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I'm an Australian citizen backpacking around Southeat Asia, currently in Bangkok. I would like to criss-cross China several time on this trip to visit some of its neighbouring country by crossing land borders. So I need to apply for a multiple-entry tourist visa for China.

I've hunted for information on this before but only just now did I find what seem to be extra prerequisites for multiple-entry tourist visas that are not necessary for single entry visas:

(vii) If applicant can furnish one of the following documents, applicant may apply for multiple-entry L-Visa:
(1) Real estate certificate in China (original and photocopy); or
(2) Notarized kinship or marriage certificate (original and photocopy); or
(3) At least twice China immigration entry records and photocopy.

I don't even know what some of these things are. Does this mean it's not possible for a backpacker to get a multiple-entry visa? Does anybody have experience with this? Would the fact that I'm not applying in my home country present an extra problem?

If the rules or the actual practice of the application process varies from country to country, is Bangkok a better or worse place to apply, or would I be better off postponing it and applying in another country in Southeast Asia?

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I don't think this is something for Malaysia only as a copy of the site you link to is used in the Netherlands as well as a starting point to get a visa to China. So the same rules apply here as in Malaysia. –  Bart Arondson Jul 29 '13 at 11:10
    
"normal backpacker"? –  hunter2 Aug 30 '13 at 9:40
    
Probably bad form to question your question, but .. you want to go to Mongolia and back? For what do you need to criss-cross PRC? Sorry (and never mind) if that's not something you want to get into, just curious .. seems like a pain. FWIW, I've heard that Burma will open to overland travel 'soon'. // Any reason you can't 'just' go to the embassy and ask? No one's favorite afternoon, but other than the time, no downside, right? –  hunter2 Aug 30 '13 at 9:45
    
Because I want to criss-cross PRC. I would also like to cross the border to Kyrgyzstan and take ferries to one or more of Taiwan, South Korea, and/or Japan. I'm a seasoned backpacker - I'm used to pain. –  hippietrail Aug 30 '13 at 9:51
    
UPDATE: At the China embassy in Vientiane, Laos today the form had tick boxes for single, double, and multiple entry. The guy at the counter said I should be able to get a double-entry visa for the extra fee so that is what I've applied for. I didn't not ask about the multiple-entry visa this time. –  hippietrail Oct 22 '13 at 6:12
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3 Answers 3

This information is correct. Same if you apply for one in Hong Kong. To translate what this is:

  • You need to own real estate in China OR
  • be married to a Chinese person OR
  • have received two single-entry visas before

AND you have to be able to prove either of those. If you cannot, you will receive a single-entry visa to China only. Once you've used that, you can apply for another. After that, you will have fulfilled the 3rd condition and can apply for a multiple entry visa.

I also checked my old passport now. I had to get 2 single-entry visa first before being able to get a multiple-entry despite being a Hong Kong resident (not a HKG passport holder though) AND applying in Hong Kong. This was 7 years ago, but still.

They are coming from the position that they will not give you a multiple entry visa until they know that you are likely to return into China to actually use it and that you did not overstay your last visa.

If you have a business relationship in China (i.e. an invitation etc), or come across a friendly embassy employee, you might get a multiple entry anyhow. But as of the rules, you will not. China has a lot of such rules, and always some ways and occasions to get around them. But I have a strong hunch that you as a backpacker, showing up randomly in Malaysia at the consulate, chances might be much slimmer than having your corporate PA make an appointment with the embassy for you at the consulate in the capital of your home country, if you get my drift.

Regarding the requirement to apply from your home country, Wikipedia states for example:

In the majority of cases, visa nationals (persons not citizens of China) are required to apply for a Chinese visa in their home country at the Chinese foreign mission (embassy or consulate) or through an appointed visa agent, prior to entry into China.

The website travelchinaguide similarly states:

Application in a Third Country & Regions Travelers often need to obtain visas while en route, in another country, for example, you are Austrians, you can also apply at Chinese Embassy in Berlin, Germany. While it is possible to obtain one in this situation it has become more difficult recently. Some offices do not accept appliations from persons who are not resident in the country concerned. In some cases having a visa for that country is considered OK, but this might be of no help if you are in a country where you do not require one.

There is no simple answer to this issue, nor is it clear exactly why this rule exists. The first option is to try at every Chinese Consulate that you pass in the hope that one will grant one. Another possibility is that if you can manage without your passport for a couple of weeks, you express mail or courier your passport and application to a friend or agent in your own country and have it sent back to you after it has been issued.

There was a major issue for some months when China even blocked foreign Hong Kong residents from getting visa in Hong Kong. This was only temporarily (I think during the Olympics). Many people had to travel home to Europe, India and the USA to apply for a visa. This has been relaxed later and now foreigners can apply in Hong Kong. However, you might still be having issues applying for a visa from outside your home country, depending which officer you run into, and what your reasons for travel are etc. Your best bet will be most likely to do so from Hong Kong in any case.

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Bummer. Getting a visa every time I pop over to a neighboring country could become quite a pain and lead to more flying instead of the overlanding I really love )-: –  hippietrail Jul 29 '13 at 12:58
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It used to be easier, but they tightened up the restrictions some years ago. –  uncovery Jul 30 '13 at 1:27
    
This all looks solid enough yet it's contradicted in Guilherme's answer, which details experiences only a few months ago. Unless the fact that he was not on the road but in his home country at the time of applying made the key difference. Hence I've started a bounty to get a canonical answer. –  hippietrail Aug 30 '13 at 5:56
    
@hippietrail added above more information. –  uncovery Aug 30 '13 at 22:32
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The latest changes just happened 3 days ago btw: visainchina.com/visa2.htm –  uncovery Sep 4 '13 at 1:39
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Well, depending on what you mean by multiple-entry, yes you actually can!

The thing is that China actually distinguishes between three "entry numbers" (that's my term, not theirs):

  • Single entry
  • Double entry
  • Multiple entry

So if you want what China means by multiple entry, three or more entries, then I defer to the other answers on this page, in which case the answer could be no as user uncovery said, though user Guilherme Noronha did obtain a true multiple entry visa when not on the road by applying at home before his trip.

But if you're unaware of the China-specific definition and you're actually thinking about more than one entry, then the answer as of the end of October 2013 is definitely YES.

Yesterday I went to the China embassy in Vientiane, Laos and the first thing I noticed on the visa application form were the tickboxes for number of entries. I asked the staff member if he thought I could apply for double entry and he said yes. (I didn't ask him about multiple entry due to the information user uncovery provided.)

So I did apply for double entry, and I also chose the expedited processing option so I could pick up my passport the next day. This brought the cost to $82 USD.

I was assuming (hoping) that if they didn't grant me double entry that I might still get a single entry visa. But this morning I picked up my passport complete with my first ever Chinese visa. It had these properties:

  • Double entry
  • Each entry up to thirty days
  • Visa valid for six months

So you could, for example, stay in China for one month, then take a side-trip for four months, then come back to China for a second month.

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In January '13 I did a backpacking trip through Turkey / China / Singapore / Indonesia / Malaysia / Cambodia / Thailand / China (again) / Turkey (again).

To realize it, I needed a Chinese multiple-entry visa. Yes, it's possible for a backpacker traveler to get that visa.

To get it I needed to fill an extensive application form from the Chinese consulate. Already in the application form they ask to you whether you need a single entry visa or multiple entry visa. Moreover, the main things they required from me was:

  • Book a hostel/hotel or inform any place where I'll stay (They require the place's address in the form application)
  • Tell them how many days you will stay on China
  • Explain what you will do in China (There was no problem in saying I was going to China to on backpacking trip. But to reinforce it I wrote on the form all the routes was going to travel.)

They gave me a two-entry visa. It was so simple, with no interview, without entering the consulate. I just sent the documents via mail and waited for them to return my passport with my visa.

I got the visa in my country (Brazil). The process is lazy and it took 2 weeks to be finished.

I hope this can help you. If you need some extra information, please add in comments.

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Could you maybe add to your question in which country you requested the visa? Sometimes this might make a difference. –  Bart Arondson Jul 30 '13 at 23:20
    
Just added. Was not on road as I've seen on the question now, but this might be useful for someone. –  Guilherme Noronha Jul 31 '13 at 11:24
    
Thank you for the addition. Maybe Brazil is not so strict with the rules... I've heard a slightly comparable story about Mexico where someone could bribe the consulate employee and just pick a business visa even though he was just a tourist. –  Bart Arondson Jul 31 '13 at 17:16
    
Ah this is a useful answer since you got a multiple-entry visa first time whereas the other answer says you will only get a multiple-entry visa the third time! However you didn't get your visa while on the road as I was specifically asking about, so I don't know whether that makes a difference. –  hippietrail Aug 30 '13 at 5:45
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