Chinese Visa

How to get an Invitation Letter for China Visas

Do you need an invitation letter for China tourist or business visas? The short answer is…it’s complicated. Allow me to walk through what you need to know, how to get a China visa invitation letter as well as some workarounds for this sometime absurd government requirement.

If getting a visa to visit a foreign country wasn’t already complicated enough, China makes it even harder by sometimes requiring an invitation letter.

They are among many countries that require an invitation letter for both a tourist and business visa.

So how does the Chinese government expect travelers to China to secure an invitation letter if they don’t know anyone in the country? Well, I just so happen to have both tourist and business China visas in my passport.

Let me fill you in on what you need to know about the requirements behind the China visa invitation letter for both the tourist and business visas.

*Note* Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means that at no extra cost to you, I may be compensated if you choose to purchase a service listed below.

How to Get an Invitation Letter for China Tourist Visas

Let’s start by discussing how you can get an invitation letter for China tourist visas, which must come from a tourist group, company, education institution, or person within China.

If you know someone who is Chinese and lives in China or a foreigner living in China with a valid residence permit, then they can write the invitation letter for you.

But most of us are likely traveling to China without knowing anyone in China. So, should you be traveling to China as part of a tour group or educational institution for the duration of your entire trip, the organization sponsoring your trip should provide you with the invitation letter to support your visa application.

For travelers planning on a DIY trip to China, getting a letter of invitation is a bit more complicated.

If at any point on your trip you plan on taking a guided tour or trip, I’d reach out to the organization and see if they can provide you with an invitation letter for your China travel visa.

But I’d expect an additional fee if they support this service. FYI, don’t expect the host of your Airbnb in China to write you an invitation letter.

But my honest opinion is, if you don’t have a sponsor for your China travel visa, I’d use the workaround I discuss below as it’s much easier and less hassle.

How to Get a China Travel Visa Without an Invitation Letter

If you’re planning a DIY trip where you don’t expect anyone can provide you a Chinese visa invitation letter, you’re still in luck.

Another way to get your China tourist visa is to submit an itinerary instead of an official invitation letter that includes:

  • A round-trip ticket from your home country to China and back.
  • Hotel booking reservations during the window of your flight itinerary.

Sound expensive, inconvenient, and completely contradictory to your plans? I’m with you on this one.

But at least the Chinese government won’t hold you to keeping the itinerary you submit with your visa application. After submitting your application, simply cancel your flight and hotel reservations.

But I’d check out my creative workaround tips on this before booking anything and also purchase travel insurance as well just in case.

How to Get an Invitation Letter for China Business Visas?

A China Business Visa, also known as an M visa, is for folks visiting China for commercial or trade activities such as visiting clients or places of business, attending trade fairs, and signing business deals.

For a China business visa, you must submit an invitation letter with your China visa application. There are no workarounds where you can submit an itinerary instead.

The letter can come from a Chinese trade partner, a Chinese business, or a Chinese trade fair that you would want to attend.

Note: that the entity must be Chinese.

Should you reach out to someone asking for an invitation letter, it needs to include the following info:

  • Your full name, gender, date of birth, etc.
  • Details on the purpose of your visit, arrival and departure dates, and places you plan to visit.
  • Info on how you and whoever is inviting you got to know each other.
  • How you’ll finance the trip.
  • Lastly, the invitation letter also needs to include the inviting entity’s contact info (e.g. name, telephone number, address, signature, etc.)

One last important piece of information is the invitation letter needs to be approved by the government bureau in the inviting entity’s city of business.

Otherwise, the Chinese embassy or consulate won’t process your application for an M visa.

Pro Tip: Getting an invitation letter for China business visas can be a confusing and lengthy process depending on the inviting entity you work with. Before getting too deep into the weeds on this, I’d start by seeing if you’re eligible for a travel visa to make things easier on you.

Final Thoughts | China Visa Invitation Letter

Travelers like yourself may wonder how you will get an invitation letter for China visas should you not know a single person living in China. Luckily, if you’re not traveling with a travel group or school, you can always submit a travel itinerary instead.

Folks applying for other visas like a China business visa, however, will still need to submit a government stamped invitation letter with your visa application.

Some final parting words of wisdom are to also check out my guide on applying for a China travel visa for 2020 as well as read up on my partner services that can help you through the process at a discounted fee.

Applying for a visa to any country can be quite the hassle and having someone to help you through it can save you lots of stress!

Further Reading & Resources

Josh Summers

Josh is the founder of who has been living in China with his family since 2006. Over that period of time he has traveled by plane, train, car, motorcycle and even camel to explore almost every corner of the country.

View Comments

  • I have a friend in China who could provide an invitation letter. What TT should this letter look like

    • It's just a regular form letter that includes their information, where they live, how long they plan to host you and a copy of their ID card.

  • It will be difficult for me to obtain an invitation letter and I don't want to plan my itinerary in advance. Do you think it will work if I book a retour train ticket from Hong Kong to Shenzhen and a hotel for the time that I would theoretically be in Shenzhen? And cancel the hotel after I obtain the visa and to don't enter China via the Hong Kong border?

    • You can, although usually they don't accept train tickets (at least in the past they haven't). You might need to book/cancel a flight to make this work.

  • Dear josh

    I was going through with your post and it is very informative.

    I am also facing the same issue. I want to visit China but I don't know who can provide me invitation letter.

    I work and live in UAE and I am associate Professor. Still it is hard for me to get tourist visa for China.

    Can you guide me how it can be possible ??

    • Right now, it is pretty much impossible to get a tourist visa. Once things open up, you'll have to connect with a travel agency to get an invitation letter.

  • hI JOSH
    i would like to visit china in April or may to visit my girlfriend
    (who has been here on a 6 month visa but goes back March 30th)
    she will write a letter off invitation and I have the funds, is china
    fully open to overseas tourist and what will be my biggest problem apart from the 2, i have already mentioned ?

    • Yes, it's open, but the visa application process is difficult and constantly changing. Just be aware.

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