Obtaining a Chinese visa in the UK
The main reason that I didn’t visit China sooner than I did was the fact that I needed to obtain a visa to go there – and I needed to obtain it before I travelled. Paying for a visa was never an issue, but the hassle of having to send off my passport (or travel to London or Manchester) in order to get the visa always put me off. If I could have simply obtained a visa at the airport upon arrival in China, that would have been great.
However, in May 2008 I finally decided that I was going to visit Shanghai and I would undertake the necessary steps to apply for my visa. I knew that this would involve filling in forms, having passport photos taken and ultimately sending off my passport and an envelope full of paperwork to a company that I hoped was reputable, and which would return my passport (with visa attached) in one piece and within a reasonable time frame.
I Googled “Chinese visas” and did a bit of reading around on the Internet. After reading a variety of reviews and visiting a host of visa service websites, I decided to place my trust in a company called Chinese Visa Direct.
I read the step-by-step instructions on their website, printed off the necessary application forms and a checklist of what I needed to send. I booked my flights, arranged my accommodation and made the dreaded visit to a local passport photo booth. I had everything that I needed to submit my application form.
Filling in the form was simple. It required the usual information: full name, gender, date of birth, nationality, passport details (number, place of issue, date of issue/expiry…), occupation, reason for visiting China, length of stay in China and address(es) during my visit to China.
There were a few questions regarding any previous failed attempts to obtain a Chinese visa, any previous deportations or criminal records and any known illnesses that I suffer from. I could happily tick the “no” boxes in that section.
The next section required me to enter details of my employer (name, address, contact number…), my home address and contact details and the address and phone number of the hotel that I had booked in China.
With the application form successfully completed, I next turned my attention to the Chinese Visa Direct Order Form and Checklist. This required me to fill in my name, address and contact details, my nationality and my passport number. I then had to select which type of visa I required.
There are a host of different visas available, including single/double entry tourist visas, single/double entry business visas and multi-entry business visas lasting for 6 months, 1 year or 2 years. I selected the single entry tourist visa, and opted for the “normal service”, which I had read in reviews would see my passport back with me in about a week. I could have paid extra for “express service” or “same day service”, but I wasn’t in too much of a rush.
For information purposes: a single entry tourist visa with normal service cost me £50. The price would have increased to £75 for express service and £90 for same day service. Double entry tourist visas cost £65/£90/£105 respectively. The single and double entry business visas cost exactly the same as the tourist visas, while the multi-entry business visas are generally £100+.
I paid Chinese Visa Direct online via a “Google checkout” link on their website and printed off my receipt.
I was now ready to tick off my checklist and enclose the necessary documents in a big envelope:
Passport enclosed? Check!
Passport photo enclosed? Check!
A copy of my hotel booking enclosed? Check!
A copy of my flight tickets booking enclosed? Check!
Completed application forms enclosed? Check!
Payment (or proof of online payment) enclosed? Check!
The following morning, a Tuesday, I sent the package off special delivery to:
Chinese Visa Direct,
PO Box 5051
London W1A 8UZ
…and crossed my fingers that it would all go smoothly!
The next morning (Wednesday), I received a friendly email to confirm that all my documents had arrived safely, had been checked and had been taken to the Chinese Embassy for the visa to be processed. I was informed that CVD expected to have my passport and visa back with them by the following Monday and would send it back to me immediately by recorded delivery.
Sure enough, the following Monday I received another friendly email to confirm that my passport (and shiny new visa!) were on their way back to me and true to their word, they were back in my possession on the Tuesday morning.
Everything had gone smoothly and efficiently. I sent an email to CVD to thank them for their excellent service and to promise that I would recommend their services to others. So, if you’re in the UK and you need a visa for China, be sure to get in touch with Chinese Visa Direct – their service is first class. They also arrange visas for Mongolia and Vietnam.
Chinese Visa Direct: the hassle-free way of obtaining your Chinese visa!