So you’ve decided your next trip will be to the beautiful and exciting destination of China. As well as devising a worthy itinerary, negotiating the complicated entry requirements will be an important part of your preparations. As Wanderlust describes, China is one of the most difficult countries to get a visa for, particularly if your trip is longer than 30 days:
“Chinese Embassies are getting increasingly strict when it comes to visa applications. The Embassy will require a long list of documents including flights in and out of China and a hotel booking confirmation for every night of your stay.
If you’re planning to stay for 30 days or less, they’ll generally issue your visa without any problems. But for stays longer than that (and/or if you’re visiting sensitive areas like Western China), you’ll also need to provide a detailed day by day itinerary of your trip.”
Don’t let entry requirements deter you, simply use our handy guide to obtaining your visa.
Do I need a visa as a British national?
In short, yes. British nationals need to obtain a visa if they wish to travel to mainland China. This includes if your trip involves travelling to or through Hainan Island. Those planning to stay longer than six months will require a Residence Permit.
A different visa will also be required if you intend to teach during your bucket list trip. Those only staying in parts of China for short periods of time may be eligible for visa waivers. Be sure to contact your travel company or transport provider to confirm whether an exemption is applicable.
If you’re planning to travel to Hong Kong, different entry requirements apply. Despite being part of the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong has its own rules on visas for foreign visitors. British nationals can visit and stay in Hong Kong for up to six months without any visa at all. Those planning to work or study during their Hong Kong trip will require a visa.
What are the entry requirements?
You must have held a valid passport for at least six months before entering China. The passport must have at least two blank pages to accommodate the visas. You must also be able to submit an itinerary of all the places you intend to visit. This includes the contact details and addresses of the hotels you’re staying at, and associated arrival, and departure dates. Your past travel history is scrutinised during the application process, and authorities can refuse entry based on this.
To complete your application, you must provide a colour photograph of yourself to the specified size on a white or off-white background. Fees apply when applying for a single, double, and multiple entry visa, with costs varying for their regular and express services.
How do I apply for my visa?
Applications for British nationals aged between 14 and 70 can be made through the Visa Application Centre. During the application process, a variety of information is gathered, including biometric data such as scanned fingerprints.
This data is checked when entering the country, used to register your arrival, and has to be collected in person at a designated processing centre. There are currently processing centres in London, Manchester, Edinburgh, and Belfast.
Depending on the type of visa you obtain, its validity will vary. Single entry visas tend to be valid for up to three months whilst multiple entry visas are valid for 12 or 24 months.
What do I do when I arrive?
As we mentioned previously, upon arrival your passport, visa and biometric data will be checked, and entry granted accordingly. You must also register your place of residence within 24 hours of your arrival with the local Public Security Bureau. This is generally done by the hotel during check-in.
In addition to this, you will be required to produce a yellow fever certificate. Despite there not being a yellow fever risk in China, a certificate of vaccination is still required for all travellers aged 9 months or over.
Now you’ve sorted your visa, it’s time to get packing. Read our advice on packing for your trip to China.