Despite many changes in China’s visa policies, Hong Kong still remains one of the best places to obtain a visa or do a “visa run” for China. The best part is, it’s a great place to explore while you’re there!
This guide was first written in 2015 and I’ve done my best to make sure that all information is up-to-date as of 2017, but I’m well aware that anybody claiming to fully understand Chinese regulations is just fooling themselves. Please make sure you do you research and connect with one of the many great China visa services before making your trip to China.
Below are the most commonly asked questions regarding obtaining a Chinese visa in Hong Kong:
- Do I need a visa to enter Hong Kong?
- Is it still possible to obtain a Chinese visa in Hong Kong?
- Can I reset my Chinese tourist visa in Hong Kong?
- Should I get my China visa in Hong Kong or home country?
Do I Need a Visa to Enter Hong Kong?
If you are Canadian, Australian, American or European and plan to vacation in Hong Kong or visit for business, you do not need a visa. Citizens from the above countries are able to stay in Hong Kong for up to 90 days (if you are British your stay is extended to 180 days).
Upon arrival at the airport custom officials will put a “Visa Exemption” ticket in your passport which states how long you can remain in Hong Kong without obtaining a visa. I recommend you check out some of the best travel guides for Hong Kong if you’ll be staying here for any amount of time.
Is it Possible to Obtain a Chinese Visa in Hong Kong?
Yes, it is possible to obtain a Chinese Visa in Hong Kong. Due to the banning of visas during the Olympics there has been quite a bit of confusion surrounding this topic. Fortunately, things are getting back to normal.
It is possible to get a tourist visa (L), a business visa (Z or M), student visa (X) and many others in Hong Kong. This includes the new 10 year China tourist visa. For more information on the types of Chinese visas, check out the TCC guide to the types of China visas.
The process for obtaining a Chinese Visa in Hong Kong is different for individuals who hold a Hong Kong Resident permit versus those who do not.
Holders of a Hong Kong Resident Permit
If you already hold a Hong Kong Resident permit the process is fairly simple. To apply for a Chinese Visa you will need to visit the Consular Department Office which is located at the following address:
7th Floor, Lower Block, China Resources Building
26 Harbour Road
Wanchai, Hong Kong Island
You can apply for either a single entry or double entry visa. The cost of the visa will differ depending on where you are from, American citizens will generally pay more. If you are from the United States you can expect to pay somewhere around 1100 HKD (142 USD) regardless of the visa while those from Britain will likely pay half that amount.
In general it takes four working days to get the visa. If you wish to receive it sooner than that you can apply for either the express delivery for three working days (an extra 200 HKD or 25 USD) or the rush delivery for two working days (an extra 300 HKD or 38 USD).
The day you apply for the visa counts as a working day so if you are in a hurry and apply for rush delivery, it’s possible to have the visa in your hands the following day.
How to Obtain a Chinese Visa Using an Agency
Those who don’t have a Hong Kong Resident permit will need to apply for a Chinese Visa using an agency.
Note: There is conflicting information about this point. Some China travelers insist that it is possible for foreigners to apply at the Hong Kong Consular without the need of an agency. It would be a cheaper options, so you can give that a try before using an agency.
There are a number of agencies located in Hong Kong including China Travel Services (CTS) which is conveniently located at the airport and will help walk you through the process. The Commissioner’s Office of China’s Foreign Ministry is thought to offer cheaper prices but offers little in the way of assistance.
When applying for the visa you will need to bring an itinerary with you that shows where you will be staying while in China and proof that you will be exiting China (return ticket home or to a third country). It’s not unheard of for people to book hotels for the sake of obtaining the visa and then later cancelling the reservations.
Regardless of how you go about it you must have an itinerary to show when applying for the visa. Other documents you will need include:
- A passport that has at least 6 months of validity
- A passport photo (if you don’t have one you can usually get one taken at the visa office)
- A photocopy of the main pages of your passport (photo and information)
- Your visa application form
- A copy of the arrival stamp/ticket your received in Hong Kong
There are a couple of different visas you can apply for including a single entry 30 day tourist visa and a double entry 60 day tourist visa (after 30 days you will need to leave China and re-enter).
It’s not possible to obtain a multiple entry visa outside of your home country at this time but there is a chance this will change in the near future. The regular delivery is four working days but you have the option to do an express or rush delivery for an extra cost if you want it sooner.
The cost of the visa will depend on where you are from. Generally speaking a single entry visa will cost 200 HKD and a double entry visa 300 HKD. If you are from the US expect to pay the same high rate regardless of the visa you are applying for.
Can I Reset my China Tourist Visa in Hong Kong?
Yes, you can. A visit to Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Macau – although they’re technically part of China – is still considered as “leaving the country” and will allow you to reset your multi-entry China tourist visa.
This is especially helpful as you’re traveling through the southern part of China as Hong Kong is both easily accessible and usually quite cheap. There are buses, train and of course airports that connect Hong Kong with mainland China.
Once you enter Hong Kong, any entry back into China – assuming you have a multi-entry visa – will reset you to the length of time that your visa allows. That could be 30 days, 60 days or even 90 days depending on what you were given.
Should I Obtain a Chinese Visa in Hong Kong or in my Home Country?
One advantage of obtaining a Chinese Visa in Hong Kong rather than your home country is the potential savings. Many countries, especially Western countries such as Canada, charge extremely high fees for Chinese Visas.
While in Hong Kong you would also be applying in person so the service fees may be less. It’s also possible that certain visa agencies in Hong Kong will help you out with itineraries or won’t even require that you have hotel bookings or exit flights in place.
While Hong Kong is pretty liberal when it comes to handing out visas, there is no guarantee you will get one. Seeing as the regular delivery is four working days you will have to continue paying to stay in a hotel until your visa arrives. There is the option to use the express or rush delivery but these also come with a cost so, either way, it can get expensive.
Something else to keep in mind is that the Visa Office is closed on weekends and holidays so if you arrive on a Saturday you will have to wait until Monday to apply.
Where you apply for your Chinese Visa is really up to and your circumstances. If you are planner and like to have everything in place before you leave for vacation, applying at home may be the better option. If you are a spontaneous traveler who likes to take your trips day by day, applying in Hong Kong may better suit your needs.