How to apply for a Chinese visa

Applying for a visa is potentially the most frustrating part of the travel experience. Being a Filipino citizen, I need a visa to travel to most countries (notable exceptions are ASEAN member states Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam). My trip to Sanya last month was my first time to apply for a Chinese visa. There are different visa categories but this entry focuses on the two most common visas: the tourist visa and the business visa.

As per the Chinese embassy in the Philippines:

The Tourist /Family visit Visa (class L)

L Visa is issued to a person who comes to China for sightseeing, visiting relatives, or private matters. Documents to be included with application:

1.    Applicant’s passport with blank pages and at least 6 months validity left before expiration.

2.    A completed application form affixed with one passport-size or 2×2 colored photo, with white background, full-face front view, and no hat.  Photo must be glued on the application form. Stapled pictures will not be accepted. Scanned photos will also not be accepted. U.S. passport holders must submit two application forms with two photos.

3.   Invitation letter with a copy of the inviter’s valid Chinese residence visa and passport information page of inviter’s or Chinese national identity card. (applicable to those who are visiting family in China)

4.  Previously used China visa in old or new passport (Only visa stickers will be accepted.  Those with stamped visas must submit additional documents for first-time China visa applicants. Please refer to the list below.)

5.   For first time applicants to China (Philippine passport holders, 18 years old and above), they are required to provide the following:

a) Original NBI clearance valid for travel abroad

b)  Original bank certificate with receipt or original passbook, updated within the month that you are applying or….

– If a company will sponsor the trip, provide the company’s bank certificate, sponsorship letter from the company and the company’s business registration.

– If an individual will sponsor the trip, provide his bank certificate, sponsorship and invitation letter, copy of sponsor’s valid residence visa and passport information page or Chinese national ID.

c) For employed persons, also provide an employment certificate; company ID, SSS ID and contributions, TIN ID, and latest ITR

d) For students, provide school ID

e) For businessmen, provide business registration of company, TIN ID and latest ITR

f)  Personal appearance is required for those who are 16-21 years old.

6.  The emergency contact information page in the applicant’s passport should be filled out and photocopied.

7. Other documents required by the visa officers if necessary.

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