I, as a German citizen, am in the process of applying for a Chinese visa.

Nowadays, this must be done via the Visa for China website, where a lengthy set of web-based forms has to be completed. At the end of the process, the information entered into the online forms is compiled into a single PDF file that looks reminiscent of the old Chinese visa application forms in use until a few months ago.

In the course of the process, I am asked to input the names of Chinese cities (e.g. places I am planning to stay in, and the places of arrival and departure). Most of the times, entering a Chinese city prompts another field labeled "County" to appear, in which I seem to have to pick one out of a couple of administrative districts within the chosen city. (For example, if I input "Beijing", I get a list of the 16 administrative districts within Beijing that is labeled "County".)

Obviously, this turns out a mildly entertaining hunt for Chinese municipal geography trivia - after all, who would know what administrative district of Beijing the capital airport belongs to1?

With that said, the selected "counties" apparently do not appear anywhere in the resulting PDF that I will have to submit!2 What did I have to search and enter that information for?!

Is it relevant what to pick in the "County" fields, or can I just pick anything because the information will be discarded, anyway?

1: This website with information about the visa application claims it's Shunyi Qu, although Google Maps makes it seem like the airport is actually in an exclave of the adjacent Chaoyang Qu. Wikipedia unhelpfully lists both districts as the location of the airport.

2: At least in the readable part. The first page contains what looks like a QR code variant that can store up to 14,112 bits. Thus, the information might indeed be contained therein.

  • This is just a guess, but "County" might be recorded elsewhere and only indicated if needed for disambiguation. This is not uncommon in the U.S. where, for example, there are dozens of Madisons and Greenvilles and, famously, Springfields. There are three Springfield Townships in the suburbs of Philadelphia alone.
    – choster
    May 30, 2019 at 19:01
  • @choster: I'm not sure we're thinking of the same thing here. Let me clarify: First, I get a free text input field to write a city name. I write, for instance, "Beijing". Once done, a multiple choice (drop-down) field appears (labeled "County"), listing the 16 administrative divisions of Beijing. Obviously, at this point, the city of "Beijing" has already been unambiguously identified, or else it would not make any sense to provide only the 16 districts/quarters of that one city for selection. May 30, 2019 at 21:51
  • Just the odd anecdote: I put a very mildly educated guess for county in a recent application and got the visa.
    – mts
    May 30, 2019 at 22:02
  • 1
    It doesn't matter like the comment and answer from others say. But FWIW if you or others are (still) curious, it is listed as both districts because it is located in both districts. T1/T2 buildings are in Chaoyao (at least admininstratively); T3 is in Shunyi. This is due to historical reasons: the airport was built in Shunyi, then a county in Hebei; T1/T2 were built before the whole county was transferred to Beijing proper; administratively though the airport was from start considered an administrative (though not geographically) exclave of Beijing and assigned to the Chaoyang district.
    – xngtng
    Nov 7, 2021 at 0:41

1 Answer 1


For major/popular locations such as the Beijing Airport/attractions within Beijing it's really not a big deal. The officials aren't going to look at your application, assume by your wrong selection of county for the airport that you mean to do harm to national security, and reject your application. It's more relevant for times when you are visiting a large city or metropolitan area, but going to one specific suburb or "county" (i.e. Jiading District in Shanghai, or Binhai New Area in Tianjin). When in doubt, do what the commenter above said and put an educated guess.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .