Getting a Visa for China (Tokyo)


I will start this by saying that I am writing from the perspective of someone who has access to a Consulate within a close-ish distance, if you don't, this becomes more difficult.
I'll also say that this is a giant pain in the ass, but it will save you money by doing it yourself vs going through a travel agency, and it's totally possible to do on your own, just prepare yourself for a bit of a headache (and well, dealing with a communist country!).

I prepared, I had all of my documents, looked over the list of requirements several times on the website, I had it all. So I thought. Just go into it knowing that you probably won't and you'll probably have to change it all. Despite having literally everything, I had to re do the application when I got there, went through all kinds of interrogation from the ladies working at the office, they needed copies of my work orders (if you're military or working for the military bring this with you, it's not listed on the website but they will want it), copies of specific pages from my passport, you name it.

What you need (for tourists you are filling out the L type visa, Americans they will give you a 10 year multiple entry when you get to the office):

  • Completed application (the one I got from the website they didn't end up liking so I had to fill out another one at the office
  • A photo (I had one they didn't like it though so I had to take another one when I got there, this office had a photo booth so for 800 yen you could take one right there)
  • An invitation letter (you need this, so make sure you have a hook up in China or that your Airbnb host is willing to write you one). Must have your travel dates, host address and phone number, must be physically signed by them, also must have your passport number on it
  • Airline tickets (seems backwards since you don't have the Visa yet but you MUST have your tickets, the dates must match the dates in the invitation letter
  • I also had a photo copy of the person's passport and work visa who wrote the invitation letter (they wanted that, and checked it multiple times)
  • If you're military or work for the military they want a copy of your orders
  • In addition to keeping your passport while they process your Visa they also want a photo copy of it (picture page) so bring that (if not this office had a photo copier for 10 yen per page)
Here is the website with the guidelines that I followed and where I got the application for the type L visa, but again, they did not accept this form when I brought it to the office, maybe it depends on the person?

The fees indicated on the above website are not accurate. When it was all said and done, I was quoted 20,400 yen for my 10 year multiple entry visa (not express processing), not the $140 indicated on the website. Normal processing is 4 days, the day you bring in your paperwork counts as 1 day. I dropped mine off yesterday so it will be available for pick up on Friday.

In Tokyo if you look at Google maps there are two different places that come up. Where you need to go for the China Visa Application (and pick up when it's done) is the Visa Processing Center, not the actual Consulate. They are not next to each other or in the same building. They are open from 9am-4pm weekdays an are located at the following address:
Visa Processing Center: 4 Chome-1-17 Toranomon, Minato, Tokyo 105-0001
The closest train stop is Kamiyacho (google and hyperdia will bring you to Yotsuya, this is not even close, I made this mistake and walked 30 mins before getting a cab for another 10 mins)
The Visa Processing Center is in a big building that has a Tully's Coffee on the ground floor, Visa Processing is on the 8th floor of that building.

I went into this sort of blind and unprepared so I hope that this helps someone seeking a Visa in China. It's not impossible to do, just have some patience, and a lot of yen with you for photos, photo copies, and prepare to re do the entire thing when you get there! 

The office does accept Visa and Mastercard for payment when you go pick your visa up.


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