How To Get a Chinese Visa in Mongolia
The process of getting a visa for China is constantly changing, differs from embassy to embassy, and is notorious for being almost impossible. The bad news is there are quite a few hoops to jump through, but the good news is, as long as you jump through them, you should get your visa no problem. The following information is correct as of October 2015, but requirements change quickly so do your homework before you apply.
What You Need:
Proof of entry and exit– We had a flight booked out of Hong Kong, so we submitted a copy of the reservation. As we were entering overland from Mongolia, we booked our train to the border town of Zamyn Uud, and submitted a copy of the tickets. When we applied, it was pointed out that as Zamyn Uud was still in Mongolia, it didn’t count as proof of entry! Thankfully, the clerk at the counter let it slide, and accepted that we were going to take a bus from the other side of the border. Many applicants who don’t want to buy their entry ticket in advance go to Airmarket (locations throughout Ulaanbaatar), reserve a flight into China, submit the reservation, then cancel it. This seems to work fine.
Dollars– Fees are paid in US dollars (more on this below)
Form– The form can be printed from the Chinese embassy’s website, or can be picked up on the day at the embassy.
Pen– Bring a pen to fill in the form, as these aren’t provided.
One Photo– We had read that Chinese visa photos had to be of a certain size (48x33mm), so we both had these printed at different branches of Snappy Snaps in London before we left (at a higher cost than regular passport photos). It was only at the embassy that we realised we had been given completely different sized photos! This didn’t seem to matter, and both applications were accepted.
Hotel Booking– You must provide a booking for your first three nights in China (this can be booked online, printed, and cancelled later). We used Booking.com, which doesn’t charge a booking fee, and you can cancel for free.
Itinerary– You must write your itinerary on the application form, including hotel addresses. Obviously, this doesn’t have to be accurate, and proof of booking (other than the first three nights) isn’t needed. But prepare to be questioned on your itinerary (a couple in front of us had claimed they would stay in Beijing for three months, and, understandably, the clerk was skeptical of this!).
What You Don’t Need:
Invitation: An invitation from someone in China used to be required (some hotels would send this to you if you booked with them). Thankfully, this isn’t needed any more.
Proof of Funds: We printed off a bank statement, just in case, but this was also no longer required.
Where To Go:
Chinese Embassy (Western Entrance)
Zaluuchuudyn Urgun Chuluu 5
C.P.O. BOX 672
How to Submit Your Application:
Applications can be made between 9:30 am and 12:30 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Get there early! We got there at 8:15, and there were already 25 people ahead of us. Others got there at 9:30 and didn’t get to apply that day. We heard that at peak times (July-September, when students are applying for visas), it’s recommended to get there as early as 6am.
You will be given a numbered ticket, and people are let in ten at a time. But ten people take around an hour to process, so be prepared to wait a while.
When it is finally your time at the counter, submit your completed application, with glued-on photo, passport, proof of entry and exit, and booking for your first three nights. You may be asked some questions about your application (we were asked about our university degrees and our previous places of employment).
Once your application has been accepted, you will be given a slip for payment.
How to Pay:
To pay for your visa, you must go to Golumt bank (there is a branch opposite the south entrance of the embassy). Present your payment slip, and pay your fee (more on fees below). The fee is in US dollars, but, presumably, the bank can change other currencies for you. Once you’ve paid, you’ll be given back your payment slip, and a receipt. You must present these when picking up your visa.
How to Pick Up Your Visa:
Visas can be collected on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 4pm to 5pm. There’s no need to get there early, as the pickup process is a lot quicker than the applications! Hand over your payment slip and bank receipt, and receive your passport, complete with visa.
Fees and Processing Times:
At the time of writing, visa fees were as follows:
Mongolian Citizens: Single entry $53, double entry $79, multiple entries for six months $106, multiple entries for one year $159.
Romanian Citizens: Single entry $75, double entry $100, multiple entries for six months $150, multiple entries for one year $150.
US Citizens: $140 for all types
Canadian Citizens: $79 for all types
Other Nationalities: Single entry $30, double entry $60, multiple entries for six months $90, multiple entries for one year $180.
Standard applications take four working days, express applications take two working days and cost an additional $20, and rush applications can be picked up on the same day and cost an additional $30. But be warned! Not all nationalities can apply for a rush visa (when we were there, a number of people who were relying on getting their visas that day were denied, causing them all sorts of hassle!).
And that’s all you need to know to get your Chinese visa in Mongolia! It may sound tricky, but follow these steps and you should have no problems. Good luck!