If you’re a business traveler based in the United States, chances are you’ve made at least one trip overseas to China. But flying to China’s a bit trickier than your standard trip to London, Paris or Tokyo. You’ll not only need a valid passport, you’ll also be required to apply for a visa just to land in mainland China.
But fear not global business warriors, your friends at Airmule put together an overview to help you better navigate your first trip there. Be warned, the entire application process will take about a week, and that doesn’t even include the time required to hear back on the status of your application.
As with many things in life, you can select same day or express delivery services, but that could add a few hundred bucks, so save yourself the money and grab your visa well in advance of your trip.
High Level Overview
Business travelers typically opt for the “F”-type visa, issued to travelers who visit China for business purposes, such as trade shows, lectures, internships, meetings, etc.
After selecting the “F”-type, you’ll need to select the version you’re applying for: single entry (valid for 3-6 months), double entry (valid for 6 months), or multiple entry (valid for 6 months or 12 months).
Before you even begin the application process, you’ll need to make sure your passport is valid and has at least 6 months remaining. You’ll also need an entirely blank page, as Chinese visas do require an entire page.
The first step in applying for your visa to visit mainland China is to download the visa application from the Chinese Embassy website. You’ll need to attach one passport photo (2×2 in.) to the application, and submit a copy of your hotel and flight (round trip) information as well. You’ll also need to include an invitation letter from an authorized Chinese business, or a letter of introduction from your U.S.-based company. Lastly, don’t forget to include a self-addressed, prepaid envelope so the Chinese Consulate can eventually return your shiny new visa back to you.
All applications must be submitted in person, so this will require a physical trip to your nearest Chinese Consulate, since mailed applications aren’t accepted. If you aren’t able to make it yourself, you could hire an authorized agent to deliver the paperwork for you, but that will most likely add another hundred bucks or so.
China Business Visa Checklist:
- Filled out visa application
- 1 Passport photo
- Copy of hotel and flight itineraries
- Invitation letter or letter of introduction from your company
- Self-addressed, prepaid envelope
Application fees start at $130 for United States citizens. Express services can add anywhere from an extra $50-$300.
Once you’ve submitted the paperwork, it’s time to kick back and wait. Regular processing time takes about 4-5 business days. Rush services typically take around 2-3 days. Same-day services do exist, but prepare to pony up for those.