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Getting a Visa on Arrival in Shenzhen

 

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:

Visa Requirement

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.

Valid Passports

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

  • India
  • Afghanistan
  • Algeria
  • Bahrain
  • Cameroon
  • Egypt
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Israel
  • Lebanon
  • Liberia
  • Libya
  • Nigeria
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Palestine
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Somalia
  • Sri Lanka
  • Syria
  • Sudan
  • Turkey
  • Uganda
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Yemen.

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.

SZ VISA

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.

Visa Type

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.

SZ VISA 2

Cost

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.

Shenzhen VOA prices by country

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.

 

342 Responses
  • Stacey
    Wednesday, February 14, 2018

    Thanks for this article, saved me a ton of money.

    Entered Lo Wu on 13/02/2018 with a Canadian passport. About 6 other people were waiting and took about 20 minutes at 11am. 168RMB in local cash only. Went for a day trip over and did not need to have a hotel or accommodation booked.

    One thing to add to the description on this is that after you get the visa and then you go to passport control that you need to go and get your finger prints scanned in first. You also need to fill in an arrivals card before you get to border control.

  • Nanuk
    Saturday, January 27, 2018

    Not just China, any country that stamps passports will reject you. Get a new one ASAP – and then, very important – bring you old one if it has China stamps to show you have been in China before.

  • Sebastien Bacuet
    Wednesday, January 24, 2018

    Hi, my passport doesn’t have free page available – will I be rejected for VOA to Shenzhen ? (French passport)

    • American
      Wednesday, January 24, 2018

      Dude, they have to stick a whole visa sticker in the passport. Sure they will reject you, if you have no space for the sticker. They need at least 1 page for the visa, and another for the entry and exit stamp.

  • Lisa
    Saturday, January 20, 2018

    Thanks for the clear and complete instructions provided in the article. Today, Saturday at around 1pm, I (Dutch national) got a VOA at Lo Wu. Process pretty straight forward and exactly as mentioned in the article. I paid with credit card, but most people paid by cash. Overall, it took around 30-40 minutes from the moment I arrived and started with the form until I got back my passport. I think there were around 8-10 people ahead of me.

  • Chris P.
    Thursday, January 18, 2018

    I got a VOA with my german passport at Lo Wu today – but the circumstances might be helpful to know: When I arrived, there were about 60-70 people waiting for their VOA due to “computer problems”. After they resumed checking and granting visas, it took around three hours to check and grant the VOAs for the people in line. I did not have the impressions the people were motivated to make up for the delay. Sometimes they cleared 10 people within 10 MInutes, then it took another 20 minutes for two more. Did not look like motivated work, a lot of people suspected that they were delaying things on purpose. Some people rejected, some diskussions going on.
    In the end, I entered Shenzen, but missed my appointment. The whole process from entering the border and leaving into the hall at Shenzen took me around 4.5 hours, from around 1 till 5:30, so even 2 hours of cushion were not enough. Don’t risk this when you really have an urgend appointment.

  • Joe Thornton
    Friday, January 12, 2018

    Visits to Turkey seem to disqualify you from VoA, how about regular visas? I assume transit in Istanbul doesn’t count as a visit to Turkey…?

    • nanuk
      Tuesday, January 16, 2018

      A Turkey stamp does disqualify for some, but not all. Not sure when and why. But anyway, when you simply transit in Istanbul you don’t get a stamp in your passport. Nothing to worry about a simple transfer.

  • Ray
    Thursday, January 11, 2018

    Eligible: Australian passport Jan 4, 2018 at Louhu border crossing. Passport issued in December 2017 (was asked to show old passport). 168RMB, there is a sign suggesting card payments preferred but I saw some people paying in cash.
    I arrived at approximately 10.30am and it took nearly 2 hours before I could walk out! Recommend to get there early if you choose Luohu! Not because there was an enormous queue either, I think there were around 30 people who were ahead of me and plenty of border police but they were working so slowly. Saw a group of business people hop over the queue (one could speak mandarin) but they looked desperate to get somewhere and probably were willing to pay a bribe.
    I saw a few groups of people with green passports (I think they were Indonesian) who got turned back.

  • Anon
    Saturday, January 6, 2018

    Eligible passport: Slovenia (Jan 6, 2018). Price 168 RMB.

  • Lorraine
    Friday, December 29, 2017

    I am a New Zealand passport holder who was issued a new passport this year, took my old passport which shows that I’ve held the China Tourist visa before. Went through Huang guang port with a VOA at in the morning of 23rd December – had no problem. But I remembered to bring in my old passport if I didn’t I think I would have been denied. I paid RMB168 and they did not take cash – only Visa/Unionpay/Mastercard. I was the only person who was waiting for a VOA I don’t think it’s a very popular point of entry for foreign passport holders. Busloads of Chinese nationals or HK citizens who would have the Mainland Travel permit.

  • Diana G
    Thursday, December 21, 2017

    Hi, I am a US passport holder and have a 16 hour layover in Shenzhen, coming from Bangkok with final destination to Los Angeles. Would I be eligible for VOA? Is this something that is required? All your help is appreciated!

    • H.V
      Thursday, December 21, 2017

      To me it seems, that you can get it upon arrival. Generally transit is possible visa free if you stay in the airport, otherwise I personally would go for a normal/regular visa (since it is cheaper and you dont have to rely on Chinese authorities and a lacking policy). US citizens can get a 10 year multiple entry visa for touristic purposes and it is the same price as a “5 days Shenzhen Visa”. I would really consider that if I where you. Hope that helps.

    • Nanuk
      Tuesday, December 26, 2017

      The information above is wrong. US passport holders can’t get the SZ VOA. Maybe a transit visa, better read the details TIMATIC, otherwise your travel may end at check-in.

  • John
    Monday, December 18, 2017

    I went to the Luohu border DEC 06 2017 with my brand new German passport. They asked for my old one and I told them that I never had an old (travel-) Passport before. Only my national ID-card. They said that I need a full visa then and they gave me a card with the address of the chinese embassy in HK. Then they brought me back to HK. Can not recommend to rely on the Shenzhen visa. Better apply for a real one, but that is about 150 Euro here.

  • Rich
    Friday, December 15, 2017

    December 14th, 2017. I got through no problem as a U.K. passport holder. 304 rmb. Get your ticket for the queue before you fill in your slip. Take a pen. Oh and when you enter Shenzhen you have to fill in another entry card. Try and get this before you go up the escalator/stairs and fill it in as you wait all to save time. Good luck!

  • Philip B
    Tuesday, December 5, 2017

    I considered doing VOA with my Swedish passport. But, I decided not to risk it since I was planning on staying in Shenzhen for 5 days. It would have been really annoying if I got denied. I can *highly* recommend “Forever Bright” visa agency in Hong Kong. I went there on a Monday morning and got my Chinese visa the next day!

    • Anna
      Saturday, December 16, 2017

      Hello! I have Swedish passport as well and was planning on travelling to HK to get my Chinese visa(currently in India) and enter the mainland.

      Was there any problems for you? E.g what were the requirements. Also how long does it take to get the visa? I’m assuming you did express visa?

      Tacksam för svar!

      • Mike
        Saturday, December 16, 2017

        Hej, Ta inte risken att resa dit utan ett kina visum i passet det har blivit mycket svårare att komma in den vägen. Jag har gjort resan via HK många ggr senaste åren utan problem. Men i höstas gick det inte komma in helt plötsligt. Det verkar vara som ett lotteri. Och väntetiden på kineskonsulatet i HK var typ 3-4 dagar, jag åkte hem igen med dyr erfarenhet rikare. Alla möten som var uppbokade med leverantörer blev inställda.
        Mike

        • Anna
          Tuesday, December 19, 2017

          Gud vad frustrerande och behöva ställa in planer!

          Så du brukar resa från HK till Shenzhen specifikt eller ansökte du om turistvisum och blev nekad?

          Jag tänkte åka till HK och söka via Forever Bright Agency om ett vanligt 30 dagars turistvisum. När jag kollade med dem verkade det inte vara några problem…. så vet inte hur det kommer gå

          • Mike
            Wednesday, December 20, 2017

            Hej, jag brukar besöka leverantörer som vi har minst 1 ggr/året och har alltid utan problem köpt ett 5dagars visum direkt vid gränsen. Nen nu blev jag nekad i slutet på Sep och tillsagd att åka till kinesiska konsulatet inne i HK. Men jag hade inte tid att sitta i HK och vänta så jag åkte hem till Sverige igen, typ 40 tim restid åt helvete. Jag ska dit igen nästa år men då blir det att skicka passet till kinesambasaden här innan. Man lär sig på misstagen. Lycka till. God Jul

  • Kelvin Bwalya
    Monday, December 4, 2017

    I hold a Zambia passport. Can someone advise me whether i can get VOA.

    • Phil
      Monday, December 4, 2017

      Zambia doesn’t seem to be included in the “non-applicable countries” list anywhere I have checked. For this reason, I believe that Zambian citizens can apply for a VOA.

      However, I would definitely try to get in touch with a Chinese Embassy or Consulate to be sure. There’s an Embassy in Lusaka and I would suggest you to get in touch with them directly. They should be able to provide more accurate information.

  • Max McKenzie
    Thursday, November 30, 2017

    Hi just went to Lo Wu today to get VOA….. was denied as I have a new UK passport and didn’t know to take my old one…. just as well I checked this site before going back again with my old passport as I visited Turkey last year on holiday and would maybe not of got entry with that in my passport anyway…..☹️

  • Puy
    Monday, November 27, 2017

    I have an Indonesian passport and just got rejection VOA on 27 Nov 2017 only because I am female (excuse reason from the female officer)
    Such as a crazy reason…..My husband and my son can get it.

    • Ody
      Thursday, November 30, 2017

      Hi Puy, did you wear hijab or muslim clothing? I heard the officer will reject VOA based on appearance. And is your husband and son are using Indonesian Passport? Did you pay the visa fee? Me and my mom will go on this few days using Indonesian Passport. So I’m not sure will be approved or no..

      • Mel
        Monday, December 4, 2017

        Hi Ody, I heard the officer reject all female applicant, not based on appearance. I also got reject, no need to pay the visa fee, they just say could not apply voa now.

        • Dimas
          Monday, December 25, 2017

          Yup, same here. We just got rejected at the visa port for my wife and mom. There were other indonesian (non hijab & domestic helper), philipines and Thai ladies denied for VOA as well. Not really sure why. I am planning to follow ul with their embassy in HK.

          • Leyzta
            Sunday, December 31, 2017

            i plan to have few days trip in Shenzhen, but now annoying with this issue,,what’s problem actually

  • Nick
    Wednesday, November 22, 2017

    Just got my VOA this afternoon! I have an Australian passport issued in 2010 (they didn’t say anything about old passports) and haven’t previously been to China and I’ve never been to Turkey. She went through all my stamps carefully and everything was all good.

    When I arrived at ~11:45 am on a Wednesday the waiting room seats were 90% full, I filled my form and got a ticket at 11:56 (probably a good idea to get the ticket first before filling out your form). Shortly after I sat down a whole bunch of people showed up so I was lucky to get ahead of them. My ticket was about 30 places behind the current ‘application’ ticket being served when I arrived and the whole process took about an hour.

  • Alice M
    Friday, November 17, 2017

    Hello – I obtained a Visa On Arrival at Shekou Port on November 15 without any issue and in less than 20 minutes. I took the 9am ferry from Macau Terminal and I was the only one on the boat to file for a VOA (hence no wait). I have a French passport issued in Hong Kong in 2013 and valid until 2023. I was born in New Caledonia, a French territory. My passport bears a 30-day China Visa (L type) obtained last year, in September 2016. I asked an official at the VOA office under what criteria VOA is delivered and if a previous China L-type visa was a necessary condition to my VOA that day, to which he replied he was not in a position to comment on the exact criteria and obtention was on a case-by-case basis.

    • HKTravelBlog
      Tuesday, November 21, 2017

      Alice, glad you got through! Thanks for sharing your story. I’d be shocked if they told you the criteria. We basically know based on traveler comments.

  • Damien
    Sunday, November 12, 2017

    I hold a swiss passport and have just been rejected a VOA application in Lo Wu, because I travelled to Turkey in 2010

    • Peter Knappertsbusch
      Sunday, November 19, 2017

      I have a german Passport an I got a refusal as well due to… who knows… what kind of random decision making of the border control… if whole China works like that…scary…

      • Mike
        Sunday, November 19, 2017

        Maybe a bottle of Remy Martin XO as lubrication helps 🙂

    • HKTravelBlog
      Tuesday, November 21, 2017

      Sorry to hear. You can try getting a traditional visa. Yes, anything Turkey related will stop the VOA.

  • Mathias Thorsen
    Friday, November 10, 2017

    Hi, just want to report that as a Norwegian I managed successfully to get through a month ago. 168 RMB fee.

  • Jay
    Monday, November 6, 2017

    Hi,

    Do you know if a Vietnamese passport holder is eligible for Visa Upon Arrival at Luohu (Lo Wu)? In my case, I have got a China Visa and been to China before. My passport has quite a few other countries’ visas on it. Currently, I also hold 6-month HK Training Employment Visa.

    Looking forward to your reply. Thanks in advance 🙂

    Cheers,

    Jay

  • Alice
    Saturday, November 4, 2017

    Hello. Can I get a VOA traveling by ferry from Hong Kong to Shekou? I have a French passport.

  • YLT
    Friday, November 3, 2017

    Hi, I’m Malaysia passport holder. Did my VOA at LO Wu on 3 Nov with no issue at all probably due to the fact I had visited China many times on the same passport. Paid RMB 168

    • Sabrina Tan
      Thursday, November 23, 2017

      Another Malaysian here too. Thanks for the information. Planning to visit Shenzhen soon

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