Most foreign travelers who enter China for tourism purposes need a tourist visa. However, some countries benefit from visa exemptions. This visa exemption policy principally applies to 10 groups of people:

Get the FREE Cheat sheet for
Chinese visa

24-Hour Direct Transit:

This scheme applies to nearly all nationalities. Most airports are qualified, except the airports in Shenzhen, Mudanjiang, Yanji, and Fuzhou.

72-Hour Visa-Free Transit:

Passport holders of the 53 countries can stay up to 72 hours while transiting through:

Beijing CapitalShanghai PudongShanghai HongqiaoGuangzhouChengdu

144-Hour Visa-Free Transit:

Passport holders of the 53 countries can stay up to 144 hours transiting in:


Hainan 30-Day Visa-Free Access:

Citizens who have the passport of the 59 eligible countries are excluded from the visas when traveling to Hainan as a group or as an individual arranged by Travel Agencies.

15-Day Visa-Free for Cruise Tour Groups to Shanghai:

People who take a cruise to Shanghai and leave with the cruise from Shanghai or other ports of China can stay up to 15 days without a visa.

6-Day Visa Exemption for Travelers to Pearl River Delta:

Citizens who have a passport from the nations with diplomatic relations with China are exempted from China visas if they travel as a group in Hong Kong or Macao. This is arranged by registered travel agencies in Hong Kong and Macao to visit the Pearl River Delta for up to 6 days. The region includes:


6-Day Visa Exemption for ASEAN Tour Groups Visiting Guilin:

Tour groups from ASEAN member countries can visit Guilin for six days without obtaining a visa. These countries include:


Citizens of Singapore, Brunei, Japan, Qatar, and Armenia:

Ordinary passport holders of these countries can enter China without visas for up to 15 days for tourism, visiting, or minor business purposes, provided they come via international ports open to foreigners.

Holders of Aliens’ Residence Permit:

People under X1 visa or a Z visa and resident foreign journalists can apply for an Aliens’ Residence Permit at the bureau of local public security within 30 days after their entry.

Holders of APEC Business Travel Card:

The APEC Business Travel Card is a kind of multiple entry visa with three years of validity. The holder of this card can enter China many times within its validity. The duration of each stay should be for two months.

What are the requirements for a Chinese visa?

The following are required to obtain all Chinese visas:


  • It is compulsory to provide the original and a copy of the passport. There must be at least two blank pages in your passport. The passport validity must be at least 6 months. 

Applicant’s photo:

  • It must have been taken recently. The dimensions of the photo should be 48 x 33 mm, and it should be on a light background. 

Depending on the type of visa, you will need to provide other documents:

Tourist visa (L visa):

  • Information about your travel, including the hotel reservation, flight ticket
  • The invitation letter

Business visa (M visa):

  • Documents related to your commercial activity in China that is issued by your trade partner
  • The invitation letter

Noncommercial Visit Visa (F visa):

  • An invitation letter

Student visa (X visas):

  • The admission letter that is written by the education institution in China
  • The applicants must provide Form JW201 and Form JW202.

Work visa (Z visa):

  • Foreigners Employment Permit that is issued through the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security of the PRC
  • Registration Certificate of Resident Representative Offices that is issued by Chinese authorities of industrial and commercial administration.
  • Approval document the Chinese government authorities issue for cultural affairs
  • Invitation letter that is issued via National Offshore Oil Corporation for people who intend to work for Offshore Petroleum Operations

Private visit visa (S visas):

  • An invitation letter from people who have a Z or X visa in China
  • A photocopy of the inviter’s passport and residence permission
  • Proof of the kinship such as marriage certificate and birth certificate

Family visa (Q visas):

  • Invitation letter from a Chinese citizen or foreigner who has a Chinese permanent residence permit.
  • Photocopy of Chinese Identity Card or foreign passport and permanent residence permission
  • For Q1 visa only, proof of relationship such as marriage certificate and birth certificate

Transit visa (G visa):

  • An air, train, or ship ticket with a confirmed date to the destination country

How to apply for a China visa?

The steps for applying for a China visa are as follows:

1. You must first download the application form from the Chinese Embassy website. If you can’t download the form, you can notify the Chinese embassy by fax to send you the form.

2. You must send the application form along with the necessary documents to one of the following centers in person:

  • Chinese embassies
  • Chinese consulates
  • China Visa Application Service Centers

Most embassies and consulates do not accept mailed applications. It is not necessary to arrange an appointment in all cases. You can not send a visa application online. If you can’t submit the documents for any reason (such as illness), the person you trust should do it for you. There is no need to provide a power of attorney, but all documents must be complete, and you must have signed the application form.

When can you apply for a visa?

The best time for applying for a visa is at least one month before your intended date of entry into China, but not before three months. A Chinese visa is usually valid for three months, and if you apply early, your visa may expire before your departure.
If your visa is valid for less than one month, it is best to apply two weeks before your intended date of entry to China.

What is the meaning of the number of entries for a China visa?

The number of entries shows the number of times a visa holder can enter China as long as his visa is valid. If the visa expires, the holder will no longer be able to enter China, even if there are still unused entries.

How much is the China visa application fee?

The cost of applying for a visa depends on the following factors:

  • The nationality
  • The number of entries
  • The country you are applying
  • Whether you want an express service

In general, the cost of applying for a visa for US citizens is $ 140, and for other countries, it is between $ 30 and $ 90. The following countries are exempted from paying visas:

MicronesiaPakistanSlovakiathe Republic of Montenegro

Do you need a letter of invitation for a China visa?

You can download the invitation form here. To receive the following visas, it is necessary to submit an invitation letter in addition to other documents:

  • Tourist visa (L visa)
  • Business visa (M visa)
  • Noncommercial Visit Visa (F visa)
  • Work visa (Z visa)
  • Private visit visa (S visa)
  • Family visa (Q visa)

How to write an invitation letter?

The applicants must submit the invitation letter to the embassy or consulate where they are applying for a visa. The information that should be included in the invitation letter is as follows:

  • Applicant information, including name, gender, date of birth, etc.
  • Travel schedule including entry and exit dates, places to visit, the relation between the applicant and the inviting entity, financial resources providing travel expenses
  •  Information about the inviting person, including name, contact number, address, and signature

Why might a Chinese visa application be rejected?

Typically, a Chinese visa application is unlikely to be rejected. However, your visa application may be rejected for the following reasons:

1. You must fill out the visa application form carefully. Based on the information you enter, the consular officer will decide on your application. Errors such as misspelling, invalid addresses, and incorrect passport numbers will result in the rejection of the visa application.

2. If your photo does not meet the required specification, your visa application will be rejected.

3. You must send all the necessary documents along with the application form. If you miss a document, your visa application will be rejected by the Chinese Government.

4. If the Chinese visa applicant has a criminal record, the visa application will be rejected.

5. If the applicant overstayed in China, he will be blacklisted by China and other foreign countries.

6. Applications for long-term visas for people who suffer from certain contagious diseases, such as AIDS and hepatitis B, will be denied.

8. The visa rejection rate is high among applicants working in the field of mediaو religious, or military.

What are the types of China visas?

Types of China visas include:

1. visitor visas:

  • L visa: This visa is for Foreigners who intend to go to China as a tourist. The tourist visa is issued as a single entry, and its length is 30 days.
  • Tourist Group Visa: This visa is issued to a tourist group that contains at least five members who must travel together. This permission is granted as a separate sheet rather than inserting each passport.
  • F visa: This visa is for people who want to come to China for exchanges, visits, study tours, and other non-business activities. This visa is issued as a single or double entry, and its validity is between 30 to 90 days.
  • M visa: This visa is for commercial and trade operations. The M Visa is usually issued as single-, double or multiple entries and is up to 10 years.

2. Student visas:

  • X1 visa: It is a long-term visa and is issued to students who intend to stay in China for more than six months. If you want to pursue your education in undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate degrees, you can apply for this visa. This visa is a multiple-entry and is valid for up to 5 years.
  • X2 visaIt is a short-term visa issued for study programs with less than six months. Applicants for language programs and short training courses can apply for this student visa. Unlike the X1 visa, this one is issued as a single entry. 

3. Work visas:

  • J visas (J1, J2): This is issued to foreign resident journalists and their accompanying dependents. Applicants need to get approval from related Chinese news authorities before submitting their visa application.
  • R visa: Chinese talent visa is issued to high-level employees and highly talented people who intend to stay and work in China. Usually, they can obtain multiple-entry permission with the validity of five or ten years, and their spouse and children can get a relative visa, or the S2 type, with the same validity.
  • Z visa: All foreigners who intend to work in China will need a work visa or Z visa. This visa is issued as a single entry with a duration of stay of 000 (means to be determined).  Within 90 days after the visa is issued, visa holders must enter China. They must then be registered at the local public security bureau within 30 days of arrival to obtain a residence permit.

4. Family visas:

  •  Q visas: are issued to relatives of Chinese citizens and foreigners residing in the country. Family visas are divided into two categories:
  • Q1: This visa is issued to those who intend to stay in China for more than 180 days.
  • Q2: This visa is for those who stay in China for less than 180 days.
  • S visas: There are two types of S visas:
  • S1: Holders of this visa can stay in China for a long time. This visa is issued to the dependents of people who have a work visa and a student visa. Dependents include spouses and children under the age of 18.
  • S2: This visa is issued to people who want to visit family members who are studying or working in Japan. Holders of this visa can stay in China for a short time. This visa is issued in several entries.

5. Other visas:

  • C visa: This visa is for foreign crew members who work on airlines, ships, or trains. Their family members can also accompany them.
  • G visa: This visa is for those who intend to go through China toward a third destination. However, citizens of countries such as Singapore, Brunei, and Japan do not need a visa for transit for up to 15 days.
  • D visa: This visa is for foreign citizens who have a permanent residence permit in China and is a temporary and transitional visa such as a Z visa. This visa is also called a Chinese Green Card.
  • Diplomatic and Service Visa: This permission is issued to foreign government officials and the diplomatic staff who travel to China to do their governmental duties.

How useful was this article?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this article.