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!
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.
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.