How to Get a Chinese Visa in Hong Kong

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This post is continuously updated. If any of the below information is inacurate, please leave a comment and let me know ASAP. 

Going to Hong Kong is one of the easiest ways to get your Chinese visa if you aren’t able to grab one in your home country. Living in China, I’ve applied for both tourist and work visas in Hong Kong, and after getting 3 visas there, I’ve learned pretty much all the tricks of the trade to get your visa quickly with no fuss.

I get asked about getting a visa in Hong Kong on pretty much a weekly basis, so I figured: why not share all my info and guidance with all of you!

In this post, I’ll not only teach you WHERE and HOW to get your Chinese visa in Hong Kong, but I’ll also give you all my tips for avoiding the crowds, saving money, and ensuring you get your visa on time without getting turned away like I was that one time…

Do you need to get your Chinese Visa while traveling in Asia? Here's the complete guide to getting your visa for China in Hong Kong! #Hongkong #China #visa #travel #asia #travelblog #travelblogger

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Why Apply in Hong Kong?

The best and easiest way to get your Chinese visa is to apply in your home country. But if you’re already in Asia, or you can’t make it home to get a visa, Hong Kong is the next best place. Not only is it right next to the mainland, they’re also very used to processing visas for China.

While you can technically get your Chinese visa in other countries like South Korea, Vietnam, or Malaysia, the information on this is a little iffy. For example, I had an Australian friend who got his visa in Malaysia, but I knew a Mexican guy who was turned down.

So, if you are applying for a visa in Asia, by far the best place to go is Hong Kong.

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this Beijing Life

I love Hong Kong!

Do I Need a Visa to Visit Hong Kong?

The short answer is: probably not! Roughly 170 countries and territories can visit Hong Kong without a visa. So if you’re American, Canadian, Australian, or European, chances are you can visit for 90 days visa-free. If you’re unsure, just be sure to double check!

Which Chinese Visas Can I Get in Hong Kong?

While Hong Kong was cracking down on Business visas (M Visa) for a while since many people were using them to teach illegally in China (a business visa is NOT a work visa!!!), thankfully it looks like this is no longer an issue anymore.

In Hong Kong, you should be able to get just about any visa you could get back home. You can apply for an L Tourist Visa, M Business Visa, Z Work Visa, X Student Visa, and even the 10-year tourist/business visa if you’re from the US!

Hong Kong's harbor

Hong Kong’s famous harbor

Should I Use a Visa Service Agency?

While I highly recommend using a visa service agency in your home country if you don’t live near an embassy or consulate, I DO NOT recommend using one in Hong Kong.

Why? Well, it’s a huge waste of money. I mean, if your time is really that precious that you can’t spend 3 hours waiting in line for a visa, then sure, I guess you could hire an agency to do it for you. But honestly, the visa process is so easy, there’s absolutely no need to pay someone to do this for you.

Trust me, use this guide and your wallet will thank you.

China Visa Service Center

As you can see, it’s very close to the China Resources Building where you used to go

Where To Get Your Visa: The Chinese Visa Application Service Center

The best and easiest way to get your visa in Hong Kong is at the Chinese Visa Application Service Center.

You USED to be able to go to the China Resources Building (just across the highway) and get your visa without a service fee there, however, now they’re only processing Hong Kong residents. Womp Womp.

So what you need to do is go to the Chinese Visa Application Service Center and apply in person there. There are additional fees to have your visa processed here, however, these fees are much lower than if you went and sought out a visa service company to come here and stand in line for you.

Not only does everyone at this center speak English, but there’s also air conditioning and wifi. Just be sure to bring a book or a portable phone charger, and you’ll be fine!

Address: 20/F, Capital Center, 151 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Business Hours: Monday-Friday (closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays)
Submission of Applications and Payment: 9:00 to 16:00 (Urgent service before 12:00)
Collection: Regular Service: 10:00 to 17:00, Express and Urgent Service: 12:00 to 17:00
Tel: + 852 29921999
Email: hongkongcenter@visaforchina.org
Website

Chinese tourist visa

Your tourist visa will look like this

Which Visa Do I Need?

If you’re planning on traveling around China, you’ll want the L Tourist visa. If you’re visiting for business, you should apply for the M Business Visa. If you scored a full-time job in China, you’ll need the Z Business Visa. If you’re studying abroad or attending university in China, you need the X Student Visa. You can read more about the visa types here.

Visa Entries, Duration, and Expiration

In addition to the type of visa you apply for, there are three other things you’ll need to understand: entries, duration, and expiration.

Chinese visas can have either single, double, or multi-entry. Single entry means once you exit Mainland China after your visit, your visa expires. Obviously, this is kind of lame but should be fine for those of you who only ever plan on visiting China once. Double entry means you can enter TWICE (go in, go out, go in, go out), and finally, multi-entry means you can go in and out as many times as you want.

Visas in China can also last anywhere from 30 days to 10 years. If you have a single entry 30-day visa, this means you can go in for 30 days, and then you need to leave and your visa expires. If you decide to leave after 15 days, your visa still expires because you only have 1 entry. If you have a 10-year multi-entry visa, this means you can come and go as much as you want in 10 years (perfect for frequent business travelers).

Finally, duration means how long you can stay in China before you need to leave. For example, many Americans get the 10-year 60-day multi-entry visa. This means you can come and go as much as you want in 10 years, but you can only stay in China for a MAXIMUM of 60 days before you have to leave.

Confused? Here’s a quick explanation on how to read a Chinese visa!

Hong Kong light show

Hong Kong at night

Do Hong Kong and Macau Count?

Many people think of Hong Kong as a part of China (and it technically is), but for visa purposes, Hong Kong and Macau count as leaving the country. This is why you can apply for a Chinese visa here, and is also the main reason why Hong Kong and Macau are very popular countries for “visa runs” (aka you leave the country after your visa time is up, visit Hong Kong for a day, and then go back into China to re-start your 30-90 days).

If you are on a single entry visa, please be aware that leaving the mainland to go to Hong Kong or Macau counts as leaving the country!!

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Tim Ho Wan

Pork dumplings at Tim Ho Wan in Hong Kong

How to Get Your Chinese Visa in Hong Kong:

Alright, now that we’ve discussed the general info, let’s go step by step through the visa application process in Hong Kong!

Step 1: Prepare Your Chinese Visa Documents

Firstly, you’ll need to make sure you have everything with you before you go to apply in Hong Kong. Everyone will need to fill out the basic Chinese Visa Application Form. Print this out and have it with you.

If you’re applying for a Tourist Visa, please also have a detailed itinerary with hotel bookings and flights or train tickets in and out of the country. If you’re planning to enter via the subway to Shenzhen, or you don’t have your exit flight booked, I suggest booking a flight with 24-hour cancellation, printing the receipt, and then canceling, or booking a cheap flight to somewhere in Asia that you can use as a visa run later. Don’t worry, they literally never double check on if you actually still have this reservation, they just want something on file.

If you have a friend or a business hosting you in China, you can have a signed invitation letter stating that this person will host you. This helps you avoid having to print out an itinerary. This is standard practice for a Business Visa, however, you can do this for tourist visas too. Just be sure that the person hosting you is a Chinese resident (either they are Chinese citizens or have a Chinese residence permit). For example, I was able to create an invitation letter for my parents while I was working in China, which meant they didn’t need to print out an itinerary.

If you’re arriving on a Work Visa or a Student Visa, be sure you have all your documents. Your school should help you organize all of this. However, please TRIPPLE CHECK EVERYTHING!!! I arrived in Hong Kong to get a work visa and was denied because the Chinese government had accidentally mistyped my passport number on my official stamped foreign expret certificate. Because of this, I had to fly ALL THE WAY BACK TO BEIJING and wait for another month for them to get my paperwork together.

Read Next: Am I Legal to Teach Abroad in China? (This goes over all the work visa paperwork) 

Hong Kong Visa

DO NOT LOSE THIS.

Quick Visa Paperwork Checklist:

  • Visa Application Form
  • Passport + photocopy of the front page (the one with your photo on it)
  • Your Hong Kong visa slip/ arrival stamp + photocopy of this (DO NOT RIP THIS OUT OR LOSE THIS!)**
  • 1 Passport photo (you can take it at the center if you need to)
  • Tourist Visa: Your printed itinerary and flights OR Invitation Letter
  • Business Visa: Invitation Letter
  • Work Visa: Invitation Letter and Foreign Expert Certificate (your school will send these)
  • Student Visa: Official copy of admissions notice from school or study abroad program and a JW201 or JW201 issued by the education ministry (your school will help you)

** One time I couldn’t find my visa slip because it fell out of my passport and they told me to go back to the airport and get a new one. Thankfully I found it on the floor!

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Printing Forms, Photocopies, and Photos

Firstly, if you can’t find a printer or a photocopier: no worries! You can do all of this at the visa center. Just be sure you have small change to use the machines.

The visa center has plenty of applications there, so you can always fill one out when you arrive if for some reason there’s a mistake. That said, I would highly recommend having it all completed before you leave to make your life easier.

You can also take photocopies of everything at the visa center. It’s a little overpriced, but much easier than trying to find a place to do this, especially because you’ll need a photocopy of your Hong Kong Visa. Just bring Hong Kong coins with you.

Finally, you can get a passport photo taken at the center too. You’ll get 6 photos for 50 HKD (about $7) but you need to pay in EXACT CHANGE. This can actually be cheaper than most countries, however, if you’re coming from another place in Asia, I recommend walking into a random photo shop and getting it done there. Just be sure to strictly follow the passport photo guidelines because China won’t accept any old passport photo.

I <3 Hong Kong

Should I Rush My Visa?

The normal processing time for a visa in Hong Kong is 4 working days. So typically if you arrive Monday morning, your visa should probably be ready sometime on Thursday. If you do arrive very late in the afternoon, your visa MIGHT not be ready until the morning of the 5th day, so be sure to plan for this when booking flights.

If you’re in a hurry, you can pay extra to rush your visa. You have options for either Express Service (3 working days) or Urgent Service (2 working days). This would mean that for Express you could pick your visa up on Wednesday, or for Urgent you could pick your visa up the next day (or even later that afternoon if you come first thing in the morning!)

Rushing your visa can actually be very cost effective because most hotels per night will add up to more than the fee to rush your visa. However, if you’d like a week to play tourist, there’s no point in rushing your visa. Enjoy the sights, take a Hong Kong city tour, go for a swim at the beach or a hike while you wait!

To rush your visa it will cost you an extra $27 USD for Express and an extra $85 for Rush service. 

China Visa Service Center

Step 2: Applying at the Visa Service Center

The Chinese Visa Application Service Center is located in Wan Chai on the 20th floor of the AXA Centre, 151 Gloucester Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong. This can be a little hard to find, so be sure to put the address into Google Maps before you leave wifi if you don’t have phone credit.

Address: 20/F, Capital Center, 151 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Business Hours: Monday-Friday (closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays)
Submission of Applications and Payment: 9:00 to 16:00 (Urgent service before 12:00)
Collection: Regular Service: 10:00 to 17:00, Express and Urgent Service: 12:00 to 17:00
Tel: + 852 29921999
Website

China Visa Application Service Center Hours

The visa center is open Monday – Friday (excluding public holidays) from 9 AM – 4 PM. They stop letting new people in just before 4 PM, so as long as you’re inside the building with a ticket number BEFORE 4, you should be fine.

Personally, 3:15 is the LATEST I would try to arrive. This because you’ll get your paperwork checked over before they give you a number in line. You really don’t want to be running around panicked trying to make photocopies at the last second before all of that closes up.

Just know that if you’ve arrived and you have your number in line, they’re not going to kick you out after 4 pm. They just stop letting new people in so everyone can go home around 5 or 6.

How to Enter the Visa Center

Wow, that rhymes! Anyway, Once you get inside, you’ll hand all of your completed paperwork, photocopies, etc. to someone who will check it over and make sure you’re not missing anything. This pre-check really speeds up the process!

Next, you’ll walk over to a counter, they’ll scan your passport, and give you a waiting slip with a number.

THIS is why you want to give yourself extra time. If for some reason you forgot to make photocopies of something, or you need a different passport photo you do NOT want to be told to come back tomorrow. Arrive with plenty of time so you don’t have to worry.

China Visa Service Center

You’ll get a number like this (photo credit)

Waiting For Your Number

Depending on when you go, you’ll probably have to wait anywhere from 1-4 hours for your number to be called. Thankfully there is airconditioning and wifi, along with a large computer screen that shows which numbers are being called.

Bring a book, bring a portable charger, bring snacks. It could be a while!

Pro Tip: Avoid Arriving on Monday or Tuesday (ESPECIALLY MONDAY) due to long, long lines. I went on a Monday afternoon and had to wait for almost 4 hours. The next time I went on a Tuesday. I arrived in the late afternoon around 3 pm (my flight was delayed) and I only had to wait for about 45 minutes!

Getting Your Visa at the Visa Counter

Once your number is called, you’ll head up to the counter and hand over your number, passport, photo, photocopies, and all of the paperwork you have. An employee will carefully look through EVERYTHING and will let you know if there are any problems.

For example, she might let you know you’re missing your Hong Kong visa slip, or that your passport number is wrong on a form and you need to fly all the way back to Beijing to get a new one……..

Anyway, this should hopefully go smoothly. If for some reason you need an extra photocopy or have to fix something, you can leave the counter, fix it, and then just wait on the sidelines for the person after you to be done. You don’t need to get a new number and wait in the long line again.

Once this paperwork has been approved and you’ve handed over your passport, you don’t need to worry about getting denied. It would be a VERY VERY RARE occurrence for you to be denied after this point. If there’s something wrong, they will tell you before they accept your passport and documents.

Hong Kong Dollar

Coolest money ever

Step 3: Pay For Your Visa

Once your paperwork is approved, head over to the payment counter and pay for your visa. You’ll need to pay for this with Hong Kong Dollars in cash, so don’t expect to use your credit card or Chinese bank card.

Here you’ll receive a pickup slip with the date you can arrive and pick up your visa!

How Much Will This Cost Me?

Since this is a visa service agency, you’ll need to pay a small fee on top of what you might pay if you want to an embassy or consulate. This is 240 HKD ($30 USD) for regular service, 450 HKD ($57 USD) for express, and 900 HKD ($115 USD) for urgent.

Currently, the standard fees for MOST of you (including the regular service fee) are:

  • Single Entry: 550 HKD ($70 USD)
  • Double Entry: 719 HKD ($90 USD)
  • Multi-Entry 6 months: 860 HKD ($110 USD)
  • Multi-Entry 1+ years: 1170 HKD ($149 USD)

That said, many countries like the US, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK pay different rates, so be sure to check here for the full price list. For example, people from the US pay $140 USD for ANY visa (plus service fees), so that’s cool…

Hong Kong painting

I bought this painting of the Hong Kong harbor!

Step 4: Collect Your Visa

To collect your Chinese visa, come back on the day of your scheduled pickup OR a day or two later (it doesn’t matter if you wait a day or two) and bring the payment slip receipt.

When you arrive, show your receipt and they will either give you a number or have you wait in a short standing line. Picking up your passport rarely takes more than 20 minutes unless you do it on a common pickup day, like Thursday or Friday.

Collection: Regular Service: 10:00 to 17:00, Express and Urgent Service: 12:00 to 17:00

Huanghuacheng

You’re ready for China!!

Step 5: Take Your Shiny New Visa to China!

Yay! Once you have your visa you can head to China! Either by plane, train, or subway (depending on where you’re going). Enjoy your amazing trip to China!

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Where Should I Stay in Hong Kong?

There are a few distinct areas in Hong Kong I recommend staying that will make it easy to both get your visa and tour around Hong Kong while you wait!

Hong Kong Causway Bay

Walk to the visa office!

Wan Chai or Causeway Bay, Hong Kong – $$

Both times I went to Hong Kong to get a visa for my college counseling job (because remember the paperwork was wrong the first time…?) my company put me up in a Holiday Inn Express in Causeway Bay near Times Square.

This is the PERFECT area to stay for getting your visa because A) you can walk to the visa office, B) you can walk to the Star Ferry which you can take to Kowloon (or any of the other islands), and C) There are plenty of busses (and the subway) that will take you anywhere you want to go. Even the bus to Stanley was super easy from here!

Wan Chai is also super beautiful with tons of shopping, little side markets, lots of food, and fancy malls. You’ll also spy fortune tellers under overpasses, and super fancy parks and offices.

Book it Now: Find a Hotel in Wan Chai!

Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon – $

Just across the water is Tsim Sha Tsui, famous for the Avenue of Stars, and the watching point for the nighttime light show. From here you can also easily walk to all the markets like the Ladies Market and Temple Street Market.

If you choose to stay in Tsim Sha Tsui (or even a little further back in Yau Ma Tei), you can easily walk to the Star Ferry. From here you can take the ferry across the bay (which is not only beautiful but super cheap) and then walk across the road to the Visa Service Center!

The most famous place for backpackers to stay in Tsim Sha Tsui is Chungking Mansions, a building full of restaurants and hostels (and people trying to sell you knockoffs outside). However, these hostels are almost all uniformly bad. I’d recommend finding a better place a little further from the water if you’re trying to save money, but that’s just me.

Book it Now: Find a Hotel/ Hostel in Tsim Sha Tsui!

THINX for travel

Riding the Star Ferry!

The Star Ferry is Your Friend

Honestly, no matter where you stay, I recommend taking a trip on the Star Ferry from one side of the bay to the other. Staying in Wan Chai or Tsim Sha Tsui makes this easy, but you can always make a trip out of it if you want. Not only is the ferry cheaper than the subway, but it’s also BEAUTIFUL at any time of day or night.

It’s sort of become a ritual of mine to hop on the ferry after getting my visa, and then walk all the way to Temple Market for dinner and exploring the souvenir stalls. Just bring good walking shoes!

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Peng Chao

The Peng Chau Marina

Is Hong Kong Worth 5 Days?

So if you’re planning on grabbing a visa in Hong Kong, is it worth staying for a solid 5 days?

As someone who has literally been to Hong Kong 6 times, I can assure you that Hong Kong is totally worth it! There is so much to do in Hong Kong you can easily spend 5 days there.

While there are the obvious things to do like visit a night market, ride the ferry, take a tram to the Peak, see the giant Buddha, and eat cheap Dim Sum at Tim Ho Wan, and take a trip to Hong Kong Disney, plus plenty of awesome Hong Kong private tours, that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

On my most recent trips to Hong Kong, I took a bus to Stanley beach and explored Stanley Market. I also took a ferry to the most underrated island in Hong Kong: Peng Chau, where I proceeded to solo hike to the top of a small mountain to get an incredible view of the sunset. I’m always finding new incredible things to do and try in Hong Kong! Next time I’m there, I want to get my fortune told by a bird, and do a hike over by Stanley!

Getting your Chinese visa in Hong Kong is the easiest way to get your visa outside your home country. Here's the complete guide to getting your Chinese visa while traveling in Hong Kong! #China #Hongkong #visa #traveltips #travel #asia #travelblog

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Any Questions? New Information You’d Like Me to Add?

Obviously, it’s my goal to keep this post as accurate as humanly possible, but China is an ever-changing beast. If for some reason you notice that there is something in this post that is no longer accurate, please tell me! While I will be checking the Visa Service Center’s website every few months, and checking in with my Free Facebook Group for new info, I appreciate any updated info where I can get it.

If you have any other major questions about getting your Chinese visa in Hong Kong please also ask me below. I’m always checking back for new comments and questions, and I can always add onto this post with any more major FAQ’s.

Do you need to get your Chinese Visa while traveling in Asia? Here's the complete guide to getting your visa for China in Hong Kong! #Hongkong #China #visa #travel #asia #travelblog #travelblogger

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About Richelle

Expat, traveler, and spicy food lover, I've spent the last few years living in China and traveling around Asia. In my spare time I enjoy salsa dancing, exploring night markets and stuffing my face with street food.

4 comments on “How to Get a Chinese Visa in Hong Kong

  1. Really informative post! Although when I was applying for my Chinese visa in Hong Kong last year I did actually use an agency. Yes, it was super expensive but I’m kinda glad I did. For example, they pointed out I’d missed one section of the application and told me I couldn’t use the photo I had brought and had to retake it before submitting because my ears weren’t showing… if I had gone straight to the visa centre, I’m pretty sure my visa would have been denied like yours was that one time. I only had a few days in HK so not a lot of time to wait for another visa… Next time I’ll definitely use your instructions though :)

    • That is definitely true! For me, I’ve done the visa thing a lot so I feel more confident, but if you’re nervous or on a tight timeline, an agency can actually really help!

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