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The majority of tourists visiting China are required first to secure a Chinese Tourism Visa, otherwise known as an L visa. The L visa allows travelers to travel most parts of China as a tourist. In most cases, tourists will receive a single entry visa, valid for 30 days. Visitors from some countries, such as the UK, Canada, and the US, can apply for 10-year visas with multiple entries.

If you are traveling to China as part of a group, you may not receive an individual visa, but a group visa that includes the names of all the travelers. In this case, the application is likely done through an agent. The agent will then provide the details on the requirements and the procedure. If you are traveling to China independently, here is what you need to know, and what to prepare to get your own L visa.

China Tourist Visa (L Visa) Requirements

  1. Your passport with at least a validity for another six months. You will also need empty pages in your passport for the visa itself.
  2. A completed visa application form. You can find more details on how to fill the form and where to download it by visiting the website of the Chinese Embassy or Visa Application Center in your home country.
  3. A recent passport-sized photo. The background of the photo should be white.
  4. Round-trip tickets. You must be able to provide both your flight ticket to and from China, clearly showing your date of entry and departure. If you are traveling by yourself to China, you must also provide proof of a hotel booking. If you are staying with a local, they can issue you an invitation letter instead.
  5. If you are applying for a Chinese L visa from a country that is not your home country, you need to provide proof that you are staying in this country legally.

Visa application procedure

With all of the above documents, you can go to your local Chinese embassy or their visa application center in person. You can also send your materials via an agent who can do the application on your behalf, but keep in mind that this does not guarantee your visa will be approved.

Appointments are generally not mandatory for visa applications, but you may want to check the opening hours of the visa service or the visa application center beforehand.

  1. Prepare your passport and make sure you have an additional 6 months of validity.
  2. Book your tickets to China, as well as your hotels for your stay. Print out your itinerary and confirmations.
  3. Complete the visa application form.
  4. Submit the documents to your local embassy or visa application center in person or through an agent.
  5. Once the procedure is over, they will contact you to come and pick up your passport. This process can take anywhere from 4-10 business days depending on the country and whether you pay for express service.

Additional Tips

  1. The normal processing time does not take into account holidays or days where the embassy or visa center may be closed. Make sure to check if they will be open when you plan to do your application.
  2. It is recommended that you apply for your L visa 1-2 months before your date of departure. Once the visa is issued to you, it will be valid for entry within three months. You can reschedule your arrival date as long as it is within the validity of the visa, written on the visa page itself.
  3. A single-entry tourist visa will allow you to enter China only once. If you plan on visiting China, then Thailand, then back to China, you will need a multi-entry visa. You choose single or multi-entry on the application form.
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