Shenzhen Visa on Arrival

Shenzhen Visa on Arrival

If you’re living in Hong Kong or simply a tourist and want to visit Shenzhen the closest Chinese city directly across the border from Hong Kong, then you can get a 5 day Shenzhen only visa at the border. I did this to be able to take a flight out of Shenzhen to Europe which was particularly good value and fitted in with my travel plans.

Note: This is for Shenzhen only and you aren’t allowed to travel anywhere else. It also can’t be extended or converted. The 5 days starts from midnight after the arrival day.

Eligible Countries: Most European and developed countries are eligible for the visa on arrival including US, UK, Canada, French, Australia, Germany, Korea, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

The following countries are currently ineligible: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Cameroon, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Turkey, Uganda, and Yemen

This list is subject to frequent updates so check with the Chinese embassy before travel.

Available at: Luohu (Lo Wu) Port, Shenzhen Airport, Huanggang Port, Shekou Port and Fuyong Port.

Exiting Hong Kong at Lo Wu

First take an MTR or other public transport to the Lo Wu station and border crossing. Exiting Hong Kong is much like when you exit through the airport; use your ID card or visit a manned immigration point to exit HK and then you will be in no man’s land before Chinese immigration. Interestingly there are a few shops in the no man’s land between HK and China so not sure what country they are actually trading in!

Exiting Hong Kong at Shenzhen

Note: When I was waiting (for a long time) I saw two people being sent back to HK immigration which is quite a walk for an exit piece of paper. I have a HK ID Card and didn’t get asked for this so I am presuming it’s required if you are a visitor and possibly used the automatic machines which don’t give you a receipt. Best plan is to use a regular immigration officer if you don’t have an ID Card

After walking through no man’s land you’ll arrive at some big signs:

Straight Ahead – Chinese national immigration

Basement – Foreigners immigration

1st Floor – Apply for VOA

Getting the VOA

If it’s busy which it probably will be, then I advise you to ignore the instructions to fill in the form and take your photo first as these only take a few minutes and take a numbered ticket from the machine to the left of the door first.

After you’ve done that, grab one of the application forms which is pretty simple and then have your photo taken at one of the free digital machines next to the application forms. Keep the receipt the machine will give you.

Next: WAIT then wait some more then probably some more

Don’t plan on this taking any less than two to three hours, if it does take less you are lucky. When I was there there were maybe 40 people waiting and only one officer actually processing visa applications. There were several immigration staff walking around or occasionally taking money, so make of that efficiency what you will.

Once the number is called hand over your application form, passport and the photo receipt. I was only asked where I was going, no proof was required of exit plans or hotel stay.

Once the application has been accepted you wait for your number to be called for payment and then it’s only about 10-15 minutes wait for your passport to have the visa stuck in.

Money – They used to only take cash but now take credit cards for the visa, so you don’t need to get RMB just to cross the border.

Entering China

Once you have the visa go back down two floors to the basement and proceed through Chinese immigration. There’s arrival/departure forms on the left as you come down.

Tip: They may encourage you to register your fingerprints on machines to the left before queuing up for immigration. Don’t bother. They are full fingerprint scanners of every finger and they are horrible at recognizing your prints. I had to press so hard I thought the glass would break. Once you get to a person they will still scan some of your fingers anyway despite registering them (well done bureaucracy) and the machines are newer i.e more reliable.

Once you are passed immigration you’re almost in China! Walk through customs then after a few meters more you’ll see the signs for the metro. Be prepared to have your bags X-rayed before entering the metro and for an enormous amount of security cameras and personnel.

Cost of Visa: The cost is the same as a regular visa in most cases i.e RMB 168 but for some countries that charge Chinese more i.e the UK the cost is RMB 304. In any case credit cards are accepted now.

Travel Tips – Visas

Travel Tips – Visas


Visiting far flung destinations is exhilarating, mostly because it’s away from the hum drum of daily life. However, if you don’t dot all of your i’s and cross all of your t’s, it can turn into a bit of a bother. One of the biggest headaches is working out which visa you need and where to get it from. Whilst I can’t offer an exhaustive guide (I’d be here all night and you’d be very bored of reading), I can point you in the right direction.

What’s a visa?
It’s an official document or stamp placed in a passport from an official allowing you entry into a country. The type of visa, its validity, and how it is obtained are all dependent on where you’re travelling to and for what reason. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on tourist visas.

Do I need one?
Again, this all depends on where you’re from and where you’re going, as well as the duration of your stay. For example, an American citizen travelling to Japan for a one month vacation doesn’t need to apply for a visa prior to travel; it’s issued on arrival to Japan. Certain citizens of certain countries are subject to visa waiver programs in some countries (the previous example involving Japan for instance), and does not require you to pre-apply for a visa, which is very handy! However, double check where this applies, as it is your responsibility as the traveller to check what you need prior to your trip. Failure to have the correct paperwork can result in you not being able to board your flight, or being refused entry to the country and sent back home on the next flight, and as it’s an error on your part, insurance likely wouldn’t pay out.

How do I get one?
A simple google search can point you in the right direction. Consulates and Embassy’s always have their own website, with a complete section on visa advice specific to your country of origin and destination, and usually an area to apply. Sadly, they like to speak the convoluted language of “bureaucratic”, so it may seem confusing or bewildering. Don’t lose hope! There are also lots of companies online who can do the visa application for you, so all you have to do is wait for it to process. However, I’m not a particular fan of this, mostly because I like to know myself it’s done, but if you’re pressed for time it can take a burden from your shoulders. Here’s some links to get you started:





Countries that almost always require some form of visa includes (but is not limited to):
• India
• China
• Vietnam
• Cambodia
• United States of America
• Australia

Another way to apply if you’re booking your trip way in advance and have planned well, is to do it in person. Simply call and make an appointment with your local embassy.
Once it’s done, sit back, relax, and count down the days until your next adventure!