Well Travel Tuesday is back with another installment of our work towards visiting China.
We have been planning this trip for some time, and after advice given to us by both friends and the internet, we really want to get this right.
Our main source of worry at the moment is getting an L-Visa (or Visitor Visa) to enter China to visit Mr Kitty’s aunt.
We’re not criminals or anything, we just want to make sure we don’t waste money on an incorrectly executed application.
We found information online suggesting it was harder to get a visa when you have family in China, presumably because of the risk that you will stay along with them without the appropriate permissions.
This got us panicking as we will be staying with his Aunt, but only for a week – although we have been told that this difficulty is likely to be for people with Chinese relatives living in China, rather than British expats.
We also found lots of (incorrect) travel bloggers who advise getting your visa before booking your flight.
After looking into applying for a visa (confusing in itself) we discovered that you won’t be granted a visa if you can’t provide proof of your entry/exit to China and travel insurance documents.
You also may not be granted a visa if:
-You can’t provide evidence that you can afford to fund your trip to China.
-You have previously not used Visas to another country, or China.
– You have a criminal record
Although none of the above pose a specific “omg” to either of us, the unknown of a country neither of us have visited still injects a bit of panic into the whole experience.
I had a similar feeling when I visited the USA for the first time without my parents – as a child it had never mattered because my Dad has a lifetime USA visitor visa which covered all of his children until age 21 – but applying myself was really quite nervy!
The visa application process for mainland China in itself is a bit odd.
I’ve been to lots of places which require Visas – mainly the USA, where we go most years.
Their ESTA Visa Application system is incredibly simple and cheap – whereas a Chinese visa costs between £65 and £80 for a one-entry trip.
We can’t figure out how much it costs by the website, and have to assume when we arrive at the Visa Office it will be made obvious to us.
With the Chinese visa, it seems they have tried to keep it as simple as possible, but the sheer volume of information they need to collect makes it seem rather overwhelming.
The turnaround for actually processing the visa is incredible – just 4 days. It makes me wonder why a British Passport application takes so long that you have to apply for your new one the day after your renewed one arrives.
Basically, you fill out a (pretty long) form with brutal honesty. If the form asks you whether you’ve ever had a poo in a public place, better be honest.
If it asks you whether you’ve ever eaten something off the floor after the 8-second rule – you had better admit it.
When you’ve filled in the form, you take it to the Visa office with some proof of who you are (your passport, duh) and hand it in & pay.
4 days later, a shiny new visa is waiting for you.
Now, I’m usually a huge procrastinator, but when it comes to travelling I’m a Prepared Penelope to the very end.
As soon as I found out about this Visa and how to apply for it, I had to do it. Right away.
However the visa only lasts for 6 months, and you MUST enter China within the first 3 months of it being issued otherwise it will be void.
Mamma Mia – I know I’m going to love this trip very much, but it’s making me sweat!
I’m going to go and calm down by writing a “to-do” list.
Has anyone else ever had to do this?
Do you have any advice for not losing your hair?