Visa Service- A concise guide
Most foreigners must have a visa to come to China. They should get visas from Chinese embassies or consulates-general in their home countries before they come to China.
Citizens of countries which have mutual visa exemption agreements with China don't need a visa.
Under some circumstances, foreigners can get a port visa for a maximum of three months in cases of urgent need and lack of time.
Foreigners may apply for a port visa for one of the following reasons:
∎ Being invited at short notice by the Chinese side to attend a trade fair in China;
∎ Being invited to China to enter a bid or to formally sign an economic or trade contract;
∎ Coming to China under contract for supervision over export shipment, import commodity inspection or checking the completion of a contract;
∎ Being invited to install equipment or make rush repairs;
∎ Coming to China at the request of the Chinese side for settling claims;
∎ Being invited to China for scientific or technological consulting services;
∎ A last-minute replacement or addition, approved by the Chinese side, to a delegation or group that has been invited and has already obtained visas for traveling to China;
∎ Visiting a patient in a critical condition or making funeral arrangements;
∎ Being a person in immediate transit who, because of force majeure, is unable to leave China by original aircraft within 24 hours or has to leave China by other means of transport;
∎ Being an invitee who does not have time to apply for a visa to a Chinese agency abroad but holds letters or telegrams from designated competent authorities approving the application for a visa at port visa agencies.
Foreign journalists, officials, public affairs passport holders and diplomatic passport holders cannot apply for port visas.
Ordinary visas shall be marked with different Chinese phonetic letters and issued to different foreigners according to their stated purposes of visit to China:
∎ Visa D for foreigners who are to reside permanently in China;
∎ Visa Z for foreigners who come to China to take up posts or employment and for their accompanying family members;
∎ Visa X for foreigners who come to China for study, advanced studies or job-training for a period of six months or more;
∎ Visa F for foreigners who are invited to China on a visit or on a study, lecture or business tour, for scientific-technological or cultural exchanges, for short-term refresher course or for job-training, for a period not more than six months;
∎ Visa L for foreigners who come to China for sightseeing, visiting relatives or other private purposes (a group visa may be issued to a group of nine or more foreigners on a sightseeing trip to China);
∎ Visa G for foeigners passing through China;
∎ Visa C for train attendants, air crew members and seamen operating international services, and their accompanying family members.
∎ Visa J-1 for resident foreign correspondents in China; Visa J-2 for foreign correspondents who make short reporting trips to China.
Foreigners holding visas D, Z, X, or J-1 shall, within 30 days of entry into China, obtain foreigners' residence cards or foreigners' temporary residence cards from the city or county public security bureau at the place of their residence.
Foreigners' residence cards are issued to those who stay in China for one year or more. Foreigners' temporary residence cards are issued to those who stay less than one year in China.
Foreigners holding visas F, L, G, C or J-2 don't need to obtain residence certificates as long as they stay in China for the period prescribed in their visas.
Renewing/extending a visa
Foreigners who need to renew their visas may go to the Entry-Exit Administration Bureau of Shanghai.
When: Operating hours are from 9:00-17:00.
Where: Entry/Exit Administration Bureau of Shanghai, 1500 Minsheng Road, Pudong, Shanghai
*Taxi printout with address in Chinese?
Directions: Ride Metro Line 2 to Shanghai Science and Technology Museum station. Take Exit 3 and continue walking straight ahead, cross the intersection at YinCun and HeHuan Road, and pass the Pudong Expo Building. The office is a ten-minute walk from the metro station. The visa office is on the third floor of the building. Remember to take a queue number as you enter.
What: Take your passport (and a photocopy), your Registration Form of Temporary Residence from the local police station, Public Security Bureau (PSB), or from your current hotel (and a photocopy), and at least one passport-size (2x2 square-inch) photo. Applications are provided for completion while you are at the Entry/Exit Bureau.
How much: 160 RMB
Wait time to receive renewed visa: One week. Expect the line to pick up your new visa to be considerably shorter than the application line. You may have the visa delivered to your home or office for a fee.
A temporary de facto passport may be provided upon request if traveling during the one-week wait time to receive the renewed visa. Remember to take with you an additional passport-size photo for this official document.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Entry/Exit Bureau's telephone number?
How long should the application process take?
Expect to wait for several hours.
When is the best time to go?
Going early in the morning may reduce the wait time, but by early afternoon the crowds have thinned and the waiting time isn't very long. The peak time is late morning to early afternoon. The lines move quickly throughout the day.
What is the Registration Form of Temporary Residence?
This document is obtained at your local police station, Public Security Bureau (PSB), or at the hotel are you residing in during your stay in China. It may be helpful to have a local point you to the police station soon after your arrival to the city.
What is the beginning date for the extension?
The date the application was received starts the extension period of the visa.
Does the renewal process vary in other major Chinese cities?
Yes, other cities in China may require additional documentation, such as evidence of financial position, hotel reservations, and a booked flight out of China. For example, in Beijing proof of a Chinese bank account holding several thousand U.S. dollars must be produced.
Is there another way I may renew my Chinese visa?
Find a trusted visa agent to handle the paper work and hassle for you to save time. You may also leave the country by going to Hong Kong or Macau and reenter China up to the maximum number of times indicated on your visa (e.g., Single, Double, or Multiple entries within three to twelve months).
1. You must get a visa before coming to China;
2. ID card, birth certificate and driver license in case of emergency;
3. Cash. It's better for you to have some cash at hand. You can change RMB at exchange points in the airport. About 300 yuan (US$37.50) is enough at first for a casual traveler;
4. Anti-diarrhea tablets, antibiotics and any specialty medicines from home are useful. You should also take along some basic medicines, such as painkillers;
5. Daily necessities. It's easy to buy things in China but when you first arrive, it may prove difficult. Bring shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush and soap for your first week and then you should be able to buy them at various local stores. They have imported products suitable for expats, such as hair dye and cosmetics;
6. Clothes. It's not easy for tall or bigger boned Westerners to buy clothes in China, as the Chinese are typically far smaller;
7. Electricity adaptor. The most common plug types are the dual and three-pointed prongs, which are different from the West. China runs on 220 volts, which will burn 110-volt appliances;
8. A good travel guide is necessary.
Not necessary, but very handy
1. Photocopies of important documents;
2. Several passport photos;
3. Your hotel's contact details in Chinese so you don't get lost;
4. Mp3 player. Drowns out the noisy hustle and bustle.