How to secure a China tourist visa

It’s not that I had never been to China. But, then you don’t really consider transit through somewhere as actually “going” there!

I have changed planes (and once, an airport) in China during two separate trips. But this time, I was actually intending to get into the country.

My quest for a Chinese tourist visa began at this website.

I entered the country and city here and was directed to the relevant page, which, in my case was the one of the Chinese Visa Application Centre, Kolkata. There, under the head ‘How to get a visa’, was a sub-head ‘Step by step guidance’ that was ‘strongly recommended for all applicants’. Sounded good to me. I clicked on it.

On the next page, I confirmed I would be going to the application centre to submit my application and also to collect my passport afterwards. On the same page, I also clicked to choose the “L” visa, which is for tourists. It’s a fairly descriptive page and makes it easy for you to figure what visa you need.

After going through the terms and conditions on the next page, you get to the place where they tell you what documents you require.

Here is what you need to apply for a Chinese tourist L visa.

  1. Your passport needs to valid for at least six months and has to have two blank pages. Also get printouts of your passport picture and address pages on two separate A4 sheets.
  2. The application form: You can download it from the link here, print it out and fill it up in hand. It is not complicated at all.
  3. The picture: Go through the requirements carefully and instruct your photographer accordingly. Wear a dark shirt and make sure your background is white.
  4. Bank statements: They only consider savings bank and current accounts and you have to have a minimum balance of INR100,000 even if you’re going for one day. You need to submit the statement of your past six months.
  5. Return air tickets
  6. Hotel bookings with your name in the confirmation.
App cycles parked in Shenzhen. The Chinese government is working to promote green forms of transportation across the country

Initially, I had shown the required money with fixed deposits which many countries find ok. I didn’t have INR100,000 in my savings account. When they said it was not enough, I prematured an FD, put the amount in my savings account and printed out a statement which now showed enough money.

The shirt in my picture was a little light and the person at the counter seemed a little unhappy about it. But I got through anyway since nothing about a light shirt was mentioned in the picture guidelines. But just so that you don’t face any problems, take the picture with you wearing a dark-coloured shirt.

The Kolkata centre had me pay in cash the application fees and service charge on the submission date. The total amount was INR5,510.

A single entry tourist visa is valid for three months from the date of issue and you can stay in China for a maximum of 30 days.

I submitted the application on a Monday and collected my passport with the visa the following Thursday.

I wasn’t asked any questions when I entered the country. They stamped my passport without comment.


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