Renewing a foreign visa in China requires a bit more paperwork than other countries. This guide we’ll hopefully help speed up the process for you.
This guide is catered to US Citizens, but would be helpful to citizens of other countries, such as Canada, Australia, the EU, etc. This guide was last updated November 9, 2010.
About Tourist (L) Visa’s in China
A tourist visa, also known as Type L Visa is commonly given out for a 30 day term. You can apply for a double or multiple entry visa and will be granted multiple visits over a 6-12 month period (depending on what you ask for and what city you ask for it). For US Citizens, it’s the same charge as a single entry visa, $130, for other countries, it runs from $30-$90 depending on the number of entries and time till expiration.
Extended your Chinese Tourist Visa
China does not have a process to ‘extend’ a current visa, instead they will grant you a brand new visa, so technically, you will have two separate (and both valid) visas. This means you’ll need all the proper paperwork, and for US Citizens, another $130 USD.
Documents needed to (extend / apply for a new) Chinese Tourist “L” Visa
- Not in Beijing – See below, but Beijing has more stringent visa requirements that require ¥20,000 RMB in a Chinese Bank.
- Cash Money – ¥940 ($130 USD) for Americans, much less for other citizens. Cash is king here, they don’t take credit cards nor foreign checks.
- Black Pen – I need to say this, as they had us redo pages of forms because we used ‘evil’ blue ink! Personally, I they should make ‘red’ the official pen color to match the party.
- Passport – Your passport and visa to leave with them for 5 working days
- Photo – One 2 inch by 2 inch visa photo
- Hotel Proof – Receipt from your hostel or hotel, with an official stamp to show you’re staying there. Let them know it’s for the Visa PSB (公安局) office as it’s different then a normal receipt.
- Bank Info – A copy of the front of a bank card that has money in it.
- I don’t know what the minimum amount is, but there is no way they can check, so I would recommend telling them you have over $4,000 USD.
- A copy of your passport information page
- A copy of your visa page from your passport
- A copy of your official hotel/hostel receipt
- A copy of your bank info
And be sure to check for Chinese Holidays as they are frequent and a great excuse to shut down an office building for 1 or more days.
And if you’re a couple travelling, be sure to have copies for each person, even on things like a shared bank account. I was able to use 1 bank credit card, photocopied twice for my wife and I who share the same last name (but the bank card had my first name).
There is detailed information for Xi’an below, including photos on how to navigate the multiple offices you must visit.
Different Cities, Different Requirements
Different cities in China have different requirements for extending, a.k.a., applying for a new visa.
Beijing [not recommended]
The Beijing Public Security Bureau (PSB) [PSB in Chinese: 公安局; pinyin: Gōng’ānjú)] will require you to open a bank account in China and deposit ¥20,000 RMB!!! Yes, you will need to open a bank account, transfer over $3,000 USD and then get a Certificate of Deposit from the local bank to provide to the PSB. Because of this, I recommend hoping on a train and heading south to other PSBs.
If you must go to the Beijing PSB, here’s the address. It should be open Mon-Sat 8.30am – 4.30 pm
2 Andingmen Dongdajie
Dongcheng District, Beijing
Take the subway, #2 or #5 to Hulxinxijie / Nankou stop at the NE corner of the #2 line.
The Xi’an PSB in the Shaanxi providence is much easier then the Beijing PSB and is a common stop of foreign travelers. They have separate offices for foreigners and I haven’t seen the lines be too crazy. Note, the Xi’an PSB has moved, as of 2010. The Lonely Planet 2010 is INCORRECT and has it located near the bell tower within the city walls, not outside. It is now a 5 min taxi ride from the South Gate, due south, outside the wall. From the gate, it will run you about ¥15. I believe the office is open from 8:30am – 5pm. Here is the address to show your driver.
Xi’an PSB Address:
Navigating the Xi’an PSB office (it’s confusing):
Navigating the Xi’an PSB. Give yourself 1-2 hours. There is a place to make photo copies directly across the street (on the right side of the picture above) and places to take visa photos down the cross street, near the bus terminal.
- Step 1 – Head to the right most door (in red) and goto the 2nd floor for Foreigners. And for Foreigners, that means the 3rd floor, but it’s labeled 2nd, as it’s Ground, 1st, 2nd,…. You will fill out an application and hand over your paperwork, she’ll give you a form for the next step.
- Step 2 – Head around the building and up to the 17th floor, room 1707 to get a form so you can submit payment.
- Step 3 – Head back outside and towards where you were for your first visit. But this time, in the center of the building, there is an office that will take your cash. It is a mix of foreigners and locals, so it can get quite busy, but there is a spot reserved just for foreigners, so cut through the line (it’s okay, you’re in China) and head all the way to the right of the office and you should see the sign. The office is ‘closed’ for lunch, from around 12p-1pm.
South of Chengdu in the Sichuan providence, this is supposed to be one of the easiest places to renew a visa for foreigners as they are a bit more lax on the requirements, it’s not as popular of a destination for tourists, and is a day trip from beautiful Chengdu (120km) but if you visit, be sure to go see the Giant Buddha.
From friends, this is what I’ve heard:
- Super easy application
- You can get it in 1 business day
- You must have a Leshan address for your hotel/hostel, there is a cheap hotel right next to the PSB
- It will cancel your current visa and issue a new visa (as opposed to Xi’an which allows you to keep your current visa and get a new one)
Other Cities in China
Here is a list of other PSB Visa offices located in various cities around China.
Applying for a Chinese Tourist Visa (the first time)
It’s recommended to apply for your Visa in your country of citizenship, as China will sometimes make it difficult to apply for a Visa inn a foreign country. For instance, in South Korea, US Citizens cannot apply for a Chinese Tourist Visa at the Chinese Embassy, US Citizens must go through a third-party tour group, tacking on even higher fees.
Helpful Links & Resources:
- Embassy of the People’s Republic of China Tourist (L) Visa Information
- China Mike – Travel Tips, Guides, and Maps of China
Have you had other experiences or learned of new helpful information or tips? Please post in the comments below and I’ll update the guide.