I’m such a sucker for airline promo fares and this time, we booked cheap tickets to China! I’ve always wanted to go to the Great Wall but I always hesitated because there’s currently no direct flights to Beijing or Shanghai from Cebu. (EDIT March 2018: There’s already a direct flight from Cebu-Shanghai through China Eastern Airlines) Also, China is one of the countries where a US citizen needs a tourist visa.
There’s definitely a first time for everything and this was the first time that I myself applied for a tourist visa! I was a little nervous, since I don’t have a lot of stamps in my Philippine passport.
First and foremost, I would like to let everyone know that the Chinese Consulate has opened again in Cebu on March 2017. Don’t bother searching it in Google because the address there is still the old address. I’m not sure why they didn’t bother to change it considering a lot of people follow what they see online – like me! It’s super misleading! We actually went to the Cebu-Fil Chinese building before the guard there directed us to its new location, at the Mandarin Plaza Hotel. So this is the complete address and contact number (where someone actually picked up) of the current Chinese Consulate in Cebu:
Chinese Consulate Cebu
25th Floor, Mandarin Plaza Hotel
J. Solon Dr, Cebu City, Cebu
You will first need to prepare the following requirements before applying:
1. Passport – Old and New
Bring the original passport and make sure it’s valid for at least six month and has a blank page. Bring your old passports which has stamps on them. They collected our old passports as well.
2. Photocopy of the information page and emergency contact page of your passport
3. Completed Visa Application Form
Make sure it’s typed, in capital letters, and not hand written. We actually had to go back the next day because our forms were hand written. lol Application form of minors should be signed by their parents or legal guardians.
4. 2 pieces Photo
Paste one at the application form and clip the other one with your documents. The size should be 48mmx38mm. It’s actually irregularly shaped compared to the normal passport size but photographers of photo shops usually already know the photo specs for the Chinese Visa Tourist Application. But if you want to DIY, click here for the photo specifications.
5. Travel Itinerary – Sample Itinerary
6. Roundtrip Plane Tickets
Yes, a roundtrip plane ticket is required to apply for the visa. You can choose to book a refundable ticket or be all confident and book nonrefundable tickets like us. It was on sale so we just crossed our fingers that our visa will be approved. lol
7. Hotel Bookings
I just made refundable hotel bookings at www.hotels.com.
8. Invitation Letter, if applicable, together with the inviter’s Chinese ID or Passport with Chinese Residence Permit. This did not apply to me but the following should be included in the invitation letter:
a) Information on the applicant: full name, gender, date of birth, etc.
b) Information on the planned visit: purpose of visit, arrival and departure dates, place(s) to be visited, relations between the applicant and the inviting entity or individual, financial source for expenditures, etc.
c) Information on the inviting entity or individual: name, contact telephone number, address, official stamp, signature of the legal representative or the inviting individual.
The invitation letter may be in the form of fax, photocopy or computer printout, but the consular officer may require the applicant to submit the original of the invitation letter.
The proofs of kinship refers to marriage certificate, birth certificate, certification of kinship issued by Chinese Public Security Bureau or notarized certification of kinship.
For first time Chinese Visa Applicants, here are the additional requirements:
1. Bank Certificate including a 6 month bank statement and the receipt for payment of the certificate.
2. BIR-stamped income tax return
3. Certificate of Employment (detailing the salary and length of employment)
4. Business Registration Certificate (if you are the owner)
We submitted a photocopy of my boyfriend’s DTI and Mayor’s Permit.
5. Professional ID/Student ID, if applicable
6. Other relevant documents proving the applicant’s economic condition/ employment/study, or supporting the applicant’s travel to China, or explaining the travel purpose (if applicable)
If you can’t provide any of the documents above, attach a letter to the consulate explaining why. For those who already had a previous Chinese visa, you should submit a photocopy of the old visa, and if the old visa is in an old passport, submit the old passport as well. Further details about applying for the Chinese Tourist Visa can be found here.
Once you have gathered all your documents, you’re now ready to submit them to the consulate!
Now I’m going to share to you tips and some info when submitting your application:
1. An applicant may apply in person or through a representative. No appointment is required. Mail applications will not be accepted.
2. The consulate only accepts applications from 9am-11am, Monday to Friday, excluding holidays. In the two days that I was there, the wait time was okay. I think I only waited 30 minutes max before I got called at the window.
3. Parking is free at the Mandarin Hotel. After parking, proceed to the lobby. You will see guys in blue uniform. They will escort you to the 25th floor.
4. Slippers and shorts are not allowed so wear proper attire. My boyfriend wore shorts on the first day we were there so he wasn’t allowed to go up. Funny thing was, the guard manning the elevator was only wearing socks because one of the applicants borrowed his shoes. lol Don’t be that guy!! 😉
5. If possible, leave your bag at the car. If not, you may leave your bags at the concierge. You may bring your wallet and cellphone to the consulate but bags, no matter how small, are not allowed.
6. You will go through security before entering the consulate. Take a priority number from one of the guards.
7. After submitting your documents, you will be given a Pink Pick-Up form along with the Payment Instructions. You may pay at any Metrobank branch. Only cash payments are allowed.
8. The visa fee for Filipinos applying for a single-entry tourist visa to China is Php 1,400. You may also apply for a double entry visa (Php 2,100), a six-month multiple entry visa (Php 2,800) and over six months multiply entry visa (Php 4,200).
9. The regular processing time is 4 working days. We submitted our application on Tuesday and we received our visa on Friday. They offer express service as well for an additional fee but it’s not available for first time Chinese Visa Applicatants. Make sure to bring your Metrobank receipt (deposit slip) and pick-up form (pink slip) when claiming your passports.
10. Please also note that the Chinese Consulate in Cebu only accepts tourist visa applications from Filipinos. Foreign nationals should lodge their application at the Chinese Consulate in Manila.
And here we have it, my first tourist visa… and my boyfriend’s too. lol