Do I Need a Visa for China? Figure out China Visa Rules

Are you planing a trip to China and wondering if you need a visa to visit China? Take it easy, China Discovery helps you work out all travel arrangements, including the very important Chinese Visa issue.

China Visa policy varies from different nationalities, destinations and particular travel itinerary and ways of visiting. Normally, foreign nationals need a Chinese Visa to enter and travel around China ahead of departure. Meanwhile, there are some exceptions visitor can visit China without a visa, if you meet China visa free policy of 144 hour and 72 hour visa free transit or other visa-free cases.

China Visa Free and Visa Needed Regulations

It’s a priority to find out if you need a visa for China, thus, you should know the two essential rules about China Visa: China Visa Free Policy and China Visa is Must Required. China Visa Free entry does not mean China Visa is not required all the time. It is only apply to specific citizens, appointed visiting cities or regions with limited duration of stay. If you apply for a Chinese visa, basically you can visit mainland China. Special administrative regions like Hong Kong, Macau, Tibet have separate visa and permit regulations that differ from China Visa. We suggest you read Visa Exemptions first to see if you enjoy visa-free travel to China.

When Can I Visit China without A Visa?

Currently, there are up to 15 kinds of China visa free regulations. Once you meet one of the situations, you can enter China without applying for a visa prior to departure. Check the following details to decide if a visa is required for your visit to China.

  • ① Visa Waiver for Singapore, Brunei and Japanese Citizens

    Singapore, Brunei and Japanese citizens holding ordinary passports are exempted from China visa application. They are permitted to enter from any ports opened to foreigners in China and stay for 15 days at most, if they visit mainland China for travel, business and visiting family and friends.
    Useful Links: China Visa Policy for Singaporean Passport Holders / China Visa Free for Brunei Citizens
  • ② Hong Kong SAR Visa Free

    Hong Kong SAR Visa is exempted for nationals of 170 foreign countries, for up to 7 days, 14 days, 30 days, 90 days and 180 days. US, Australian, Canadian, Japanese Citizens can enter and visit Hong Kong for 90 days, British Citizens can stay for 180 days without a visa. Indian Citizens are required to submit application online and register themselves before entry, and then Indians can stay in Hong Kong visa free for 14 days. Read Hong Kong Visa to check the the full list of countries which enjoy visa-free visiting for Hong Kong.
  • ③ Macau SAR Visa Free

    Passport holders from 79 countries and regions can visit Macao without obtaining a visa for a maximum period of 14 days to 1 year. The duration of stay depends on your nationality. E.g. Citizens from US, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, India can stay in Macau without a visa for up to 30 days, British Citizens are 6 months, nationals of European Union and Schengen countries are 90 days at most. Know more about Macau Visa.
  • ④ Visa Free Transit in China

    China’s Visa Free Transit policy is applicable for foreigners from appointed countries, who take connecting flights bound for a third country/region with confirmed seat and date and transit in specific ports. There are 24 hour, 72 Hour and 144 Hour Visa Free Transit policies available in major tourist cities and at different ports in China. If you meet the transit requirements, you can have a 6-day visa-free layover in Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Chengdu,Xiamen, Xian, Chongqing and other cities, or stay in Guilin, Harbin and Changsha without visa for 3 days.
    Useful Links: China Visa Free Transit / China 144 Hour Visa Free Transit
  • ⑤ Hainan Visa Free for 59 Countries for 30 Days

    Visitors from US, UK, Canada, Australia, Singapore and totally 59 countries to Hainan Island can enter Hainan and stay for 30 days without obtaining a visa. Hainan (Sanya) Visa Free >>
  • ⑥ Visa-free Group Tour to Pearl River Delta from HK/Macau for 6 Days

    Without a China visa, citizens holding ordinary passports from countries with diplomatic relations with China can visit cities in Pearl River Delta, including Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan... as long as if you are already in Hong Kong or Macau as a group tourists by a local travel agency.
  • ⑦ Visa Free for APEC Business Travel Card Holders for 60 Days

    APEC Business Travel Card holders with valid passports are allowed to visit China visa free with multiple entries in 5 years. The longest duration of each stay of China is 60 days.
  • ⑧ Visa-free Group Tour of ASEAN Nationals to Guilin for 6 Days

    Tourist groups from the 10 countries of ASEAN are exempted from visa application to Guilin for up to 6 days. The entire group members are required to enter and exit from Guilin Liangjiang Airport together. Guilin 6-Day Visa Free for ASEAN Group Tourists >>
  • ⑨ Visa-free Cruise Group Tour Entering from Shanghai for 15 Days

    Foreign cruise ship tourist groups organized and received by legal Chinese travel agency and arriving from Shanghai Cruise Ports can visit cities and nearby cities where cruise berth in, for a maximum period of 15 days. So you can visit many coastal cities in China, including Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan Provinces. Shanghai 15-Day Visa Free >>
  • ⑩ Mutual Visa Exemption between China and Foreign Countries

    Nationals from countries signed mutual visa exemption agreement with China can visit China without getting a visa for up to 30 days. This mutual visa free policy applies to ordinary passport holders of the United Arab Emirates, Serbia, Azerbaijan, Mauritius, Qatar, Russia (travelling in group) and other certain countries. China Mutual Visa Free Countries List >>
  • ⑪ Visa Free for China Residence Permit Holders

    Holders of China Permanent Residence Card and Residence Permit can enter and stay in China multiple times without applying for a visa.
  • ⑫ Special Visa Free in China Boder Areas

    Citizens of Amur Oblast, Russia can visit and stay in Heihe (prefecture-level city in Heilongjiang Province, Northeastern China) for 1 day without a visa, and Russians (at least 2 people) can visit Suifenhe (county-level city in Southeastern Heilongjiang) visa free for 15 days. Kazakhstan Citizens are allowed to visit Tacheng (in Xinjiang) 3 days without a visa.

When Do I Need A Visa for China?

After checking the visa free policy of China, it’s clear that you are required to hold a China visa to enter China if they don’t meet any one situations above. You should know mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau own different visa regulations, and Tibet requires special travel document for tourism. So you need to apply for relevant visa based on your purpose, destination and duration of your visit to China.

  • ⑴ Visa for Mainland China

    Except of Diplomatic Visa, Courtesy Visa, Official Visa, all ordinary passport holders are required to obtain a visa to go to China. Visitors eligible for Visa Exemptions, like 72/144 Hour Visa Free Transit, still need to apply for a China Visa if you want to stay longer than the permitted duration, or visit other cities in China. For example, if you want to visit Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Yellow Mountain, Dunhuang & Zhangye on Ancient Silk Road, diverse ethnic culture in Yunnan and many other cities, a Chinese Visa is needed for travel around vast China.
    You can apply for China Visa at the nearest Chinese Embassy or Consulate Office before departure, with completed application form, qualified photos, necessary supporting documents and visa fee. Another situation is that you can apply for China Visa on Arrival at specific entry of ports in economic zones of Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Xiamen for 5 days and Hainan up to 30 days, which limits the duration and area of your stay.
    Useful Links: China Visa Application / China Visa Requirements / China Visa Application Form
  • ⑵ Visa for Hong Kong SAR

    Citizens of Nepal, Pakistan, Cuba, Vietnam, Serbia, Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Korea, Myanmar, Central African Republic and so forth need to hold a valid visa or entry permit for visiting and transit in Hong Kong SAR. You can complete application and submit with supporting documents to Immigration Office in Hong Kong by post or by a local sponsor. Submission to Chinese Embassy, Diplomatic and Consular Missions in foreign countries is also applicable. How to Apply for Hong Kong Visa >>
  • ⑶ Visa for Macau SAR

    Nationals not coming from the visa-free countries need to apply for a Macau Visa through Chinese Embassy or Consulate, either upon arrival or pre arrival. Citizens of Bangladesh, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam are required to obtain a Macau Visa in advance, not eligible for the visa on arrival policy. How to Apply for Macau Visa >>
  • ⑷ Visa and Travel Permits for Tibet

    Tibet is a special autonomous region in southwest China. If you plan to visit Tibet from mainland China, a TTB Permit is compulsory apart from a Chinese Visa. If your travel itinerary cover further areas beyond Lhasa, more travel documents are needed for different destinations, such as Alien’s Travel Permit, Border Pass and Military Permit. Tourists traveling to Tibet from Nepal must apply for Group Visa from Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal, no matter you enter tibet by flight or overland driving. The Chinese Visa you got earlier will be expire in such case. Tibet Travel Permit / Tibet Nepal Tours >>

How to Get a Visa for China - Useful Chinese Visa Application Notes

❶ Find out what kind of visa you need

Read different types of Chinese Visa to figure out which kind of visa you should apply for. Determine if you are suitable applicants for each visa type, by judging your purpose of visiting is for travel, business, work, transit, family reunion and etc or not. China Tourist Visa (L Visa) is for visitor going to China for tourism, F Visa is for exchanges, study tour, Business Visa (M Visa) is for commercial and trade, Student Visa (X Visa) is for studying in China. More Chinese Visa Types >>

❷ Apply for a Chinese Visa

According to various visa policy, applicants meet relevant requirements can submit China Visa application at Chinese Embassy, Diplomatic and Consular Missions or special ports of entry. You need to prepare and submit your valid passport with at least 6 months’ validity and blank pages, copy of passport’s first page, completed visa application form pasted with 2 recent photos (color photo with white background, taken within past 6 months, size: 48mmx33mm), sufficient visa fee and service charge and other supporting documents. How to Apply for Visa for China >>

❸ Collect & check your China visa

The processing time differs from visa types. Normally, it takes about 4 to 5 business days for applicant to get a China Visa, and the accurate collection date will be noted on the pick-up slip. If you submit China Tourist Visa (L Visa) on Monday, you can pick up on Thursday. Check carefully the visa type, duration of stay, number of entries if they are issued correctly or not, after getting your passport back. Double check the validity when you plan to enter China, otherwise you will be denied entry.

Most Recommended China Visa-free Tours

Nowadays, it’s quite popular for international tourists to take advantage of the Visa Free Policy of China to travel to China in a very simple and convenient way. Most travelers would like to visit Hong Kong and major tourist cities in mainland China by making full use of the 72 Hour and 144 Hour Visa Free Transit. Therefore, you can firstly have a stopover in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Xiamen, Kunming, Tianjin, Wuhan ... for 6 days without a visa, or have a 3 days visa-free stay in Xian, Guilin, Chongqing, Harbin and else cities. Later you can continue flight trip to Hong Kong and spend a few days to discover fascinating skyline of the World City. Duration in Hong Kong depends on your nationality.

Select from our most recommended visa-free tour of Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Guilin and Hong Kong below. You are also free to contact us for more China visa-free city tours and destinations!

Popular China Visa-free Tours:

Top China Visa-Free Cities

Recommended Tours

Top 3 tours chosen by most customers to explore in the best way. Check the detailed itinerary, or tailor your own trip now with us.

Mutianyu great wall
3 Days Beijing Essential Short Stay Tour (Visa Free)

Beijing

Picturesque Li River
4 Days Guilin Highlights Tour (Li River, Yangshuo & Longji Terrace)

Guilin / Yangshuo / Longsheng

Zhujiajiao Water Town
3 Days Shanghai Highlights & Zhujiajiao Water Town Tour

Shanghai

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