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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.

 

319 Responses
  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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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