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How do I get a Chinese mainland visa in Hong Kong?

Photo by Pixelflake

One of the fastest ways to get a visa to visit the Chinese mainland is to go via Hong Kong, which has the three advantages of being right next to the mainland, having a swift visa service and just being a really great place to check out. It’s especially handy if you’re from one of the countries that will allow you to get a visa exemption when visiting Hong Kong. 

Remember, however, that foreigners can only apply for C, G, J, L, M, X, Z, Q2 and S2 visas from Hong Kong, and that if they do not have Right of Abode in Hong Kong, they can only get single-entry C, G, J, L, S2 and Q2 visas.

Once upon a time the office offered a same-day visa service. Sadly that’s no longer on offer. Now the options are the standard four-working-day turnaround, the two-to-three-day Express Service for an additional HK$200, or the next-day Rush Service for an additional HK$300. The prices of the various visas will be covered later on in this guide.


Before you begin: letters of invitation

If you’re applying for a Z, M, Q2 or S2 visa, you will need to submit a letter of invitation from a business or person on the mainland, and possibly other documents too. These may require some time to prepare, and in some cases you should not go to Hong Kong at all until they have been notarized and accepted by the authorities.

If you are applying for an L Visa (Tourist Visa) and are planning to stay at a friend’s house rather than a hotel, you will need a letter from them giving their address, their passport number, their contact details and confirming that you will be their guest. This letter does not need to be notarized.

If you’re applying for a Q2 or S2 Family Visit Visa, your inviter should prepare two separate invitation letters, one to the embassy and one to you. This letter does not require approval from an authority, so once you have a copy of the letter and a copy of your inviter’s passport info page, ID card or hukou (Chinese household registration) you can had to HK to make the application.

For an M Visa (“Business Visa”), the person or company inviting you must send the invitation letter, together with a copy of the company’s license, to you before you go to Hong Kong to make the application. 

If you are being employed on a Z Visa, or Work Visa, then the company that is hiring you should submit the following invitation letter application documents to The Commissioner’s Office of China in Hong Kong (address further down in article):

  • Two copies of their company’s license and organization code certificate,
  • A typed invitation letter marked with the company’s official stamp (aka seal or chop),
  • A copy of your passport’s information page,
  • Two copies of your most recent one or two entry visa stamps to China (if applicable)
  • A letter of sponsorship stamped with the company’s official stamp/seal/chop.

You should wait until the company has received confirmation from the Commissioner’s Office before you set off. Once they have received approval, your new company will then send you a photocopy, fax or scanned copy of the invitation letter to you. Take this with you and hand it in with the rest of your documents when you apply in Hong Kong.


Step 1: Book a flight to Hong Kong

This is pretty self-explanatory, we think. Bear in mind that you’ll need enough time to land, get to your hotel, get to the visa centre, collect your visa and depart. And hopefully eat and sleep too!


Step 2: Book a hotel or find a friend you can stay with

As it will take at least 24 hours to get your new visa done, you will definitely need somewhere to stay.


Step 3: Gather your documents

The documents you need to prepare are listed below; make sure you have them all to hand before you go to the Commissioner’s Office of China, otherwise it’ll only take you longer to get everything processed. You might also want to double-check how much your visa will cost while you’re there, though you won’t need to pay yet.

  1. Your passport, with at least six months’ validity from the date of your proposed arrival on the Chinese mainland.
  2. A photocopy of your passport’s data and photo pages (these may be the same page on some passports).
  3. Landing Slip for Hong Kong. When you enter HK, the immigration office will give you a small paper slip rather than stamp your passport; you should keep this for when you apply for your mainland visa.
  4. One completed Visa Application Form. You can download the form here, fill it in using your computer, and print it. The application form must be fully completed on a computer – no handwriting at all except for your signature – and clearly printed out. The application must also be printed single-sided and on white paper only. 
  5. A recently taken color passport photo, meeting all the usual requirements (no hats, sunglasses, etc) against a light background.
  6. Documents showing your holiday itinerary, such as the air ticket booking record (including your ticket out of the country) and hotel reservation (where applicable), or the itinerary your travel agency made, if you are using one.
  7. A photocopy or fax of an invitation letter (or the origin issued by a relevant entity or individual in China, if you are applying for a C, J, M, Q, S or Z Visa, or if you are going to China with a travel agency. If the letter is being issued by an individual rather than an organization then they must have an X or Z visa, or be a Chinese citizen with a mainland ID card. You can click here for an example invitation letter. See top of article for details of Z, M,Q and S visa letters.


Step 4: Go to the consulate to submit the documents

The address of the Commissioner’s Office of China is:

1/F, China Resources Building
26 Harbor Road
Hong Kong SAR

Working hours: 9 am-midday, 2 pm-5 pm 

How to get there: Take MTR and stop at Wan Chai Stop, and exit at A5. The office was formerly located on the seventh floor, and is still listed as such on some official websites, but is now located on the first floor.

Contact: 852-2106-6303, 852-3413-2424

When you enter the building, you will need to queue for a security check and then take a number and wait to be called. The staff will then take your passport and documents, and give you a slip of paper with a collection time printed on it. You might want to double-check how much you’ll have to pay, but don’t worry about handing over the money right now – you pay on collection of your passport and visa.

If you’re missing any documents then go pick them up and, when you return, skip the queue and go directly to the member of staff – they should pick up where you left off, and save you the frustration of taking another number and restarting the queuing process.


Step 5: Get your money ready

Prices for visas differ depending on which country you are from; there’s a basic rate for most of the world, but certain countries – including the US, the UK and Canada – have “reciprocal” fees that are higher, reflecting the higher cost for Chinese citizens to get visas to visit them. The basic fees are below; for countries with other rates see this page.

Individual visas (four-working-day turnaround)

Single-entry visa HK$200
Double-entry visa HK$300
Multiple-entry visa (six months’ validity) HK$500
Multiple-entry visa (12, 24 or 36 months’ validity) HK$800


Additional charges for expedited service

Express service (two-to-three working days) HK$200
Rush service (next-working-day delivery) HK$300

If you have accompanying children in your passport, there is no additional charge for expediting their visas.


Step 6: Pick up your visa

After waiting the required amount of time, take your collection slip and go the Commissioner’s Office at the time printed on it. Don’t forget to take enough HK dollars in cash to pay for the visa. 


Useful Chinese words and phrases 

加急签证 jiā jí qiān zhèng Rush visa service
加急费 jiā jí fèi Rush fee
港币 gǎng bì Hong Kong dollar
领事馆 lǐng shìguǎn Consulate
入境回执 rùjìng huízhí Landing slip
领取回执 lǐngqǔ huízhí Collection slip
特派员公署 tèpàiyuán gōngshǔ The Commissioner’s Office of China


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