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How to Get a Multiple Entry Tourist Visa to China
Important things to know when you apply for a multiple entry tourist visa to China
If you are thinking about visiting China, then getting a tourist visa to China is the number one priority on your must do list. The procedure of getting a multiple entry visa is the same as getting a single or double entries visa, except that you mark “Multiple Entries” on your Chinese visa application form
Documents you need before applying for a multiple entry tourist visa:
Your original passport: It must be valid for at least 6 month and have at least one blank page for the visa.
Your photo: One 48mm x 33mm color photo of you facing forward. Must be a recent photo with no head coverings.
Your visa application form: Forms are free for you at the Consulate, but if you want to fill them out prior to the Consulate, you can do so by downloading the visa application form. Make sure to mark “Multiple Entries.” The maximum time of each stay is 180 day. You need to check with the local public security authorities in China if you need to stay longer than your visa permits.
Previous Chinese Visa: If you have visited China before but the new passport doesn’t show that prior record, you need to make sure to bring your old passport which has the record of you entering China previously.
Your child: If you’re traveling with your child and it is your child’s first time applying for a Chinese visa, you will need to provide your child’s original birth certificate on top of all the same requirement as yours.
Fee for a Chinese Visa:
If you are a U.S. Citizen, as of today on April 2012, the cost is $140 for a visa to China no matter how many entries you want to make. But for non-U.S. Citizens, it is $60 for multiple entries for 6 months.
Number of Entry
Citizens of Third Countries
Multiple Entries for 6 Months
Multiple Entries for 12 Months or more
How and Where to obtain a Chinese visa:
There are only two ways to obtain your multiple tourist visa: Apply in person or have someone else submit the necessary documents for you as long as you have signed your papers. Applications mailed in will not be accepted.
-------- Apply in person --------
Find the location of the China Consulate/Visa Office nearest to you. Not every city has a China Consulate. Try to find one that is closer to you. If you live in the SF Bay Area, there is a China Consulate in San Francisco located at 1450 Laguna Street, San Francisco, CA 94115. Be certain that you check out their daily schedule and the date for holidays as the office will be closed on the holidays. China has different holidays than the U.S. No appointment is required.
Although from their official website, which updated in 2009 so this may not be up-to-date, the Visa Office in San Francisco is open 9:00a.m.--2:30p.m.(no lunch break), Monday--Friday, and closed on weekends and holidays. But according to my most recent experience, the consulate closes for lunch break the last two times I visited them. So I would suggest for you to give them a call to confirm their schedule.
Location of China Consulate in SF
The China Consulate is at the corner of Geary Blvd and Laguna St. The main entrance is on Geary Blvd.
There is no designated parking for people who want to visit the China Consulate in San Francisco. And it is hard to find a nearby parking. So you might want to park a bit farther away in order to avoid looping around the same block.
What to expect when you arrive at the China Consulate in SF
The line to the entrance is long, especially in the morning because many people arrive early in the morning for fear they might not be able to get their turn by the end of the day since the office close at 2:30 PM. But based upon my experience, the afternoon is a lot less crowded than morning time. Things you should be aware of are no food is allowed and the lines to the restrooms are long, especially the lady’s room. Once you’re inside, make sure you get a ticket from the machine by the entrance if you go there in the morning. There were no tickets given out in the afternoon last year when I visited them. So I had to stay in a long line to get inside the building and then stay in another long line to pick up my visa. Good thing the pick up line moved quite fast. There is a number on the ticket based on the purpose for your visit to the consulate. There will be different areas for the needs of each person. Make sure you stay close to the windows that says “visa”. The numbers shown on the video screen that are attached on the wall do not always reflect the numbers they might call out from the windows.
When can you pick up your visa?
For regular service, you can go pick up your visa on the fourth business day. If you need an express service, you can obtain your visa within the same day, next business or the third business day at an extra cost of $20 to $30 and upon approval. Please note that cash, personal/company check is not accepted. You can pay with Visa, Mastercard or money order payable to "Chinese Consulate General".
When you return to pick up your visa, go to the windows that are for pick up and payments. There will be a line there as well.
-------- Get your Chinese visa through a travel agency --------
You don't have to be presence when you apply for your tourist visa to China. You can have someone you trust to handle it for you if you don’t want to go through the headache of waiting in line. If you worry about missing the necessary documents, you can have a travel agency do it for you, but it will cost you extra money for the service. Going through a travel agency sometimes might take longer because the agency might want to wait for more requests for Chinese visa from other people before taking a trip to the China Consulate.