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An occasionally belligerent mother of four and an autism parent / advocate who believes that traveling, good food and good company are vital to keep one sane. I've worked as a news writer/newscaster, a quality systems auditor, a ISO9001 consultant, an FM radio DJ, a Filipino tutor, TOEFL reviewer and have gone into the food industry both as an entrepreneur and as a mommy chef, giving a sponsored demo on healthy cooking in a mall and on local TV. My favorite job however, is being a mom and a wife.

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Monday, July 30, 2012

How NOT To Get A Chinese Visa

75 numbers before us (1 number can represent a travel agent with
several applications)

As a knee jerk reaction to another airfare promo, Phil and I managed to book round trip tickets for him, MAX and I for Beijing sometime in October.

Earlier this year, various friends of ours have been uploading their mainland escapades on their facebook pages without any hint of stress in acquiring said visas. 

I have always wanted to see the Great Wall, take a walk around the Forbidden City and even go waaay out of town to see the Terracotta Warriors, (more out of a great historical interest than a nod to my distant Chinese ancestry). 

Checking out the requirements in the Chinese Embassy website in the Philippines, as well as asking for the requirements from 3 notable travel agencies here in Baguio, how was I suppose to know that the requirements changed that week and had yet to be disseminated to all those concerned?!

You may also ask why we didn't just let a travel agency do all the worrying for us. Here's why: on top of the 1400 php (good for 3 months) visa fee paid to the embassy, a 5,000 php/person processing fee (a little over 300 US$ ea) was the agency's rate compared to that in Manila, which was less that 2000 php/person, last I inquired.

As heading off to Manila was more cost effective (gas wouldn't cost 15k), we headed out to the Chinese embassy in Makati. After 6 hours of waiting, it only took us 6 minutes that we didn't have all the requirements, as they have recently changed it. What we got instead was 2 bond papers and additional written instructions that were NOT on their website then.

For those of you who plan to visit mainland China within the next 6 months keep in the mind that for first timers or not, Filipino, European, American or whatever nationality you have, the requirements have been tightened everywhere. It's nothing personal ;-P

Here are the NEW set of requirements for those applying for a Chinese Tourist Visa:
Tourist and family visit visa (L-visa)
Tourist and family visit visa (L-visa) is issued to a foreign citizen who comes to China for tourist purpose, family visit or other personal affairs.
1. Application Materials and Requirements
1) Passport – Original passport that is valid for at least another 6 months with at least one blank visa page, a photocopy of the passport's information/photo page and emergency contact page.
2) Visa Application Form – You must submit truthfully completed and signed Visa Application Form of the People's Republic of China. Do not leave any field blank. Write N/A if the question does not apply to you.
3) Photo – Affix one color photo on the Application Form. The photo should be recent, front view, white background, in 48mm x 33mm size without head covering. Glue the photo to the appropriate field. Stapled/taped/clipped/detached photos will not be accepted.
4) Invitation Letter – An Invitation Letter for Tourist issued by Authorized Travel Agency in China, or an invitation letter from other travel agencies/individuals. If you can not acquire either of them, you must submit printout of round-trip airline ticket and hotel reservation.
5) First Time Chinese Visa Applicant – You must submit BIR-stamped income tax return form,bank certiifcate, statement for recent 6 months and original bank receipt. If you are a student, please provide student ID, sponsorship letter and sponsor's bank statement. If you have the Invitation Letter for Tourist issued by Authorized Travel Agency in China, you do not need to submit income tax return form and bank certiifcate, statement.
6) Original Chinese Passport – First-time applicant whose former nationality was Chinese, or who was born in China (including Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan), need to submit the original Chinese passport and a photocopy of the passport's information/photo page, and extension page (if applicable). You do not need to submit income tax return form and bank statement.
7) Previous Chinese Visa – Foreign Chinese who were born in China and had obtained a Chinese visa before, when applying for visa with a new passport, should submit a photocopy of the original passport's information/photo page and the page containing the previous Chinese visa. 
8) Certificate of Name Change – If the name in the new passport is different from that in the original one, the official document (birth certificate/marriage contract) issued by authorities for name change must be submitted.
9) Non-Philippines Nationals – You must submit valid proof of residency, employment or study in the Philippines. Temporary visitors should apply for Chinese visas in their own countries. For special cases and if the applicant can provide valid proof of ID and employment, the visa officer will make the final decision on a case-by-case basis. A Supplementary Visa Application Form of the People's Republic of China is also needed.
10) Visit Tibet – You may join a tourist group organized by Authorized Travel Agency. If you plan to visit Tibet individually, you may contact the Tourism Administration of the Tibet Autonomous Region (Tel: 0086-891-6834313; Fax: 0086-891-6834632) in advance and provide a Visa Notification issued by it.
11) Applicants applying for special tour to China (self-driving, hiking, cycling, horse-riding, hot air balloon, or other expeditions) should provide an original copy of Invitation Letter for Tourist issued by Authorized Travel Agency.
Authorized Travel Agency refers to
a) Tourism administration bureau of Chinese province, autonomous region or municipality directly under the Central Government.
b) CITS Group Corporation, CITS Head Office, CTS Head Office, CYTS, etc. (really pricey rates).

2. How to Apply
An applicant may submit his or her visa application in person or entrust someone (immediate family member/household staff/co-worker) or a travel agency to submit on his or her behalf.
Mailed and faxed applications/documents will not be accepted.
You may be required to go to the Chinese Embassy for an interview if the visa officer deems it necessary.
3. Visa Fee (Unit: Peso) and Processing Time
Number of Entries
Single
Double
6 months-multiple
12 months-Multiple
Philippines Passport
1400
2100
2800
4200
U.S.A Passport
6500
6500
6500
6500
Other Passports
1700
2550
3400
5100
Regular processing time is 4 working days.
Express service (third working day release): an additional fee of 1100 pesos per visa will be charged.
Rush service (second working day release): an additional fee of 1700 pesos per visa will be charged.
Pay visa fees when collecting passport.
Only cash payment is accepted now. 

We would've applied earlier when requirements weren't this tight, if not for the fact that we only needed the visa that was valid for only 3 months. Applying earlier would have invalidated our visas by the time it was time to leave for China. 

(Ed.Note: We had better luck in September Ü)

From TMW, may all your wanderings be better than ours!

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