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Extending a Chinese Tourist Visa

View Asia Tour on towangle's travel map.

This past weekend I discovered that my tourist visa was only for 30 days. Our stay in Shanghai will be 35 days, which means I have to apply for an extension. I went online and combed through the guide books for instructions on how to accomplish this task and found little information on the subject.

Passportsandvisas.com was perhaps the most helpful in terms of addressing Frequently Asked Questions...

After the fact I found the Lonely Planet forums to be a good place to look for a wide range of visa scenarios.

While the visa extension process reportedly varies from place to place, the procedure below is based on my experience in Shanghai (July 2007).

Where to go...
The Public Security Bureau (PSB) handles visa, passport and other registration issues. The Shanghai PSB is in Pudong, very close to the Science and Technology Museum which conveniently has a Metro stop along Line 2.

When to go...

Early. The PSB is open from 9:00 – 17:00, but most workers take a lunch between 11:30 and 13:30. I arrived at 11:00 and had to wait for over an hour – this turned out to be a good thing, because I needed to get a passport photo, fill out the visa form and make copies of my paperwork.

What to take...
1) Valid Passport and Visa
2) Original and copy of the certificate of check-in in Shanghai (this could be from your hotel or the police substation for the area in which you are staying)
3) Passport photo (available on the 1st floor of the PSB building)
4) Travel itinerary showing when you plan to leave China

What to do when you arrive...
Visa applications are handled on the third floor. On the first floor you can get a sheet of six (6) passport photos for $30 RMB. There are copy stations on each floor. One photo copy was $1 RMB. All signs inside the building are in English and Chinese, so it is not difficult to find your way around.

1) Take a Number
At the top of the escalator to the third floor is an attendant who will hand you a printed ticket showing your number in the queue.

2) Get an information sheet for your visa type
To the right of the ascending escalator is a counter with informational sheets describing the application process for each visa type. The sheets are printed in Chinese on the front and English on the back. (see below)


3) Fill out a Visa and Residence Permit Application Form
To the left of the ascending escalator is a waiting area and a counter to fill out forms. Fill in as much information as you can on the front. Sign, date and fill in your phone number on the back. For a visa extension, I did not have to complete items 6 through 10 on the back side of the form (see blank form below).


4) Attach your passport photo to the form

Glue is provided at the form counter to affix your passport picture to the visa form.

5) Wait
Keep an eye on the reader boards above the waiting area that show which desk to go to when it is your turn. If you miss your turn, you have to start at the end of the queue. Double check that you have filled out the form correctly.

6) It’s your turn...

Give your paperwork to the attendant. Assuming everything is in order, he/she will take your passport and paperwork and give you a receipt. The processing time for my visa extension was one (1) week. For more money I probably could have had it expedited.

7) Pick up your passport
Return to the PSB, take a number and pick up your passport (I haven’t done this part yet). My receipt indicates that I will have to pay $160 RMB for the extension.

Other Notes
Don’t let your visa expire. It is much more difficult to get a new visa than to get an extension of an existing one. There are usually fees involved for those who over-stay their visa.

Many suggest avoiding large cities, like Shanghai or Beijing, and small cities when dealing with the PSB. Mid sized cities tend to be much for friendly and helpful.

Another common warning is to not apply for an extension until the end of your current visa. Your extension begins from the date of application. Any remaining days on your original visa are lost. see lonely planet forum thread

For students, here is the Visa Instructions sheet...

Posted by towangle 21:47 Archived in China

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