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In the past couple of years I've tried to obtain multiple entry visas for China while on the road in Laos and Vietnam.

I discovered that although they documented multiple entry visas on their web pages and had boxes to tick for them on the application, I was informed that I could only get single or double entry visas, depending on which consulate or country.

Despite asking why, I could not get a direct answer on whether this was because I was from a third country or whether I would be able to get a more flexible visa in my home country. I assumed this vagueness is intentional.

So I'm attempting to confirm that China is issuing these longer visas to Australian citizens who apply at Chinese consulates in Australia.

Note that I'm not asking about double-entry visas, just multiple-entry visas.

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Probably yes, but ...

I put in my visa application today. I ticked the box for multiple-entry 12 month visa.

I had a printout for a flight into Guangzhou and out again just under two months later.

I also had a printout for one week of accommodation in Guangzhou.

In fact I was told I must have these things the first time I went to the Chinese visa office because at that time I only had a printout for the flight in, not for a return flight, and not for accommodation.

On my second visit a couple of hours later they told me that these documents are actually only sufficient to apply for a single- or double-entry visa, and not for a multiple entry visa!

It's very hard to get detailed information on what you must supply to get what kind of visa for China. Hard to get out of the embassy and consulate websites, hard to learn from the people working at the consulates and visa offices, hard to find on the Internet, hard to find out by asking travel agents, and even hard to garner from the crowd of travel experts at travel.stackexchange.com!

To get such a visa you will need to document more of your itinerary by showing proof of flights and accommodations.

But I still do not know the details of how many flights and how many accommodation bookings. Maybe you need to provide a full itinerary with everything booked in advance before you even know if your visa will be approved. But maybe you just need to book three flights and two accommodations.

For some reason the people working in Chinese consulate visa sections and Chinese visa offices seem to prefer to play their cards close their chests and provide only the bare minimum of information each time you bring in your application forms.

Now perhaps travel agencies that book entire tour packages would know all the details and fill out the visa application forms for you. I really do not know what the best approach could be for an independent traveller who wants as much flexibility to travel around China, leaving and re-entering.


Update: When I picked up my visa I chatted with the lady in the visa office about how I had wanted a one-year multiple entry visa and she told me that it requies the applicant to show at least three booked flights and accommodations. I did not think to ask her if that meant three return flights or whether three flights either in or out of China would suffice.

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    Maybe China does not want individuals traveling around, leaving and re-entering and they might do anything to stop it happening. – Willeke Jul 22 '16 at 17:09
  • Beureucratically it does seem that way, yet on the ground in China, once you have a visa you can pretty much go anywhere. Tibet is blocked for independent travellers and in some areas only approved hotels will accept foreigners, but even the second entry of a two-entry visa doesn't need an itemized itinerary or booked flights or accommodation. So who knows? (-: – hippietrail Jul 22 '16 at 23:04

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