With the increase in tourism to the area, it is not surprizing that tourists are flocking to China and Guangzhou. The area is culturally rich and full of plenty to see.
So, do you need a visa if you are a UK citizen?
Yes, you do. Before you enter China, you must have a valid visa. Further, your passport must be valid for over six months.
UK tourists can stay in China for a maximum of 15 days and each visa is only valid for one trip. The time frame of the visa starts as soon as you enter China and Guangzhou.
Your visa will cost you around US $140 for a UK citizen, along with postage and packing.
Documents you need
- Passport. You must have a passport with more than six months validity remaining on it.
- Application Form. You need the application form to be completed correctly.
- Passport copies. It helps to have more than two copies of everything you take.
- Passport photographs
- Supporting documents
- Letter of invitation. This letter invites you to apply for your visa at a Chinese Visa Application Centre.
Note that you can also apply for this visa by using iVisa.com.
You can expect your application to take about two weeks to process. This does not include the time for postage, so leave yourself plenty of time when planning your trip.
iVisa will process your UK application in five business days.
More about visas for UK citizens
You will need a visa to enter mainland China. This includes Hainan Island. Macao and Hong Kong do not require visas.
To apply for a visa at a centre you must be between 14 and 70 years of age. You will be required to have your fingerprints scanned and your data recorded biometrically. This information may be used or checked at point of entry.
If you plan to only transit in China, there are some visa waivers which apply. Should you travel through Shanghai you may apply online for a 144-hour visa exemption.
On several transit locations you will need to apply in person so you should check with the Chinese Embassy before you set out. The tour operator and airline should also have this information for you.
If you plan to visit Hong Kong and then return to the mainland you will need a second visa to re-enter.
If you plan on staying longer than 6 months you must get a Residence Permit.
It is the responsibility of the passport holder to check your visa details. If you accidentally overstay or work illegally you may be fined, imprisoned or deported. The Chinese authorities carry out regular checks to prevent this.
Other documents needed
If you have lost your passport you may show your UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETD’s) for transit and exit from China.
If this document has been issued to you in China, you need to apply for an exit visa before you leave. You can do this at the Public Security Bureau, and it will take about7 days to process.
Within 24 hours of your arrival in China you need to register with the local Public Security Bureau. Be aware that regular spot checks are carried out on tourists, and do not forget to do this.
If you have booked into a hotel, they will do this as part of your check-in. Both China and Guangzhou have luxury hotels where you can base yourself.
Working in China and Guangzhou
Regular tourist and business visas do not entitle you to work in the country. You need to have a valid Z visa along with a valid work permit. Police carry out regular checks to ensure that this documentation is up-to-date.
If you are found to be violation of this you will be landed with a hefty fine, deportation and a travel ban and exclusion order which will prevent you from returning to the country again.
If you plan on working in China and Guangzhou, you should first check with the Chinese Embassy to ensure that the visa requirements have not changes. You must include the location you plan to work in, and make sure that all the details are correct. If there are any errors, you can be detained at entry.
You should also make sure with the Embassy whether a new visa and work permit is required before you start your journey.
To change employers in China and Guangzhou you may need to apply for a new visa and work permit, so again, check with the authorities before doing this.
UK citizens teaching in China and Guangzhou
If you plan to go to China and Guangzhou to teach English, you must first check that the university or college who is going to hire you is following the law. Having the wrong visa and still working may mean you are detained or deported. It is the responsibility of the applicant to check that the visa is correct for working.
These visas are applicable to people who want to visit Beijing for up to 72 hours. This applies to UK citizens as well as those of another 44 countries.
The requirements are that you must be in possession of a valid and confirmed travel ticket for onward travel. There are no planned roundtrips or stays in China, and you must arrive by plane, not bus, ferry or train.
You cannot during the 72 hour stay leave the city although you may travel through Guangdong Province.
To apply for this in-transit visa you must do so on arrival and within 24 hours at a police station. Failure to do this will mean that you cannot stay in the area.
To sum up
While China and Guangzhou are up and coming tourist attractions, it does seem that there is a certain amount of paperwork which you must have before entering the country.
It pays, therefore to double check the visa you need and make sure that you have it issued in good time. With a bit of attention to travel details you will be able to explore the country and all it has to offer.