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Embassy in Beijing

The embassy is a permanent foreign representative office dispatched to the capital of country having diplomatic relations. It is on behalf of the interests of the whole nation and responsible for the relations between the two countries. The head of the mission can be the ambassador, minister or other diplomatic personnel of other grades appointed by the sending state, who is appointed by the chief of the state as the representative to execute his duty.

The primary function of the embassy is to promote political relation between the two counties in the name of the sending country and the second is to improve the relationship of economy, culture, education, technology and military. At the same time, embassy has the function of consul. For example, maintain the legitimate rights and interests of its citizens in foreign counties, issue or postpone passports of its own citizens, and issue visa to foreign citizens.

The embassy takes charge of every region in the country of residence, while the consulate is only in charge of the responsible area. The embassy is under the direct guidance of the government and the diplomatic service and the consulate is administrated by the diplomatic service and the embassy. Many countries set up embassies in other states, but no consulates. Nowadays, China set up 157 embassies and over 60 consulates in 166 countries having diplomatic relations.

Since China does not have mutual visa-free agreements with many countries, ordinary passport holders from most countries who want to visit China as a tourist must obtain a tourist visa (L visa) unless they meet one of the visa exemption criteria.

While it does involve some documentation and logistics, applying for a Chinese tourist visa doesn't require too much effort or time. In this article, we will provide an overview and some tips on how to apply for a tourist visa for China or take advantage of one of the visa exemption policies. Please be aware that all government regulations are subject to change without prior notice. Contact the visa office at the Chinese embassy or consulate nearest you for the latest requirements for a Chinese tourist visa.

Types of Chinese Tourist Visa

China usually issues three types of tourist visa: single-entry (valid for 3-6 months), double-entry (valid for 6 months), and multiple-entry (valid for 6 or 12 months). Single-entry tourist visas usually grant a maximum stay of 30 days, but you can ask for up to 90 days. The number of days you receive partly depends on the passport you hold. Tourist visas can normally be extended no more than two times within China.

US citizens are eligible for a 10-year multiple-entry visa with a maximum stay of 60 days per entry. In order for US citizens to be eligible for the ten-year visa, US passport holders must have more than one year of validity remaining on their passports. If their passports have one year or less of remaining validity (more than 6 months), they will receive a visa with less than one year of validity.

When and How to Apply for a Tourist Visa

The single-entry tourist visa normally has a validity period of three months so it's best to apply for a China tourist visa 30 to 60 days before your intended date of entry. If you apply too far in advance, the visa may expire before you arrive in China.

Unless you are traveling as part of a group, you will need to arrange your own visa. Some countries have visa agents but this adds substantially to the cost. If you are able to go straight to the embassy/consulate nearest you, it will be cheaper. You can search on the internet to find the Chinese embassy or consulate closest to you. You can also apply for a Chinese visa outside of your home country—just make sure that you are able to fulfill all the application requirements.

Visa applications are normally processed within three to four working days, but you can choose to pay an extra amount for rush service. If you go to the visa office in person, you may be able to get a visa on the same day for a fee.

When applying for Chinese tourist visas, the procedures, requirements, issue time, and fee may vary from country to country. Details and application forms can be found on the website of the Chinese embassy in your country. If you need an invitation letter for your application, we can help issue one.

Whatever country you are applying from, make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months at your time of arrival in China.

24, 72, and 144-Hour Visa-Free Transit

China allows 24, 72, or 144-hour visa-free stays for travelers from certain countries who transit via mainland China for a third international destination (Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan are included).

The 24-hour visa-free transit is relatively simple: it applies to travelers from most countries at most Chinese ports of entry, except the airports in Shenzhen, Yanji, Mudanjiang, Fuzhou, and Huangshan. The stopover time is calculated from your scheduled arrival time until your scheduled departure time. Travelers with this visa-free transit are allowed multiple stops (for example, USA-to-Beijing-to-Guangzhou-to-UK) as long as they leave mainland China within 24 hours.

Xi'an, Chongqing, Guilin, Harbin, and Changsha also allow 72-hour visa-free entry for transiting travelers with passports from certain countries. The 72-hour period is counted from the moment you receive your entry permit. Travelers with this visa-free transit are only allowed to travel within the city they entered. For example, if you enter through Xi'an Xianyang International Airport, you are only allowed to travel within the Xi'an area.

The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, Shanghai-Jiangsu-Zhejiang region, Guangdong, Chengdu, Kunming, Xiamen, Qingdao, Wuhan, and Liaoning allow 144-hour visa-free entry for transiting travelers with passports from the same countries as the 72-hour visa-free transit. The 144-hour period starts from 00:00 of the day following your arrival; that usually means a few extra hours to spend in China. Travelers with this visa-free transit are not allowed to travel outside the region or province they enter. For example, if you enter through Beijing, you are only allowed to travel within Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei province, so you cannot visit Shanghai and/or depart from Shanghai.

Countries that are eligible for the 72-hour & 144-hour visa-free transit

European countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Russia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia (FYROM), Albania, Belarus, and Monaco
Countries in the Americas: the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile
Countries in Oceania: Australia and New Zealand
Asian countries: Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar

Here is a tool from the Chinese government that allows you to check if you are qualified for one of the above forms of visa-free transit.

How to apply for visa-free transit

To apply for any of the above three forms of visa-free transit, you must present your plane, ship, or train ticket with confirmed seat and date (a standby ticket is not acceptable) for a third country that must be different from the country you traveled from. For example, if you are doing a USA-to-Beijing-to-Hong Kong trip, you are eligible for visa-free transit, but if you are doing a USA-to-Beijing-to-USA trip, then you will not be eligible. You may also need a visa for the third country or region if applicable.

Make sure that your passport is valid at least 6 months from the date of entry, and remember to fill the arrival/departure card at the airport or on the airplane before you land before you apply for the visa-free entry permit.

Other Visa Exemption Policies

Travelers holding a valid ordinary passport from one of the following countries are eligible to visit Hainan province for 30 days without a visa:
Russia, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Norway, Ukraine, Italy, Austria, Finland, Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, UAE, Qatar, Monaco, Belarus.

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