Do I need a visa to enter China?
Unless you have a Chinese passport, you will likely need a visa to enter China. Typically most people are issued 10-year multi-entry visas, but that's not always the case. Check with your country's state department to confirm if you are not sure whether you need a visa or not.
How long does it take to get a visa?
Generally speaking it takes 1-2 weeks to get a visa, though the timing can be longer or shorter depending on many factors. Typically in a rush situation you can even get it processed in a few days.
How do I get a visa?
Once your deposit is received, we will assist you in gathering all of the required documents and information needed to apply for the visa. You are responsible for all processing, courier, and photo expenses associated with getting the visa, and you're also responsible for making sure you have the visa in time for the trip.
While you can certainly apply for a visa on your own directly through the nearest Chinese Embassy or Consulate, it's recommended to go through an agency who can assist you with document preparation, bring your passport to and from the China Embassy/Consulate, and generally make sure that everything goes smoothly.
For USA passport holders:
First, check this map to see which China Embassy/Consulate will be responsible for processing your visa. Note that the determination of which China Embassy/Consulate is correct for you is based on the state where you currently live. So for example, if you live in Massachusetts then you will have to go through the New York Consulate, whereas if you live in Wyoming you will have to go through the China Embassy in Washington DC.
If you happen to live in a city with the Chinese Embassy (Washington DC) or a Chinese Consulate (New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Houston), then you can go directly to the embassy/consulate and apply for the visa yourself. If you live in one of the cities listed above but prefer to use an agency for the sake of convenience or if you don't live in one of the cities listed above, then you'll need to go through an agency, who will charge a fee for their services. Note that some large visa agencies with offices all over the country can assist anyone in any state, whereas some smaller agencies only provide services at one China Embassy/Consulate location and therefore can only assist people living in certain states - make sure to check on this before you apply.
Here's a list of some visa agencies who can assist you for a fee:
Agencies for people living in any state:
Agency focusing on people living in specific states:
For passport holders from Canada, Australia, UK & Northern Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden:
It's recommended to go through the official China Visa Application Service Center in your country. Depending on which city you live in, you can either go to the service center in person or apply through the mail - find more information here:
For passport holders from other countries not listed above:
Please check with the local China Embassy/Consulate in the country in which you reside.
What items will I need in order to send in my visa application?
Here's a list of the items typically needed for the visa application, though these are always subject to change:
- Original passport with blank visa pages available (your passport expiration date must be valid for at least six months beyond your planned return date)
- Completed visa application form (available from independent visa agent and China embassy/consulate)
- 1 passport-style color photo
- Paper copy of airplane ticket reservation confirmation
- Paper copy of hotel reservation confirmation (Tailor Made Shanghai will provide this document to you since we will be making the hotel booking for you)
- Applicable processing fees
Note that generally speaking, you do not need an invitation letter if you can provide an airplane ticket and hotel reservation, which you will be able to do (Tailor Made Shanghai will provide hotel reservation documentation for you, while you will provide airplane ticket documentation on your own since you'll be buying the airplane ticket yourself).
When sending your passport back and forth to get your visa, it is highly recommended to use a professional courier service (FedEx, UPS, etc.) with a tracking option so you always know where your passport is at all times. You don't want to risk losing your passport and/or not knowing where it is by sending it via regular US mail.
How much will the visa cost me?
Visa costs will vary by location and whether an agent is used to assist you. We highly recommend using an experienced agent to ensure there are no issues with your application. Chinese embassies and consulates are notoriously picky with regards to paperwork, and you don't want to take the risk of having to re-submit a rejected application, or worse not getting your visa in time for your trip. As a general guideline, you can expect to pay anywhere from US$175-US$300 (possibly less, possibly more) depending on where you live and how you get the visa.
Why do I need a visa? Doesn't China now offer a visa-free arrival?
China now offers 72-hour (3-day) and 144-hour (6-day) visa-free travel to certain cities, but that's only for people who are transiting to a 3rd country, not for people who are simply flying round-trip to Shanghai and back to the same departure airport. Also, this trip with Tailor Made Shanghai will require you to be in Shanghai for at least 170 hours, so the visa-free offer still would not work for this situation.
Is there anything else I need to consider when applying for a visa?
Your passport expiration date must be valid for at least six months beyond your planned return date.