It’s relatively easy to personally apply for a Chinese Tourist Visa in Manila (for Philippine passport holders, you don’t need a visa to go to Hong Kong). The first time we went to China, the travel agency took care of our visa. This time around we decided to apply on our own. Supposedly if you have an old visa, less documents are needed to be submitted.
Documents that you will need for a tourist visa (there are different sets of documents needed for other types of visas):
- Valid passport
- Filled up application form which can be downloaded online (you can click on the Download Visa Application Form link at this page http://ph.china-embassy.org/eng/lsfw/hzqz/)
- Colored passport size photo with white background that should be glued on the application form
- Copy of your plane ticket
- Hotel reservation (some would also submit invitation letters)
- Old Chinese visa (in sticker form)
- Photocopies of your passport’s information/data page and your passport’s emergency contact information page
- For first time applicants they say that the following is also needed: original bank certificate/original passbook, NBI clearance, employment certificate/SSS contribution/ITR/company ID for those employed, student ID if still a student, for businessmen- company registration/TIN/ITR, and a personal appearance is needed if your are between the ages of 16-21
We still submitted business papers and bank certificates even though we’ve previously applied for a visa because we could not remember what the agency submitted for us the last time.
Once you’ve compiled the documents, you must go their Consular Office at the 2nd Floor of The World Center, 330 Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue, Makati City. The counters open at around 9:00 am and the office closes at 11:00 am. A friend suggested that we go before 8 am because a lot of people apply for visas. We went around 7:45 am and got number 11. We thought “hey great, we’ll be done in no time!”. But to our surprise they started with the number that they ended with the previous day before which was 932. Apparently people start coming in really early to get numbers. This office was pure chaos. It took around 2-2 1/2 hours to submit our papers and they hardly even checked the papers. Just 5 minutes at the counter and we were done. There were 2-3 counters for visa application, 1 cashier counter and 1 counter for passport/visa releasing. After we submitted our papers, they gave us a slip that indicated the date when our passports were to be released (which was 4 working days later).
A lot of people were mostly representatives of travel agencies. They also go through the same process and they even swap numbers (not as discreetly as they think). I heard them talking to one another -noisy bunch of people to the point that the guards would get mad and threaten to send them out.
It’s the same process all over again when you pick up your passport. You get a number and wait. You pay for your visa when you pick it up (1,400 pesos for a single entry tourist visa). So you get a number, pay for the visa first once your number is called then fall in line again to get your passport. It should take you around 1 hour (if you’re lucky) to 1 1/2 hours to get your passport and it only takes a person around a minute or 2 at both counters.
Overall, it was effortless because all we had to do was wait for our number to be called but the long wait was not fun. If you have time to wait then it’s pretty easy, just bring something to read (though you won’t find peace and quiet during any point of your wait) or bring an Ipod/PSP to kill time since cellular phones aren’t allowed.