My parents were planning to visit Shanghai and Beijing in March 2016, and I, being the resident visa expert was asked to handle their application. Nothing is as time-consuming and as nerve-wracking as applying for a visa. As Filipinos with a passport rank of 65, tied only with the country of Zimbabwe, we have to undergo the long and tedious process of asking a country if they could let you in. (To find out which passports are the most powerful, click here)
There is a lot of sitting and waiting when you’re applying for a visa, and on the day I filed my parents’ applications, I realized that hey, maybe I should apply too and tick China off of my travel list! This last-minute decision meant I had to go to the Chinese embassy three more times to pick up my parents’ passports, file my application, then pick up my own passport. It also meant that I was going to crash the Beijing leg of my parents’ vacation, but I was determined to do it.
Below is a guide for Filipinos who want to travel to China as a tourist, with absolutely no help from an inviting party, and without joining a tour group.
- Passport – Original passport that is valid for at least another 6 months with at least one blank visa page
- Photocopy of the passport’s information/photo page and emergency contact page. These are the second and last pages of your passport.
- Your previous old passports. If the old passport is lost, or the applicant never held a passport before, please make a clear statement in item 3.7 of the Visa Application Form.
- Visa Application Form. Fill out the Visa Application Form using CAPITAL letters. Answer every question and type N/A if the item does not apply. For this procedure I typed in my answers on Adobe Acrobat Pro / Adobe Reader. This made my application look cleaner and my answers easier to read. When I was done, I printed the form and signed it by hand. Note: The application form of minors must be signed by their parents or legal guardians.
Alternatively, you may also get an application form at the consular office and fill it out on the spot. Just make sure to bring a pen!The embassy no longer allows handwritten applications.
- Photo. Glue one (1) color photo on the upper right corner of your Application Form. The photo should be recent, front view, white background, in 48mm x 33mm size without head covering. For specific photo requirements, please click here.
- Photocopy of your previous Chinese visa, and if the visa is on your old passport, you should also submit the old passport (if applicable)
- For first-time applicants, submit the following documents:
a. Bank Certificate of Deposit Balance (with Average Daily Balance for 6 months), and official receipt;
b. Bank Statement (6 months), with official receipt;
c. BIR-stamped Income Tax Return Form. I wrote an explanation letter stating why I had no ITR: I was unemployed and busy with the Bar exams in the previous year.
d. Certificate of Employment, detailing the position, salary and the length of employment;
e. Business Registration Certificate (if you are the business owner);
f. Photocopy of your Professional ID/Student ID (if applicable). In my parents’ case I submitted photocopies of their IBP IDs.
g. Other relevant documents proving the applicant’s economic condition. In my case, I submitted a photocopy of my Condominium Certificate of Title;
h. Other relevant documents proving the applicant’s employment/study.
i. Other relevant documents supporting the applicant’s travel to China, or explaining the travel purpose. We submitted copies of our plane tickets, paid in full, as well as a rough travel itinerary. I followed the format provided by the Korean embassy.
Print out all of your requirements on A4 size paper. Is this required? No, but it follows the paper size of the Visa Application Form, and this implies that it’s the preferred paper size of the Chinese embassy. Of course there are some paper sizes you can’t control, such as the Bank Certificate of Deposit, for example, which BDO prints on Letter size paper. But that’s fine as long as you keep your personal documents consistent and presentable.
Don’t forget to arrange them in the order I stated above. You might notice that when you submit visa applications to any embassy, the officer would prioritize certain documents and place them in front, and then put other documents at the back. You can guess what their preference is by looking at the list of requirements provided by the embassy on their visa/consular page. Just follow the list in that order.
How to File your Application:
When you are finished compiling all of the requirements, bring the exact amount of your visa fee. For Philippine Passport holders:
- Single-entry: P1,400
- Double-entry: P2,100
- 6 months Multiple-entry: P2,800
- Over 6 months Multiple-entry: P4,200
Head to the visa/consular office of the People’s Republic of China, between 09:00 – 11:00 AM. No need to make an appointment. Their office is located at the 2nd Floor, the World Center, 330 Sen. Gil J. Puyat Avenue, Makati City, Metro Manila. Bring one (1) valid ID, which you will deposit at the lobby after signing in.
When I filed our applications, I arrived at the World Center before 09:00 and there was already a small queue. Line up and wait for instructions from the building guards.
The photos below were taken during the days I picked up our passports. The pink slips were given to me after I turned over all my documents, and they are required to be presented when you claim your passports, so protect that slip with your life! I used one plastic passbook sleeve from BDO – it fit perfectly! You will notice that they write the date when the passport will be ready for pick up.
You arrived at 8:30 AM and yet you’re number 400++? No fam, the lady guard at the consular office will ask you for your purpose (to file application? to claim passport?) and she will hand you the appropriate stub. Technically I was number 15 on the left, and number 39 on the right. I think I arrived a little past 9AM on that last one. By the way, cellphones aren’t allowed to be used inside the consular office, so apologies for the blurry shots!
Tada! Tourist Visa APPROVED
Here’s my single-entry Chinese Tourist Visa issued on March 11, 2016. The visa sticker says I can enter before June 11, 2016, and stay a maximum of 14 days in China. I initially interpreted the phrase “ENTER BEFORE 11JUNE2016” to mean that I can enter China until June 10, but the website states “unless otherwise specified by the issuing authority, a visa is valid from the date of issuance until Beijing time 24:00 on the expiring day,” meaning it will be valid until midnight of June 11.
The duration of stay specified in the visa means the period of time during which the visa holder is allowed to stay in China after each entry. The Chinese embassy’s website clarifies this by saying “it begins from the next day of entry,” meaning you can begin counting on the 2nd day after your arrival. This is entirely different from the method of counting the duration of stay used in Schengen visas.
The regular processing time for tourist visa applications is four (4) days, counting the day you file your application. So if you file your application on a Tuesday, you can come back on Friday to pick up your passport.
For more information, you may contact the office directly:
Consular/Visa Office of the People’s Republic of China in the Philippines
2nd & 3rd Floor, the World Center,
330 Sen. Gil J. Puyat Avenue, Makati City, Metro Manila
Inquiry: 63-2-8482395 (Work Day 09:00 – 11:00 ,14:00-16:00)