China Visa

Written by Sally Guo Updated May. 28, 2023

China has officially announced the resumption of all kinds of visas, including tourist visas (L Visa), from March 15th, 2023.

Usually, foreign travelers need a visa when traveling or doing business in China. This China Visa Guide will help you answer almost all the questions you need to know before applying for a China Visa.

This article includes China visa types, requirements, application, cost, visa-free transit policies, Visa on Arrival, etc.

China Visa Types

The type of visa you need to apply for depends on the main purpose of your visit to China.

There are four major categories of Chinese Visa: Chinese Diplomatic Visa, Service Visa, Courtesy Visa, and Ordinary Visa.

When speaking of China Visas, we usually refer to the Ordinary Visa types of the Chinese Mainland.

1. Ordinary Visa

China Work Visa issued in Hong Kong
China Work Visa issued in Hong Kong

2. Hong Kong Visa & Macau Visa

Hong Kong and Macau, as two Special Administrative Regions (SARs) in China, are regarded as third regions from China Mainland. They have their own visa policies and a China Visa is NOT valid for visiting HK or Macau.

Ordinary passport holders from 170 countries are visa-exempted from entering Hong Kong. Read Hong Kong Visa for the full list. 

Macau also provides visa exemption for passport holders from 81 countries. Read Macau Visa for the full list.

3. Visa on Arrival for Tourists – Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Xiamen, Hainan

Visa on Arrival Valid for Eligible Ports of Entry Permitted Area to Stay
Shenzhen 5 days Luohu, Huanggang, Shekou and Fuyong ports Shenzhen City
Zhuhai 3 days Gongbei, Jiuzhou and Hengqin ports Zhuhai City
Xiamen 5 days Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport Xiamen City
Hainan 30 days Haikou Meilan International Airport Chinese Mainland

4. Tibet Travel Permit

Non-Chinese passport holders and Taiwanese have to get a Tibet Travel Permit with the help of a China-based travel agency, like China Travel, before visiting Tibet.

Foreigners are not allowed to do the application and travel in Tibet independently. You have to travel with a tour guide.

Read How to Apply for a Tibet Permit for more detailed information.

Tibet Travel Permit
Tibet Travel Permit

If you book the Tibet tour with us, we will make all necessary arrangements to obtain the Tibet Permit for you. Feel free to contact us and learn more details about Tibet travel requirements.

China Visa Requirements

When to Apply for China Visas

As ordinary visas are only valid for 90/180 days for single/double-entry visas from the issue date, you are suggested to apply for the visa one or two months before the intended travel.

Where to Apply for China Visas

Find out your visa type. And then submit your application to the visa office of the Chinese Embassy/Consulate General based in your country.

A travel agent or a visa agent can also help you to deal with the visa in the embassy or consulate office.

Documents for China Visa Application

China Visa Fees

Entries U.S. Citizen Canada Citizen Non-U.S. Citizen
Single USD 140 CAD 100 USD 30
Double USD 140 CAD 100 USD 45
6 Months Multiple USD 140 CAD 100 USD 60
12 Months Multiple USD 140 CAD 100 USD 90


Visa-Free Transit in China Mainland

There are three types of transit without visa (TWOV for short) policies in China mainland: 24-hour visa-free transit, 72-hour visa-free transit, and 144-hour visa-free transit.

Type 24-Hour TWOV 72-Hour TWOV 144-Hour TWOV
Eligible Countries Nearly all countries 53 countries 53 countries
Entry Ports Most Chinese cities Guilin, Harbin, Changsha Beijing, Tianjin, Shijiazhuang, Qinhuangdao, Qingdao, Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Jieyang, Shenyang, Dalian, Chengdu, Kunming, Xiamen, Wuhan, Xi'an/Xianyang, Chongqing
Means of Transport By air, cruise, train By air By air, cruise, train
Areas Allowed to Stay The transiting area The transiting city The transiting city or region

Hainan 30-Day Visa-Free Stay

From May 1, 2018, ordinary passport holders from 59 countries can have visa-free entry to Hainan if they are received by Hainan-based travel agencies.

They must apply for a visa-free stay at least 72 hours before arrival and enter/exit from Sanya or Haikou by flight with a hotel booking confirmation voucher. They can stay and travel in the whole Hainan Province for up to 30 days without a Chinese visa.

The full list of the qualifying 59 countries are:

Russia, the UK, France, Germany, Norway, Ukraine, Italy, Austria, Finland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary,

Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania,

the US, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Monaco, and Belarus.  

Check Hainan’s official tourism website for updated visa-free info and find eligible travel agencies.

Shanghai 15-Day Visa-Free Trip

Since October 1, 2016, the 15-day visa-free policy has been operating for foreign tourist groups entering China from Shanghai by cruise.

Under the 15-day visa-free policy, your group can visit and depart from any port within the designated areas, as long as you remain together on the same cruise ship. The visa-free privilege applies to specific regions, including Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, and provinces such as Liaoning, Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, and Hainan.

During the 15-day period, the group is permitted to explore these areas without the need for a visa.

Read 15-Day Visa-Free Cruise Trip in China for more details.

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