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As usual, lots of fake/spam sites when trying to Google this. And also information that is out of date, applies to other nationalities only, or applies to getting the visa in another location.

Often there are different rules for applying for a visa depending on your nationality, or on which embassy or consulate in which country you apply to.

I also believe that the requirements for a multiple-entry visa may be more stringent than for a single- or double-entry visa, depending on your nationality.

I want to know what documents I need to take to make my visa application in Saigon, Vietnam, in 2015.

I obtained a double-entry visa just over a year ago in Vientiane, Laos and only needed a passport photo and printouts showing one flight in and out of China and one hotel booking. A travel agent in Vientiane booked, printed, and cancelled those for me for $3. I didn't have to book anything for the second visit.

I believe I may have to show that I've visited twice before to be eligible for a multiple entry visa. I have a new passport since those visits and did not bring my old passport. Is it up to me to provide evidence of my previous visits or do they just check my records? Will I at least need the dates?

  • What is the current price?
  • How long does it take?
  • What do I need to provide?
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    Not good enough for an answer, but the China government site links to the official embassy. Running that through Google Translate you can get a Word Document with Chinese/English/Vietnamese. Which says you do need your old passport (or a photocopy of the picture and visa pages) along with photo, form and letters/travel plans. Can't find anything about price or time. Hopefully someone else has actually done it. – SpaceDog Apr 8 '15 at 2:38
  • Eek! I bizarrely did not take a photo of my Chinese visa after I recieved it, though I did with every other visa on this trip and my last trip! I don't have the old visa number written anywhere either. I did find my old passport number plus my entry and exit dates for both of my visits on the double-entry visa at least. I guess I just have to ask at the consulate. – hippietrail Apr 8 '15 at 2:42
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    In my experience it comes down to the opinion of who's doing it, although they may have stricter rules in some places -- I know it's much easier to get a China multi-entry in the UK than it is in Philippines for example. I'd guess you'll get a visa, but they may just give you a double or single entry -- I've heard of that happening. But yes, ask at the consulate, even if someone else has done it the rules change and it comes down to whoever has to approve it in the end. – SpaceDog Apr 8 '15 at 2:46
  • I decided my backup plan is to go back to Laos from Vietnam and get a visa in Vientiane again. The China embassy there is very quiet, friendly, and free of fuss. – hippietrail Apr 8 '15 at 2:50
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+500

Here is the official visa page for the Chinese embassy in Saigon. You can download a Word doc with English instructions; for the same information in HTML form visit the Chinese consulate in Vietnam's official site, last updated 2008. Here is the English version of visa application form (PDF, direct link).

In addition to the obvious forms, photos, money and passport, you'll need...

Documents showing the itinerary including air ticket booking record (round trip) and proof of a hotel reservation

You're going on a tourist (L) visa without an invitation letter, I assume. Get the airline ticket and cancel it after getting your visa. Do get a flight; it's possible for them to make a stink over having a boat or bus ticket instead and use that as an excuse to deny your application. Do the same with the hotel reservation, assuming you don't want to actually use it.

Proof of legal stay or residence status (applicable to those not applying for the visa in their country of citizenship)
If you are not applying for the visa in the country of your citizenship, you must provide the original and photocopy of your valid certificates or visa of stay, residence, employment or student status, or other valid certificates of legal staying provided by the relevant authorities of the country where you are currently staying.

You're an Australian applying inside Vietnam, so you'll need to provide proof you're there legally. They will need to physically see your Vietnamese visa and retain copies of it. It's prudent to also bring along copies of transit (flight, preferably) and accommodation receipts showing you've used mainstream methods to enter and stay in Vietnam. These would be a supplement to, not a replacement for, your visa.

If you have obtained Chinese visas before and want to apply for a Chinese visa with a renewed foreign passport that does not contain any Chinese visa, you should present the photocopy of the previous passport's data page and the photo page if it is separate, as well as the previous Chinese visa page.

They want to see your previous Chinese visa. But unfortunately, it sounds like you don't have it. This almost certainly rules out obtaining a longer term, multiple entry visa for you, since Aussies need to have a previous visa to obtain the multiple entry one. Also, a grumpy agent who reads this extremely strictly might say you can't get a visa there at all and need to apply within Australia; if that happens just apply again at a different embassy.

Is it up to me to provide evidence of my previous visits or do they just check my records?

It is most definitely up to you to provide this information. If you don't have it, the chance they will or can look it up is low. And even if they do see it in the computer, there is a significant chance that they'll discount it because you didn't properly submit a copy with your paperwork. Correct paperwork is correct obeisance to the Chinese government. You might get lucky, but I wouldn't expect this to work out in your favor. It bears remembering that "the consular officer will decide on whether or not to issue the visa and on its validity, duration of stay and number of entries in light of specific conditions of the applicant."

However, there shouldn't be any problems getting the typical "first time" (short term, single or double entry) visa without having a copy of your previous visa. If you're willing, you could roll the dice and tick "1 year / multiple entry" and hope the computer records do it for you; if not, the embassy will probably automatically downgrade you to whatever you are eligible for (though the price difference will not be refunded). There is some risk of rejection, but you could just apply again for the less useful visa if they're being sticklers.

The office hours, from the official website (translation by Google). You need to show up in the morning in order to be seen, and the office is closed on Chinese holidays. May Day is coming up soon; it's May 1 - 3.

Accepting applications for certificates, issuing time: Monday to Friday 08:30 - 11:00 ;
Chinese holidays (such as New Year's Day, Spring Festival, Qingming Festival, May Day, Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day), the room is not external work visa. For other reasons, such as suspension of foreign work visas issued a circular room to advance.

The official Chinese embassies in Vietnam website (different from and more general than the Saigon embassy's site) lists the following fees and service times (translation by Google):

Third, the processing time: it normally takes four days. If urgent needs, rely on the relevant certificate to apply for expedited (first 3 days) or Express (the first two days, namely accepting 24 hours later) visa. Office Hours: Monday to Friday 8 : 30 to 11 time.   

Fifth, the visa fee: a visa: 30 dollars; two Visas: 45 dollars; six months multiple entry visas: 60 dollars; one-year multiple visa: 90 dollars. Expedited fee: 20 dollars; Express Fee: 30 dollars. Note: Pay only accept US dollars.

Notice that last sentence: they only accept USD as payment! This page was last updated in 2008, so it may be out of date, though the office hours match the Saigon embassy's page. The Saigon embassy's page was last updated 2013, but unfortunately doesn't list fees or processing times. I recommend you call (not email) the embassy directly to get the latest information.

A matching listing of fees and processing times can also be found on chinese-embassy.info - a third party site, but it was last updated in 2009. Additionally, note that it specifies the fees are for Vietnamese citizens; foreigners may need to pay substantially more.

Visa fees (US Dollar)

Vietnamese Citizen
Single Entry: 30
Double Entry: 45
6-Month Multiple Entry: 60
12-Month Multiple Entry: 90

Express Service: 20 (2 working days) Rush Service: 30 (1 working day)

Note: The normal processing time is 4 working days.

Office hours, from the same third party site:

Office Hours: 8:30-11:30 Monday-Friday

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Current information for Chinese visa application process in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam as of 8 April, 2015

First the bad news. They only issue single-entry thirty-day tourist visas in HCMC, and I get the impression this will be the case also in Hanoi.

(There may be a chance Vietnamese or US citizens can get other types of visas here, since those nationalities have other special rules.)

For single-entry, thirty day visas, you'll need this paperwork...

(photo coming...)

Here are the prices (including for the visas which they don't issue at this consulate).

(photo coming...)

The consulate is open from 8:30am to 11:00am weekdays. After 11:00am no new customers can get in but everybody already waiting will be served.

  • Oops I better dig up those photos! – hippietrail Jul 22 '16 at 8:36

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