Although there are many types of visa for China, the most common is the L visa for tourists, the M visa for business, and the Q1/Q2 for those with a Chinese partner and the Z visa for people with work contracts in China.
Here’s a hot tip. Don’t overstay your visa, they really don’t like it. Over the four years or so of staying in China I was always on time with renewing my visa, in which case I would travel to Hong Kong and get it renewed, or, go to the local PSB (Public Security Bureau) in the mainland and get it renewed there.
This time, through bad planning and stupidity, I had overstayed the visa by about four days, so I went down to the PSB at Louhu in Shenzhen, and was informed that I was to be given a deport notice and that I should leave the country. Dramatic! I explained that I had an apartment and other concerns to take care of, he said he would give me a 7 day visa to take care of my things. Also needing a new passport, they kindly allowed me extra time to arrange a passport replacement and then return to the PSB to get the 7 day visa pasted in.
My 30 day visa for mainland China had expired and even though I had only been in Hong Kong for a day I knew that I wanted to go back and explore more of China. So, it’s off to do a visa application for China while in Hong Kong.
There are many ways to go through the visa process while in Hong Kong including at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or via the many travel agents offering visa services, and even via some accommodation houses, particularly backpacker hostels.
I’m not sure which way is best but for my first time I went with the relative safety of the state owned travel agency, China Travel Service, commonly known as CTS. CTS have branches all over Hong Kong, so they were not to hard to find. Hong Kong – CTS Branch Map
For most people booking through travel agents this step will probably be handled by your travel agent but in my case and for many who step out there own journey its one of the things that you’ll have to take care of.
Fortunately its not to difficult. At the time of writing there are differing types of visas depending on whether you are travelling for business, working or just leisure or holidays. More info on: Chinese Visa Types.
For me, I just needed a tourist visa, or as they call it an L visa. Which was as simple as heading to the Consulate General of the Peoples Republic of China in Brisbane and filling out a fairly straightforward form and handing that over with my passport.