Travelling to China

Aim of this page

The aim of this page is to set out whether people travelling to China require a visa to travel and if so, whether there is any necessity for them to disclose their criminal record.

Why is this important?

Applying for any type of visa can be expensive and time consuming, and it’s important to know therefore what, if anything, you’ll need to disclose about your criminal record. Also, if you do disclose a conviction, how it might affect your chances of success in getting a visa.

Do I need a visa to go to China?

British nationals wishing to enter mainland China (but not Hong Kong or Macao) will require a visa.

As of 11th January 2016, in line with reciprocal visa arrangements between China and the UK, the Chinese Embassy and Consulates will issue two year multi-entry visas for eligible British nationals for stays of up to 90 days for commercial/trade activities and for individuals travelling as a tourist or to visit family members/relatives.

What do they ask about your criminal record on the visa application form?

The application form asks:

‘Do you have any criminal record in China or any other country?  Yes/No’

Chinese Visa application form

There is very little guidance as to what the Chinese consider should be disclosed. The Embassy states that disclosure of a conviction would not automatically stop you from getting a visa but you should answer the question honestly so that you do not risk being turned away on arrival at the border or expelled after entry in China. Any conviction given at either a magistrates or crown court should be disclosed to comply with Chinese law.

How long does it take to get a visa?

The normal processing time is four working days providing you have all the necessary documentation and have a passport with at least six months validity.

Where can I apply for a visa and what’s the cost?

You can apply through the Chinese Visa Application Centre. The price varies from $30 to $140 depending on your nationality, the type of visa you are applying for and the country where you are applying from.

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This page was last fully reviewed and updated in March 2018. If you’ve spotted something that needs updating, please let us know by emailing the details to



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