Getting a Chinese Visa

The Shanghai waterfront early in the morning on a nice winter day.

The Shanghai waterfront early in the morning on a nice winter day.

Getting a Chinese Visa

China was the first place I visited that required me to get a visa BEFORE I went to the country. It’s not a simple “show up and ask for one” process either. You must be invited to come to the country, by someone who lives there. If you are going for a job, you must be invited by someone who works for the company you are going to work for. You must fill out the visa request documents and send them to the embassy nearest you. It can be a fairly complicated process the first time, and probably the second, third, you get it. (Although, they now grant visas for as long as 10 years so, I’m good until 2025!)

To help make our visa acquisition process more tenable, the producer and I used CIBT Visas. They had a document that assisted with the process and they handle the interaction with the embassy as well. It was actually pretty easy once we got our invitation letters. We also had to get another passport photo that is sent in with the visa applications. Somewhere in some Chinese computer, there is a terrible picture of me that they likely compared to my actual passport to make sure I still look the same. (Although, I don’t now actually, I shaved the beard after 4 years, why, I’m not quite sure…)

So, visas must be procured before your trip, they take 4-6 weeks although ours came faster. It goes without saying that you need a passport first of all. Well, I guess I just said that but, you get the point. It’s a bit complicated so if you are under time constraints, I’d use a service like we did. If you’ve got plenty of time on your hands, DIY it!

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