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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?

As of 1 November 2018, all applicants aged between 14 and 70 will need to make their visa application in person at a Chinese Visa Application Centre. As part of the application process, biometric data (scanned fingerprints) will now have to be provided. 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.

Additional information

Drug offences

There are extremely severe penalties for drug offences in China, including the death penalty. The Chinese authorities undertake random drug testing on foreign nationals including on entry to the country. If you test positive you can be prosecuted regardless of where and when you consumed the drugs.

If you do disclose details of a drug offence on a visa application, it is our belief that your visa is likely to be refused.

Personal experience

The case study below relates to an individual helped by our helpline:

Discuss with others

Read and share your experiences on our online forum.

Key sections include:

Below you will find links to useful websites relating to this page.

More information

  1. To discuss this issue with others – Read and share your experiences on our online forum
  2. Questions – If yo have any questions about this, you can contact our helpline.

Get involved

Help us to add value to this information. You can:

  1. Comment on this page (below)
  2. Send your feedback directly to us
  3. Discuss your views and experiences with others on our online forum
  4. Share your personal story by contributing to our online magazine, theRecord

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




Add Comment
  1. It’s worth stating that you can also lie on the form. I have travelled to China five times and lied on the form each time and been granted a visa.

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Debbie Sadler
Helpline lead

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