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Chinese Visa Introduction - How to Read A China Visa

Foreigners holding ordinary passport are required to obtain a valid visa to visit China, unless you meet relevant policies of Chinese Visa Exemptions. According to different purposes & ways of visit, there are two visa forms, including individual visa stamped on passport (most common) and Group Visa on paper sheet (special form).

After you successfully obtain a Chinese Visa, you must pay attention to the definitions, read all details carefully, especially the visa category, number of entry, issued validity and duration of stay. To ensure your trip to China, you shall fully understand each section of information.

China Visa on Passport

Chinese Visa Introduction

A Sample of Chinese Tourist (F) Visa (New Version Used Since June 1, 2019)

1. Category (签证种类) - Chinese Visa Types

Chinese Visa contains diplomatic, courtesy, service and ordinary visa, according to different identity and types of passport they hold. For ordinary visa, there are totally 16 kinds of visas for mainland China, besides Hong Kong Visa and Macau Visa and Tibet Travel Permit. More about Chinese Visa Categories >>

Normally, a single English letter is stamped on the top left of the visa page, and it stands for the corresponding visa category. It’s very important to figure out which kind of visa to apply for before submission, and check after you get the Chinese Visa. If you apply a visa not in accordance with the purpose of visiting, your entry will be refused.

Major types of Chinese Visas:

L” = China Tourist Visa (visit China for travel)

M” = China Business Visa (visit China for commercial & trade activities)

C” = China Crew Visa (visit China as foreign crew members of international transportation and their accompany family members)

D” = China Resident Visa (to reside in China permanently)

F” = China Non-commercial Visit Visa (go to China for exchanges, visits, study tour, etc)

G” = China Transit Visa

Q1/Q2” = China Family Reunion Visa (to visit family members in China, who are Chinese citizens or foreigners holding China’s permanent residence)

S1/S2” = China Private Visa (visit family members who are working, studying in China for private matters)

X1/X2” = China Study Visa (for study in China)

Z” = China Work Visa (to work in China)

2. Entries (签证的入境次数)

The entries refers to how many times you can enter China during the period of validity. China offers 3 entry options to meet foreigners’ different needs of visiting, including regular single-entry, double-entry and multiple-entry visa. (The very less-known Zero-entry Visa is an exit visa, not allowing any entry.)

Applicants can choose the number of entries when filling in visa application form. But the final number of entries and duration of stay are determined by the Chinese Embassy and Consulates aboard.

Notes: You have to apply for a new Chinese Visa if you are in the following 2 situations: 1.) the entry times have been used up; 2.) the visa has expired. Your entry would be rejected if holding a expired visa, even there are entries left.

① Single-entry Chinese Visa

The Single-entry China Visa allows visitors to enter China only once. It is valid for 3 months from the date of issue. Holders can stay up to maximum 30 days within mainland China. If you want to re-enter China, you must apply for a new Chinese Visa.

Pattern on Passport: 01 (壹)

② Double-entry Chinese Visa

Foreigners holding the Double-entry Chinese Visa can get into mainland China twice. The period of validity is 3 to 6 months from the date of issuance, with duration of each stay 30 days.

Please note that Hong Kong and Macau SARs owns separate policies of visa or entry permit. So you will need a double-entry or multiple-entry Chinese Visa, if you firstly visit mainland China, then to Hong Kong or Macau and later come back to mainland China again.

Pattern on Passport: 02 (贰)

③ Multiple-entry Chinese Visa

A multiple-entry China Visa is the most popular option, because it permits the visitor to enter and exit China as many time as he/she likes within the validity. You can apply for multiple entry visa for 6 months, 1 year, 2 year, 5 year and above ( up to 10 years in countries like US, UK, etc). Visa fees will be charged differently.

Attention that the permitted duration of each stay vary from different types of Chinese Visas. For example, Canadian citizens can stay up to 60 days each visit for China L & M Visas, and 120 days for China Q2 Visa. And there is no limitation to the gap between two individual entries.

Pattern on Passport: M (多)

3. Valid for Entry By (签证的有效期) - Chinese Visa Validity

The “Valid For Entry By” means the expiry date of the Chinese Visa, it is the deadline you can enter China. The exact expiration is 24:00 of China official time (Beijing GMT+8:00). The complete period of validity counts from the "Valid For Entry By" date and lasts the days issued to you. The validity vary from visa types and number of entries, usually is 3 months, 6 months, 1 year and more. Visitor can NOT enter China if the time has passed as indicated on the visa.

Format on Passport: YY-MM-DD

4. Duration of Each Stay (停留期限) - Days After Entry

On the right section next to “Valid For Entry By”, “Duration of Each Stay” means the maximum number of days visitors are allowed to stay in China per entry. It is calculated from 00:00 on the day after entry into China, till to the 24:00 (Beijing GMT +8:00) of last permitted day. And it counts every time you enter China, not calculated.

The“Duration of Each Stay” differs by the visa types. The duration ranges from a few days, to 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 120 days and 180 days at most. A regular stay for the Tourist (L) Visa is 30 days. If you want to stay longer than the issued duration, you need to apply for China Visa Extension from public security authorities at least one week before the expiration date. Overstaying is against the laws of China.

000” days is a special note for certain long-term Chinese Visas, like China Work (Z) Visa, China Study (X1/X2) Visa, China Foreign Journalist (J1) Visa & China Resident (D)Visa. It doesn’t mean the bearer can’t stay in China or they can stay in China without limitation of length of duration. They are required to apply a residence permit in the local Public Security Bureau within 30 days upon arrival. Their accurate duration of stay will be specified on the residence permit.

5. Others Information on China Visa Page

China Visa Number: It consists of 8 digit numbers, 1 capital Latin letter and 7 Arabic numerals. It’s one and only code representing you Chinese Visa.

Date of Issue: It is the date when your Chinese Visa is issued, and your visa validity starts from that day.

Place of Issue:It is printed a city/region name in Chinese, which is the location of Chinese Embassy or Consulate.

Full Name, Sex, Date of Birth and Passport Number are also crucial personal information should be stamped correctly.

China Tourist Group Visa

China Tourist Group Visa

Sample of New Chinese Tourist Group Visa

China Tourist Group Visa is a special kind of Chinese Visa, which issues to a tour group with at least 5 members and organized by a local travel agency. The old Group Visa, unlike the regular individual visa printed on passport, it was on a sheet of paper, listing related personal information about all tourists, including applicants’ name, gender, nationality, date of birth, passport number, passport validity and procession/occupation. From June 1st, 2019, a New China Group Visa form has been started as like the regular Chinese Visa

All group tourists have to enter into and exit from China at the same port and same time. Tourist wishing to travel to Tibet from Nepal, whether by overland driving or by flight, must apply for a Group Visa from Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Related Kathmandu Lhasa Tours:

>> 8 Days Tibet Classic Tour from Kathmandu

Trave China with China Discovery

China Discovery is a professional and experienced travel companion who offers high-value and worry-free tours for you. We not only design ideal itinerary covering sightseeing, dining, transfer and hotel, but also can provide any support & help you need to travel to China. With a Chinese Visa, you can freely travel to many cities in mainland China, among all, Beijing, Shanghai are used as gate way cities, Xian, Guilin, Chengdu are also excellent destinations to discovery different regional culture, history and local customs in China.

You may choose from our most popular China tours, or just contact us, tell your interests and travel plans, we could customze a perfect China tour as you like.

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.

Witness the countless Terracotta Warriors
8 Days Best of China Tour

Beijing / Xian / Shanghai

Relaxing Yangtze River Cruise
13 Days Classic China Tour with Yangtze Cruise

Beijing / Xian / Guilin / Yangshuo / Guilin / Chongqing / Yangtze Cruise / Shanghai

Tibet Potala Palace Visit
15 Days China Tour with Tibet Discovery & Panda Visit

Shanghai / Guilin / Yangshuo / Guilin / Chengdu / Lhasa / Xian / Beijing

Start planning your tailor-made holiday to China by contacting one of our specialists. Once enquired, you’ll get a response within 0.5~23.5 hours.

Customize a Trip

Questions & Discussions

Following are latest questions and answers from our webusers and customers. You can learn many useful information from the discussion and cases. You can also join in the discussions or ask your own question. Our experts will help you ASAP.

Visa But no entry
I have a visa but what's ifi dont enter china at all and the visa expires. Can I apply for extension?
2019-10-28 02:36
Hi Stephen,

A visa extension usually occurs in cases when you plan to overstay before a visa expires. Since your Chinese Visa has already expired, you can apply for a new one, by following the same procedures as before.
Wish everything goes well!
L visa
I have given 14days of stay, how can i count those days when I entered on Aug.28 at 12:05am. When will be my last day in china? Thankyou
2019-08-05 20:53
Hi Jan,

Thanks for your inquiry. For a China Visa, the stay period is counted from 00:00 on the second day of entry. So, your 14-day visit begins from August 29 and you should leave China before September 11.
Wish you enjoy trip in China and have a good day:)

Best Regards,
visa change
Q2 visa 180 days
can i change my q2 visa to q1 visa even i dont exit in china? i am from Philippines.
2019-07-23 18:07
Hi Ruzhell,

You may try to apply for long-term residence permit from local Public Security Bureau after entry in China. Please know that, once a visa is issued, the visa type can not be changed.
If you apply for a new visa, the visa officer will consider your case to grant a proper visa. It’s possible that you still get a China Q2 Visa.

Best Regards,
f visa
i have got an offer from one of the hospitals in china inviting me to do some clinical training and research for 6 months so am i eligible for F visa ? thankyou your answers will be much appreciated .
2019-07-20 01:16
Hi Dr.Anilkumar,
Yes, the visiting purpose determines the visa type you gonna apply for, so you should get a China F Visa for the future training and research program in China. You can double check and ask for further help from the hospital, which is your sponor in China.
Wish everything goes on wheels and have a good day!
Best Regards,
F Visa
If a US citizen applies for a F visa to China, can the US citizen stays in China for continuous 6 months? Or the US citizen needs to leave the coutnry every 30/60 days in order for the visa to stay eligible?
2019-06-25 10:07
Hi Vivien,
China F Visa is a short-term visa issued for visit to China which lasts no more than 6 months. Normally, the duration of stay is 30 days. If you succeeded in getting a F Visa with a 180-day period, you are allowed to stay in China for 180 days (not 6 months) continuously after entry. No need to exit and enter every 30 or 60 days.
Be aware that, though the validity of your F Visa may be 1 year, or even 5 years, 180 days is the maximum limit of per entry each year.
Hope the message will help you, and enjoy your travel to China!

Best Regards,

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