You’d think it easy, and affordable – after all, you’re heading to a far-off land with your wallet in your back pocket bulging with local currency. However, the Chinese Visa process makes you think, if anything, that you’re not wanted there!

If you like to complete the process yourself, without sending your passport off by post or using a third party company, then going to the embassy to get your Chinese Visa in London ’s Portland Place is your best option. However, be prepared for a £151 charge for your single entry pass, an obnoxious receptionist more interested in their phone than your desire to explore China, and a clinical, faceless ticket system.

You’ll want to apply for your Chinese Visa around 30 days before your trip.

Chinese Visa Step #1: Sort your accommodation (or lie)

You’ll need to prove to the Chinese Visa embassy that you have accommodation to stay in, and return flights. If you have a friend over there who you will be staying with, IT IS NOT WORTH TELLING THEM!

I was staying in three cities, two of which I was booking accommodation in. The third, I was staying with a friend. I took a copy of their visa, their local address, a scan of their passport – the lot. This wasn’t enough. They needed a signed letter of invitation. So I told the lady (with all of my completed forms in hand and a visa charged with £151) and asked what I should do. She pointed me to the computers and the 50p per sheet printer and told me to just book a hotel instead. So I did, on [eafl id=”1635″ name=”Booking.com Genera;” text=”booking.com”], which had free cancellation and no pre-payment. I walked out, went on to the [eafl id=”1635″ name=”Booking.com Genera;” text=”booking.com”] app and cancelled them straight away.

So – regardless of your travel plans make sure you have a [eafl id=”1635″ name=”Booking.com Genera;” text=”booking.com”] print-out of accommodation for each and every destination you stay in, and for each night. If you’re not quite there in the booking process (as I wasn’t), and want to know your visa was confirmed (like I did), just book hotels with no cancellation charge.

Of course, another option is to get a company such as [eafl id=”1671″ name=”Titan Travel General” text=”Titan Travel”] to take you on an organised tour – and just take the paperwork they provide with you to the embassy.

Chinese Visa Step #2: Fill out the form

Download, print and complete this form. Alternatively, you can use the Chinese Visa wizard thingy (built I think when the internet was first launched – but quite useful), here >.

You’ll need to take a passport sized photo with you too, and if you want to save 50p, scan your passport and take the copy (as well as the real thing).

Chinese Visa Step #3: Go, Wait, Pay, leave, wait

The next step will be to either post your documents or go in person to the Chinese Embassy at 49 Portland Pl, Marylebone, London W1B 1JL. You’ll need to book an appointment, which you can do here.

You’ll need to take your completed application, a passport photo, a print out of your RETURN flights, a copy of your passport, and print-outs of all your confirmed accommodation (or details of your tour). The lady behind the desk, responsible for £66 of the total fee (a service centre fee apparently), will ask you to circle your name and the date on each confirmation. Do this in advance if you want to speed up the process.

Then, she’ll keep everything. All your paperwork and your passport, the lot.

Chinese Visa Step #4: Go, Pay, Leave

The final step is to head back to the embassy around four days later. Take a ticket from reception and head straight downstairs. Once your number is called you’ll go the window, pay (debits cards only – of course), and you’ll get your passport back with your visa inside.

Chinese Via Sorted!….For the price of a weekend break in Berlin !

If you prefer to let someone else take the hassle use a company such as www.thevisamachine.com. You’ll pay an extra £50 (personally I like to do these things myself and keep the cash), but it does give you some extra peace of mind.

 


My Chinese Travel Resources

Accommodation:

[eafl id=”1635″ name=”Booking.com Genera;” text=”Booking.com”] is great for managing your bookings on the go and gives you the flexibility of cancellations in advance (as mentioned above).

An organised Tour of China:

If going solo isn’t quite for you then use a trusted company such as [eafl id=”1671″ name=”Titan Travel General” text=”Titan Travel”]. They have a range of packages to choose from and have the expertise to make the experience just what you’re looking for.

What to take:

If you’re travelling solo take a read of my 7 Essentials for Any Solo Traveller article. The climate in China is similar to the UK – but the more north you go the more noticeably colder it gets. Take Layers

Guides books:

So everyone can have a cheeky google, but I love to read a guide book on the plane to my destination. It really helps to get you in the mood! Click on the images below to find out more.