My GF and I are planning to visit Hong Kong and mainland China in a month time.

My GF is a French citizen, therefore she needs a L visa (if I'm not mistaken). I found this one here.

I'm a holder the right of abode. With that right, I can apply for my visa at the borders between HK and the mainland.

Yet it seems to me that the last time I went to mainland, I saw many guys (Australians, Canadians, Americans...) who were coming from Hong Kong and who applied for a visa after arriving at the borders between HK and mainland.

Can something like that be done or was I mistaken?

  • There are 72 and 144 hour Transit Visas available, but these are issued at specific airports. I am unaware of transit or other visas issued at the Hong Kong border, leastways not for Americans.
    – user13044
    Sep 12 '16 at 9:00
  • See point 3) here: au.china-embassy.org/eng/ls/vfc/t1038742.htm
    – mts
    Sep 12 '16 at 9:01
  • The rules for applying while in HK (not what you asked, but presumably the next question) change frequently and vary for different nationalities. If nothing special is going it seem like Westerners can usually get a China visa in a few days at a somewhat higher cost than at home, or sometimes much quicker for a significantly elevated fee. Travel agents can handle it (for an additional fee, of course). (just happy now that I have a 10 year visa!) . Sep 12 '16 at 15:29
  • hi @SpehroPefhany nah we'll do it in Paris. It would have been shorter in time if my gf was able to do it in HK but well :)
    – Andy K
    Sep 12 '16 at 15:31

You might refer to one of these exceptions:

Since the first one would happen in a "tour group" (I have no information on whether that is just a front or enforced in practice), I assume you observed the latter one.

Visitors from most countries may obtain an entry visa when travelling to and staying solely in the three Special Economic Zones: Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Xiamen.[59] Visitors can only travel within these cities and cannot proceed further into other parts of Mainland China. Visa for Shenzhen is valid for 5 days, and visa for Xiamen and Zhuhai is valid for 3 days. The visa can only be obtained only upon arrival at Luohu Port, Huanggang Port Control Point, Fuyong Ferry Terminal or Shekou Passenger Terminal for Shenzhen;[60] Gongbei Port of Entry, Hengqin Port or Jiuzhou Port for Zhuhai;[61] and Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport for Xiamen.[62] Visa fees are charged on a reciprocal basis ranging from ¥168 to ¥420.

Adding to this info from wiki, you can find more details on the process and cost at TravelChinaGuide (no affiliation, too much text to quote as fair use). A synthesis:

  • 5 days max, only for the Shenzhen zone (i.e. not for further travel into China)
  • at some border crossings during office times (listed)
  • valid passport required
  • only for certain nationalities (note: "However, US and French passport holders are not eligible for Shenzhen Five-Day VOA.")
  • cost RMB 168, payable in RMB

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