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As the 2nd world economic leader, China attracts more and more expatriates each year. If not for its economy, then its culture, architecture, landscapes and history are just as many move in factors.

But before living in China, you will get some red tape to deal with. And the first of all is getting a visa.

General information

The price table for visas to China is available on the Chinese consulate website in your country. For an order of price, a Schengen (EU) visa owner will spend 126€ for a visa with normal delivery. It will cost up to 180€ for a USA citizen.

The prices increase for “Express”, “Emergency” and “Postal” deliveries.

A list of mandatory documents applies for all visa requests. But other documents will be added to these, according to the type of visa you want. These lists should also be available on the Chinese consulate website.

Some of the mandatory documents are: your passport (original and copy), and a proof of residency in your home country.

When visas are declined in two number (for example: X1 and X2), it indicates your length of stay in China. Type 1 visas stand for less than 180 days of stay on the territory. At the reverse, type 2 visas authorize you to stay longer than 6 months in China.

The application process must be done with the Chinese consulate or application centers in your country. This procedure may vary depending on your location.

Short stays

               Exchange, visits, lectures (visa F)

This visa requires an invitation letter from a company, administration or individual in China. This letter should include both personal data and information about the trip. It should contain information on the motive of the trip and places visited, source of founding and length of stay. Airplane tickets and hotel reservations shall testify the length of stay and location in China.

If this trip is on you, you will also need a proof a financial capability.

               Tourism (visa L)

This visa is valid for 3 months after delivery. It allows you to stay up to 30 days in China.

To get it, you will need the following documents:

- An invitation letter by a Chinese resident and/or a proof of hotel booking for the length of stay.

- A tour schedule. Tourists usually recommend to do it on a table format (dates and places) to ease the reading afterward.

- A travel insurance certificate

- A work or study or financial resources certificate from your home country (on the past 3 months).

- Your roundtrip tickets (proving your length of stay)

Transit (visa G)

Depending on your country of origin, you might be granted exemption from visa. In this case, you might be allowed to stay for 72h in the airport city, provided that you don’t leave the city and prove the transit.

This exempt is only effective in specific cities and for specific nationalities. Please check it out with the Chinese consulate from your origin country before planning your trip.

If you have any hesitation, better apply for a transit visa. In order to do so, you will have to add the following documents to primary ones:

- A transport ticket for the destination country, with date and sits confirmed.

- The hotel reservation or accommodation certificate

This visa is valid for 3 months and lasts for 7 days starting from you date of entry in China.

Depending on the length of stay, tourist visa might be a better option.

Working in China

               Commercial operations (visa M)

This visa has almost the same requirements than the F one. Therefore, you shall present an invitation letter from your business partner in China. The length of stay will be set according to what is written on this official letter. Information on your motive (mission statement) shall also be included.

If the trip is on you, you will also need a proof a financial capability.

Airplane tickets and hotel reservations shall testify the length of stay and location in China.

               Work or artistic performance (visa Z)

In order to work in China, you will need a work permit from Chinese administration.

5 types of work permits exist for China. Therefore, your employer will have to lead the appropriate administrative procedures with Chinese administrations depending on its business line.

You will then have 30 days starting from your date of entry in China, to apply for a residence permit. To do so, your employer (or yourself) will have to go to a local Public Security office. The permit will match the length of stay indicated on your employment contract, for a minimum of 3 months to a maximum of 12.

               Talent call-in (visa R)

This one applies to people with a specific top line talent (in sports, arts, or sciences) required in China.

More information should be available on the Chinese consulate website of your home country.

               Transportation crew (visa C)

This visa is for international transportation crew (on flights, boats, trains…). Do not hesitate to ask for more information on this visa to your employer.

Relatives accompanying the crew can also apply for this visa.

               Journalism (visa J1 ou J2).

To get a journalist visa, you will have to provide a visa notification letter. This one is delivered by the Press Office of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. You will also need an official letter from the media organization you work for.

Other procedures must be done with the China consulate or embassy. Forecast a delay until your visa is delivered, and organize your trip accordingly.


Study in China (visa X1 ou X2)

On top of the required primary documents, you’ll need to provide an admission certificate from your host university in China (original and copy).

The student will then have 30 days, starting from the date of entry in China, to apply for resident permit. Application must be done with local Public Security offices. This permit will allow the student to live in China for the length of its studies as written on the admission letter.


Personal motives

Family reunification (visa Q1 ou Q2).

This visa applies for relatives of a Chinese citizen or permanent resident in China.

               Family visit (visa S1 ou S2)

This visa is for relatives of a foreigner with a resident permit in China.

For both visas, you will have to provide a proof of family tie with the person living in China. It can be a weeding contract, birth certificate or family record.

The host family member will also have to send you an invitation letter. This one shall include personal data (of host and guest) as well as information on the trip to China. Motives, length of stay, localization and source of founding should be written down.

Finally, the host relative should include a copy of its ID and of the resident permit.

Become a permanent resident (visa D)

A permanent resident visa exists for foreigner, and it is renewable every 10 years. To get it, you will have to provide the confirmation letter for your permanent resident permit. This one is delivered by the Ministry of Public Safety in China.

Application must be done with local Public Security offices.                  

After your arrival in China, you will have 30 days to apply for a long-term resident permit.


To know more about visas for China and procedures, please take a look at the Chinese consulate website in your country.

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