The Chinese Visa application can be daunting. My sister decided to visit me in Beijing this November, and while exciting, the flood of questions regarding the visa application were overwhelming. I imagine she’s not the only one feeling that way; so, I’ve put together some tips for easily securing your visa.
Now, you can have a service take care of it for you, but if you follow these instructions, you should be able to do it right and save money in the process.
The below information is for filling out the “Tourist (L)” visa. If you are struggling to find the form, you can find it here.
#1 Do not hand write your Chinese visa application
Fill it out on the computer. Don’t write out your document or you will be told to redo it.
#2 Fill out your form in all caps
You will read varying thoughts on this, but I’ve found it’s better to be safe rather than sorry when it comes to traveling to China. The top of the form instructs, “Please type the answer in capital English letters” so just go ahead and do that!
#3 Type N/A or None in Empty Boxes
Additionally, the Chinese visa form instructs you, “If some of the items do not apply, please type N/A or None.” So, for example, in space 1.2 Name in Chinese, you would type N/A if you are not originally from China.
#4 Have the Proper Documents
This is the number one mistake I saw while waiting at the consulate, and it will cost you. When you bring your Chinese visa paperwork to the consulate, you must also have:
- A passport photo attached to the Visa (you should be able to pop into your local Walgreens, CVS or like store and get one in minutes);
- Your physical passport;
- A copy of the information page of your passport (ie. Where your picture, DOB and expiration info is) and;
- A print out of your flight and lodging confirmations (the attendant you hand your paperwork to may or may not keep it but better to be safe than sorry).
Many people had to leave after getting up to the window when the attendant told them about the above. They then had to run to a FedEx to make copies, etc.
*If you are staying with someone in China, you will need to provide an Invitation Letter from a qualified host (ie. a Chinese citizen or a non-citizen with a Chinese Residence Permit). Here is a useful example of the required Invitation Letter.
#5 Don’t Apply to Early or Too Late
Most people only apply for “One entry valid for 3 months from the date of issue.” If you apply more than three months in advance, you’re out of luck come vacation time! Additionally, don’t apply too late. Once you turn in the paperwork, it can take anywhere from four days to one week. And if you do complete the documents incorrectly, you will want to have extra time to fix those errors. I would recommend applying one to two months ahead of time.
#6 Read Yelp
I found that Yelp had great reviews for the Chicago Chinese Consulate. People left tips on the times, the location, what to do when you got to the consulate and the documents you would need. Check out your local consulate’s Yelp page to see if previous visitors have any useful tips!
Additional Tips: Below are some of the more confusing questions and what the Chinese Consulate is looking for.
1.9 Local ID/Citizenship number: They are NOT looking for your social security number. Do NOT enter that. Put down your driver’s license number or your student ID
2.6 Itinerary in China: All you really need to enter here is your Check-In and Check-Out dates for your hotel. Put in both the hotel name AND the address of the hotel.
Have any questions about the Chinese Visa application, feel free to ask below!
Once you’ve made it to China, you can check out my tips on what to do and see here.