Visa Application From Toronto

Matt | Visas | Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

I recently had a stressful situation in getting my visa to go back to China all because I was late in applying. Fortunately, it all worked out and I got my “Urgent” visa and  in the process I learned a few things that I would like to share here.

1. You no longer get your visa from the Chinese consulate in Toronto.  Instead go to the Visa Application Centre.

The most important thing is that the Chinese consulate in Toronto no longer processes visas as there is now a Visa Application Center that handles such matters.  Foolish me, when I first saw this site on Google I thought it was a private visa service company and did not stop to read it.  That was a painful mistake and it cost me a day.  Below is the link.

2. The forms have changed…slightly.

There is a new form which can be found at the website above and you need to type in your information.  The gentlemen working the front counter explained this to me.  This also cost me a day.  To be truthful it was the same day that I lost above, so really I lost only one day.   I was fortunate that the gentlemen working that day was very polite and explained all the problems with the way I had filled out the old application form.  For example, since I was visiting family I needed to get an invitation letter with copies of my inviter’s Chinese ID card.  Also, I didn’t have copies of my return flight information with me that was needed too.  Additionally, they no longer accepted the old form and haven’t for a few years.  This nice guy explained the deficiencies of my application and also gave me checklist of things that I needed to get before I reapplied.  All this information ie checklist is available on the website.

Another tip this guy told me was about the invitation letter and copy of the cards, he said they accept photos taken from a phone and scanned.  This allowed me to get all my documents ready by the next morning.

3.  They no longer do same day requests.  The urgent request takes 1 day.

It has been a few years since I last got a visa to China, but I was pretty sure you used to be able to get same day service, but this is no longer the case.  It now takes one day.

I could have saved myself a lot of stress if I

  • Got my visa 1 month in advance
  • Filled in the correct application
  • Brought my flight information
  • Brought my invitation letter
  • Most importantly, read the website – – before starting my application.  The site is very user friendly and you can even make an appointment which allows you to get in the Urgent/Express line.

I have to say the the site and the new center are a major step up from what I had remembered.  You arrive at a clean new office building on University Avenue, go up to the 15th floor and have a small wait in line before you are greeted by the someone at the front desk who will give you a number if you have all your documents.  Then you get a number and wait to see the attendants behind the counter to get your application processed.  When you return the next day to pick up your visa you repeat the steps and then pay.  To be honest, I thought it was a well run process and everyone I met was polite and professional.   Just read the site first!

Good luck.




Visa to Ride…

Matt | Chinese consulate Toronto,Visas | Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Yesterday I got my visa to return to China and it feels, sooooo, darnnnn, gooooood.

Actually, there are few things I have done in the past 8 months that have felt as good as getting this visa.  I know it sounds strange.  How can waiting in a government office to get a document with huge lines be a good thing?  It was.

When I first arrived at the Chinese consulate in Toronto I was early.  The office opens at 9am and runs until 3:30pm.  My plan was to get there before nine to beat the crowd.  By 8:45am there was already a line up outside.  Still it felt good to be in this line.  A few minutes before nine they let us enter the building.  My body was on edge as it always is when I enter a Chinese governmental building.

Inside the building reminded me of any Chinese post office or police station or university.  It was sparsely decorated; with many wickets and windows and only a few tellers; I could almost feel a draft coming from the poorly insulated building.  But I loved it.  I was surrounded by Chinese people mostly speaking Mandarin and for a second I felt like I was back in China.  It felt great.  Looking at the few pictures on the wall and seeing a beautiful bridge from the Summer Palace, knowing that I had taken a similar (but not so nice) picture of that same bridge, was exciting.  The kicker for me was the flat screen on the wall that was playing CCTV 4.  Was this ever a treat.

Can you tell that I miss China?

Soon I’ll be back into the land of food.

The point of this post was actually to give some tips if you need to get a visa from Canada.

Before this I do want to mention how impressed I was with the speed in which they processed visas.  Now most of the people in the line, myself included already had the form filled out (you can download it from the website), already had a photo attached and all we needed was to drop it off.  The 10 people ahead of me were processed in about 15 minutes, which seemed shockingly fast.  Now to pick up the visa, normally it takes a few days, but you can pay $50 extra to get “same day” service.  Which means you can pick it up at 3pm (but before 3:30pm).  This was what I did.  And again it was very efficient.  By the time the wicket opened at 3pm, I was about 15 people deep and again it only took about 20 minutes.  Shockingly quick compared to my experiences at the Canadian embassies.

As for tips for getting a visa I’d recommend:

– Arrive early 8:45am and you’ll be out early

– Have everything ready: print off and fill in the form, have your picture ready, bring your passport, bring cash ($75 for a double entry visa + $50 for same day service).

– If you want same day service note that you can only pick up after 3pm which can shoot your day if you’re there at 8:45am and again at 3pm, like a split shift.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised at how quick and painless the process was and I was overwhelmed by those little things I miss so much about China: minimalist decor, a mass of people and CCTV.  Someone even let a great hoark to clear their throat.  This made me miss Beijing even more!

Visa’s Easing Up

Matt | Visas | Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Since the Olympics have ended, I’ve heard that the visa situation has gotten a bit easier.  Then I stumbled across this post Hong Kong Issuance of China Visas Easing from China Briefing.  This article mentions that it is for tourist visas in China and once you get onto the mainland you’d need to change it into a working visa.

As an English teacher, I highly recommend you get a full Z-Visa from your employer before you start teaching. The Z Visa is good for one year, is unlimited entry and exit to the country and states that you can legally work in China. Now the only problem is the standards are pretty high to get one: you need to have a university degree; you should have a TESOL/TEFL/CELTA.  This Z-visa makes life in China quite easy.

All good and reputable schools, should be able to handle and pay for a full visa for you.  Some schools might have legitamite reasons why they need to get you a F-Visa (business) instead of a Z-visa (working/teaching), but make sure you know why and trust the source.

Blogroll: China Opening Up

Matt | Chinese Culture,Living in China,Preparing to Come,Visas | Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

I haven’t done a blogroll recently, as I haven’t been writing much recently, but here goes.

Since the Olympics have ended, I’ve heard that the visa situation has gotten a bit easier.  Then I stumbled across this China Briefing’ post Hong Kong Issuance of China Visas Easing.  This article mentions that it is for tourist visas in China and once you get onto the mainland you’d need to change it into a working visa.  It’s nice to see the visa trade is opening up too.

Lost Laowai’s You Buying the Angry Expat Ideology? This post talks about the importance of opening up our minds and hearts if we truly want to live in a foreign country.  It’s a nice idea about why foreigners get upset so often here in China.  Open your minds and hearts. has a nice exhibit to help you open your eyes: China’s Top 5 Most Beautiful Girls. has a post with pictures of an Adult hotel opening in Nanning.  The photos makes help you visualize how China’s sexuality is becoming more open in such a traditionally conservative culture. Open your minds, hearts, wallets (legs?!)

Weekly roundup: Olympics, Are We Ready?

Matt | Olympics 08-08-08,Visas | Thursday, June 26th, 2008

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about other great China blogs. Here are some interesting ones that mainly surround the Olympics. Recently I was asked if I thought Beijing were ready for the games. I said yes, mainly because for the big things – stadiums, transportation, people’s attitudes – I do believe they’ll be ready. But, I’ve been thinking about it and there still are a lot of construction sites up, and some places that should be beautiful are still covered in metal scaffolding, surrounded by dirt. Hopefully, things will come together in the last few weeks. My fingers are crossed.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about, and worrying about, what some athletes might do during the Olympics if they decide they want to voice their opinions on certain issues. It reminded me of the 1968 Olympics. Here is an interesting article from a the Beijing Olympic Games 2008 site.

Following this site, here’s another excellent article about 6 Scams to avoid at the Beijing Olympics. I can proudly or embarrassingly say that I’ve fallen for 3 of the 6 of these scams in my 3 years in China: got fake money, went to the art “exhibition”, and got in an unlicensed taxi. These are good tips to watch out for before you come. As for the fake money, i recommend not taking any old money especially for higher denominations like 20 RMB or higher. Get new bills. I still have a pretty, old 50 that is a great souvenir now.

Here is another great post, with amazing photos, 10 Amazing new buildings in China. These photos are wild. The architecture industry in China is taking off to new heights. I only hope the quality control & safety industry is keeping pace with these beautiful buildings.

Beijing is starting some of it’s anti-pollution measures for the Olympics and one that I’m eagerly waiting for is removing half the cars for our congested highways (ring roads). Here is an article explaining the change from – Beijing takes half of gov’t cars of roads. Is this regard China will be ready. The roads have lightened up, yet the honking still remains. My only hope is that the government will keep this measure in place after the games have ended.

Here is a very interesting piece talking about how China’s tightened visa policy is keeping tourists away from Beijing. China’s Visa Policy Threatens Olympics Tourism. This I’ve seen. As the Olympics are 43 days away it doesn’t feel so. The streets are empty. Besides all the clocks keeping track of the games I would have forgotten that the games were happening in Beijing. The recent disasters in southern China have taken resources, attention and focus away from the Games and onto lives.

Chinese Visas update

Matt | Visas | Sunday, May 25th, 2008

From China Law Blog here’s an update on Chinese visas. A Z-visa is still the way to go.

The Beijinger’s fantastic summary on Chinese visas – Fact or Fiction. MUST READ.

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