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For two years or so UK citizens have been eligible for 2-, 5-, and 10-year visas to China. However, despite knowing a number of people who travel to China regularly, I know no one who has received a 5-year or 10-year visa. In fact, the form to submit at the visa centre doesn't even have an option to request a 5-year or 10-year visa.

The Chinese embassy says this:

"As of Monday, 11 January 2016, in line with the reciprocal visa arrangement between China and the UK, the Chinese Embassy and Consulates in the UK will issue two-year multi-entry visas to eligible British nationals who intend to go to China for commercial/trade activities, as a tourist and to visit family members/relatives. Five-year and ten-year visas will be issued to eligible British nationals."

http://www.chinese-embassy.org.uk/eng/gdxw/t1330627.htm

How does a British national become eligible for a 5-year or 10-year visa?

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  • Perhaps sending an email or contacting the Chinese embassy will be your best option for an accurate answer. Aug 14, 2018 at 8:02
  • 4
    In France you can get up to 4 years, but you have to qualify for it: double-entry, one year, two years, and finally four years. It could be that they applied a similar system in the UK. In which case, it could be normal that you don't know anyone (yet) with a 5-year or 10-year visa, as nobody has had the time yet to qualify.
    – user67108
    Aug 14, 2018 at 8:12
  • @MusoniusRufus I will be able to get an answer when I visit the visa centre and if nobody else has given an answer by then I will post it. I post the question because I think it is good to have an easily accessible sourced answer online; I know other people have this question. (Also, to find the answer one must go through the visa process; asking at reception at the visa centre is useless, I've tried.)
    – zhanmusi
    Aug 14, 2018 at 8:26
  • Take a look at this visa service FAQs. It's a US-based company, but should be the same for UK; official sites don't seem to offer any explanation. And it's not clear whether going through a visa service makes a difference (or just easier).
    – Giorgio
    Aug 15, 2018 at 14:26
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    I have had a 1 year visa, 2 x 2 year multi entry visas, and on my last application I received a 5 year visa
    – dennis
    Mar 15, 2019 at 23:38

2 Answers 2

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The Chinese Embassy in the UK issued guidance on 5-year/10-year multiple entry visas in March 2019. In summary:

  • M, L, S2 5-year multiple entry visas require you to have:
    • Been granted two or more 2-year multiple entry visas; or
    • Been granted one multiple entry visa of at least 2 years and visited China at least three times in the past two years
  • M, L, S2 10-year multiple entry visas require you to have:
    • Been granted one 5-year multiple entry visa
  • Q2 5-year multiple entry visa requires you to have:
    • Been granted a 2-year multiple entry visa
  • Q2 10-year multiple entry visa requires you to have:
    • Been granted two or more 2-year multiple entry visas; or
    • Been granted one 2-year multiple entry visa and visited China at least three times in the past two years

The full guidance is quoted below:

As of 25th March 2019, the Chinese Embassy and Consulates in the U.K. will accept applications for 5-year or 10-year multiple entry visas from British citizens who are going to visit China for the purposes of commercial/trade activities (M visa), tourism (L visa), short-term family visits (Q2 Visa), short-term personal affairs (S2 Visa), if they meet one of the following requirements:

  1. If the applicant has been granted two or more 2-year multiple entry visas by the Chinese Embassy or Consulates in the U.K., he/she can apply for a 5-year multiple entry visa;

  2. If the applicant has been granted one multiple entry visa valid for two or more years by the Chinese Embassy or Consulates in the U.K., and visited China at least three times each year during the past two years, he/she can apply for a 5-year multiple entry visa;

  3. If the applicant has been granted one 5-year multiple entry visa by the Chinese Embassy or Consulates in the U.K., he/she can apply for a 10-year multiple entry visa;

  4. British spouses and children of Chinese citizens, British citizens with Chinese heritage and their spouses and children, who are going to China for the purpose of short-term family visits, at the invitation of one of their family members from China (spouses, parents, parents of spouses, children, spouses of children, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren):

    If the applicant has been granted two or more 2-year multiple entry visas by the Chinese Embassies and Consulates, he/she can apply for a 10-year multiple entry Q2 visa;

    If the applicant has been granted one multiple entry visa by the Chinese Embassies and Consulates valid for two or more years, he/she can apply for a 5-year multiple entry Q2 visa. Additionally, if the above applicant has visited China at least three times each year during the past two years, he/she can apply for a 10-year multiple entry Q2 visa.

Visa fee for a 5-year multiple entry visa is £170, and for a 10-year multiple entry visa is £255. (Service Charge incurred by the Chinese Visa Application Service Center is not included)

Based on Chinese laws and regulations, the Chinese Embassy and Consulates in the U.K. reserve the right to decide on the type of visa, number of entries, validity and duration of stay for individual cases, and the right to refuse a visa application or revoke an issued visa.

Reference

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  • I was eligible for Q2 10 year visa. The website for visa center is very unclear about which documents you need. For a 10 year visa you will need copies of relationship documents between yourself and the person you are visiting. I didn't bring copy of the hukou & was told that I could either return or apply for 5 year visa which didn't require it. I decided to apply for 5 year but the embassy emailed me and still wouldn't process my application until I emailed a copy of the hukou. 5 year suited me due to aligning with my passport expiration but this could be annoying for someone else.
    – zhanmusi
    Dec 29, 2023 at 19:59
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I have spoken to an assistant who accepts visa application forms at a UK Chinese visa centre. She said that the eligibility for 5 and 10 year visas is thus:

  • Visas available are 2, 5, and 10 year multiple entry.
  • After receiving 2 year visa twice, you become eligible for 5 years.
  • After 5 years you become eligible for 10 years.

This visa structure only came into place approximately 2 and a half years ago; I believe early 2016. So nobody (except in some unusual circumstances) will have come to the end of their second 2 year visa yet; so the 5 and 10 visas are still rarely granted.

I submit this as answer because I have been unable to find written confirmation of this; I will not accept it as final answer because I still hope somebody may be able to link to an authoritative source.

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