Getting your Visa for China
With a span of only four days between making the decision to travel to to China and leaving Australia for Europe, obtaining the Chinese tourist visa from Australia* was a massive ordeal, and I advise to the highest extremity to not leave this type of thing to the last minute.
To save you from feeling so anxious that you need to punch 300 ciggies and smash the same amount of valium, here is a complete guide to getting the pricey piece of paper glued into a page of your passport. Don’t even bother reading the Chinese visa website – it’s confusing as shit and makes the whole application process out to be way more h-core than it actually is.
Firstly, you must apply for the visa NO EARLIER than three months and NO LATER than one month before you plan on entering China. This can prove very difficult if you have other travel plans that don’t coincide with these dates. By very difficulty, I mean that if you are leaving your home country longer than three months before you plan to arrive in China, then you can’t go. You just can’t. Soz. Unless you can be bothered dealing with embassies of other countries and your country in other countries and your country. Yeah – too confusing; just don’t do it.
Secondly, these are actually the only things you need to supply when you rock up to the Chinese Visa Application Centre. Don’t bother reading their website about what you have to bring – again, it’s terribly confusing.
- Your Passport (with six months validity after your intended departure from China)
- A print-out of your Flights IN and OUT of China. Nothing fancy. Just press print from your email when you get the confirmation email from your Dump Jet of choice.
- A print-out confirming your first night’s stay in China. I logged on to hostelworld.com, entered my arrival date (staying for one night), clicked on ‘sort by price lowest-highest’, found the cheapest hole, paid the 10% booking fee on my card (which was about 50 cents) and then printed the confirmation of booking. I haven’t gotten to China yet, but I’m really hoping that my obsessive hobo behaviour allows me to scrape by so I can upgrade from hole to mattress.
- A passport photo with these specifications : “48mm high X 33mm wide, the height of the face measures between 28-33mm from chin to the crown of head (natural top of head); the width of the face measures between 21-24mm” end quote from visaforchina.org. I find the rules for the size of your head kind of exclusive. Bit mean to people with really wide heads, but okay… cool.
Thirdly, really, I can assure you, you DO NOT need to book an appointment for the centre. I can’t speak for all centres, but the one I attended in Brisbane was truly bizarre. At the front stands an elderly stocky Chinese man attending the touch screen that you press to print out your ticket, you know – like the ones when you go to transport offices or sexual health clinics that scream out embarrassingly loud at you “TICKET NUMBER E40” and such. So yeah, the man presses the screen for you, yes, FOR you.
Then, with ticket in hand, you walk into an enormous room filled with chairs that aren’t filled with any humans. At the back of the room there are nine desks with numbers above and a young employee behind each of them. All of the employees are frantically tapping away on their smart phones and paying absolutely no attention to the fact that the ticket booth that is attended by a man just echoed your ticket number through the whole centre. You will wait for about 10 minutes for one of them to tend to you, and then spend about 20 more minutes filling out the form which asks all sorts of really personal questions.
After handing everything back to the employee, you will be given a ticket which, along with a lot’a money, you can bring back in about five days in exchange for your passport with the piece of paper glued in which doesn’t even have the photo that you had to supply on it.
I hope this confusing explanation of the Chinese Visa Application process was slightly less confusing than the one I encountered.
Good luck, hobos.
*Note that outside of Australia, the process is way easier. You can get a visa for China from Japan in two days, and in just one day in Hong Kong.