Chinese Visas

So you thought getting a Chinese Visa was easy eh? Well it is sort of easy. However it’s a tedious process and there are lots steps and hurdles. This post will go through the various tasks and stages our family had to go through to get our Chinese Visas.

DISCLAIMER.. Our situation will most likely be completely different to everyone elses. Hopefully it’ll still be of use to somebody. However, things are always liable to change so best checking the China Visa websites for the latest information.

For a British citizen to visit China, you need to hold a valid UK passport with at least 2 spare pages and 6 months remaining time.

My wife will be working in China so she applies for a Z visa. My daughter and I are dependents of a foreigner working in China so we get L1 visas.

Let’s start with the Z visa. The first thing my wife needed was a bunch of documents.

  • Full DBS (Police record check)
  • Degree Certificate (Not post grad)
  • Mariage Certificate
  • Daughters Birth Certificate
  • UK based medical
  • Employment detail letter from current employer

Something to note here is that my wife is a teacher and has a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). The Chinese visa process does not need this. They need her original honours degree.

Now, you need to spend some cash and get the first four of these documents notarised, legalised and authenticated. That is the DBS, Degree certification, Marriage certificate and daughter’s birth certificate. My wife used the following solicitors, Wilkinson Woodward who took care of all three steps. Each of these steps has to be done in this order.

  1. Notarised – A authorised public notary notarises all the documents
  2. Legalised – Her degree and DBS need to be legalised by our UK govenment
  3. Authenticate – The Chinese embassy are required to authenticate all documents


Our solicitors took approximately 2 weeks to complete the process. This timing can be very dependent on how busy each of the respective authorities are, so be warned, it could take longer.

Whilst we waited for the notarised documents to come back, we took a trip to Harley street to get the medical out of the way. This is a health check with blood work. It seems the main reason is to check if you have any infectious diseases or serious medical conditions. We used CityDoc and it was very easy.

The letter from my wife’s employer was straight forward enough. Proof of service and responsibilities.

Once everything was back, the documents were scanned in and emailed to my wife’s Chinese employer. This starts the next stage which is the invitation letter. This document is an authenticated letter inviting my wife to work in China. This is required for the Z visa and without it you cannot apply. This document took around 4 weeks to arrive, though some of my wife’s colleagues had theirs returned within a couple of weeks. With this document, along with the all the official, notarised, legalised and authenticated documents, we were ready to go and get the visas!

The final step of getting the visas can be done in two ways. By yourself or via an agent. We chose to use an agent mainly because it was simpler and had less risk of failing. We had also been told to use the London Visa centre as our documents had been authenticated there. Ideally with our northern base we would have used Manchester but this was not an option for us.

If you are doing this yourself then check out the official Chinese visa website here

Alternatively we used a London based agent who were fantastic. Check out their website here

Each of us needed to fill out an application form. Like this one here…

visa application example
example visa application form

We all needed a passport size photo with all the usual rules about not smiling etc. This has to be no more then 6 months old and with a white background.

  • My wife’s Z visa application required a copy of her Chinese invitation to work document.
  • My L1 visa application required a copy of our marriage certificate.
  • Finally, my daughters L1 application required a copy of her birth certificate.

We turned up at the agency at 8am sharp. Handed over a pile of documents and our passports to a gentleman who then proceeded to scan through each page highlighting areas in yellow and making the odd correction here or there. After approximately 10 minutes he stood up and photo copied a bunch of pages. I think they were copies of my wife’s invitation letter. Next we were given a map with a circle around the Chinese Visa Centre near Bank station, and told we needed too be there at 11am. At this time, we’d receive a call asking us to go to a specific desk within the visa centre where my wife and I would enter our finger prints into a machine. Sure enough at 11ish I got a call from a lady in the visa centre. We found her easily and entered our finger prints into the device on the desk.

We had paid for the three day service so I returned on Wednesday afternoon to the agents office near Oxford circus. Nothing is a given when it comes to dealing with visas so I wouldn’t know if everything had been successful till I arrived at 3pm. Everything was fine, and our passports were ready with fresh Z and L1 visas firmly glued in place.

zvisa example
Example Z visa

Thats about all there is to it. I’ll list some prices for each of the steps. These are from mid 2018 so likely to change.

  • Visa costs per person £255 (express 3 day service)
  • Noterise, Legalise and Authenticated documents X4 £600 (standard service)
  • UK Medial £240 (only required for Z visa)
  • Professional Passport photos £20
  • DBS £40

The next step is entering China and converting our visas into residents permits. If it’s an exciting process I’ll blog about that too 🙂

Links to the websites we used.

China Visa Direct

Wilkinson Woodward Solicitors


Official Chinese Visa Centre UK London


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s