Updated October 10, 2017: Information updated thanks to comments from readers! Much appreciated to help the travel community.
Still in effect and strict: China is requiring visa applicants to show old expired passports. We suggest bringing any old passports with you to China whether or not they have China visas. If your passport was issued this year, it is imperative you bring an expired passport. We’re assuming this is to check if you’ve traveled to any countries China deems questionable. Heads up, China will blatantly discriminate you based on your appearance or where you’ve travelled to (e.g. Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, etc.)
According to reports, VOA definitely available at Lowu and most likely Huangguang (waiting for more reports for 100% confirmation.) Lowu is the most common crossing via MTR.
VOA is not available at Lok Ma Chau or Shenzhen Bay, you’ll need a traditional visa to go through those ports.
If you must enter China, prepare to apply for a visa via Embassy / Consulate or via China visa agent. VOA is difficult to apply now and you’ll only have a decent chance of an approved VOA if you have an old passport issued a few years ago (or have a both new and old passports) and haven’t travelled to a country deemed risky.
Keeping this list up-to-date based on the comments readers have left on the bottom of this post with their experience. Please share your result, whether or not you were able to get a visa at the border with price to help fellow readers, thank you! (Keep in mind this list is no guarantee and only based on comments to this post.)
Yes, passport eligible for Shenzhen visa on arrival:
- France (168 rmb): June 8, Jul 10, Jan 5, Feb 19, May 13, May 26, Jul 12
- Britain / UK (304 rmb): Sep 14, Dec 4, Mar 15, Apr 15, Jul 14
- Hungary: Aug 19
- USA: Sep 13, Jan 24, Jun 6 (10 yr multi-entry visa cost is same, 956 rmb)
- Sweden: Sep 21, Feb 22
- Spain: Oct 23
- Croatia: Oct 30
- Israel (168 rmb): Dec 5
- Ukraine (408 rmb): Dec 5
- Australia (168 rmb): Jan 14, Apr 14, May 28, Aug 24, Sep 25
- Netherlands (168 rmb): Jan 15, Apr 18
- Poland (475 rmb): Feb 19
- Switzerland (168 rmb): Feb 17
- Canada (168 rmb): Mar 6, May 16, Sep 29
- Austrian: Mar 16
- Romania (512 rmb): Mar 31
- Germany: Apr 1, May 8
Maybe, reports of success and failure for VOA:
- Malaysia (169 rmb): Sep 13 No, Dec 29 Yes
- Canada: Aug 28 Yes/No
- Philippines: Jan 9 (if had prior China visa,) Jan 17 (Denied despite having China visa prior)
- UK: Feb 18 (no)
- Netherlands: Yes Jan 15, No Jan 13 (born in Iran)
No, passport ineligible for Shenzhen visa on arrival:
- India: May 23, Jun 9, Apr 18
- Indonesia: Aug 15, Jan 8
- Morocco: Nov 13, Apr 8
It appears some readers are being discriminated based on looks or where they were born (e.g. Iran or Pakistan,) despite having passports from eligible countries. China immigration will blatantly discriminate individuals and provide no reason for denial. Apply for a visa ahead of time if you must enter China. Do not rely on VOA.
Original Article below:
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, valid for 5 days.
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.
This list changes often and without notice. We cannot guarantee it’s accuracy and there is no official list known. If you have experiences different than mentioned, please comment. More accurate list is at top of this post.
Eligible passport holders of many western countries can get a VOA in Shenzhen: refer to top of post for most accurate list.
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.
The below is understood to be accurate as of July 19, 2016.
Non-eligible passports for Shenzhen VOA
- 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
Visa office hours 7:30am-11:30pm
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.
Before you enter the room, exchange money if necessary (suggest you exchange in HK) and use the desk outside to fill out the form. 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.
At the entrance on the right, use the touch screen to get your ticket number. Once your number is called go up and hand over your ticket number, passport(s), and completed form. If all is well, they’ll take your photo, then go back and watch the LED sign for your number.
When called, go to the next booth to pay. Once that’s done, wait again looking at the LED sign for your number to collect your passport. (If you’re travelling with family or friends, you can lump all your passports together under one ticket 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). Traveling over the weekend, you should expect wait times to be longer.
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. Keep in mind, while you can travel to other parts of China, you may be reprimanded if caught and asked to show your visa by the authorities. Many tourists go to Guangzhou for example and come back since there is no passport check to travel domestically via bus/train. Air travel most certainly will require passport check.
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. Generally China will reciprocate what your country charges for Chinese citizens. The picture below shows prices as of Apr 11, 2017.
General rule of thumb; if you are eligible to get a visa on arrival in Shenzhen, and country is not on the list in the photo below, you’ll pay 168 RMB. Otherwise you pay the listed price or are denied entry.
Sometimes it may be more cost effective to get a regular China visa, you can use our partner, Asia Visas, which is a visa agent and can help you obtain your China visa.
Note, US Citizens have the highest cost, and should apply for a 10 year visa at the same price via Chinese embassy / consulate.
Payment via cash, Visa, American Express, Unionpay. (Mastercard is NOT accepted.)
Guest Blogger: Christopher R.