Friday, January 27, 2012

How to Apply for a Tourist Visa to China in the Philippines

UPDATED 06 January 2014—Having included China in the second half of my six-month itinerary, I knew there was one more reason I had to go home for the holidays. I had to take care of my tourist visa to China at the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines. It was easier for me this time. I was just basically renewing my Chinese visa. However, it would be for a slightly longer period: 30 days.

I wrote a step-by-step process on Chinese visa application a few months ago based on my experience as a first-time Chinese visa applicant. However, Chinese visa application rules have changed since then, as I found out on my second application. Thus, let me update that post right here: How to Apply for a Tourist Visa to China in the Philippines.


STEP 1: PREPARE YOUR DOCUMENTS

For All Applicants

Passport Must at least have 6 months validity and blank pages.

Passport Information / Photo Page

Photocopy of the information/photo page of the passport.
Passport Emergency Contact Page Photocopy of the emergency contact information page (the back page of the passport), completely filled out.

Passport-size Photo Colored, white background, well-kept hair, collared shirt, full-face front view, no eyewear and definitely no headgear. Glue, not staple, the photo to the application form. And they do not accept scanned photos.

Invitation Letter Invitation letter for tourists issued by a travel agency in China or provided by an individual in China along with a copy of his/her ID.

I know. You are a tourist. No one is really inviting you to go to China. In lieu of an invite, submit a photocopy of round-trip airline tickets and hotel reservations. In my case, I booked all my hotels in all the cities I will be visiting in China spanning one month (5 hotels, count them, 5!) and presented these. In addition, I presented my entry ticket to China (train ride to the Vietnam-China border crossing) and my exit ticket to China (flight from Chengdu to Kuala Lumpur).


Additional Requirements for First-time Applicants

Income Tax Return (ITR) Statement (BIR 2316)

Photocopy of latest ITR Statement (BIR Form 2316).
Employment Letter Letter from your employer indicating your salary and your length of employment. If you are a business owner, submit your business registration certificate. If you are a licensed professional, submit your professional ID.

Proof of Financial Standing For most people, an official bank certificate and/or bank statement will do. Must be updated within the month you are applying. Include the receipt for when you purchased the certificate itself. The money seen here, which must amount to 100,000 PHP, is an assurance that you have the ability to fund your travels in China, that you are indeed a tourist with money to burn on this trip. This is effectively the "show money" requirement of the Chinese visa. Make sure the certificate/statement/passbook shows an average daily balance of said amount for the last six (6) months, that the money just didn't appear out of nowhere.

According to contacts who have done the application, if your trip to China will be sponsored by another person, then it is their bank certificate that's required, along with a sponsorship letter. You need to submit documents that will prove your relation to said sponsor: birth certificate, marriage certificate, etc. If you are not "officially" related to your sponsor, then you will have to inquire with the consulate or with a travel agency as to what special requirements will be needed from you.


Yet Another Set of Requirements for Specific People

Applicants with Previous Visa to China Previous visa to China. If visa is on old passport, submit photocopy of information/photo page and page with tourist visa to China.

Students Photocopy of student ID. Students will naturally need to present sponsorship letter and sponsor's bank certificate/statement mentioned above.

Former Chinese Citizens and Citizens Born in China

Submit original Chinese passport and a photocopy of the information/photo page of the passport (and extension page, if applicable).
Applicants with Name Changed If applicant's name in new passport is different from original name, submit official document issued by authorities (birth certificate or marriage contract).

Non-Philippines Nationals Proof of residency, employment, or study in the Philippines. Foreign nationals on temporary visit in the Philippines need to apply back at their home countries. You can submit an application with a valid proof ID and employment but approval will be on a case-to-case basis. Also, fill out the Supplementary Visa Application Form.



Some notes:
1.Personal appearance may be required if consulate deems it necessary.
2.Applications must be submitted by applicant, travel agency, or another person entrusted with submission. No mailed or faxed applications.
3. Applicants who have a Chinese travel agency-issued invitation letter, who were former Chinese citizens, or who were born in China need not submit ITR Statement, employment letter, nor bank certificate/statement.
4. Proof of No Derogatory Records (NBI Clearance) and SSS ID are no longer part of the requirements even for first-time Chinese visa applicants.
5. You might want to take note of the public holidays in China, which the consulate in Makati naturally follows. It usually becomes jam packed with applicants right after said holidays.
6. Take note because THIS IS IMPORTANT. Document requirements and visa procedures at the Chinese Embassy change. Surprise! Sometimes, they change it abruptly that people don't find out about the changes until they actually submit their Chinese visa application. So really do not rely solely only on this guide. At the very least, skim through the consular services section of the Chinese Embassy website.


STEP 2: PREPARE YOUR CHINESE VISA FEE

Below is the schedule of Chinese visa fees for holders of Philippine passports who apply directly at the Chinese Embassy. Asking a travel agency to process the visa for you may imply a few additional bucks. The regular processing time is 4 working days. If you need a faster processing, then you need to pay up: an additional 1,100 PHP for three-day processing and 1,700 PHP for next-day processing.

Number of EntriesFee (in PHP)
Single Entry1,400
Double Entry2,100
Multiple Entry valid for six months2,800
Multiple Entry valid for twelve months4,200


STEP 3: FILL OUT THE CHINESE VISA APPLICATION FORM

I made the mistake of filling out an old Chinese visa application form. Good thing the immigration officer just gave me a copy of the updated application form and asked me to fill it out right there. They ask a whole lot more information this time. You can download a copy of the new Chinese visa application form here: Visa Application Form of the People's Republic of China. No blanks so indicate N/A whenever necessary.

Some notes:
1.People say that Chinese visa officers do not take too well with journalists/writers. One travel agency I went to reported that they once processed the Chinese visa application of a journalist/writer but at the end of it, the Chinese visa was denied by the embassy. I'm sure that this does not apply to all cases. If you are doing some type of news coverage in China or will be working as a resident correspondent there, then you have your specific Chinese visa application guidelines for journalists. If you are a journalist or a writer and are going to China not for business but for vacation, the best you can do really is submit all required documents and hope against hope that you be granted a Chinese visa. Their country, their rules.
2.You can use the blank space for any other declarations. I used it to explain that in lieu of an invitation letter, I have confirmed hotel bookings and confirmed entry and exit tickets to China.


STEP 4: SUBMIT YOUR CHINESE VISA APPLICATION

For this step, you have two options: (1) course your Chinese visa application through a travel agency (who will charge a processing fee, of course); or, (2) go to the Chinese Embassy yourself to submit your application.

Option 01: Travel Agency

I approached a travel agency close to where I live in Manila and they said that they cannot get me a 30-day single-entry Chinese tourist visa. Common practice in the travel agency trade is to request for 14-day visas because normally, they only organize trips to China lasting a few days to a week. This may be a good option for those traveling through China within a two-week duration. You go to an agency, hand them your documents, pay up and they take care of the rest.

However, I am an independent traveler and I intend to stay longer than 14 days in China, almost a month, in fact. The agency adviced that I get, instead, a double-entry Chinese tourist visa. That's fine and all but China is a huge country. Visa runs to the nearest border may take more than a day of my time. A round-trip flight to a neighboring country is out of the question because that will be very expensive. Thus, I had to resort to Option 2.

Option 02: Directly at the Chinese Embassy
1.Having completed all the required documents, you need to go to the Chinese Embassy at World Center Building, 330 Buendia Avenue (Gil Puyat), Makati City, Metro Manila before 8 a.m. There's already a line for applicants outside the building even before working hours.
2.Once the Chinese Embassy is open, you (still on queue) enter the doors and right at the door, you will be given a number for the independent Chinese visa applicants queue.
3.Once your number has been flashed, go to the window assigned to you to submit all your documents. If everything's fine, the officer will give you a slip of paper indicating the date on when you should claim your Chinese visa. You go home after that.


STEP 5: PAY THE FEE AND CLAIM YOUR PASSPORT

This part is the easiest. If you applied through a travel agency, you only need to wait for their notification that your passport, now with a Chinese visa, is ready for claiming. If you opted to apply directly at the Chinese Embassy, then you need to show up to claim your passport, also now with a Chinese visa, on the date written on the slip of paper the Chinese visa officer gave you when you submitted your application.

When you get there, you get a number for the cashier queue, and once it is flashed, you pay at the cashier. They give you a receipt, which you present at the claiming window to get your passport. Easy. You are practically on your way to China, my friend.

Chinese Visa



Was this update to my guide to Chinese visa application in the Philippines any helpful? Are there updates to the requirements list or application process? How was your experience in applying for a Chinese visa in the Philippines?


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