China visa & Tibet Permit

All visitors traveling to mainland China, whether for business or pleasure, require a visa. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after the duration of your intended stay. You can go to Chinese Embassy or consulates in your country to apply for a visa. Usually it takes a few working days (4-5 working days) for the embassy to issue the visa.

Hong Kong is still a good place to pick up a visa for China. China Travel Service (CTS) will be able to obtain one for you, or you can apply directly to the Visa Office of the People's Republic of China (3413 2300; 7th fl, Lower Block, China Resources Centre, 26 Harbour Rd, Wan Chai; 9am-noon & 2-5pm Mon-Fri). Visas processed here in one/two/three days cost HKD 400/300/150. Double-entry visas are HKD 220, while six-month/one-year multiple-entry visas are HKD 400/600 (plus HKD 150/250 for express/urgent service). Be aware that American and UK passport holders must pay considerably more for their visas. You must supply two photos, which can be taken at photo booths in the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) or at the visa office for HKD 35. It is very difficult to get a visa on arrival at the entry ports.

Citizens of Singapore, Brunei and Japan are allowed to enter China without visas for up to 15 days for tourism, including visiting family or friends, or minor business purposes provided they enter through nominated international ports.


We suggest you apply for the visa only 1 or 2 months (at least 2 weeks) before your planned date to enter China. If you apply for the visa too late, you may not have enough time for the application. If you apply for the visa too early, the visa may become invalid before your departure for China. Generally, the validity of a single-entry visa is 3 months, counted from the date of application.


There are eight categories of visa (C - flight attendant; D - resident; F - business or student; G - transit; J - journalist; L- travel; X - long-term student; Z-working). For most travellers, the type of visa issued is an L. The letter specifying what type of visa you have is usually stamped on the visa itself.


Single-Entry China Visa - Single-entry China visas are usually valid for 3 months after the issue date, and will permit you to stay in China for a maximum of 30 days. This visa will allow you to travel as a tourist or conduct general business activities. Most people need only to apply for a single-entry.

Double-Entry China Visa - If you need to leave and re-enter mainland China, you need to apply for double-entry visa. Please keep in mind that, when you leave from Mainland China for Hong Kong and Macau, you will need to have a double-entry visa if you want to re-enter Mainland China.

Visit Hong Kong - Most visitors to Hong Kong, including citizens of the EU, Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Canada, could enter and stay for 90 days without a visa. British passport holders get 180 days, while South Africans are allowed to stay 30 days without a visa. If you do require a visa, apply at a Chinese embassy or consulate before arriving. Be aware that if you visit Hong Kong from China, you will need to either have a multiple-entry visa to re-enter China or get a new visa.

Visit Macau - Most travelers, including citizens of the EU, Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Canada and South Africa, can enter Macau without a visa for between 30 and 90 days. Most other nationalities can get a 30-day visa on arrival, which will cost MOPD 100/50/200 per adult/child under 12/family. If you're visiting Macau from China and plan to re-enter China, you will need to be on a multiple-entry visa.

China visa extensions - The Foreign Affairs Branch of the local PSB (Gong'anju) - the police force - deals with visa extensions.

First-time extensions of 30 days are easy to obtain on single-entry tourist visas, but further extensions are harder to get and may only give you another week. Offices of the PSB outside of Beijing may be more lenient and more willing to offer further extensions, but don't bank on it.

Extensions to single-entry visas vary in price, depending on your nationality. American travelers pay Y 185, Canadians Y 165, UK citizens Y 160 and Australians Y 100; prices can go up or down. Expect to wait up to five days for your visa extension to be processed.

The period of extension can differ from city to town. Travelers report generous extensions being decided on the spot in provincial towns and backwaters. If you have used up all your options, popping into Hong Kong to apply for a new tourist visa is a reliable option.

The penalty for overstaying your visa in China is up to Y 500 per day. Some travelers have reported having trouble with officials who read the 'valid until' date on their visa incorrectly. For a one-month tourist (L) visa, the 'valid until' date is the date by which you must enter the country (within three months of the date the visa was issued), not the date upon which your visa expires. Your visa expires the number of days that your visa is valid for after the date of entry into China.

Special Permits required to visit Tibet - It is not allowed to travel in Tibet as an independant traveler, all foreign tourists visit Tibet have to be in one group organized by travel agency, apply for necessary Tibet Permits, such as TTB permit, PSB permit, military permit..ect. , with guide and necessary transportation. Windhorse Tour specializes in operating various tours in Tibet, and assist tourists to arrange the permits to Tibet.  To ensure enough time to apply for the Tibet permit and tour agreement, normally we suggest our clients to confirm the Tibet tour at least 15 days in advance.

To apply for the Tibet permit, we need the copies of your passports and china visa, working permit or students card if those are working or studying in China. Normally it takes 3 working days to get the permit. To visit Tibet, you don't need any double entry China visa, since Tibet is part of China.



Kate B
Kate B
Mon, 11/30/2015

I was wondering if you could help me;
I'm underway planning a rather spontaneous trip to Nepal, which involves around 4/5 days in Tibet for sightseeing. I have only just realized the different visa requirements between Nepal and China, as i stupidly assumed it would be the same visa-on-entry situation.
My arrival to Lhasa is hopefully on 10.12.15, I have a South African Passport, traveling with a British Passport holder.
Look forward to hearing from you!

Replied by
Tagong grassland by July Yuki
Yuki Yi
Tue, 12/01/2015

In reply to by Kate B (not verified)

Hello Kate,

Thanks for your comment! Overseas travelers must apply Tibet Permit to enter Tibet, our agency will help you to organize all of your Tibet permits. If you enter Tibet from Nepal side, then you don't need apply for any individual China tourist visa in advance but our agency arranges you a Group China Visa in Chinese embassy in Kathmandu, the application takes 2-4 days just depending on your choice. So you need prepare to have several days in Kathmandu before the tour starts.
I have sent you all the details via E-mail, please kindly have a look and feel free to contact me for any further information.
Best Regards,

Tue, 03/19/2013


Can you please clarify the process.

We apply in South Africa for our Chinese Visa with our full itinerary which includes the portion that we will go to Lhasa. We get those visa's back after about a week.

Then we send photocopies of these visa's ????? to our travel agent in China, and they submit the application on our behalf for the Tibet visa.

When we then arrive in Beijing - we have to give the tour operator our passports to take to the TIbet visa office, to get the Tinet visa put in it too. This will mean that we will be without our passports for 3 working days in Beijing???

Is this correct?

Is not - please explain how it will work, and how long do we have to stay in Beijing, before we can fly to Lhasa?


Replied by
Murphy Feng
Tue, 03/19/2013

In reply to by Mel (not verified)

Hi Melodie,

Thanks for contacting us. I totally understand your concerns and confusion, lots of people have the same questions about the policies. I've sent you an email with detailed explanation and some suggestions, hope that's helpful and please let me know if you have any further question on it!

I'm looking forward to hearing from you again! 

Kind Regards,


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