Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Easy Way to get a Visa for China

By Jonny Blair

It came to my attention recently that a few travellers have had problems and issues getting visas for China. Everyone wants to visit the world's most populated country so I'm here with my latest visa advice for China!! I'm heading to China again soon for my 6th visit and I want to explain an easy and simple way for you travellers to get your China Visa - it's easy! All you need to do is ... get yourself to HONG KONG!

In terms of defining a country, as far as I'm concerned Hong Kong is one. It has it's own currency, flag, visa regulations and national football team. It was also British for a while, and that ended back in 1997. These days, lots of nationalities can get to Hong Kong without a Visa. You will get a stamp on arrival at the airport. If you arrive on a UK passport you can stay for 180 days no problem! A lot of nationalities also get a 90 day entry stamp - check with your embassy.

First up Hong Kong sits nicely on the border with China and so it's a perfect place to sort out your visa. There are a few immigration points between Hong Kong and Shenzhen and I've been to a few of them.

There are literally hundreds of places in Hong Kong to get a China Visa and as far as I can tell, being in Hong Kong is by far and away the easiest and best way to get your visa for China, outside your home country, which as global nomads we are scarcely in.

In Tsim Sha Tsui in Hong Kong there are countless guys on the streets who can all sort you out with a visa but while they may be legitimate, be careful. My advice is head to an agency and sort it out - there are loads of agencies and they will take you through the process.

These days, I get double or multiple entry visas for China. But my first ever China Visa was a single entry, so do that for starters unless you are planning two trips. So where should I get the Visa done? Well as I mentioned there are countless agencies that do them in Hong Kong (and although it might be cheaper to go to the Embassy - DON'T). Use an agency. You'll get your Visa easily, no problem, on time and can collect even after normal closing hours. They will even help you fill in the form and if you don't have the things you need they will tell you what to do. These agencies often open all day Saturday, weekday nights and some even a half or part day Sunday. Yes, I know agencies charge a bit more and I'm a budget traveller but I also believe that "time is money" and these agencies are fast and helpful so they save you time. An agency I have used recently is China Travel Service (Hong Kong).

They have a lot of branches but believe me just turn up in Tsim Sha Tsui or Mong Kok and wander round the streets and you will see a place doing China Visas.

You'll be surprised at how simple and easy it is to get a Visa for China in Hong Kong.

This is what you need:

1. A passport, valid for at least another 6 months and with space for 2 pages in it

2. One passport photo

3. A completed Application Form, the key points are:

- entry point to China - put Shenzhen as then they know you are crossing a land border HK to China. 1000s of tourists do this route every day.

- They will ask for for expected date of travel - just make this up if you don't know when you are heading - you will have three months (I think) from the date printed on the visa to enter. No big deal this question.

- hotel or hostel you are staying in - again just write a hotel you know even if you have yet to book it. If they do ask for one, then you need to book one and show them but they have never asked me.

- Have you got medical insurance? Always write no, believe me!

- type of visa you want - go for a single entry of course if this is your first time, if not pick the visa you want (note they can turn multiple entries down easier)

4. Payment (this varies depending on nationality - a single entry can be between 350 - 500 Hong Kong Dollars (less than 40 or $50 US).

5. Hand the application in yourself.

There's also a fast option which you may need but I just pick the regular visa pick up time.

There you go then for your China Visa come and get it in Hong Kong and enjoy this marvellous country of China!

A separate post will detail the border itself - not too tricky

Have a great time doing China and enjoying a lifestyle of travel!

Jonny at Don't Stop Living

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