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 have a group visa for my family for a single entry to China. I am on vacation in Hong Kong. I plan to do a 2 night stay in Shenzhen and a 3 night stay in Beijing. I will visit Shenzhen before I visit Beijing. Can I keep my group visa for the Beijing trip and pay for the 5say visa upon entry at Shenzhen. As I see it that will be the most cost effective way, as I see the Shenzhen entry is around 310RMB for British and 168RMB for Italian.
    Am I right in this approach? Will I face any issues?

  • Was the South African passport denied because it had 4 such visas in month or was it only the British passport which was denied on this grounds ?

  • On Friday 22nd March one South African passport denied.
    Last year two Kenya passports denied.
    Last year one British passport denied with the reason given as “already had four such visas within a month”

  • Hi Chris how much did you pay? I have also a Dutch passport. And the old passport wasn’t needed? Are you traveling from HK to Shenzhen? If so please may I have some information how to go there? Sorry for so many questions. Hope you can help me.

  • Hi . Im Swedish. I was refused to buy a port visa 2017 with my new passport, I was stupid to not have my old passport with me filld with older port visas to show up. I will never ever take that risk again, this time I get a real visa before I fly away on a 12h flight.

  • Just FYI for others because I got a lot of conflicting info about Nepal passports –

    Myself, British passport, living in Hong Kong with temporary HKID
    My boyfriend, Nepal passport, living in Hong Kong with permanent HKID

    Both of us went to Luohu port to go from HK to Shenzhen & got the 5-day visa on arrival. Very easy, took us around 20 minutes in total.

    Neither of us had been to China before. My bf visited the UK before, so perhaps the uk visa in his passport helped.

    I paid 314 (british), he paid 168 (nepali)

  • Accepted at the border with a Dutch passport. Check which times each border post is open; the one closing at 10pm closes much earlier in reality. Also, American Express was not accepted (Visa is fine).

  • Malaysian. Got VOA to Shenzhen twice from Lowu border on 3rd Feb 2018 and 20 Oct 2018. Never had a Chinese visa prior to first entry to Shenzhen. 169 RMB.

    The border crossing now has a free digital photo station. So no need to bring personal pictures to process anymore.

  • Hi Guys

    Im french nationality but i burn in Uzbekistan,

    from 2018 ask me always to go to HK to do the visa so 5 days visa is closed for me. Because i burn in another country that France. Very stupid….


  • If you are employed as a journalist, forget about getting this immediate visa even if you are simply visiting for tourism. The staff in the Shenzen border office don’t want be responsible for letting in a foreign journalist. Go through the Wan Chai office instead. Also, if you have a visa from Iraq, don’t leave it to the border officials. Go through Wan Chai office as well.

    • China is an authoritarian, totalitarian state which ranks in the bottom five of the press freedom index. As a journalist there is a high chance you would not get any visa outside the standard visa channel – the government likely sees no reason to issue this sort of port visa to journalists and other professionals whose work it keeps an eye on.

  • Im a Filipino working as domestic helper in hongkong, i would like some information if i have a chance to grant a Voa to shenzhen just to visit my friend there. I plan to travel just by myself for 4 days not together with my employer.

  • Hi Am a mexican citizen planning a trip to hongkong next month and want to go to china also , am i qualify for visa on arrival on the shenzen boarder ??

  • I hold a two year old British passport with no previous Chinese visas and very easily got a VOA earlier this week for 304 RMB with no questions asked. I had taken along but wasn’t asked for: email confirmation from the UK Passport Office that I reported my previous passport lost and it was cancelled in case it was requested, invitation letter from Shenzhen company, hotel confirmations, return plane ticket from Hong Kong, current bank statement. The officer did a thorough flick through every page of my passport and checked the location of the town I listed as my place of birth on his tablet and that was it. I have travelled extensively on this passport in Europe, Latin America, US and Africa but not to Turkey, the Middle East, North Africa or elsewhere in Asia.

    I paid in cash but card payment was possible with at least Visa and Amex. There was a Mastercard symbol but I heard another traveller being told it wasn’t possible to use Mastercard.

    There was a short queue, the whole process took around 30 mins and I did the following:
    – Got a queue ticket from the touchscreen machine
    – Used the self-service booth to take a (very grainy) photo
    – Filled in the paper application
    – Carried on waiting for my number to be displayed on the LED screen at the application counter
    – Went to application counter to hand over the paperwork then directly to payment counter once it was checked and the passport was taken away
    – Sat down for 10-15 mins
    – Picked up visa from collection counter when my number appeared on the LED screen
    – Continued to Chinese border and filled in arrivals card (no pens available – best to have your own!)

    Finally, my passport and visa were checked and fingerprints taken at the border, then I was through.

  • Thanks to everyone for contributing to the comments.

    No problems with my VoA. Few applicants at midday Friday (though it still took 90 mins!). UK Citizen with passport issued 15 months ago. Did not bring old passport and it was not asked for. Accepted Visa and Amex credit card payment (amongst others)

  • The thing is, I don’t have it so it’s unfortunately not an option. As mentioned though, I’ve made two visits to China in the last year (in the last 6 months as a matter of fact). Shouldn’t that suffice? Appreciate your input

  • I’ve got a one year old passport and I am NOT in possession of my old passport. HOWEVER, in the past year I’ve been granted TWO Chinese VISAs (M – business VISA). Will I be able to easily obtain this VoA VISA? Thank you

    • Hi Alex, for Chinese VoA, it is strongly recommended that you have your old passport and/or have left your biometric ID with the Chinese border control agency.

  • Yep, you can bet on them keeping an electronic copy in the system. Its all part of building the new biggest ID database on the planet, being able to use face recognition, finger prints, voice print, and other identifiers (passport No’s, bank cards, phone numbers, GPS coordinates) to keep an eye on you – and in case of not taking a liking to you, being able to quickly find you.

    If in doubt, read up on it. Numerous reports and articles are now available on this topic. Enjoy China, happy travels!

  • Just a note to Brian:
    The picture requirement is quite new, only there for a few month.

    The entry form has an exit part on the left that you don’t need to fill when you enter. Sometimes they cut off they left part. Seems that was what happen in your case.

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