In preparation for our future trip to China, we inquired about different options for obtaining a visa for China from the country we are in. The easiest and cheapest option is to apply for a group evisa.
- The group evisa for China must berequested through a travel agency
- This type of visa has been around for ages
- No need to give fingerprints. Fingerprints will be taken when you arrive at the scene
- The evisa will not be issued by the country from which you are applying, it is issued directly from China, by the Chinese authorities: National Immigration Administration (Exit and Entry Administration) of the People’s Republic of China
- So you can go through any authorized agency, request this type of evisa even from a country where there is no Chinese consulate/embassy
- It is given to a group of travelers between 2 and 10 people – and the whole group must travel together (i.e. same itinerary, same travel dates, same hotel…). For a couple traveling in China and staying together all the time, it is ideal
- The visa must be requested at least 20 days before departure and 30 days maximum before departure
- The paper evisa will be sent by mail (via UPS or FEDEX) to the postal address you have indicated (anywhere in the world). This evisa is an A4 sheet with the signature and stamp of the Chinese authorities.
- A copy will be sent to you by email as well but this copy has no value if it isn’t accompanied by the physical A4 sheet.
- The DHL/FEDEX/UPS tracking number is also sent by email.
- After the date of signature of the e-visa, it is necessary to enter the country within 15 days otherwise this e-visa will be automatically cancelled
- The evisa is usually sent 13 days before your departure – from China. With the 2-3 days of UPS/FEDEX/DSL processing, it is received 8-11 days before your departure (on average)
- The evisa is valid for 30 days from the date of entry into China, for a single entry. You will have to show this evisa at each check-in at the hotel, and at departure, an officer will confiscate this paper evisa.
- The process is much simpler than a normal visa
- Rates are much cheaper than a normal visa
- Your passport stays with you all the time
- No fingerprints taken before departure, so no travel is necessary. Everything is done online. Only a mail must be received physically, at the address of your choice
The difficulty according to the Internet users is
- the uncertainty of obtaining the visa or not (sometimes, in extreme cases, the evisa is received only 2 days before departure), this creates a lot of stress
- have to stay in the same place somewhere to receive this famous e-visa
- exceptionally, during the National Day of China in September, the service was suspended for a few days. Those who wanted to leave during this period had to apply for a normal visa at the Chinese Embassy – which unfortunately was also closed during this period. In short, it is necessary to avoid these periods of vacation/national holiday/moon new year – already because there are many Chinese tourists but in addition the consular services do not work
- it must be at least 2 = not at all a solution for solo travelers
How to get around the difficulty of receiving mail
As for the address to give to receive mail, travelers worry that they will not receive the e-visa on time, or that they will not be able to stay in the same place for several days. Let me reassure you:
- Many hotels are able to receive mail for you even if you aren’t there, we did it in Hoi An in Vietnam, and in Warsaw in Poland
- …provided that you inform the reception beforehand that you are expecting a mail and that they have OK to receive it for you 😀
- The ideal would be to send this mail in a hotel, well noted, with reception open 24/7, in the city from where you will leave for China
- Write them an email to let them know when your mail arrives.
- While waiting for the mail, you can travel to other cities. The important thing is that they know that you will be a customer in their home and are waiting for mail
- 1-2 days before leaving for China, stay in this hotel, leave a good tip, pick up your mail and fly to China
- That’s what JB did to receive his Coldplay concert tickets in Poland (sent by mail). We saw via the tracking system that the mail arrived at the hotel before we arrived. We simply picked it up at the reception desk
- You can also give the address of a UPS/DHL/FEDEX center or office. Cf. JB’s article on this subject
Comparison of agencies
Here are the rates as of November 2019 and the services offered by the agencies
|China Visa Direct
|Visa China Online
|DHL / FedEx
|Chat, email, French number. French contacts
|Email. Chinese phone number
|24/7/365 support by email in French and EnglishChat
from 9:30am to 7pm Monday to Friday
|Only by chat
|What happens if the visa isn’t received on time?
|Action Visas will ask the Chinese authorities to send a 2nd copy – which will arrive about 2 days before departure
Of these 4 agencies, actions-visas is one of the most expensive but it is a very reputable (and French) agency. It is also the only one to propose a concrete solution if the evisa is late to come (or gets lost) – because 6-7 days before departure, if the evisa still does not arrive, we can contact them and they will ask for a 2nd copy to be sent – which can arrive 2 days before departure. To learn more about their services and explanations about this group e-visa, visit their website here.
We have had positive feedback from the other 2 sites, China Visa Direct and Visa China Online, but only from people who had no problem with them (I don’t know how they pay for late shipping??). For iVisa, the Internet users complain about the support that is only done by chat and in English – and sometimes, the total lack of response.
Did you like this article? Consult our itinerary : 19 days in China : from Beijing to Hanoi (Vietnam) here