• March 21, 2023

How to Get a Visa for China: A Step-by-Step Guide

Write by: Link Yiwu

How to Apply for a Visa to China
how to get a visa for china

With the adjustment of Covid-19 restrictions in China, sourcing products in person from China can be easier than it was. But you still need to apply for a Chinese visa if you are not eligible for China visa exemption requirements.

The China government offers various types of visas, each with its requirements and limitations. When it comes to sourcing from the Yiwu Market, a tourist or business visa can be well suited.

In this article, we will guide you to apply for a business and tourist visa to China.

But first, let’s identify whether you need a China visa.

Do you need a visa to go to China

A visa is not always a must to go to China in the following cases. Check them and decide whether you have to apply for a China visa.

1. 24-Hour Direct Transit

No need for Chinese visa application if you transit directly through mainland China by air, ship, or train and will stay less than 24 hours. If you intend to go beyond the airport boundaries for city sightseeing within 24 hours, a Temporary Stay Permit is needed.

2. 72-Hour Visa-Free Transit

Citizens of 53 countries with valid international travel documents and air tickets can be exempt from visa application with less than 72 stay at ports of entry in China.

Find more information about the 53 countries and entry ports in this sheet.

3. 144-Hour Visa-Free Transit

If you are from one of the 53 countries we mentioned above, you are entitled to stay up to 144 hours(6 days) in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Liaoning without a Chinese visa.

4. You are a citizen of Singapore, Brunei, or Japan

If you are from Singapore, Brunei, or Japan and hold an ordinary passport of your country, you may enter China without a visa through the ports of entry. In this case, you come to China for tourism, a family visit, business, or transit, and intend to stay in China for no more than 15 days. 

5. You hold an APEC Business Travel Card

You can visit China with no need to apply for a visa if you hold a valid APEC Business Travel Card.

6. You hold a valid Foreigner’s Permanent Residence Card or Residence Permit for Foreigners

If you hold a valid Foreigner’s Permanent Residence Card of the PRC or Residence Permit for Foreigners in the PRC, you meet the visa-free qualification.

7. You hold a passport of the country listed on the Mutual Visa Exemption Agreements

China reached agreements on mutual visa exemption with some foreign countries. If you own a diplomatic, service, or official passport of the country on the list, you are entitled to a stay of less than 30 days.

How to apply for a business or tourist visa to China 

Find you are not qualified for visa-free requirements?

No worries. In this section, we will walk you through the process to apply for a business or tourist visa to trade or travel in China.

Keep reading!

Step 1. Determine your visa type

Before your application, you need to decide on which type of visa you should apply for.

As we mentioned earlier, a tourist or business visa suits you fine if you aim to import from China.

A tourist visa is suitable for those who come to China for tourism. But with this visa, you can also buy something in China like goods in Yiwu.

A business visa is for foreigners who intend to conduct commercial and trade activities in China. For example, you plan to trade with a Chinese business partner.

In your case, either visa type is appropriate.

Step 2. Collect the required documents for your visa application

Since you have decided on the visa type, it is time to prepare the required documents.

Source: unsplash

1. Passport

Your original passport with at least 3 months remaining validity and at least 1 blank visa page

2. A photocopy of your passport 

Copy your passport including the information and photo page

3. Visa Form and recently-taken personal photo

Fill your personal information in the visa application form online, print it, and sign it.

The photo needed is approximately 48mm x 33mm (bare-head, full face) against a light background. Click to check the photo requirements for the Chinese Visa Application.

Tips: Make sure all information you fill in is true, complete, and accurate. Once you submit the application form, you cannot modify it.

4. Proof of Residence

You should provide documents like a driver’s license, utility bill, or bank bill to prove your legal residence.

This proof document must display the same name as that on your passport. Meanwhile, it must display your current residence address as provided on your visa application.

5. Where You Stay Form

Download the Where You Stay Form, complete it, and sign it

Click here to download the form for US citizens if you are in the US.

6. Proof of travel arrangements or an invitation letter

Tourist visa(L visa)

Prepare your round-trip ticket booking records and proof of a hotel reservation with your name, OR an invitation letter issued by a relevant entity or individual in China and the inviter’s Chinese ID photocopy

Business visa(M visa)

You must provide a visa invitation letter from your trade partner in China.

In this invitation letter, the following information should be included.

  • Your personal information: name, gender, date of birth, passport number, etc.
  • Information about your visit to China: the reason for your visit, date of arrival and departure, the place to visit, relationship with the inviting unit or individual, etc.
  • Inviting party information: inviting party name, address, telephone number, official seal, legal representative or signature, date, etc.
Note: LinkYiwu values friendship with our foreign partners as we always do. We can provide you with an invitation letter for the Chinese visa application if you come to Yiwu for product sourcing. Get in touch with us now!
7. Other related documents

There could be any other documents required depending on the specific circumstance. You may check it out with the Visa Office of the Chinese Embassy or Consulate General that serve in your residence, or contact us for further consult.

Step 3. Submit your application

After collecting all the documents required for your visa application, you should submit them to the Chinese Embassy or Consulate General based on your location of residence. You can either do this by yourself or entrust someone else to do it on your behalf. But anyway, remember to make an appointment online before going to the Visa Office.

Step 4. Pay the visa application fee and collect your visa

Generally, you can collect your visa 4 business days after your application. But mind that the visa processing time can be 2 business days in an urgent situation, and 3 business days for express service.

You pay the visa application fee when you collect the visa.

Visa fee varies based on citizenship and location.

Here are the visa fees in the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia.

Visa fees in the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia
Visa fees in the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia

Besides the visa fee, you also need to pay the service fee and tax. It can vary in different service centers.

Note: The visa fee is tax-exempted. A tax or VAT is charged for the application service.

FAQ about China visa application

1. Can I apply for a visa to China online?

No, it is not possible to apply for a China visa online currently. All required documents need to be submitted to the Visa Center in the Chinese embassy or Consulate General that serves in your location.

2. When should I apply for a visa?

You can apply for a Chinese visa one month before your intended travel date. Two months in advance would be better in case of any unexpected delays or issues.

3. How long does it take to get a visa to China?

It typically takes 4 days for visa application processing. However, it can be longer if there is something wrong with your physical documents or if a delay in the delivery of your mailed documents occurs.

4. How long is my China visa valid?

Generally, a Chinese visa can be valid from 3 months to 10 years. The duration of stay allowed can vary from 30 to 180 days based on the type of visa issued.

To know the exact validity of your China visa, you can check the visa sticker or stamp in your passport, which will indicate when the visa is valid.

5. Can I extend the duration of stay of my visa in China?

You may apply for an extension of the “duration of stay” of your visa at a local public security authority before it expires.

6. Can someone else submit my visa application documents on my behalf ?

Yes. Usually, you should submit visa application documents by yourself. But you can entrust someone else to do it in some special cases.

7. Can I cancel my application after submitting it?

No, you can’t cancel your application and withdraw it once you have submitted it. You still need to pay the visa fee and service fee accordingly.

8. What to do if my visa application is denied?

You may check if there is something wrong with your application documents and apply for a China visa again. Or you can consult the Visa Office about the reason for the denial and prepare for the application next time.


Obtaining a Chinese visa is necessary for entry into China if you are not eligible for visa exemption requirements. In light of your purpose to import from China, a travel or business visa is well suited for you.

Hope this guide on how to apply for a tourist visa or business visa to China is helpful to you.

If there are any questions, please feel free to contact us.

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