How do I apply for a visa to China?
If you are a UK passport holder and are planning a trip to the Peoples Republic of China, you will require a visa, your permit to be in the country. If you don't have one you will be refused entry at the passport control. The rules are strict, and you you must follow them exactly or you will not get your visa.
The only exception to this is if you are a UK passport holder and are changing planes in China, you can complete a form at your port of entry (ie before you get off the aeroplane). This will allow you to stay in the airport only before catching your next airplane.
You DON'T need a visa for Hong Kong or Macau SAR if you are visiting for less than 90 days (if you hold a UK passport).
There are several different types of visa, each one having a letter to identify it (such as 'L-Visa'). The letters refer to the sound of the Chinese word in the Chinese alphabet, so they don't make a lot of sense. The main visa's are the tourist visa, or L-Visa and the business visa or F-Visa. The other visa's are listed at the end of the website.
Visa's must be submitted and collected IN PERSON, either by the applicant, or by an entrusted third party, including travel visa and passport company's. They will not accept applications by post or e-mail, and will not post the visas. Nor will the visa's start on a date of your choosing, rather they are valid for three months from the time they issued but both the L-Visa and the F-Visa will last for six months. So you must enter mainland China within 3 months of the date of issue. If you don't the visa will have expired, and you will be refused entry.
The official line is that all visa's are available for collection 4 working days after an application is made, however it is safer and more reliable to assume the process will take two weeks. Remember, you must pick up your visa in person or use an entrusted representative.
Visa's are generally granted, but be warned that they are especially careful in vetting applicants who were born in China and now hold a UK passport, or who are second generation Chinese immigrants (ie if your parents were born in mainland China). You will have to submit copies of your birth certificate as well as the other documents they ask for, and the applications can take a little longer.
Applicants from journalists, or from those going to China to interview someone, are also vetted carefully, and a different visa is required for those intending to do any reporting (see the end of this page).
For all visa types, your passport MUST have at least six months validity left on it, and MUST have two empty visa pages.
A Single-Entry Visa for China will cost £96 inclusive apply now