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The Chinese government issues different types of visas depending on the purpose of the visit. If you wish to travel to China as a tourist, you should apply to a local Chinese embassy or consulate to obtain a tourist visa (L). If you are traveling with a group tour consisting of more than nine people, the organizer of the group tour must apply for group tourist visas (L).

To apply for a Chinese visa, you must do the following:

  • Provide a valid passport or an accepted document in place of a passport
  • Fill in the visa application
  • Provide passport size photos
  • Submit the visa application along with documents that explain the reason for visiting China

When entering China, you should follow signs to immigration and go to an appropriate port of entry desk for foreigners. The immigration official will inspect your passport, visa and collect your entry card. Once the documents have been stamped with an entry seal, you may enter into China.

If you are traveling into China with your own transport vehicle, such as a bicycle, motorcycle, car, boat or private aircraft, you need to apply for a visa and obtain approval for your vehicle before entering China.

Along with your proper passport and visa, you may only travel to places in China that are open for tourists. As of March 1996, China has opened 1,220 cities and counties to foreign visitors. You are not allowed to enter areas in China that are not opened to tourists. Violators will be penalized according to the law. If you wish to do business in an area that is not open to foreigners, you must apply to the local public security office to obtain a Foreigners Travel Permit. You will need to fill out the Foreigners Travel Permit application and provide a valid passport, Chinese visa, and documentation explaining why you need to visit the area. Once approval is given, travel into the specified area can take place with a proper passport and the Foreign Travel Permit.

To stay at a hotel, guesthouse, school or any other Chinese establishment, you will need to provide a valid passport and fill in a registration form for temporary lodging. If you are staying with relatives, a Chinese family, or in any foreign establishment, you should apply at the local public security office within seventy-two hours of arrival. If you are in a rural area, you should apply at the local police station or residential administrative office within seventy-two hours of arrival. Both you and your host will need to provide proper identification documents.

You can only travel in China within the valid timeframe of the visa. If you wish to continue traveling in China after the visa expires, you must apply to the local public security office for an extension. After your travel in China is finished, you will need to fill out an exit document before the visa expires and submit it to an immigration official at the appropriate desk for foreigners at the airport. Once the documents have been stamped with an approval seal, you may leave China.

If you are staying in China with a tourist visa (L), you may not engage in activities beyond the capacity of a tourist, such as employment, religious propaganda and illegal journalist interviewing. Violators will be penalized according to the law. The Chinese government protects the lawful rights of foreigners in China, Foreigners should abide by the Chinese laws and respect Chinese customs and habits and not do anything to jeopardize China¡¯s national security, public interests and social order.

If you have lost your passport in China, you should promptly report it to the local public security office, apply to the embassy or consulate from your home country for an exit document with a certificate issued by the local public security office, and go through the formalities at an entry and exit inspection department. You must take these steps in order to exit China.

Most of the foreign embassies are found in Beijing. There are also offices in other major Chinese cities such as Shanghai, Chonging, Gongzhou and Hong Kong.

Useful Link: http://www.traveldocs.com/cn/