How to get a Chinese Visa in Ho Chi Minh City

Are you wondering how to get a Chinese visa in Ho Chi Minh? Let’s talk about it!Β 

how to get a chinese visa in ho chi minh cityPrior 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 the 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.

  1. 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)
  2. Visa application form and photos
  3. Proof of legal stay or residence status: You must provide your valid certificates or visa of stay, residence, employment or student status.
  4. Photocopy of previous Chinese passports or previous Chinese visas: This didn’t apply to me and IΒ don’t have any information on it.
  5. 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 process

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.

Line at Chinese Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City
The line at Chinese Consulate at 5:30 AM in Ho Chi Minh City

At 7:30 AM the guards asked us to form proper lines and at 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 a light gray background and needed new ones with a 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.

Le Van Tam Park
Le Van Tam Park near the Chinese Embassy

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 and I’ll get back to you! πŸ™‚

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  1. claire truong
    July 20, 2018 / 8:44 AM

    Hello, thank you for your insight. Did you pay the $30 at the counter of the consulate or you had to pay soemwhere else before coming to the consulate to pick up visa ?

    • Nina
      July 21, 2018 / 1:44 AM

      On the day I picked it up I paid the fee. Shortly afterward I had my visa! πŸ™‚ I didn’t need to go anywhere else – I simply handed the cash to the person working at the counter of the consulate πŸ™‚

  2. Bene
    July 23, 2018 / 7:34 AM

    Thanks! This is just what i’ve been looking for and it is very recent. Is my understanding right that you were holding a tourist visa in Vietnam when you applied for China tourist visa at the Chinese consulate in HCMC?

    • Nina
      July 23, 2018 / 1:58 PM

      Yes, that’s correct! I had a Vietnam Visa that I got at the consulate in Bangkok. A visa is definitely needed as you wouldn’t be able to enter the country without one (as a tourist) πŸ™‚

  3. Bene
    July 23, 2018 / 3:51 PM

    I was merely clarifying if my understanding that China now allows people on tourist visa to apply for Chinese visa in a country not their own. This is exactly what I plan to do when I get to HCMC next month. Last year it was impossible to apply for Chinese visa in a country you are not a resident of. I wasn’t asking whether you had Vietnamese visa or not because the answer to that is very obvious. In any case, this post was helpful. Thanks!

    • Nina
      July 24, 2018 / 2:05 AM

      It’s a valid question! πŸ™‚ Yes! They absolutely do! πŸ™‚ If you plan on getting your chinese visa in HCMC make sure to be prepared and arrive EARLY. I can’t stress this one enough. It was wild! πŸ˜€

  4. Ary
    July 30, 2018 / 9:54 PM

    Hi, I am going to Ho Chi Minh by the end of this week. I couldn’t get Chinese visa on my country (Argentina) because recently became very complicated to get it here. I have some questions about getting visa on HCM:
    1) I only will be staying for 3 days, can I ask for an urgent visa? I will go to another Vietnam city
    2) Can they send the passport to my hotel? Or can I send somebody to pick it up?
    3) What happened if I arribe later? There is a limit number of visas that they issued each day?

    • Nina
      August 4, 2018 / 4:22 AM

      1) Yes. They do offer express service. I believe express service would have been 1-2 working days and a little extra. Don’t quote me on that though, I don’t remember how many days express exactly took
      2) They definitely won’t be sending your passport to your hotel. You need to physically go there on the day of collection to pay, collect your passport and your visa. I am not sure if someone else could pick it up for you. On the day you apply for the visa simply ask the people working there. They will be able to advise you on that.
      3) As far as I am aware they don’t have a certain number of visas they are giving out. That being said, if you arrive after my recommended time you may not get inside the building and would, therefore, run the risk of not getting your visa. Come as early as you can. I recommend going between 5 and 6 AM.

      Hope that helps! πŸ™‚

  5. kshitij mishra
    August 12, 2018 / 8:35 AM

    I have an invitation letter from Chinese citizen.
    Do i need to book flight tickets? Or i can do it without flight tickets?

    • Nina
      August 28, 2018 / 4:19 PM

      It is recommended to bring them. They basically want to see that you intend to leave the country. If you aren’t yet sure when you’ll fly out you could always book a flight and cancel it.

  6. Zach
    August 22, 2018 / 6:49 AM

    Did you notice people cutting in line? I just spent three hours roasting outside the consulate in Hanoi, but gave up because the queue got bigger! People would just cut on the sides until it overflowed onto the road. It looked like there was bribing at 450k to skip to the single file queue. I would rather try my luck in Ho Chi Minh City.

    • Nina
      August 26, 2018 / 7:38 AM

      This pretty much describes my experience in Ho Chi Minh City. There’s lots of queue jumping going on. We got in because we arrived early. If we’d arrived an hour or so later we wouldn’t have made it because a lot of people who do come, end up jumping the queue. Neither of us speaks Vietnamese so it’s really difficult to do/say anything about it. I’d just go there as early as you can and would try again! πŸ™‚

  7. Alisa
    August 27, 2018 / 3:53 AM

    Nina, I can’t thank you enough for the article you wrote. I am currently in HCMC, want to apply for a Chinese visa, but there is almost 0 information on that. Thank you again for the insight and help, hopefully I will get my visa, too.
    I was told that it’s nearly impossible to get the visa in your place of residence, but Vietnam, Combogia, and probably some other South-East Asian countries.
    Will get back here and talk about my expirience as soon as I get (or not) the visa.

    • Nina
      August 28, 2018 / 4:04 PM

      I feel you on that one! I only found very little about it online. The only really helpful source was google reviews. I wouldn’t have gone this early if it wasn’t for people reviewing the Chinese embassy in HCMC on google! No worries at all! I really just wanted to share my experience in the hope of it helping others πŸ™‚ It can definitely be a difficult visa to get. I’d love for you to share your experience – I think it’d be super helpful for anyone reading this in the future πŸ™‚ I wish you all the best. Let me know how it goes! πŸ™‚

  8. Hoang Nguyen
    October 5, 2018 / 2:17 PM

    Hi Nina, would you please explain what do you mean with the Vietnamese entry stamps? Is it the stamp that put on your passport when you at the airport? I am having an Australian friend coming to HCMc and he will apply for Chinese visa here.

    • Nina
      October 6, 2018 / 4:11 AM

      Yes, it’s the stamp that you’ll get at the airport. They want to have a copy of the page in your passport that shows the stamp clearly. So he’d need to make sure to bring a copy of the passport page where the stamp is! πŸ™‚

  9. Horacio
    October 14, 2018 / 9:34 AM

    Hi Nina! We’ll go to HCM city next week to get the Chinese visa cause we will do, as you did, a housiting in Chengdu (yes, like you!!) but after we have other en Shenzhen, so we will probably need to extend our visa as you did too.
    Is there any possibility to get directly two or more months visa in HCM?
    Thanks a lot for you explanation πŸ™‚

    • Nina
      October 15, 2018 / 11:20 PM

      Hi Horacio! This is dependent on what type of passport you hold. If you go to the Chinese Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City and you are a U.S.A passport holder then you’ll get 2 months and your visa could be used again and again over a period of 10 years. If you are from most countries then you’ll only be able to get a one-month long visa. I wanted a two-month long visa and was told that this consulate currently only gives out one-month long visas to most passport holders, people with a passport from the U.S.A. being the most common exception due to the agreements that are set in place. I hope that makes sense! πŸ™‚ Sweet that you are doing two house sits in China btw! Chengdu was one of my favorite places on this trip, I loved it! Good luck at the consulate and make sure to arrive super early!! πŸ™‚

  10. Horacio
    October 16, 2018 / 3:10 PM

    Hi again Nina! I have one question more, do you know if the chinase embassy is giving 3 months or s6 month two entries visas?
    I’m looking to stay in Chengdu for more or less a month, after leave to HK, stay a few days and come back to Shenzhen for another month. Thanks a lot!

    • Nina
      October 17, 2018 / 8:25 AM

      As far as I am aware that’s not the case for the Chinese Embassy in Ho Chi Minh City. They only give 2 month long visas to U.S.A. passport holders. Most other nationalities are only able to qualify for a month-long visa. I wanted to get at least 2 months and it was then explained to me that I won’t be able to get that due to them only giving out month-long visas for Austrian (and other) passport holders. Both my visa and my man’s visa was a single entry which leads me to believe that that’s all they ever give out. I am not sure what I’d do in your case! :S

  11. Maneesh
    October 18, 2018 / 9:38 AM

    Thanks for taking the time to write this up

    • Nina
      December 3, 2018 / 4:42 PM

      Apologies for my late reply! No worries at all! I hope it was helpful to you! πŸ™‚

  12. Nigel
    October 30, 2018 / 5:33 PM

    No question as I just want to thank you for all the information you provided. I too have been on-line searching for information for days and you have checked all the boxes to my many questions.

    Thanks again

    • Nina
      October 31, 2018 / 6:30 AM

      I am thrilled to hear that what this post has been useful to you! It was so difficult for me to find decent and, most importantly, current information, I just had to put it into writing in the hopes that it may help someone else out! πŸ™‚

  13. Gabriela
    November 21, 2018 / 2:55 AM

    Hi Nina.
    Thanks for all the information you have shared.
    I’m living in Hcm with my husband and we have resident card.
    My question is can I go the consulate alone and apply the visa for both of us?

    • Nina
      November 22, 2018 / 11:06 AM

      As far as I am aware you’d both need to be physically present to apply for a visa!

  14. Brennen
    December 3, 2018 / 6:07 AM

    Hi Nina, great write up! What happens if I don’t get to the Consulate until 8 or 8:30am? Will I just have to wait longer in line? Or will I miss out on my chance to submit my application?

    • Nina
      December 3, 2018 / 7:35 AM

      If you get to the consulate at 8 or 8:30 AM you’ll be too late. As mentioned in my post, my recommendation is to get there between 5 and 5:30 AM. If you show up any later than that you probably won’t be getting inside.

      • Brennen
        December 3, 2018 / 7:46 AM

        Well noted, thank you very much!

        • Nina
          December 3, 2018 / 4:37 PM

          No worries at all! From my experience arriving there at 5:15 AM in the morning it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get in by arriving any later than 6 AM. The consulate, let me put it this way, is run in a very particular way. There are certain practices going on that I am personally not willing to support. I think if you read up on the reviews on Google, you’ll get a much better picture about how things are run there. Trust me when I say that the earlier you get there, the better. If you arrive at 8 AM, on any regular day, your chances of getting in are going to be zero to none, based on my personal experience of being there! πŸ™‚

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