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Best way to get a Chinese Visa (from San Francisco)

Anchorage, Alaska
1 post
Best way to get a Chinese Visa (from San Francisco)

We called a travel agency to get our Chinese Visa's and they charge an extra $110 extra for both my husband and I. Does anyone know of a way to get it for less or is this just something we should pay? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

14 replies to this topic
Level Contributor
4 posts
5 reviews
11. Re: Best way to get a Chinese Visa (from San Francisco)

Hi Everyone -

At the end I have listed 8 things to know before you go to the Chinese Consulate in SF to get your tourist Visa - I decided not to use an outside travel agent to secure the tourist visa because I don't readily turn over my passport to strangers. However I found it's a pain to get the tourist visa yourself - I initially thought - WOW how hard can it be??? I live in Sacramento - a quick 90 mile trip to SF - no problem - trip to SF # 1 turned out to be a dud because the consulate was closed for Chinese New Year - was it advertised on the website that it would be closed? Noooooo - nothing on the site saying it was closed - not a totally wasted trip since I found out the best place (AKA most economical) place to park (Japantown Mall parking structure - 2 blocks away) & where the correct entrance was located. Trip # 2 - left 3 hours before they opened - it took 3 hrs & 1 minute door to door because of the traffic - but I made it - parked & walked to the entrance - Ohhhh there was a long line which wrapped around the building - it was cold - windy (thank goodness it wasn't raining) & they were not letting people in - really? - a security guard comes down the line handing out numbers - I was A64. Finally made it into the building about 40 minutes later to find that I also needed a passport photo & copies of my drivers lic & passport. I thought I had everything gathered so was surprised to fine extra documents were needed. Luckily there was a photocopy machine present as well as a photo booth. So joined the long line of individuals who needed a photo & copies of the required documents. (Good to see I wasn't the only person who didn't see these required items listed on the website). The inside felt like mass chaos & confusion. If you're trying to obtain a visa for someone else who isn't present - and they didn't realize a copy if their drivers lic. is needed - there is a FED X shop within walking distance where you can access your email & print out anything they email you. My daughter failed to include her drivers lic in her envelope so the nice lady at the information desk told me about the FED X & gave me the address Worried I would lose my place in line (they were calling A24) I decided to take a chance. So 30 minutes later I was back at the consulate (they were on A30) waiting to be called to one of the 2 windows that were open. OK - finally had my number called & at the window found that everything was in order & I could return the following Tuesday. OK so what I learned from this:

1) Wear something warm if getting there early in the morning because you will freeze while in line waiting to get in.

2) Get there early - like maybe 30 minutes before it opens if you want to be among the first people to get in.

3) Make sure you complete & print out the Visa application to take with you. Don't wait to fill it out at the consulate.

4) Type the itinerary (hotels/addresses) on a separate sheet of paper which will attach to your application.

5) Make sure you take copies of the flight information for the agent to attach to the application.

6) Take an additional passport foto with you so the agent can attach it to the visa application. If you forget you will have to wait in a long line & pay $10.00 to use the little photo booth.

7) Take a photo copy of your passport & drivers lic. with you - otherwise have quarters so you can make copies at the place.

8) Take your patience & maybe your lunch or snacks since it is very chaotic in the consulate & you may be there awhile.

Wish me luck - trip number 3 will be to pick up the Visas.

Level Contributor
7,300 posts
7 reviews
12. Re: Best way to get a Chinese Visa (from San Francisco)

Good luck travelgal.

Level Contributor
241 posts
33 reviews
13. Re: Best way to get a Chinese Visa (from San Francisco)


Read tips on this yelp link of the China Consulate.

Very helpful with common sense tips.

Pacifica, California
Destination Expert
for Pacifica
Level Contributor
11,561 posts
4 reviews
14. Re: Best way to get a Chinese Visa (from San Francisco)

Yes, I realize this is an old post, but anyway -

I went to get a visa at the Chinese Consulate in SF about 5 years ago. It was a lot like like going to the DMV. I had to go once to drop off all my paperwork, and then go back a few days later to pick up and pay for the visa. Total time spent inside the consulate may have been about an hour.

I recall the instructions for a visa being very clear that you needed to bring passport-sized photos in for the visa. I've had to do that with lots of visas, so it's not surprising a photo would be needed.

While I can believe Travel-gal's account, I wouldn't necessarily take it as a description of what will happen to everyone. When I went there was no line, and the only people outside the consulate were Falun-Gong protesters.

Edited: 24 February 2018, 08:13
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