Are you wondering how to get a Chinese visa in Ho Chi Minh? Let’s talk about it!
Prior to going to the Chinese consulate, I did a ton of research and couldn’t find a whole lot of information about it. This post is going to give you a little breakdown of the process. Please note, I can only speak for U.S.A. as well as Austrian passport holders.
Chinese L Visa
If you are planning on visiting China as a tourist, then you’ll need an L visa. A Chinese L visa is for “Foreigners who intend to go to China as a tourist.”. For a full list of all other categories click here. In this post, I’ll be sharing my experience with getting a Chinese L Visa in Ho Chi Minh City.
What you will need
This list consists of the basic documents you’ll need according to the Chinese embassy. I did heaps of research online and read that quite a few people get asked for additional documents that aren’t on this list. My advice is to do as much research as possible about your particular situation. If you think you may need to bring an additional document, just bring it.
- Passport: Original passport with at least six months of remaining validity and blank visa pages + copy of the passport’s data page and the photo page (if separate)
- Visa application form and photos
- Proof of legal stay or residence status: You must provide your valid certificates or visa of stay, residence, employment or student status.
- Photocopy of previous Chinese passports or previous Chinese visas: This didn’t apply to me and I don’t have any information on it.
- Round trip plane ticket booking and proof of a hotel reservation OR an invitation letter issued by a relevant entity or individual in China: We brought our flight booking confirmations and because we were planning to stay with a friend, we asked her for an invitation letter.
The Chinese consulate in Ho Chi Minh is open for visa applicants from 8:30 AM to 11 AM, from Monday to Friday. The visa processing time is roughly 3-4 working days. Prior to visiting the consulate I read heaps of google reviews and figured that I rather get there a little earlier, then too late. We ended up arriving at roughly 5:30 AM and there was already a huge line.
At 7:30 AM the guards asked us to form proper lines and att around 9:20 AM we finally made it inside the consulate. A woman checked our documents and gave each of us a number. We waited only 5-10 minutes and were then seen by someone from the consulate.
Issues that we faced
The lovely lady behind the counter went through all our documents and in this section, I’ll talk you through the issues that we faced.
1. Visa application form and photos: You need two photos with a white background. I only had photos with light gray background and needed new ones with white background.
3. Proof of legal stay or residence status: We both had valid Vietnam visas and made copies of them. We got asked to come back with a copy of our Vietnam entry stamps.
7. Round trip plane ticket booking and proof of a hotel reservation OR an invitation letter issued by a relevant entity or individual in China: We were planning to stay with a friend and had an invitation letter from her. For more information on the letter of invitation, click here. While the invitation letter itself was fine, We got asked to come back with a copy of her passport and residence permit.
We were both hoping to get two-month visas. Turns out that in Ho Chi Minh City, as an Austrian passport holder, you can only get a one-month visa. As a U.S.A. passport holder, you qualify for a two-month visa that’s valid for 10 years. Depending on your situation though you may qualify for a Chinese visa extension/renewal. Update: I ended up extending my Chinese Visa in Chengdu and read that the process is similar in other cities. If you want to know how you can renew your visa in Chengdu click here.
How we worked it out
We rushed out of the consulate as fast as we could. My man connected to wifi at the cafe right next to the consulate and I rushed to a print shop that’s very close by. If you are in need of new photos, prints or copies ask the guards. They know where the print shop is. Luckily our friend got back to us super fast and only 10 minutes later we had what we needed in our inbox.
At the print shop, I had new photos taken for VND 30,000, got copies of our Vietnam entry stamps and printed a copy of our friend’s passport and work permit. Luckily for us, the guards let us back inside. We didn’t need to wait in line and went straight to the counter to get our number. We got to the counter within minutes and this time around, everything was fine. The lady behind the counter gave us a slip, asked for a Vietnamese phone number in case there’s a problem and told us to come back in three working days.
Collecting our Visas + Cost
We applied for our visas on Monday and got told that we could pick them up on Thursday between 2 PM and 4 PM. On Thursday we arrived at 1:30 PM and there was already a line. We were able to collect our visas at 3 PM. My man (U.S.A. passport holder) was granted a two-month visa for $140 while I (Austria passport holder) was granted a one-month visa for $30.
We needed to pay for our visas on the day we collected them, all payments need to be made in cash and the consulate takes only US dollars. I needed to get Vietnamese Dong out and exchanged them for USD. If you don’t know where to go, read my short guide on where to exchange money in Ho Chi Minh City.
Tips on how to get a Chinese Visa in Ho Chi Minh City
Based on my experience at the Chinese consulate I have a handful of tips:
- Have your application form filled out prior to going to the consulate (You can download it here)
- While there is glue at the consulate, if you have some, just affix your photo to the application before you go
- Bring all the basic documents + everything else you think may help
- Arrive as early as you can and by 6 AM at the latest
- Bring small change in case you need to make a copy or have new photos taken
- Have a Vietnamese phone number on hand (We gave the embassy the local number of our Airbnb host)
This was my experience with getting a Chinese visa in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. I can really only speak for myself and everyone’s experience will probably vary a little. If you have any questions about the process, feel free to comment down below!