We applied for China visas while we visited Vientiane, Laos in April of 2018. As US citizens, we came across lots of conflicting information about what is required as part of the application, visa costs and turnaround time. We found the China Embassy in Laos, and heard this was a straight forward place to apply without the assistance of a visa agency. This is a detailed account of our application process which explains how to apply for a China visa in Vientiane, Laos.
The China Embassy located in Vientiane, around five kilometers from the old town area. The location is shown on Google Maps as Embassy of China. The hours of operation are 9:00 to 11:30, and 14:00 to 17:00 weekdays.
We obtained a paper application before submitting our package. The employee working the window was pleasant and helpful, and gave us the paperwork to return at a later date. Every time we visited the office there were no more than a handful of people in line. The cost of visas for various countries is listed as $30 on a poster inside, although the cost for US citizens says $130 which is crossed out and replaced with $140. Turnaround time is stated as 4 business days. There are also additional fees listed for 2-3 day expedited and 1 day special case rush approvals at $20 and $30, respectively.
The application is 4 pages, and includes detailed information about yourself and planned itinerary. The form can also be printed from the China Embassy website beforehand. We applied for a Type L Tourist Visa, but requested the 10 year multiple entry option which is available for US citizens for the same price and with the same requirements as a single entry. In order to indicate this request on the application, the “Other” box under section 2.2 should be checked for intended number of entries, with “10-year multiple entry visa” written in.
We found many different websites providing inconsistent information regarding the documents required for an application. Here is a list of what we submitted that is required, plus some which may or may not have been required, and additional information we added to our package for good measure:
Required for Type L Tourist Visa, per the China Embassy webpage:
- Completed Application, Including Itinerary
- Valid Passport
- Passport Photo, 2×3 Centimeters (2 Photos if Applying for 10 Year Visa)
- Copies of Flights Showing Entry To and Exit From China Totaling No More Than 30 Days
- Proof of Legal Stay in Laos (Visa Photocopy)
- Proof of Hotel Reservations or Valid Invitation Letter
- Cash to Pay Visa Fee (Explained Below)
Also required for Type L Tourist Visa, per third party webpages and visa assistance services:
- Proof of Employment (Official Letter or Pay Stub)
- Proof of Adequate Financial Means for Duration of Trip (Bank Statement)
Not required but included for good measure:
- Proof of Travel Insurance
We included an invitation letter from a travel agent in China with daily itinerary and list of hotels, which counts as proof of booking. On the itinerary section 2.6 of the application, we simply wrote “see attached invitation letter / itinerary”.
There is also a question asking for a list of countries visited in the last 12 months, section 2.10. Since our list is rather long, we included a separate page with the countries in chronological order. We further divided them into “visited in the last 12 months” and “visited in the last 90 days” sections to ensure there was no confusion with section 3.5, “have you visited any countries affected with infectious disease in the last 30 days”.
As long term travelers, we don’t have current employment, but included our most recent pay stub, contact info for previous employer, and bank statement showing adequate financial means. In sections 1.15 and 1.17, Current Occupation and Employer, we input our most recent information and would have cited a sabbatical from work if questioned. Since we did not have a recent pay stub, we felt it more important to include a very recent bank statement showing that we had the means to pay for this trip. This was to support our answer of “yourself” for who will pay for this trip in Section 2.7. Again, this is not listed as a requirement on the China Embassy website, but we have heard from multiple sources that it is necessary. We chose a bank account that we felt showed sufficient balance to allow acceptance, even if someone questioned our dated employment info.
We assembled all of the information listed above and brought it to the Embassy in a neat package. We also made sure to wear long pants and decent shirts, and arrive clean shaven without backpacks. While this sounds like overkill, we have read reports of people being denied the chance to apply if they looked like vagrants. Upon submission, the attendant reviewed the package for completion and confirmed that we were eligible for a 10 year multiple entry visa. She did not indicate whether the information in our package was all required or even whether it would help our case. We requested an expedited approval.
Afterwards, we were handed a receipt confirming application (and our proof that they were holding our passports). The receipt showed $320 owed which included our two $140 visas plus $20 expedited turnaround fees each. We were instructed to bring this application receipt to the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) location across town, where we would pay the balance and bring proof of payment back to the Embassy when picking up our passports / visas. At the ICBC, you have to take a number from the greeter and wait for your number to be called. At the window, we paid our $320 plus an additional 10,000 KIP (~$1.20 USD) bank fee in exchange for our receipt of payment.
We returned to the Embassy the following morning with our receipt and were given our passports including our 10 year visas. We submitted the application at 14:00 on Monday and picked up our 10 year visa at 9:00 on Tuesday morning. That’s how to apply for a China visa in Vientiane, Laos. The process went just as smoothly as expected.
If you are you dying to explore China, make sure to check out our favorite places from our recent trip for some destination inspiration. We have four specific posts detailing our travel itinerary in the country with plenty of epic photos from our trip:
We also have a fifth post from China with the most important things which we needed to prepare before landing in the country:
You can see posts from our adventures including our amazing time in Laos, trek through Nepal, Great Ocean Road trip, and non-touristy visit to Cambodia. They are sure to inspire your lust for travel! And take a look at our Adventure Gallery where you can see our pictures from all around the world.
Do you have an interest in long term travel? Check out our Planning Page where you can learn how to prepare for a lengthy trip, see how to never check your bags on planes, find out about travel security and make sense of travel insurance, amongst others.