A trip to China is a once in a lifetime experience, with highlights including the Great Wall, the Terracotta Army and visiting giant pandas. If you have already booked your trip or you are looking to arrange a holiday in China then one thing you will have to do before travelling is arrange your China visa
China visas are usually valid for 90 days from the day of issue, for a maximum stay of 30 days within China so you don’t want to get your visa too early as it will run out before you even travel. It’s recommended that you leave about a month in order to arrange your visa. Most travellers to China will only need a single entry visa, however, if you are planning to travel to Hong Kong and then re-enter mainland China then you will need to arrange a double entry visa which costs a bit more, but will allow you to re-enter China.
The Chinese Visa Application Service Centre (CVASC) is now in charge of handling visa applications and collecting visa fees for the Chinese Embassy so you will need to start your visa process by contacting them. If you visit www.visaforchina.org.uk you can download the application form and get some additional information about arranging a China visa. If you are a UK citizen then you can then send it to the CVASC by post or you can make an appointment to hand it in to their office instead. You need to make an appointment beforehand as you are not allowed to turn up at the centre without one.
Visa application assistance
If this sounds all a bit too complicated, you can apply through a company called CIBT, like I did. I ended up paying more than I would have than if I had gone through the CVASC but I found them to be so helpful in helping me arrange my visa. They have a phone number where you can call them for any advice and help filling out your form. You can also track your visa online, so you know where it is, if it has been processed, etc, and they email you with updates on how your visa is doing and when you should expect to have it back. I would therefore, from personal experience, recommend using them if you want a hassle free way of arranging your visa.
Hong Kong visa
Chinese visa details and requirements can change rapidly, so if in any doubt please contact the Chinese Embassy directly for up to date details. Once you have sorted out your visa you can sit back, relax and look forward to your China trip!
With a UK passport you do not need a visa to enter Hong Kong as you will get a visa on arrival for 90 days. However, if you are planning on staying more than 3 months then you will need to arrange one in advance. Please bear in mind that if you would like to leave China to come to Hong Kong and then re-enter China then you will need to arrange a double entry visa for China.