Types of Chinese visas

There are four types of Chinese visas: service visa, diplomatic visa, courtesy visa and ordinary visa.

The ordinary visa is divided into the following eight categories which are marked with a correspondent letter:

  • Tourist and family visit visa (L-visa) is issued to a foreign citizen who is visiting China for the purpose of tourism, family visit or other personal matters.
  • Business Visa (F-visa) is issued to a foreign citizen who is invited to China for business, research, lecture, exchanges in science, technology, education, culture and sports or attending different kinds of trade fairs or exhibitions, or short-term study, intern practice for a period of less than six months.
  • Student Visa (X-visa) is issued to a foreign citizen who is visiting China for the purpose of study, advanced study or intern practice for a period of six months or more.
  • Transit Visa (G-visa) is issued to a foreign citizen who is transiting through China on their way to a third country or region.
  • Work Visa (Z-visa) is issued to a foreign citizen who is visiting China in order to work or to give commercial performances, implement aid or cooperative projects in China. Their accompanying family members have to apply for a business visa as well.
  • Crew Visa(C-visa) is issued to a crew member performing their duties on board of an international train, or international airliner, to a sailor on board of international ocean-liner or freighter.
  • Permanent Residence Visa(D-visa)is issued to a foreign citizen who has been approved by the China’s Public Security authority to reside in China permanently.
  • Journalist Visa (J-visa)is issued to a foreign journalists. This type of visa has two categories: J-1 and J-2.
    • J-1 visa is issued to a foreign journalist residing in China and their accompanying spouses and underage children.
    • J-2 visa to a foreign journalist who is visiting China for a temporary news coverage.

Period of Validity, Number of Entries, Duration of Stay

Period of validity of a visa

The validity of the visa refers to the period of time an individual can stay in the country. The holder of a visa is eligible to enter China at any time before the expiration of the visa (you can enter China even before the 24:00 hour of the last date of its period of validity), as long as the entries granted on the visa have not been used up.

A visa is valid from the date of issue. The visa automatically becomes invalid once its period of validity expires, regardless of whether its entries have been used up or not.

Chinese Consulate does not extend the period of validity of an issued visa. A foreigner holding an issued visa should apply for a new visa if they intend to visit China after the issued visa had expired. A foreigner holding an expired visa will be refused entry into China.

Duration of Stay of a Visa

Duration of stay of a visa refers to the longest period the visa holder is allowed to stay in China from the date of entry into China on each visit.

After entering China, a foreign citizen who needs to stay in China longer than the duration of stay on the visa must apply for an extension of stay at the local public security authority before the expiry of the duration of stay of the visa. This does not necessarily mean your application for the extension of stay will be approved. The applicant shall bear any consequences arising from that.

The foreigner could be fined or punished with other penalties if they overstay in China, as this violates the laws and regulations of China on control of the entry and exit of foreigners.

Number of Entries of a Visa

The number of entries of a visa refers to the number of times the visa holder is allowed to enter China within the visa’s period of validity. When the entries have been used up, the visa ceases to be valid. Even if there are still unused entries, the visa is not valid if the period of validity has already expired. In either case, the visa holder should apply for a new visa if they wish to visit China again.

The foreigner will be refused entry into China if they hold a visa with entries that already have been used up.

  • Please aim to apply for a visa about one month in advance but no more than three months earlier than your intended date of travel to China. Failure to submit a visa application within this recommended time frame will lead to consequences, such as either your already-issued visa becoming expired or obtaining a visa before your date of departure becoming impossible.
  • The visa application form should be completed in full and signed by the applicant upon submission (applicants under the age of 18 should have their form signed by one of their parents). Items which are not applicable should be filled in with “N/A”.
  • Consular Officers may require an applicant to provide additional supporting documents when needed. These should be submitted as soon as possible.