How to apply for a Chinese visa

Applying for a visa is potentially the most frustrating part of the travel experience. Being a Filipino citizen, I need a visa to travel to most countries (notable exceptions are ASEAN member states Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam). My trip to Sanya last month was my first time to apply for a Chinese visa. There are different visa categories but this entry focuses on the two most common visas: the tourist visa and the business visa.

As per the Chinese embassy in the Philippines:

The Tourist /Family visit Visa (class L)

L Visa is issued to a person who comes to China for sightseeing, visiting relatives, or private matters. Documents to be included with application:

1.    Applicant’s passport with blank pages and at least 6 months validity left before expiration.

2.    A completed application form affixed with one passport-size or 2×2 colored photo, with white background, full-face front view, and no hat.  Photo must be glued on the application form. Stapled pictures will not be accepted. Scanned photos will also not be accepted. U.S. passport holders must submit two application forms with two photos.

3.   Invitation letter with a copy of the inviter’s valid Chinese residence visa and passport information page of inviter’s or Chinese national identity card. (applicable to those who are visiting family in China)

4.  Previously used China visa in old or new passport (Only visa stickers will be accepted.  Those with stamped visas must submit additional documents for first-time China visa applicants. Please refer to the list below.)

5.   For first time applicants to China (Philippine passport holders, 18 years old and above), they are required to provide the following:

a) Original NBI clearance valid for travel abroad

b)  Original bank certificate with receipt or original passbook, updated within the month that you are applying or….

– If a company will sponsor the trip, provide the company’s bank certificate, sponsorship letter from the company and the company’s business registration.

– If an individual will sponsor the trip, provide his bank certificate, sponsorship and invitation letter, copy of sponsor’s valid residence visa and passport information page or Chinese national ID.

c) For employed persons, also provide an employment certificate; company ID, SSS ID and contributions, TIN ID, and latest ITR

d) For students, provide school ID

e) For businessmen, provide business registration of company, TIN ID and latest ITR

f)  Personal appearance is required for those who are 16-21 years old.

6.  The emergency contact information page in the applicant’s passport should be filled out and photocopied.

7. Other documents required by the visa officers if necessary.

The Business Visa (class F) << This is the visa I got!

F Visa is issued to a person who is invited by Chinese authorities authorized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (M.F.A) to come to China for a visit, investigations, giving lectures, doing business, carrying out scientific, technical and cultural exchanges, pursuing short-term advanced studies or doing short-term fieldwork, for a period of less than 6 months. Documents to be included with application:

1.    Applicant’s passport with blank pages and at least 6 months validity left before expiration.

2.    A completed application form affixed with one passport-size or 2×2 colored photo, with white background, full-face front view, and no hat.  Photo must be glued on the application form. Stapled pictures will not be accepted. Scanned photos will also not be accepted. U.S. passport holders must submit two application forms with two photos.

3.   An original Visa Notification Form issued by Chinese authorized unit.

4.  Invitation letter with a copy of the inviter’s valid residence visa and passport information page or inviter’s Chinese national identity card and the company’s business registration.

5.   Previously used China visa in old or new passport (Only visa stickers will be accepted.  Those with stamped visas must submit additional documents for first time China visa applicants. Please refer to the list below.)

For first time applicants to China (Philippine passport holders, 18 years old and above), they are required to provide the following:

a) Original NBI clearance valid for travel abroad

b) Employment certificate, company ID, SSS ID and contributions, TIN ID and latest ITR

7.   The emergency contact information page in the applicant’s passport should be filled out and photocopied.

9.  Other documents required by the visa officers if necessary.

How to Apply, Visa Fee & Processing Time:

1. You may come to the Consular office of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Philippines to submit the application; or you may send someone else or a travel agent to act on your behalf if you cannot come personally. Representatives must present an authorization letter and a company ID. Mailed applications are not acceptable and will be refused.

2.  All application forms must be completed by the applicants.  Travel agency or representatives are not allowed to answer the forms on their behalf.  For false information, the applicants shall be fully responsible.  Any false, misleading or incomplete statement may result in the refusal of a visa for or denial of entry into China.

Visa Fee: (peso/per)

Time of Entries

Single Entry

Double Entries

6 months-multiple

Entries

12 months-Multiple

Entries

Philippine Passport

1400

2100

2800

4200

US Passport

6500

6500

6500

6500

Foreign Passport

1700

2550

3400

5100

3.   The regular processing time is 4 working days. For express service, additional fees of 1700 peso/per for next-working-day releasing, or 1100 peso/per for third-working-day releasing will be charged. << When I applied last May, next-day releasing was no longer offered.

Forms for download:

Visa application form (2011)

Supplementary visa application form (2011) << needed if 1) you’re applying to work or study in China, 2) if you’re sharing your passport with a traveling companion, or 3) if you’re applying for the visa while in a country/territory other than the country of your current nationality.

However, there are some things that the embassy’s website doesn’t tell you:

  1. First-time applicants will have to go through the eye of a needle. Fact. Your second application will be much easier.
  2. You need at least Php 50,000 in your bank account, as seen in your original bank certificate.
  3. You pay the bank a fee to give you a bank certificate, right? You need to get the official receipt for the payment of that fee. If you forget to get the OR on the day you receive the bank certificate, you can submit the “original” copy of the transaction record instead. I say “original” (with quotation marks) because the embassy will insist on getting the original copy of the transaction record – which the bank will not give you because that’s their copy – when they really mean the carbon copy of the transaction record *facepalm* No, they will not accept a certified true copy even if that CTC is signed by the bank manager and has the manager’s calling card attached. Believe me, I tried.
  4. If your group gets issued a group visa notification form as a group (instead of individually), then everyone named in the form has to submit their documents at the same time. If not, the person who applies later doesn’t get that notification form appended to their application because the only copy was already appended to the ones who applied first. Don’t ask me why this is so as I don’t understand it either.
  5. The embassy opens and starts issuing numbers at 8am. The actual processing of the forms starts at 9am. I highly suggest that you line up by the embassy’s entrance by 7-7:15am at the latest. Yes, there will already be people ahead of you if you arrive by 7am but it’s not so bad since travel agents (and their 20++ applications each) have their own line. I arrived by 7 and submitted my documents by 10-10:15.

Consular Office of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China

Address:
2nd & 3rd Floor, The World Center
330 Sen. Gil J. Puyat Avenue (opposite Mapua)
Makati City, Metro Manila
Visa Office Hours:
09:00 am to 11:00 am (Monday  to Friday, Except for Legal Festivals and Holidays)

4 Replies to “How to apply for a Chinese visa”

  1. HI! these are very helpful info. Thanks for posting.

    Meron lang akong tanong, sa pagkuha ba ng F visa ngayon, ang kailangan pa rin ba ay “original Visa Notification Form issued by Chinese authorized unit”? Ano ba yung “confirmation of letter of invitation”? Ano’ng pinagkaiba nila?

    Baka kasi hindi updated ang website ng Chinese embassy. Thanks!

    1. Hi! Glad you found the information helpful 🙂

      The original visa notification form is something that your host institution in China must apply for on your behalf. In my case, the conference sponsors coursed their request through the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The letter contains the names and passport details of all the official invitees and the name of the sponsoring organization and contact person.

      Yes, the invitation letter is different from the visa notification form. It’s a letter with the sponsor’s letterhead saying that you’re invited to come to China on official business and the basic details of what you’ll be doing in China. Nothing too fancy 🙂 The one whose signature appears on the invitation letter should provide copies of his/her national ID.

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