If you’re an expat living in Hong Kong, and you need to take a trip to Mainland China, you’ll likely need a visa. There are a few exceptions to this, depending on your residence status, the type of travel and the passport you hold - but in most cases they’ll only apply if you’re on an organised tour or are visiting for just a short time.
We’ll cover who does - and does not - need a visa to China from Hong Kong in this guide. We’ll also run through how to get your China visa in HK through the China Visa Application Service Centre (CVASC), including documents and processing times.
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Whether or not you need a visa to enter China from Hong Kong will depend on a few factors, including:
- Your nationality
- Your Hong Kong residence status - temporary or permanent
- How long you’ll stay in China
- The purpose of your trip
It’s also worth noting that immigration matters are often complex at the best of times - and at the time of writing, are further complicated by travel limitations due to the global pandemic.¹ This guide is meant for information only - do check the latest updates and the specifics for your situation online before you apply for your China visa.
If you’re a permanent resident in Hong Kong, you may need to apply for a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) re-entry permit to travel to the Mainland or Macau.² If you’re a temporary resident of Hong Kong, whether you need a China visa can vary based on your nationality and travel type.³
You’ll need to check the full list of exemptions to see if you require a China visa, as the eligibility requirements are somewhat complex. However, some common exceptions include:³
- Citizens of countries with visa exemption agreements with China, who hold appropriate passports
- Citizens of Singapore, Japan or Brunei, visiting for under 15 days on an eligible trip type
- People on organised and approved group tours of no more than 6, 15, or 21 days depending on nationality
- Some transit passengers
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There are 16 different types of China visa, which are appropriate for different visit purposes and durations. Check the full list⁴, or visit the China Visa Application Service Centre Hong Kong website to learn more and select the most appropriate one for you.⁵
You’ll usually have to apply for a China visa from your country of residence. So if you’re heading to Hong Kong for a visit only, you’ll probably need to sort out your China visa before you depart.
Residents of Hong Kong can apply for a China visa by taking the following steps:⁶
- Complete the application form online on the CVASC website
- Make an appointment on the CVASC website, to attend a meeting to give fingerprints for your biometric visa
- Attend your meeting at the CVASC to give biometric data and present any required documents to support your application
The specific documents you need to prepare for your China visa application will depend on the purpose of your trip. All applicants will need:
- Passport with at least 6 months validity and blank visa pages
- Photocopy of the passport’s photo and data page
- Completed visa application form
- Recent passport photo
- Proof of legal residence in Hong Kong
- Photocopy of previous Chinese visas if you have ever been issued one
Additional supporting documents will vary by visa type - so you may need an invitation letter if you’re visiting for business, or an onward travel ticket if you’re transiting China, for example.
Visit the CVASC website to complete your visa application form and make an appointment to give biometric data. You’ll then need to attend the CVASC appointment to present paperwork and give your fingerprints.
The China visa Hong Kong fee may vary by nationality and based on the visa agreements between China and your country of citizenship. Some countries have different arrangements in place which may mean the costs of getting a China visa vary - this may mean you pay more, or less, than the standard cost.
The basic China visa fee is:⁷
|Single entry||310 HKD|
|Double entry||470 HKD|
|Multiple entry (6 month validity)||620 HKD|
|Multiple entry (12 month+ validity)||930 HKD|
At the time of writing there is no express service to get a China visa in Hong Kong, due to the global pandemic. You may find that CVASC opening hours are limited, and as extra checks are required to process visas, processing times can be longer than usual. If you have an emergency and need an urgent visa, you’re advised to call the CVASC directly to discuss your options.
Renew your China visa in Hong Kong by completing the CVASC application form - you may not need to give your biometric data again if it is already on file. However, you will be required to provide copies of previous China visas as supporting documents for your application.
Use this guide to get you started if you need to make a China visa application in Hong Kong. Because immigration processes are complex and have been severely impacted by pandemic travel restrictions, it’s worth looking for up to date details before you travel. Expect more checks and stricter travel rules, and budget plenty of time to get your visa in place if you can.
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Sources used in this article:
1 Commissioner's Office of China's Foreign Ministry in the Hong Kong: Notice on Updated Requirements for Chinese Visa Application During Covid-19 Pandemic
2 Hong Kong Immigration Department: Application for HKSAR Re-entry Permit
3 CVASC: Do I need a Chinese visa
4 Commissioner's Office of China's Foreign Ministry in the Hong Kong: Visa categories and the requirements of supporting documents
5 CVASC: Homepage
6 Commissioner's Office of China's Foreign Ministry in the Hong Kong: Notice On the Launching of Biometric Chinese Visa Service
7 Commissioner's Office of China's Foreign Ministry in the Hong Kong: Visa Fee
Sources last checked on 5-Nov-2021
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