or two’s time. Then you have to complete a long questionnaire online and bring the printed version of this with you together with the required supplementary documentation. The latter has to be absolutely (and I really mean absolutely) in accordance with their instructions regarding dimensions, colour, position on the page etc or it will be rejected. The latter will then require another online booking cycle as you are bounced to the back of the queue again.

    Once you have attended for your appointment, having paid the requisite fees online, and have had all of your documents accepted, you can expect to get a response and pick up your passport with visa within another 48 hours.

    And, if you are a journalist, expect a very different experience to applying for a tourist or business visa.

    Beyond that, they do issue 48-hour transit visas at PEK or other international terminals if your onward connection is to another international destination. They will not do this if your final destination is domestic to the PRC.


    I know a lot who use the Apec, just wished I qualified but as a lowly UK citizen I dont 🙁

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