Getting a Visa on Arrival in Shenzhen
Update July 19, 2016: There is no official list of countries that are eligible, only a list of ones that are definitely not allowed to get VOA. You can check comments below and see if others from your country have been successful.
For those who need a visa to visit mainland China there are many options – applying in Hong Kong is a common one. If you plan in to visit Shenzhen only when you are in China, and are travelling from Hong Kong, it is also possible to get a visa on arrival at the land border there.
The primary benefit of this is convenience. It is not cheaper than a normal visa. However, it can be processed immediately. So you cut out the waiting time typically needed for a China visa as well as the effort involved in going through the process in Hong Kong.
Update July 19, 2016: This list changes often and without notice. We cannot guarantee it’s accuracy and there is no official list known. The below is understood to be accurate as of July 19, 2016. If you have experiences different than mentioned, please comment.
Eligible passport holders of most countries can get a VOA in Shenzhen:
- New Zealand
Some may apply for it showing passports with proof that they have been issued Chinese visa before by embassies and consulates, such as Indonesians and Philippines.
Non-eligible passports for Shenzhen VOA
- USA (apply for a 10 yr multi-entry visa instead.)
- Saudi Arabia
- Sri Lanka
- United Arab Emirates
Leaving Hong Kong
You need to leave Hong Kong at the land border at Lo Wu (a stop on the East Rail MTR line). From there, you can exit HK immigration.
Applying for the Visa
As you walk beyond Chinese customs (after HK immigration) follow the signs for “Foreigners”. There is an escalator just before you would reach the Chinese immigration counters which is clearly signed for “Port Visa”. Take it upstairs and the visa office is right there.
You need to fill out a simple form, which is available at the counter. This requires much less information than a standard Chinese visa application form so should be quicker to complete.
You then need to pay a fee and submit the form, and you will be given a number. After the visa is issued you will be called up to another counter to collect it. When I used this service the visa was issued in five minutes or so, with no queue for submission (unlike if you apply directly at the Chinese visa office in HK, for example).
This is a “Special Economic Zone Tourism Visa”. The visa is valid for five days from the date of issue. So, for example, if it is issued on the 7th of April, it will be valid until the 12th of April. It does not specify how many entries it is valid for, but it is single entry – once you cross the border out of Shenzhen, the visa will be scored through.
Technically this visa is only valid for visits to the Shenzhen area, but I don’t know how they will know if you travel to other areas of China, as long as you leave through the same port.
The cost is the same as the standard China visa cost (which varies by country), so for example for a U.K. passport it costs 314 RMB, French passport 168 RMB
Guest Blogger: Christopher R.