Update November 2014: I recently applied for a tourist visa again earlier this month at their new location at Cebu IT Tower, which is a stone’s throw away from Ayala Center Cebu. As a holder of a previous Chinese visa, I only needed to submit the following:
- photocopies of information and emergency contact pages of passport
- application form with photo
- confirmed flight and hotel bookings
- old passport with previous Chinese visa
- photocopy of previous Chinese visa
Like the first time I applied, it was a breeze. The only difference is that they don’t accept payment of the visa fee directly at the consulate anymore; you have to pay at a Metrobank branch and present the payment slip to claim your passport.
Filipinos need a visa to enter China. Exceptions are:
- Diplomatic or official passport holders, for a stay of no more than 30 days
- International transit passengers with confirmed onward tickets, for a stay of no more than 24 hours within the port of entry
- Members of group tours organized by travel agencies registered in Hainan Province and approved by the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA), for a stay of no more than 15 days in Hainan Province
- APEC Business Travel Card holders
- Residence Permit for Foreigner holders
- Permanent Residence Card for Aliens holders
The following is based on our own application for tourist visas at the Chinese Consulate in Cebu City on July 2013. I’ve previously gotten a US visa and a Schengen visa, and compared to those experiences, applying for a Chinese visa was a breeze. Let me count the ways I *heart* the Chinese Consulate in Cebu:
- They accept payment only after they actually issue you a visa, unlike most other embassies who keep your money, visa or no visa *cough*greedybastards*cough*
- Personal appearance not required (although you could be asked to appear for an interview if the visa officer deems it necessary)
- THERE’S NOBODY THERE. No lines whatsoever. Maybe it’s the time of year, but when my cousin C. went there to submit our application, she was the only person around, other than the visa officer and the security guard. She was still the only person around when she returned to claim our passports.
- Quick processing and release. C. spent a grand total of 10 minutes at the consulate before being given the pickup form. Regular processing takes four (4) working days, but they processed our visas in only three. In comparison, my Schengen visa application took forever and a day.
- They gave us double-entry six-month visas (!). From what I read online, I was led to believe that first-time applicants are usually given single-entry three-month visas only. Well, not true at all at the Cebu consulate *heart*
1. Prepare the required documents
Here are the documents we submitted to the consulate:
- Cover letter. This is not required, but since there is no personal interview, we included one to better explain the purpose of our visit. We submitted only one letter for our party. You can download our sample cover letter here.
- Completed Chinese visa application forms. The application form can be downloaded here. Some tips:
- The application form is a fillable PDF file. Type your answers in capital letters, and do not leave any field blank. Type N/A if not applicable.
- Print on A4 paper on both sides (back-to-back). Other paper sizes not accepted.
- Glue one (1) color 48 mm x 33 mm photo to the appropriate field. The photo should be recent, front view, with white background, and without head covering. Do not staple/tape/clip.
- In the Local ID card number field, we put our SSS numbers.
- In the contact unit/person in China fields, we put our travel agency in China and our contact person there.
- Two of us have never visited mainland China before, but have been to Hong Kong and Macau. We indicated these in Section 4.1 (hey, it didn’t hurt to include).
- Don’t forget to write your signature in Section 6.
- Original Philippine passports. Passport must be valid for at least six (6) months with at least one (1) blank page.
- Photocopies of information pages and emergency contact pages of passports. Emergency contact page must be properly filled.
- Photocopies of previous Chinese visas and immigration stamps. One of us has two previous Chinese visas on two old passports; we submitted photocopies of those visas and corresponding immigration stamps, along with photocopies of the information pages of those old passports. These are not required, but we thought it would help to include.
- Printouts of travel insurance coverage confirmation. Again these are not required, but we thought it would help to include. Besides, we never travel overseas without travel insurance anyway.
Our go-to company for travel insurance is Blue Cross; you can easily purchase travel insurance from them online here and have it instantly delivered to your email address.
- Photocopy of confirmed round-trip flight booking. All of us were under one booking number, so we submitted only one copy of our Cebu Pacific Air itinerary receipt.
- Original invitation letter from an Authorized Travel Agency in China. The most important document of all — if you have this, you’re basically good to go. Three of us were first-time applicants, but with the invitation letter below, we didn’t need to submit financial and employment documents and hotel reservations anymore.
2. Go to the consulate
Although personal appearance is not required, mailed or faxed applications are not accepted. Two of our party live in Cebu, so we couriered everything to one of them, who then went to submit our application to the consulate. As mentioned earlier, C. waited for only 10 minutes before getting the pink slip, no questions asked.
3. Go home and wait
4. Go back to the consulate
We paid PHP 2, 100. 00 each for our double-entry visas. The consulate accepts only cash payment in exact amount.
…aaand that’s pretty much it. China here we come! The whole thing was so painless that we’re planning to visit China again next year. The process is even easier for repeat applicants — no more invitation letter; just round-trip tickets and hotel reservation/s.