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I just obtained a visa for China in Paris, on my French passport. It took 3.5 days (including 2 days to get an appointment).

Much to my surprise, the price was 175€, when I expected 85€ (including 25€ for express service) based on the price listing at the Chinese Embassy's website and confirmation there. But on the invoice was extra 66€ for service charges, 24€ for express, and 15€ for 20% VAT on these two extra. The invoice mentions a company called China Bridge.

Did I have a way to get my visa at nominal cost?

Note: I applied for my visa as suggested by the Chinese Embasy's website. I was unaware that I was applying thru a visa application service. It is linked from the Chinese Embassy's website (which itself is linked by a French official website) as the official way to apply. That China Bridge seems to have been officially appointed.

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    Using visa application services are always expensive. You could have applied yourself at the embassy like most people do. – user 56513 Apr 21 '17 at 17:10
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    @SheikPaul The Chinese don't do that (for most situations) anymore. – Spehro Pefhany Apr 21 '17 at 17:59
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The Chinese government seems to have officially sanctioned entities that do this, and are distinct from the consulates and embassies. In Toronto, for example, it is done by the China Visa Application Service Center. Their info page says:

Where do I apply for a visa?

If you hold an ordinary passport, you should submit your application at the Visa Centre in the country where you lawfully reside. Holders of diplomatic and service (official) passports or applicants eligible to apply for China's diplomatic, courtesy and service visas, and applicants applying for a visa to the Hong Kong or Macao Special Administrative Region of China should still apply directly to the Chinese Embassy or Consulate General.

The explanation of the Paris center is given here (in French).

Prices are shown below translated to English- note the line "Rates excluding visa center service fees".

enter image description here

So we go to China Visa Application Service Center to find the total fees here- the web page format is identical to the Canadian one- and it appears that EUR 175. is the correct fee for a Schengen citizen for all but a group visa (with Express handling). You have to enter a capcha and go through a few pages before you find the fees, so I'm not sure the above deep link will persist but below is the relevant section of the price list as of now.

enter image description here

So, you did the best you could. It would be interesting to know where all that money is going.

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    Ah, had missed that second line. – fgrieu Apr 21 '17 at 18:27

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