Applying for a China mainland visa in Hong Kong

Update: November 2014, US Citizens are now eligible to apply 10 year tourist and business visas.

Update June 26, 2016: Correct link to the updated form for visa application v2013. Old link on Ministry of Foreign affairs not updated.

I will preface this by saying, if you do not hold a HKID and reside in Hong Kong, it is usually much easier to apply for a China visa in your home country. Be forewarned.

Basically you will fall into two categories, [a] HKID holders and current residents, or [b] non-HK residents and tourists.

Address
China Resources Building,

No.26, Harbor Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong SAR

Office Hours
Monday to Friday (except Hong Kong public holidays,)

9:00-12:00 & 14:00-17:00

Officially the government office here is “Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.” It is not a consulate or embassy since Hong Kong is still in China.  Regardless, it basically acts like a consulate and is here to primarily process visa applications for Hong Kong residents.

Update June 26, 2016: Ministry of Foreign Affairs in typical form did not update their website, use this link for the form, not the old one below.

You will require the official visa form which is available online or in the office.

hk china visa office

[a] Hong Kong Identity Card holders

Steps:

  • Go to the office and pass through the x-ray scanners. Entry is on the ground floor, corner of the building closest to Gloucester Road, where the A is on the map image. If walking from Wan Chai MTR take the sky bridge towards the Immigration building and walk towards the right and ground floor after crossing the big highway (Gloucester Road.) You can cross the street to the China Resources building on street level.
Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

  • Take the lift/elevator upstairs, visa processing is on the 3rd floor. Toilets located there too.
  • Fill out the visa form available on the right wall if you have not already done so. Also bring copies of everything. Your HKID, passport details page, current HK visa, anything else you think might be relevant. Otherwise they will make you copy them for $1 HKD each and there’s lines to use those machines too. You can get change at the front window if needed, but I suggest bringing change.
  • Once forms are fully completed, hand them to the clerk standing by the window who will check whether you filled it completely, at that point only will he provide you a ticket with queue number.
  • Wait, probably a long time and hand the forms to the processing agent when your number is called. I suggest bringing a book or iPad to watch a movie.
  • Submit documents to the clerk. Clerks usually are not particularly friendly so I’d suggest just having everything easily ready so they don’t get pissed off  and you can minimize any disputes with them. I learned from experience there’s no point arguing, they’re sticklers for whatever they say even if it makes no sense. You could always try to get another number and try your luck with another clerk. (One clerk told me I couldn’t get a new visa because my old one fell out, due to crappy Chinese glue apparently, and had to get a brand new passport. I’ve since gotten two China visas in the same original passport.)
  • If all is ok, they’ll tell you what visa you’re eligible for and provide you a receipt. Pick-up is in 4 business days, including day of submission. (e.g. Monday submit is a Thursday pickup.) You pay the visa fee at pick-up.

[b] HK Non-residents / Tourists

The process to apply for the visa is the same as above, except you won’t have a HKID card, but you will need more documentation. You may be asked for proof of return airline tickets and hotel bookings. Make copies of these for your submission. You will probably want to have a solid reason why you could not, or did not apply for a visa in your home country. I have seen people denied for visa and asked to apply in their home country if they don’t have solid reasoning & documentation. To avoid all of this, you may want to think about applying for a China visa by mail through your home country if you are not physically there.

My guess would be a lot of students and other individuals who are “teaching English” in China are trying to extend and renew their visas in Hong Kong. It’s a lot cheaper to come into Hong Kong than go back to Australia, Europe, or North America. Basically the office knows they’re illegally working in China and trying to discourage overstays. That’s a big reason I think the HK office only provides a 30 day duration of stay rather than 90 days you can get overseas.

Everyone don’t forget:

  • Visa pricing here. (USA is same price no matter length of visa.)
  • Fill out the application form completely. Include your parent’s names, dates of when and where you’ll be in China, including a physical address.
  • You must have a single or double entry visa before they will provide a multi-entry visa.
  • One-year multi-entry is usually the max length they will provide.
  • Your HK visa expiration date should be as far out as possible. If it expires soon they might use that as a reason to provide a shorter duration China visa to you.
  • Rush is available at an additional cost, same-day visas are not available. Express (3-days) $200 HKD, Rush (2-days, e.g. next day) $300 HKD.
  • Max stay is 30 days if you get a visa from the HK office. (I’ve received 90 day stays when applying in the USA.)
  • Try to go to the office during the later half of the morning or afternoon time blocks, there tends to be less people. I’ve always seen a line-up outside the building earlier in the day. Towards the end of the week is good too.

If you want to avoid all of this, you can use an agent to apply the visa for you. Of course they will charge a fee. China Travel Service (CTS) wanted for $1360 for a dual-entry and $2300+ for a multi-entry visa application for USA passport, so I decided to go myself and save some dough. It’s $1,100 if you go yourself. Not sure why there is a price difference for dual-entry and multi-entry at CTS when it costs the same for US citizens, but anyway the point is shop around and see if it’s worthwhile through CTS or any other agent in Hong Kong.

On a positive note, the visa processing office is now completely renovated. It’s very modern, large, and has more processing windows (but there’s more people so the wait is still very long.) The numbers were called at a rate of about 15 persons for every 10 minutes. I waited about 1 hour for 70 numbers to be called in front of me at 3:30pm on a Monday afternoon. You might want to try applying later in the week to avoid people wanting the visa back before the weekend like myself. Let us know how the whole process goes for you.

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32 Responses

  1. joo says:

    hi there
    it is really nice article and shows allot of effort.
    however according to the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, it says the following: ( If you don’t reside or work in Hong Kong permanently, you are required to apply Chinese visa from the Embassy or Consulate-General of Peoples’ Republic of China in your resident country.)
    are they strict about that?
    according to your two weeks old article it seems not!
    can you confirm that?

    • Yes, they are strict but they will let you still apply if you have some “good reason,” whatever that may be. I’ve seen people who are not HK residents be both denied, and approved, so I can’t tell exactly what the requirements are. Really depends on the clerk you speak to that day, their mood, and how strict they want to be. I suggest smiling and being really friendly.

      My advice, apply outside of HK if possible. Even I have problems at times as a HK resident. When I go back to New York and apply there I never get a questioned and always receive a 1 year multi-entry, each stay 90 days max. HK office sometimes doesn’t even want to give me a 1 year multi and will limit each stay to 30 days.

  2. René says:

    Hi I am from Netherlands. Had to go to china for urgent factory visit. Applying in home country was not possible because of rush. So decided to apply in HK for visa. The biggest visa agency CTS is informing everybody that getting a visa for Dutch citizens takes at least 4 days. This was not possible for me. I had to find a way to get my visa next day. Although everybody is recommending CTS I went to Chinavisaking (www.chinavisaking.com). Met a guy named Lik Cheng (wechat: likcheng). He just made it possible to arrange my visa next day. Yes I had to pay the price for it. But the next day visa was more important. So this agency is very good alternative for CTS. Success.

  3. Cheech Chi says:

    Hi. Thank you so much for this site.

    URGENT IMPORTANT TIP: the official form has changed. The Visa form on the commissioners site is OUT OF DATE. You have to get the form directly at the Visa office.

    It doesn’t seem to be available anywhere online. If your site could
    Post it that would save a lot of people trouble!

    I tried to get the visa over my lunch hour during work and I would’ve been able to do it except I spent 30 minutes filling out the wrong form that I had downloaded instead of filling out the one that they had at the office.

    • Dan says:

      You need the V.2013 one as of the time I’m writing this (June 2016). Check the top right corner of your form. If it says V.2011A or B, that’s not the right one.

  4. Barbara Yorks says:

    I am an American residing in Hong Kong for the past 5 plus years. September 2nd, 2015 went to CTS in Central to apply for the 10 year US Visa. Queried the price a few times but was told over and over again ‘this is the current Visa price.’ Since I had 3 past visas to China in my passport (obtained them from China immigration) I figured the price went up. So 3 of us applied at 2560HK$. Please, please do not go to them. CTS charged us over US$170 handling fee when you can get the visa for US$160.00 or cheaper. Go and spend the time at immigration its even cheaper still. I wrote a complaint letter but the Managing director of CTS in Hong Kong passed the buck to a Branch manager who did apologize but said they can not return any money & are not told the handling fee. Very misleading & misrepresentation!

  5. TheJackal says:

    1 piece of advice… Count on at least 3 visits… All the information and forms on the website are out of date… Complain to them and they just say that the website is not theirs and it’s all google’s fault… New forms… ever-changing paperwork and requirements… surly clerks… just go elsewhere and don’t bother providing them with a tourist income.

  6. Pigeon says:

    The correct form can be found at the bottom of the web page: https://www.ctshk.com/english/useful/chinesevisa.htm
    Agreed, don’t rely on the info from the official website as it is wrong in key places. The staff at the visa centre are really not helpful and pretty rude (in my experience) so personally I prefer to pay the extra at China travel service as it is much less hassle.

  7. Vee says:

    Hey just wanted to make an update as of today. I applied on monday morning at forever bright agency in hung hom new mandarin plaza for a 6 month multiple entry visa. Each stay 30 days. It cost me 800 hkd and was ready thus day lunch. Great service. Fast efficient. I’m german passport holder with hk id.
    Good luck to everybody.

  8. Pat says:

    Hi, Great tips, thankyou! Question – is a temporary HKID card enough (the paper form they issue you first), or do you need to wait for the permanent card (2-3 weeks later)?
    Thanks!

  9. A temporary HKID is fine, but one time I went one lady wouldn’t allow me to get a China visa past my HK visa which expired last that year…which is retarded….

    Then I went again and they let me get one. Not sure which country you’re applying for, but US citizens get 10 year visas now, so no HK visa will ever be that long.

    Really depends on the person you get and the mood they’re in per my experience.

  10. Abi Lierheimer says:

    For payment when picking up the visa, will they only accept cash?

  11. Johnny says:

    Just to let you know that the forms you can download from their website are wildly out of date (as is most of the website!). Better to get forms when you arrive. Best of luck!

  12. Melissa says:

    Is it possible to get a visa to china like visitors visa am just working in hongkong and wants to visit china for vacation is it hard to apply for visa what are the requirements

  13. tom m says:

    Hi there!

    Just want to know, do they still need to keep your passport with them for inserting the new visa?

    Thanks for giving updated information for all the clueless people out there, myself included!

  14. christian says:

    hi, I just heard for trip to Shenzhen from HK cannot use visa on arrival again.
    is it true?
    I’m from Indonesia btw

    thanks

  15. Tracey says:

    I am South African and I am currently on a work visa in China which expires on the 4th of September, I have been offered a job in Shenzhen starting on 1st October, will I be able to get a z working visa in Hong Kong?

  16. Coral says:

    A heads-up for HKID holders – I renewed my HK work visa last Friday and then popped across the road as usual to apply for a 1 (or 2!) year multi-entry. Never a problem before, but this time my application was refused because I did not have a permission letter from my employer for leisure travel to mainland. I’m a “normal” expat, not a domestic helper. That’s a new one on me! I was also told that the “old” way of just writing intended destination as Shenzhen for shopping/ sightseeing is no longer sufficient; I need to put in exact address(es), even for a day trip … yeah, right …
    Maybe it was just the lady at counter 5, but hope this can help somebody else be prepared.

  17. Hector says:

    This is a very good article. Helps a lot, i was struggling the past week or so. even wrote to the consulate and got back an irrelevant response. Don’t we need to take a prior appt for visiting the VISA centre?

  18. pradeep says:

    hi i am paddy from India +919811172728 my chineese visa was rejected 4 time reason cannot confirm purpose of visit it was really surprise although i travelled china for my business 6-7 time and my multiple 6 month visa expired 2 weeks ago i travelled to hongkong and applied visa by FBT forever bright visatrading ltd.New Mandarin Plazatower B,14 science museum road east kowloon and i got my chineese visa 5 days single entry from there

  19. ML says:

    Hi I’m a Jamaican who lives in USA with a green card. I am currently in China but want to visit HK for a friend’s bday and return back to China. However I only have a single entry. Do you think it is likely I will be granted a visa to return to China if I apply with business invitation letter from a factory?

  20. Tony says:

    I want to ask a question but I have noticed from the above that no more responses are provided.. Should I go ahead?

  21. Tony says:

    I want to make an inquiry but it seems responses are no more forthcoming. Should I go ahead?

  1. March 12, 2015

    […] out my previous post about how to get a China visa here in Hong Kong. I assume there are new visa applications which have a 10 year check-box, if not, […]

  2. April 4, 2016

    […] those who need a visa to visit mainland China there are many options – application in Hong Kong is common. If you plan to visit Shenzhen only when you are in China, and travel from Hong Kong, it […]

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