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I intend to travel to China as a tourist in a little bit over two months. My nationality (German) means that I require a visa. I will be applying from my place of residence, i.e. from the Osaka consulate. Due to bad planning, I have an international flight in the middle of these two months for which I naturally need to hold on to my passport. Getting a second passport on short notice is not an option.

The website of the Chinese Visa Application Service Centre states the following processing times:

  1. Regular service: The processing time is usually 4 working days:
  2. Express service: The processing time is usually 3 working days:
  3. Urgent service: The processing time is usually 2 working days:

However, I can write on a website whatever I want. In practice, are Chinese tourist visas processed that rapidly? From my limited experience with other countries’ visas, I would not only expect a significant standard deviation but also a mean about twice that.

  • 1
    If it is affordable, apply for the urgent one. Even if that one takes double the time its still the 4 days you're after – Hanky Panky Mar 1 '18 at 4:24
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Yes, they issue in 4 working days. But sometimes it takes more time to be issued, so I recommend to apply earlier. The Visa Application Center advises you to apply one month before the entry to China. According to the Center (proceed to Step By Step Guidance):

2. How far in advance should I submit my application?

You should make your application well in advance of the planned travel date. You are advised to apply ONE month in advance but no earlier than THREE months. Visa processing time varies with location. Please click here for the processing time of this Visa Centre. However, you should be aware that actual processing time may be longer than that posted on the web site in certain circumstances. If there is such a delay, you will be notified by the Visa Centre staff.

When there is a delay a staff at the Visa Center (not consulate) immediately notify you via phone or email (in my case it was both). If your travel date is imminent, you can tell it to the staff and they report it to the consulate, which according to the staff takes it into consideration. In my case it took 2 more days while the expected date of issue was only 5 days before my trip.

  • The first and the second sentences are contradictory and exactly what my question is about. So do they, or do they not? Is case (sentence 1) the overwhelmingly common or is case (sentence 2) a significant minority? – Jan Mar 2 '18 at 11:09
  • @Jan It is awkward to assume the exception is more likely. I happened to be at the Tokyo Center yesterday and asked a staff, and she said most people get issued in 4 working days. I also asked the approximate percentage which she refused to answer, but from our conversation I feel it has at least 70% chance that the visa is issued on time. Be it 70% or 90% or 97%, I don’t know. – Blaszard Mar 2 '18 at 11:19
  • Basically, the quotation that advises me to apply a month before is already an indication that the exception could be more likely than not … – Jan Mar 2 '18 at 11:56
  • @Jan I don't agree. They write it because they are desperate to avoid taking any responsibility of any potential problems. It is not limited to visa application but quite common in any business, isn't it? – Blaszard Mar 2 '18 at 12:15
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I have experience with Chinese visas in a couple of places, and I always use the 4 working days facility. In essence, it means 4 working days, plus the day you are applying, if you are applying via a travel agency or similar, or even directly if applying late that day. I've applied for dozens of Chinese visas, and have always received them on schedule. But my experience is limited to HK, France, and Singapore.

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