When we were deciding on where we wanted to go, the Great Wall of China was a must for both of us. Lots of research was done trying to determine how to get the chinese visa. After taking in account of what travel.gc.ca has to say, I went to facebook and asked travellers who had just been the scoop. Everyone stated that you could get a visa in 3 days in Hong Kong.
Letters of Invitation
You see the issue is the need for a letter of invitation. How the heck do you get one of those, was my first thought?
Well, there are a few ways and you have to decide which is best for you. After doing lots of reading and researching, I chose a tour. Ultimately, you have to make a booking with a Chinese business, who then issues a letter of invitation, once you have paid.
Do not rely on the website for the information. The address is wrong and we were at least given the proper address. It is not on Kennedy Road in Hong Kong, it is in the China Resources building down by the Wai Chan Ferry.
Once at the embassy there is strict security, no food or liquids allowed in the building – there are baskets outside to leave it, but at your own risk – our stuff was there when we came out. Luggage is not allowed in and they have a separate room for your luggage.
Once inside it is similar to airport security, except they are not as proficient at identifying articles from the scanner, but they are nice about it. Magpie’s flashlight and umbrella kept getting tagged and they kept thinking it was a lighter or bottle of water.
Up the elevators you go to the 3rd floor. Instead of getting into line right off the bat, make sure you have a passport photo and a photocopy of your passport, with the little square visa paper for hong kong, it can be two separate photocopies if need be.
Passport photos can be taken there – beside the line for verification – for $50 HKD each and you get four of them. Photocopying can also be done there for $2 HKD (2 separate $1 coins). There are two photocopying machines, one with the photo booth beside the line for verification and the other is located at the back of the room, past all the booths.
I needed the invitation letter printed off and the only place I found was outside the Wai Chan exit A5, on the street level, before the McDonald’s. This shop does e-printing and photocopying at very good prices.
When you have your 2 page, both side form completed, photocopies and photo ready, then go to the line. These gentlemen pre-screen to make sure you have everything. If you do, they will give you a number to go to a booth to hand in your application.
If your children have separate passports then they need a copy of the invite letter and a copy of both their parents passports too.
If you are a single parent, the child still needs to have a copy of both parents passport.
If you are a single parent and the other parent is not part of the child’s life, then the child must have a copy of the legal documentation proving that, along with a copy of your passport.
If you forget some of the child’s documentation, this is now from experience, the embassy will process yours and you have to come back for the child’s.
We came back first thing the next morning and they made sure that both our passports with visas would have the same day of pick up, not a day later.
Picking Up your Visa and Passport
When you apply for your visa, the normal turn-a-round time is 4 business days, excluding holidays. If you need it faster you will pay more and there is no same day service.
Also make sure you have not booked or planned a trip to one of the day trips in China while you wait for your visa, you will not have your passport.
To pick up your passport, you will have your slip of paper/receipt that you will pay for first.
It is not necessary to get in line and get a number. You will probably have noticed the cashiers when you were waiting to hand in your application.
They only accept cash and they do accept $1000HKD. Once you have paid, you go to the next window and your passport and visa will be returned. You might have a small line up here, but it goes quickly.
The hours of operation are 9-12 and 2-5 Mon-Fri excluding holidays. Due check the holidays.
I highly recommend going in the morning and if you can swing it not a Monday.
They do not let you sit on the ground to wait when it gets to 15 mins before opening. This is when they start handing out the forms and they are not keen on the online forms.
When picking up your passport & visa, there is a separate line. Do not think that you will get in any sooner. We had to wait until the other line was completely in before they let us in. We waited an extra 30 mins.
Overall, it is a painless process. The issues we ran into was lack of up-to-date information on their website and me forgetting paperwork for Magpie, or knowing where to e-print. Otherwise, they can seem brusk at times, but they are dealing with a huge volume of people everyday. There were quite nice and helpful.
A note of oddity in their prices. I haven’t quite figured this one out yet. The price for the visa is the same for 9 years. Not sure if I have 60 days for 9 years or I am allowed 60 days with each entry for 9 years.
I will worry about that later, now it is time to enjoy mainland China.