In this article you’ll find a complete guide for getting a Chinese visa in London, United Kingdom. Keep in mind that what you’ll read is all the fruit of my personal experience, since it is here in London, where I applied for – and received – my eighth Chinese visa.
Keep reading to learn:
- Where to apply for a Chinese visa in London;
- The necessary documents for applying for a visa in London;
- The costs and delivery times for the visa;
- How to make an appointment and what time to show up;
- How to pick up your visa.
Where to apply for a Chinese visa in London
You can’t apply for a Chinese visa at the Chinese Consulate, but rather at the Chinese Visa Application Service Center (CVASC) in London.
Address: 12 Old Jewry, EC2R 8DU, London;
E-mail address: [email protected]
The CVASC is open from Monday to Friday; it’s possible to apply for a visa from 9 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon (from 9 to 12 for express service); it is possible to pick up your visa from 9 in the morning until in the afternoon.
The easiest way to get there is to take the underground until the “Bank” stop, take exit 9, walk straight for about 50 meters, cross the street and turn right on Old Jewry Street.
You can also get there by using buses 8, 23 or 25 (“Bank” stop).
The necessary documents for applying for a visa in London;
To apply for any type of Chinese visa (tourist, business, student, work, etc) in London you’ll need the following documents:
- A passport valid for at least six months;
- A photocopy of the photo page of your passport, and the pages that contain the other Chinese visas that you’ve obtained (if you’ve already been to China);
- A passport photo (48mm x 33mm) with light background;
- A copy of your valid residence permit (only if you’re not a European citizen);
- A declaration printed and signed (you can download it here);
- Application Form completely filled out, printed and signed (you can download it here, print it and fill it out by hand or, if you prefer, fill it out online on this page and print it out already filled; it doesn’t matter);
- A printed copy of your appointment receipt, which is compulsorily required online before showing up at the CVASC (click here to apply for an appointment or keep reading the article to learn more).
Moreover, depending on the type of visa you wish to acquire, it will be necessary to bring a few additional documents (that vary according to the type of visa that you’re interested in).
For example, to request a tourist visa you’ll also have to present:
- A flight ticket to and from China (click here to read our guide on flights to China);
- A hotel reservation for the entire period you intend to spend in China (click here to read our guide on booking a hotel in China) or, alternatively, an invitation letter from a Chinese citizen or foreigner (but holding a regular resident permit).
The invitation letter should contain your biographical information (name, gender, date of birth, passport number, etc), the details of your itinerary inside China, the biographical information of the person who’s inviting you and their contact information (telephone number, email address, residence address in China, etc).
The letter should also specify if you intend to support yourself economically during your stay in China (or if instead you’ll be supported by the person inviting you).
To finish, the person inviting you should send you a scanned and signed copy of the invitation letter, with an attached copy of their Chinese identity card (or a copy of the main page of their passport and the passport page that contains the valid residence permit, if you’ve been invited by a foreigner).
To learn more about the documentation needed to get a business, student, work visa or other, I recommend that you read our main article on Chinese visas.
The costs and delivery times for the visa
The cost of getting a Chinese visa in London may vary between 86 to 156 Pounds, depending on your nationality the type of visa you’re applying for. Click here or take a look at the image below to know the details.
As far as delivery times go, if you choose the regular service you’ll have to wait four business days while if you choose the express service you’ll have to wait three business days. To conclude, if you choose to send your passport with the visa through the postal service, it will take about ten days to complete the process.
Note that, for the Chinese, the day that you apply for the visa is included in the days you have to wait. So, if for example you apply for a visa with express service on Monday morning, you could pick it up on Monday morning.
How to make an appointment and what time to show up
As I already said, to be able to apply for a visa at the CVASC in London you’ll have to make an online appointment (you can do so from this page).
I recommend that you make the appointment at least 7-10 days ahead of time because places are limited and making an appointment just a few days ahead of time is impossible. Make sure that you print the receipt you’ll get as a PDF after you apply for the appointment.
If you make an appointment for 10 in the morning it makes no sense to show up more than ten minutes early since they won’t let you through. Keep in mind that the CVASC in London has 35 counters, so there will be many others (even more than 50) who’ll have an appointment at the same time.
Ten minutes before your appointment you can show up at the reception and ask for a number; after which you should watch the lighted board until your turn (it’s possible that you’ll have to wait 10-20 minutes), then go to the indicated counter.
At this point, an employee will check your documentation, and if there aren’t problems, will give you a receipt that will have your name, passport number and that date to pick up your visa.
If you forgot to print a document (the photocopy of the passport, for example), you could print it out at the CVASC (at 50 cents Sterling a copy), which also has several computers with internet access (in case you forgot a document that’s also available online).
How to pick up your visa
Unless you’ve decided to use the postal service, to pick up your visa you’ll have to return to the CVASC on the date indicated on your receipt (or the following days).
Remember to bring the receipt and money to pay for the visa (the CVASC accepts both cash and credit cards). Show the receipt to the employee at the entrance, who will give you – again – a number. Go to the lower floor and wait until it shows up on the lighted board.
I went around 11 in the morning and waited about ten minutes. If you get there at 9, the time it opens, there will probably be more people and you’ll have to wait a little longer.
At this point all you have to do is pay and pick up your passport. Before you go, make sure all the information on your visa is correct!
Have a great trip to China!
Photo Credits: Photos by Sapore di Cina