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China visa process from the UK - some guidance

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by amysdad, Feb 26, 2019.

  1. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    It's about the time again when people start looking at getting their visas done in advance of arriving in China. I posted this around this time last year and thought it would be useful - but if some others who have more recent experience could check it, I'd be grateful as I know things have changed and other cities are different!

    OK, here's my understanding of how the process works. Please can anyone who has completed it this year check, and if it still matches I'll write it up as a separate post and ask the mods to sticky it! This applies to UK nationals getting UK documents legalized - documents from elsewhere will follow a similar process.

    Firstly, your documents need to be legalized by the Foreign Office. This means that you need to take them with a copy to a notary or other solicitor, who will sign them off as a certified copy. There may be a charge for this. Once you have done this, go to the Foreign Office website - https://www.gov.uk/get-document-legalised - and follow the process there. It takes about 3 - 5 working days to complete and be returned to you.

    The second step is then to get it legalized at the Chinese Embassy or Consulate. This can be done at the Embassy in London, or the Consulates in Edinburgh and (I think) Manchester. They do not accept postal applications though - you either have to go in person or send someone on your behalf. You need to take with you your passport, a copy of your passport, and the documents you want legalized. If someone else attends, they will need to take their passport, and a copy of your passport (but not the original) as well as the documents. Again, this process can take 5 - 6 working days to complete - you will be given a time and date to pick up your documents. You don't need an appointment to lodge the legalization documents, but make sure you check the opening times with the consulate as they do vary.

    The next stage will then depend on the visa you are getting and to some extent the school you are going to. The school will then send you a letter confirming your employment. You then have to make an appointment at the Chinese visa office - this is in a different location to the consulates and embassy - through the website https://www.visaforchina.org/ . (Note - Manchester and London can be very busy, but the Edinburgh office much less so, therefore if you're in the north of England it might be worth a trip to Edinburgh to do!) They will check and accept your documents, give you a receipt and a date and time when they can be picked up - allow about a week for this.

    Et voila - you have your Z visa!
    TusitalaH likes this.
  2. Teachallover

    Teachallover Occasional commenter

    I would just add, alternatively, your notary solicitor will have contacts who will be able to take care of the process of legalising and authentication of your documents, you are talking a few hundred pounds but for me being overseas it was far simpler and I got reimbursed anyway... This all got taken care of in 1 week for me, the notary solicitor even turned up at my parent’s house with the stamped documents. You will need to go to the visa centre in the end in person to apply for the visa and have your finger prints taken. Then you return after a few days for passport collection.
    loislane1 likes this.
  3. loislane1

    loislane1 New commenter

    I am applying for the Chinese visa in a different country to the UK (not on the list) as it is $30 instead of UK prices. Worth contacting the Chinese embassy where you are currently living.
  4. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    It was a few years ago that Mr and Mrs Hippopotamus applied for their Chinese visas. First we went along to the Chinese Embassy in Qatar, as your truly was teaching in Doha. They (rather unhelpfully) gave us BUSINESS visas, so we had to leave China a few days after our arrival. We did not pass "GO" and we did not collect £200. Then we had to return to Bulgaria and start the whole process all over again. The Chinese Embassy in Sofia told us that we could not even begin to apply for our Chinese visas if we were not Bulgarian residents, so first we had to get our BG residency cards. Then we could apply. In fact, it took us nine weeks to complete the process and get our Z visas stuck into our passports. (On one occasion, I arrived at the Chinese Embassy in Sofia at 5.30am and found that there were already fourteen people in the queue ahead of me, some of whom had slept all night on the pavement.) Then we could finally return to the Middle Kingdom.

    You can read about our five years in China by going to my blog, bulgariawithnoodles.blogspot.com

    Yes, getting a Chinese visa (or two) is a pain in the neck. But is it worth it? Yes, definitely. The good news is that your school's HR people should do all of this nonsense for you next year, so you will not have to go through it all twice.
  5. rickpat

    rickpat New commenter

    But you still need to get documents notarised /legalised in the UK no?

    But you still need to get documents
    loislane1 likes this.
  6. MissTilscher

    MissTilscher New commenter

    I am based in Thailand and have had my degree and QTS notarised using a company in the UK. I DHL'd them to them 13th March and received scans back of all notarised, apostilled and legalised by the Chinese embassy on Thursday 28th March and the hard copies are due by DHL today. It was a pretty speedy process and wasn't cheap but they were very helpful and responded to all my emails immediately.
    Hopefully they are all up to scratch when I send them to my new school on Wednesday. The company specialised in Chinese Visas so they knew exactly what to do. PM me if anyone wants their details.
  7. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    As I understand it, you cannot apply from Thailand if you are not resident in that country. But maybe I am wrong (well, it would not be the first time). The Chinese Embassy in Sofia said that we had to become residents in order to apply for our visas in Sofia, rather than in the UK. But maybe that has all changed and it was more than five years ago that I had the dubious pleasure of queuing outside at five the the morning. The other people in the queue, mostly Bulgarians, were a good-natured lot, so we had a laugh and a joke and finally (finally!) I got into the building about five hours later. Ho hum. The joys of international education!
  8. MissTilscher

    MissTilscher New commenter

    I didn't apply for my notary documents in Thailand - they were sent to the UK to be notarised and apostilled as they are UK documents. Then my new school assures me that as long as I state I will be applying in Thailand (as I am resident here, having worked here for 4 years) then I can apply for the Z visa at the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok, using those documents and the medical and police checks procured and legalised here in Thailand, once the paperwork has gone through at the Beijing end.
  9. suem75

    suem75 Occasional commenter

    I've sent you a PM.
  10. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Well, if you are resident in Thailand, then you should be okay, but I hope that you will not have to queue outside the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok at 5.30am.
  11. MissTilscher

    MissTilscher New commenter

    Me too!
  12. Pina_Colada

    Pina_Colada New commenter

    Can't seem to be able to PM you! but would like their details.
  13. Pina_Colada

    Pina_Colada New commenter

    They are asking me to:

    1. Get police check in Kenya - been here 4 years.
    2. Take that to the Chinese Embassy in Kenya to be validated.
    3. Then travel home to the UK.
    4. Use the kenyan police check to get a UK DBS check.
    5. Wait for that to arrive.
    6. Take that with my degree, passport and teaching certificates to the UK Chinese embassy.
    7. Do I need to get finger prints done after that is finished?

    Maybe my present School will give me 6 weeks off to get that all done! :)

    Does the above sound right or are their extra parts that need doing?

    @MissTilscher I can't PM you as I don't have enough posts to do so yet.
  14. suem75

    suem75 Occasional commenter

    @Pina_Colada I'm doing the visa thing from pretty much next door to you, in Tanzania. So, a similar situation, but they've not required anything that needs me to be in the UK in person. I can only tell you my understanding of what needs to be compiled, which is based on lots of emails to & from my HR contact. To be fair, they sent fairly comprehensive written information from the outset, which I didn't read till I was mid-process. Oops. I'm going to Beijing - requirements for other regions may vary.

    My HR contact said no need for a UK DBS, they'll take the local one alongside a copy of my residence permit showing I've been resident here since August '17. The local police clearance and my medical form (done locally) must be stamped by the Chinese embassy here. I guess the local embassy are best placed to confirm both are genuine Tanzanian documents. It seems weird to me, because it's placing a lot of trust in my current employer having checked I've no criminal record from before I came here but HR knows best. Or do they … ? ;)

    I sent my degrees off to the company recommended by Miss Tilscher. They're from UK universities, so could not be validated here. Whenever they get back, I'll DHL it all to the new school, stuff happens, then a work permit is (hopefully) issued. At that point, I have to go to the embassy, give fingerprints & they'll take my passport to insert the residence permit.

    One requirement which was communicated quite late in the process was they need an official letter from any school I've worked in to prove two years of work experience: on headed paper, giving my name and dates of employment. That doesn't need an embassy stamp, because I have to send the original.

    At this point, it's all 'in the process' and I guess will be ready to send everything off the week after Easter. Until then, there's no way to know whether HR have asked for the right things.
  15. Pina_Colada

    Pina_Colada New commenter

    Yes the system does not seem clear from my HR contact. I am hoping that the process does not require me to fly back and forth to the UK.

    I can't get or send PMs. Who do I speak to on here to get PM status back? I had it before but I have been away from the forum.
  16. MissTilscher

    MissTilscher New commenter

    I seem to have been able to start a conversation with you so have sent you all of my process so far.
  17. loislane1

    loislane1 New commenter

    Yes, you are correct but I can get the Z visa in my current country instead of UK. Saved me 100's!
    rickpat likes this.
  18. aleedale

    aleedale New commenter

    The Kenya embassy is telling me that you don't have to do a medical examination for China?! Is this right?
  19. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    Do you mean the Chinese embassy in Kenya, or the Kenyan embassy somewhere else?

    Pretty sure that's not right, unless they are now assisting on the medical being done on arrival in China.
  20. spanboy

    spanboy Occasional commenter

    I would go with what your CHINESE SCHOOL tells you rather that the Kenyan Embassy. The goalposts are continually moving - your school will know the current, up-to-date situation far better than the K. Embassy does.

    EDIT: just read amysdad's comment re: which Embassy, but I would still go with the school's answer, as different provinces seem to have different criteria, which is strange in such 'standardized' communist country!

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