Chinese embassies change their rules for foreigners monthly, sometimes weekly, daily or even within the same day. If possible, get your Chinese visa in your home country. Many sites already explain the ins and outs of the Chinese visa, so I will not repeat them. But if you are on the road already, here is what you can expect.
At the moment (January 2017), Chinese embassies are opening up again after fully closing down for foreigners in August and September. Ulan Bator and Tbilisi have been confirmed as possible.
Flying to Hong Kong is still the emergency exit, but be careful as at least one person has failed recently. Rejection seems to hinge on passport stamps of Turkey and Iran – not popular in China. A last resort is a group visa in Hong Kong.
If you are a long-term overlander and are facing embassies closed across the Silk Road, check with the Chinese embassy in your country of residence if they accept application by mail – this might be your best option.
Once you are in China, you can extend your visa: we have started an “extensions” paragraph for updates there.
Please remember, as the following article shows: rules change all the time!!
Getting a Chinese visa on the road
2016: It is no longer possible to obtain Chinese visas in Almaty. Last update November 2016.
2015: Possible with the help of Serik Nurlanbekov ([email protected], tel. no. +7777 1623535). Perhaps also by yourself? We don’t know.
September 2015: Giving out visas once again as before.
August 2015: No longer giving out visas to foreigners.
July 2015: We used the services of Serik (contact details listed above in Steven’s post) It took one week, cost us $35US with no issues at all. Serik charged $60US for visa support and he also accompanies you to the consulate. He contacts the consulate prior to you meeting him to ensure there will be no issues. We heard of a few people being refused Chinese visas here for different reasons, but Serik seems to have good connections so if you’re stuck, I’d definitely contact him.
May 2015: I hold a Swiss passport and organised a Chinese visa (single entry, valid for 3 months, 30 days stay) in Almaty (April 2015) through an advocate/translator; Serik Nurlanbekov. Processing time is ideally one week (was longer in my case because of a Chinese holiday and printer problems at the Chinese consulate) and the price is 22’000 tenge (around 118 usd). Furthermore, I know of two holders of British passports who also received their Chinese visa through Serik (same procedure, conditions). The Chinese consulate in Almaty might still be a mess, but with Serik’s help it is perfectly possible to get a Chinese visa there.
Open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday only, from 9-12. Only with Turkish residency.
August 2014: we have managed to submit an application at the Ankara embassy! As we are non-residents of Turkey, they require a letter from your home consulate, confirming passport numbers and your intention to travel to China. For Brits, this means a trip to Istanbul, as all notarial services have been centralised there. We’ve been told to come back in a week and make payment at the HSBC. UPDATE: we have received our Chinese visa! 3 months to enter, and 30 days once we’re in.
May 2013: US citizen with residence permit based in Istanbul. Was asked to hand over passport with application in order to receive visa in exactly one week, unless they called to say there was a problem within that time. They wouldn’t accept a copy, so I gave up as I had to collect my visas from other embassies.
May 2013: 7 days processing. The visa is for a single entry, and valid for 30 days in the country. For a UK passport holder the consulate needed the following documentation:
– A copy of a bank statement showing I have enough money
– Fake hotel bookings
– Fake flight into (and out of) China
– An itinery for my time in China
– Proof of employment
– My address and contact number in Astana
A letter of invitation was not required, and the cost was 4300 tenge including the 100 tenge bank charge.
November 2012: Double-entry tourist visa, 10 days processing.
Address: Nizami Street at the corner with KövkƏb SəfƏrƏliyeva street. Also called May 28 Street, number 72. The building is big and there are several entries. The visa one is easy to find, there’s a sign on the door, and it is on KövkƏb SəfƏrƏliyeva street. Open only Monday and Wednesday 3 to 5:30pm. Updates reported here.
July 2016: No longer possible in Baku for foreigners. The May 2016 incident seems to have been a glitch.
May 2016: We asked for 70 days, we gave flight reservations and contact names in China. It takes one week. Form + 1 photo + 35 USD. No LOI needed but they asked us for letters from our embassies saying we are Argentinian and French citizens, and tourists.
June 2012: Same as Tbilisi. No visa service available for travelers: you must be a local citizen or a legal resident within the countries. No travel agencies could help.
Bangkok embassy, Thailand
February 2013: We got turned down at the embassy in Bangkok. Letter of employment missing and they required a detailed planning of how we were going to spend our days! Although we had hotel reservations and plane tickets, this still wasn’t enough.
July 2016: forget Bishkek, unless you have loads of time to waste at an embassy. Chances are very slim at the moment, even for airport visa.
May 2016: Unless you actually buy a plane ticket, Bishkek will not issue you a visa. This includes those falsifying itineraries. You need to buy a plane ticket. The solution offered through Miss Sara at the 40 Manas agency or Meerim from Baikal travel involves getting a business visa. You pay 150$ to get an invitation letter ( takes 7 days). Once you collect it, you have 5 days to catch a flight to Urumqi. Then, at the airport, they make you the visa. It takes only 10 minutes. Visa is valid for 30 days.
Another option is to send your passport to a travel agency back home.
If it is possible to get a Chinese visa, you can get a Chinese visa at the embassy, see this topic (September 2015) for instructions. It is not guaranteed, though, read through the follow-up posts for a wider view of the situation. Going through an agent is more expensive, but easier. It’s a 30-day visa with 1 month before you need to enter China. You will need 2 passport photos, but be aware they are a special size = 33 x 48 mm. Get these at one of the photography studios in town.
Latest history: On and off for the past few years. May 2015, the embassy put stronger restrictions in place for the number of applications. 10 days seemed normal, and arbitrary rejection was common. Quick and easy processing was once again possible from July 2015.
There are several agents. Here are the 5 we know of.
July 2015: After a pause where people would have to make a side trip to Almaty to obtain a Chinese visa people are once again getting their visas here in Bishkek. Namely via an agent named Dinara (+996770440540). Processing is 3-5 days and costs 150USD.
Junction of Manas and Kiev streets, Manas street 40. Go inside and the door is the number 200 at the first floor.
January 2015: Possible to bargain down to 100$.
November 2014: The price for one-week processing was $130 for German citizens, and $170 for US citizens. When I asked about the Kyrgyzstan registration stamp she said it wasn’t necessary.
September 2014: Her same is Sara and she is very friendly and nice (phone: +996 5439 000 88). For a normal procedure (5 days), she asked 100$ and it’s 120$ for 3 days. We already had our stamps in our passport so we don’t know how much she charges for this service.
Located at 100 Moscovskaya just next to a place called ‘bereke’, this travel agent is very friendly and speaks good English. Her number is 0772 577576. The cost is $110 for 5 day service and $130 for 3 day service, plus 250 som (if you are less than 5 days in Kyrgyzstan) or 20$ (if you are already more than 5 days in Kyrgyzstan) registration (this takes an extra day). Pay when you collect your passport in som or dollar. They only submit 5 passports a day to stay under the radar.
Consequently when you apply the application may not be submitted to China embassy for several days or even a week. One report: I applied Friday 1 August and got my passport back on Wednesday 13 August using the 5 day service. You should get a letter with stamped copy of passport back for Kyrgyz police if asked. Please note this letter is dated. Ask for it to be longer dated in case you are heading to mountains and won’t be back to collect passport before the expected return date of the passport.
An additional point to note. There is a very small chance that the consul will request an interview (apparently he has asked twice in the last year). Some travellers were also rejected due to “Chinese blacklist” no further information was provided – it wasn’t a nationality reason.
Miss Liu is located at 142 Chuy Street. From outside you can see: Avia Travel club with a panel with red LEDs for advertisement. Kyrgyz Concept (offices around town) charges more for the same service.
May 2014: $140 for 5-day service, add on an extra $10 for express 3-day service. The embassy now requires some sort of “Kyrgyz registration” stamp, which requires filling out a stack of paperwork in Russian. Miss Liu will take care of it for you for 600 som ($12)… she said it would be impossible for me to do it myself. I have a Canadian passport. My British friend just picked up his Chinese visa from Miss Liu yesterday (mid-May). Nothing has changed in the procedure or price. You have 3 months from the date of issue to enter the country, and then you are allowed to stay for 30 days after that.
March 2014: Kyrgyz Concept charges 170$ for the same service as Miss Liu.
December 2, 2013: 5 day service = $130 for a 90 day visa, 3 day express service = $140 for a 90 day visa
October 23, 2013: Chinese visas are possible again in Bishkek! Travelers were unable to get Chinese visas in Bishkek from August 2013 until now. Head to Miss Liu as before. 1 week processing time now, price is 120$ for a 30-day visa (the maximum you can get), you need to enter China within 3 months.
Chiang Mai consulate, Thailand
Address: 111 Changloh Road, Haiya District, Chiang Mai, Thailand 50100. Tel: +66-5328-0380
February 2016: Double entry visa on a Czech passport. 45$, ready in 3 days.
April 2016: 110 Dirhams by card only for one month visa, ready in 4 days.
October 2014: Possible for people with a visa for Tajikistan for more than 6 months.
August 2013: Not possible for foreigners.
February 2014: For non-residents, the Hanoi embassy gives 1 month validity/1 month duration of stay.
Needed : 1 application form (given by the embassy), 1 photo, 1 copy of passport, 1 copy of Vietnam visa, 1 detailed schedule and itinerary in China, hotel bookings (we made a few for the first few days, it was ok), 1 insurance certificate, plane tickets (we said we waited until we got the visa to buy them, it was ok).
But, we wanted more than 1 month/1 month… So, we had two invitations from friends in China, + the lady at the embassy asked for our bank accounts totals, and we got… 3 months/3 months.
Price : 30 usd.
It took us 7 visits to the embassy !!!
Feb 2014: Applied for visa on a Thursday and got in next next Tuesday morning. 30 days tourist visa. No urgent process requested.
Hong kong embassy
September 2016: FTB visa agency comes recommended and can provide double entry visas.
September 2016: I tried using Hong Kong as an emergency exit a few weeks ago. Flew there from Almaty but had to return without a visa.
I applied through an agency and they couldn’t give me a reason. Thought it might be the Turkey and Iran stamps in my passport. Then I went to the Chinese visa office in Hong Kong to ask them about this. I was told by an extremely unfriendly lady that they didn’t do visa for foreigners in Hong Kong. Since I heard French and German around me I didn’t believe this and I told here so. She then said she was only considering my passport and was ot interested in other people around us. When I didn’t want to go away she kept saying “I think our conversation is over already” until I finally left. Anyway, Hong Kong doesn’t seem like the perfect visa spot anymore, or maybe I just was very unlucky.
May 2015: You do not need a travel agent to get your visa. Just go to the Chinese visa application center there yourself. It isn’t listed on Google maps what makes it a bit hard to find. The address is 26 Harbour Rd in Wanchai. It opens 8 am and i think (not sure) it closes again at noon. Not opened on weekends. Arrive early because big queues may develop at the security check down stairs. Once inside the process is really efficient and you should be out again within 15 min. Same for pickup.
You need: 1 filled out application form, copies of hotel bookings for all your stay, 1 passport sized photo, 1 copy of the first page of your passport and your entry slip. Forms and a copy machine are available inside too. 300 HKD for most EU citizens, 360 for UK and more for US. Three day processing. Add 200 HKD for two day and 300 for one day processing. Only 30 days for most nationalities but double entry is available. They keep your passport and you pay in cash on pickup.
Note that there’s a travel agency in the same building which offers the same service for a higher price. Don’t confuse.
September 2014: ChinaVisaKing wants 600hk$, just Picture, passport and application needed, no itinerary.
2012: Hong Kong is smooth as silk: one photo, only the paragraph about your family has to be filled in and 50 euro is enough for a double entry 30 day tourist visa. Shoestring across the street from Chungking Mansions or Forever Bright have a good reputation as tour operators.
July 2015: Possible to apply through Ligarba for non-residents: 190 US$ for American, turnaround 1 week.
June 2013: Applied in Istanbul through Travel Agency Ligarba. Independent application to embassy by non-Turkish residents appears not possible. I tried calling the embassy but no one picked up.
Ligarba seem to have a good relationship with the Consul in Istanbul and they are an authorised agency for Chinese visa application for non-Turkish residents. I tried to ask for double entry visa but Ligarba was unsure if they could get it for me.
Pickup Time : June 2013
Cost of Single Entry Visa = $108US
Embassy Introduction Letter : 40 Lira
Khabarovsk, Russia consulate
September 2016: Only possible if you are a resident.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia embassy
January 2016: We asked for 88 days, we got 90 days. 3 days turnaround, with the help of visaforchina agency in Kuala Lumpur because on the embassy page is stated that with an ordinary passport you should go there. Cost was 58,30 RM. Besides the usual info we also needed
- Flight itinerary from Kuala Lumpur into China (fake)
- Flight itinerary from China to Bangkok (fake)
- 18 Hotel bookings made by booking.com (cancelable)
- Summary of the 18 hotel bookings with arrival date, departure date, name of the hotel, province.
- LOI from someone who we didn’t knew but a friend of ours did
- Copy of the passport of the LOI person
April 2015: I hold a student visa in Malaysia and for me it was straightforward. I am unsure about travellers with out a residency visa. There’s a visa center close to the Ampang Park LRT station. They require Visa application form, Flight tickets in and out of China (can be a fake reservation, as in my case), Photocopy of your passport front page and Malaysian visa.
Regular service is drop off on 1st day and pick up 4 days later. 185RM per third country nationals. More for Americans, as everywhere.
August 2013: The embassy refused to issue the visa on the basis that we had not been resident in Russia for at least 6 months prior to our application.
Address: in Lenin street next to Bayana hostel, north of the stadium.
November 2015: Only locals can apply.
May 2014: They don’t issue visas at the moment but in 2-3 months it might be possible. They dont have the proper equipment yet. The visa registration required by the Chinese consulate in Bishkek can be done in Osh for 120 som (be careful, pay at the kassa and not to the women stamping your passport, she demands 200 som. In Lenin street you will also find the immigration Office OVIR. (not the police station as mentionned in the LP).
Pyongyang, DPR Korea embassy
October 2015: Lots of tour companies take you to the Chinese embassy if you need a visa. Just took 90 minutes and all you need is your passport! I got another 30 day tourist visa for 50USD. Actually quite busy embassy, 30-40 North Koreans applying while I was there but foreigners get VIP treatment.
Gulyamov Street. Opening hours: 9 – 12 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Visa collection possible Monday to Friday from 15:30. No express service available, five working day processing time.Be wary that the embassy will close for Chinese holidays. Updates can be read and posted here.
August 2015: flat-out refusal.
52 Barnov Street (Metro: Rustaveli – five minutes’ walk). Open Mon, Wed and Fri 9.30am–11.30am. Updates collected here.
October – December 2016: 90 + 90 days possible again.
September 2016: Only visas for residents.
July 2016: Still very easy. 6 months until first entry, double entry, 90 + 90 days. Same-day pick-up available for extra fee. 60 lari if you can wait a few days.
May 2016: You do not need an LOI, just a booking for your first stop or two in China, which you can cancel after getting the visa. Take a photocopy of your passport, although they will keep the real thing too. You also need one passport photograph. You can download the application form here:
The form says you have to “type” in your info; you don’t, just write neatly. The visa will cost you 60 lari (£20ish) and 1 lari for the payment machine in the office which prints out your receipt, but does not take cards or give change. For 60 lari you wait four working days, so I put my application in Wed and picked it up the following Mon. You can pay extra for quicker. If you want 90+90, write it in under the other options. I did and I got it with no special pleading, such as proof of bicycle etc.
The whole process was incredibly quick and painless. I waited about five minutes to put in my application and have it checked, and another five when I went to collect. You’ll be dealt with by a very pleasant and helpful Georgian lady who speaks excellent English, and a taciturn guard who does not. He may or may not help you with the payment machine, which can be switched to English (but only if you can read Georgian…)
June 2012: No visa service available for travelers: you must be a local citizen or a legal resident within the countries. No travel agencies could help.
Opening hours: Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday 8;45am-12:15am and 2:30 pm-4-30pm. 73rd, Movahed Danesh Avenue, Aghdasiyeh [GPS: 35.8042, 51.4774].Thursday afternoon is only to collect the visa not to request it. Embassy has also been known to be open on Saturday in spite of advertised opening hours.
You need a letter from your embassy saying they support you going to China, it’s called a letter of no objections. Different embassies, different rules (surprise!). Some take 20 minutes, others days. Some charge, others don’t. Et cetera. We are collecting reports here as we find them.
You need to have your application form typed, not handwritten. This is allegedly available from their website but if the link is still not working, there is an office near the embassy that will type up the form and print it off for you for minimal cost. Their name is M Mahdavi, Law & Immigration Services. It is across the street in the jewellery store (not jewellery land). Second floor.
Late August 2016: No Chinese visas for foreigners anymore. Check our forum to post and read the latest embassy updates.
Early August 2016: There are 2 experiences at the Tehran embassy. One says, it was a total breeze and we easily got 3 months to enter and 3 months once inside the country. Another side of this Jekyll & Hyde creature is: maximum 1 month to enter and 1 month inside the country.
July 2016: Everyone got 90 + 90 days. Express Visa: 70$ to pay at the bank. Applied Thursday, collect Monday. Normal Visa: 40$. Applied Tuesday, collect Monday. We all applied with an Iranian looking woman. We didn’t even had to ask for the 90 days. We heard of other travelers, which had trouble to get them with a Chinese guy, at the same day.
April 2016: Cyclist got 3 months to enter, 1 month to stay. Extend in China, they said.
October 2015: So I applied for the express visa, 1 working day, 70$ for French nationality! Letter from my embassy requested on thursday collected on sunday, initially supposed to be collected on monday but i insisted a bit to have it faster. The man asked me how long I wanted to stay and I said 3 months so he said 3 months to travel in china ? So I said yes China is big and he told me “I’m gona give you 2 months, you can extend it”. So got 2 months and 3 to enter!
September 2015: 90 + 90 given. He said sometimes they only give 30 + 90.
September 2015: 30 days entry and 90 days to enter given without problem. No reservation or flights needed. 75$ for Swiss.
July 2015: You need to insist that you need a long visa and go back a few times, then you can get the 3+3 months visa. What helps is if you have all your other visas in your passport already.
July 2015: It seems the new rule is 30 days to enter, 30 days inside China.
June 2015: 90 days to enter China no longer given by default. Some cyclists report being given a 3 month visa with only 30 days to enter.
March 2015: No double-entry possible, but 90 days was not a problem. 4-day turnaround 40$, next working day express service 70$.
Ulan Bator, Mongolia embassy
September 2016 – January 2017: Possible again.
September 2016: No longer possible for non-residents to get a Chinese visa.
July 2015: Chinese visas are easy enough to get in UB now, people say.
Vientiane, Laos embassy
Wat Nak Road, Sisattanak. Tel: 00856-21-315100. Opening hours: 9 to 11.30 Monday to Friday. Updates collected here.
April 2016: Danish guy got a 30 days Chinese visa in 4 working days for USD 32 (90 days duration). Documentation was airline tickets in/out of China and 3 hotel bookings (all cancelled afterwards) – no questions asked. I could have received it express in 2 days for USD 52. Two English citizens got a 60 days double entry visa for USD 100 (each I assume).
February 2016: Still not issuing Double entry tourist visas. I applied for one but got a single entry instead. 32$ – 4 working days turnaround. 52$ for express service pick-up next day at 9am. Besides the usual I gave them:
- Proof of entering and leaving China (i gave 2 fake plane tickets I made in word and they didn’t even check)
- 3 hotel bookings for 4 nights in major cities: Kunming, Beijing, and Shanghai. (Booking.com – cancelable)
- They asked for work proof, bank statement, and insurance to but I didn’t gave them any. They didn’t seem to care.
October 2015: Hassle free, no questions asked, I recieved 30 Day tourist visa for 32USD in 5 working days. I had a few hotel bookings and transport in to China booked plus a fake itinerary (just a DIY word document) with a few places on it. It felt like I could of got one without any of that though. Not a busy embassy, very pleasant.
May 2014: I confirm it works. 32 USD for a 30-days visa in a window-period of 90 days (Italian passport). Just a few nights of hotel bookings in the main cities where I plan to stop, no flight\bus ticket needed. I submitted a detailed itinerary as well as the other documents indicated in the above-mentioned post. I added photocopies of my previous Chinese visas, and a photocopy of my onward visa to Tajikistan. I Applied on a Wednesday, the visa was ready the next Monday. The embassy is in Watnak Road (south of Vientiane city centre) and it’s open in the morning, 9.00 to 11.30. The ICBC bank where you have to pay is in Lane Xang Road, not far from the Patuxai (the Lao version of the arc de triomphe). They charge 1 USD for the service.
April 2014: It cost $64 US for 2 30 day tourist visa’s and took 4 days (I think faster is available). We needed – passports, 1 passport photo, visa form, copy of bank statements, copy of travel insurance, 2 weeks worth of hotel bookings (cancelled once the confirmation letter was printed) and an itinerary. We went a bit over the top with the itinerary and it seemed to pay off. We included details about where we would stay, trains we would take and tourist sites we would see. To keep it simple we chose about a week in 4 different cities. We stated we would be taking a bus from Luang Prabang to Kunming and then one from Nanning to Hanoi. We did not need to present any proof of this. We also did not need a letter from our employer stating we had jobs and would be returning to them, although we did have them just in case (I have read this can be a requirement). It was much less stressful than we anticipated!
July 2016: Only people with an Armenian residence card can apply. Updates collected here.
Chinese visa extension reports
Extending a Chinese visa is usually not so difficult, although prices and rules differ from region to region. You can extend your visa once, possibly twice.
Extending in Yushu (August 2016)
Extending in Jiayuguan (July 2015)
First extension in Dunhuang and Jiayuguan (Gansu), second extension in Leshan (October – December 2014)
Visa extension in Hami (June 2014)
Second extension in Dunhuang (June 2014)
First extension in Xining, Qinghai province (February 2014)Comments are closed. If you have questions or embassy reports, head over to our forum’s visa section.