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.


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.



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.



Leave a Reply

  • I am a Brit and just had my visa application rejected which happened after I paid. Quite surprising as I had previously got the visa several years before. No reason was given. I suggest getting a China visa if you can for piece of mind!

  • Tried to go across for a days shopping from Hong Kong into Shenzhen – husband had brand new passport – we were denied entry as he did not have his old passport with him.

    • Same thing happened to me – Saturday 2 September 2017. My understanding is that if your passport was issued in the current year, you need to bring your old passport with you.

  • Hi Guys,

    Me and my wife visit HK for 1 week. We want to go out 1 day to Shekou port. I have a 2 years multi entry PRC visa. My wife a Germany passport and no visa. I think she can apply for the “Special Economic Zone Tourism Visa”. We would enter PRC via Lo Wu station. Can we leave PRC on lok ma chau station?

    Many Thanks

  • Hi All, I’m planning to visit HK on Sept and wants to visit Shenzhen for a day.
    I’m holding a Philippine Visa but living and working in Singapore for more than 5 years. Quite got lot of stamps in my old passport as I travel to countries in Southeast asia and 1 time in Dubai almost 3 years ago (1 week visit with my friends), will this stamp from Dubai on my old passport keep me from VOA approval at Lo Wu?
    Thank you.

  • URGENT NOTICE: As from 23rd August 2017 blanket rule has come into action for all nationalities that if you have never had a visa to China, you will be unable to get any visa types, you must apply for (S1),(S2) or embassy visa.

    • Thanks for sharing that James, very useful for people to know. Did you experience that at Lowu or is it a rule you are aware of more generally?

  • Australian here, got the visa today at Lo Wu (August 24th) for 168 RMB.

    It was totally congested and my ticket had 40 people waiting infront of me. Took over an hour but got the visa. This blog helped tremendously.

  • Today 13-08-2017, I tried to enter with a Dutch (EU) pasport. After a two hour waiting they didn’t gave me a visa, so i had to go back to HongKong. No reason and nothing special in my tourist visit or pasport.

  • Hi all. Thanks for the post and all the comments and suggestions! Very helpful. I am struggling with my visum application for this September; I am travelling with my brother to Shenzhen to visit a Chinese friend of ours there for ten days. We will be flying in to Hong Kong. My brother lives in the UK, but we are both of Dutch nationality. He will apply for a regular China visa in London before our flight, but as I am travelling in the next weeks I can’t miss my passport.

    I was thinking to apply in Hong Kong for a Visa On Arrival for Shenzhen, but my passport is only two months old. I can bring my old passport, but it includes visa to Cameroon (5 months), Turkey (6 months) and some other ‘sensitive’ countries (Morocco, Uganda, Kenya) for short(er) visits. Do I stand any chance to obtain the Visa On Arrival, or a regular China visa in Hong Kong if I bring the necessary documents?

    • No chance of getting visa to China in Hong Kong when you have stamps to Turkey,,, try with new passport only – they seem to be very sensitive to any record of visit to Turkey. I suggest to try VOA only if the passport has no Turkey stamp as well

    • Be careful I recently applied on border and this last night as I gave my application across the counter they denied me . I am a British passport holder and I had been on holiday in turkey and they denied my visa based on the Turkish chop.

  • U.K. Travlers

    Me and my colleague had to obtain the visa this way as it was a last minuite trip no time to apply back in London, Very easy process got the visa within 10 minutes my passport was 7 years old and my colleague was 4 months old (they did ask to see his older passport he had that with him as read on this blog to bring old passport.

    While att the visa office a German man was refused because off his recent visit to the Middle East.

  • I have a Swedish passport, and was denied entry. He looked very thouroghly at my stamps, and I have been to Turkey 6 times, Dubai 2 times, Israel and even Jordan… though he looked mostly at my stamp from Jordan, then the officer talked to his colleage about the stamps and then they said no to me…. I asked why and they never told me the reason, they just said my Passport could not go through the “system”…. however since they both looked at those stamps for like forever, I have no doubt the reason is my past visits to the middle-East…

  • We are a family travelling to Hongkong this december. I want to visit shenzhen for a day only. 1 child 1 infant. What chances do we have? There are travel agencies offering shenzhen tour for one day. Is this a good option? For less hassle?do we have big possibility if we will avail an agency?

  • My wife, her son and her mother (UK citizens) all tried to cross from HK to Shenzhen on Friday 23 June 2017. Only wife’s mother was allowed in because she had an older passport. My wife and her son had passport issued in the last 4 months and were told they required their old passports (Who takes their old passport with them on holiday!). They had booked hotel rooms in Shenzhen but not Hong Kong.

    If you are going to use this visa then you need to think what you are going to do if one or more of your party are refused entry. My wife and her son had a horrendous journey back to Hong Kong and had to find a hotel room in Hong Kong late at night. We will not be going straight to Shenzhen in the future but will use a hotel in Hong Kong as a base so that there is somewhere to go back to if entry is refused.

    My wife has done this trip several times in the past with no problems. Does anyone have an idea of how ‘old’ a passport has to be, before you are not to require to bring your old passport?

    I would like to personally thank all the management and staff at the Shangri La Hotels in Shenzhen and Hong Kong for all the help and support they provided during this extremely stressful time.

  • Very helpful advices here. thank you very much for sharing. I will have a question tho, I am French (and of course I have a french passport) and I plan to arrive in HK next Thursday (June 29th 2017), my filght from HK back to Indonesia (I am coming from Indonesia) is only late at night on Tuesday 4th, so it will be 6 days total.
    I am wondering if I should stay one overnight in HK and only cross the border on Friday early morning (to get all day in Shenzhen). Or if I can go straight away to the Lowu border and cross the border once, then spend a couples of days there (let’s say until Sunday) come back to HK to the border and go back to Shenzen within a blink of an eye or spend a couple of hours in HK and go back to Shenzen after that. Is it possible of the immigration there will not allow you to go back to Shenzhen as you just come from there in a too short time? Is there anyone who can help me on that matter?
    I do not intend to do it many time but just once too spend the 6 days in shenzhen rather than loose a whole afternoon in HK and spend too much $$$$ because it is expensive there.
    I hope someone could reply to that question. Thank you by advance.

  • Hi, I just got back from HK. Am M’sian who had previously obtained China Visa and tried to obtain VOA for Shenzhen at Luohu but was declined as I didn’t bring my old passport along. For those who have changed passport, must bring along your old passport with the old visa sticker in it. Hope this helps others.

    • Hey thanks for that. How new was your passport? I’m trying to understand how far back we have to go for old passport? is it a case if you’ve changed your passport within the last ~2 years that you should bring your old passport?

      If I’ve had my current passport for say 2+ years, is that sufficient enough not to need to bring my old one?

      Appreciate that there wont be any hard and fast rule, but keen to see perspectives based on experience

      • I would reckon best to bring along your old passport with old visa sticker. In my case the passport was just changed 2 months (but was denied entry cause didn’t bring old passport with old visa sticker).

  • Is there anyone know if I can fly from Shenzhen (and China) if I have a Shenzhen visa only?

    The story is that I have a valid single entry chinese visa, but I would need to go to Hong Kong fron Shenzhen, than back to Shenzhen to fly to Thailand.

    Thanks in advance.

  • I just booked a last minute trip to Hong Kong and want to go over the border to Shenzhen to shop next week. Can I get a 5-day visa in my Canadian passport that expires in October 2017? Is there any requirement of 6 months remaining passport validity or is that only for the multiple entry visas?

  • A few amendments to the instructions:

    > You then need to pay a fee and submit the form, and you will be given a number.

    Incorrect order at time of writing this comment.

    Before you enter the room, exchange money if necessary and use the desk outside to fill out the form. 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, 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.

    Other notables:
    * Weekends are busier than week days – on a Saturday it took me 90 minutes from arriving at Lo Wu MTR, going through the above process and clearing Chinese immigration and customs, with half of that time spent waiting for my number to be called (and the rest spent waiting in line to leave HK and walking).
    * If you’re travelling with family or friends, you can lump all your passports together under one ticket number.
    * I’m Australian, paid 168 RMB.
    * There is a small printed sign at the payment window with prices I believe are not 100% exact with the larger sign pictured above, but are probably more up to date.

    • Yes people have. Passports get checked at airports and train stations (less thoroughly), hotels (with varying degrees of thoroughness) and when you interact with the police. or when travelling to sensitive areas of the country. If you weren’t in those situations your visa likely wouldn’t come under scrutiny.

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