elizabeth lane lawley's thoughts on technology, academia, family, and tangential topics

Saturday, 10 January 2004

chinese visas - help!

We leave for Japan in less than two months, and the last leg of our trip is a three-day stay in Shanghai. But only if we get our Chinese visas before then!

I’ve found a lot of information online, much of it contradictory. It appears that you can no longer get visas by mail—you have to bring passports (and photos, and money, and confirmation of travel itineraries) in person to the Chinese embassy, or have someone do it on your behalf (friend, travel agent, etc).

Obviously, there’s no Chinese embassy here in Rochester. There’s one in NY, but I really can’t swing a trip there before we leave. There’s one in Toronto, and I could probably get up to Accordion City for that, but I don’t know for sure if US citizens can use the Canadian embassy for this.

So, I’m looking for voices of experience here. If you’ve had to get a Chinese visa from another city (post-9/11), and have advice, I’d love to hear it. Or if you know of a reliable service in NY (or another major city, like DC or LA) that will take our passports and money to the embassy, pick the passports back up, and mail them back to us, that would be great, too.

This is not something I want to trust to a Google search—but I am hoping to leverage the weak ties to world travelers that I have through this blog!

Posted at 9:43 AM in: travel

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Comment from Kevin Miller on January 10, 2004 11:55 AM (Permalink to Comment)

This is a fairly new requirement (from last summer, and I assume a response to something the US did). I think it's very likely that you could get your visa in Japan while you're there, but you should check with the embassy here before you go. As for services, I have NOT used their visa service, but I have bought many tickets from this travel agency:, and they offer a visa service here:

They've been very responsive and helpful in the past, so that's who I would go to.

If you have a good friend in Toronto or NYC, the process is very quick (at least in Chicago). You drop it off in the morning and pick it up in the afternoon. So that might be another possibility.

Finally, the embassy seems to like postal money orders for the payment.

Good luck and have a great trip.

Comment from meg on January 10, 2004 2:38 PM (Permalink to Comment)


Jeem has been teaching in China only a few months. He can't see his site or the comments (we post for him) but he does get the emails. Actually, I just switched over to the email to get the address for you and there's an email from Jeem so he's awake right now.

He moved to China from the US recently.

Comment from Jeeem on January 10, 2004 8:48 PM (Permalink to Comment)


I feel for you. Reading your post brought back many memories of the days before traveling to Guangzhou, where I live now. The services that will get your visa are expensive but I don't know about their reputation. I just bit it and took the trip all the way from New Hampshire to New York. When I got there at the Chinese Consulate, it was very easy. Drop off passport in the early morning, go out on the town and do some sight seeing and have a nice lunch, go back to the consulate around 2:00 p.m. and pick it up for a reasonable price. You can also get your visa in Hong Kong if you are flying there and I've even heard they are cheaper than in the U.S. but outside of the N.Y. trip, I can't really help you.

Comment from meg on January 10, 2004 11:46 PM (Permalink to Comment)


Jeem verified for me today that he is able to get to your site (duh, he posted here) from China.

When one searches Chinese search engines for Mandarin Design it displays your site - mamamusings.

They used to allow entry into our Color Chart but Jeeem verified that he can no longer get to any part of our site (and never any blogspot sites).

So, you are not behind the great firewall of China. Did you do anything intentional? I'm assuming that it is based on content and that your place has been manually reviewed.

Just a curiosity.

Comment from Joey deVilla on January 12, 2004 1:58 PM (Permalink to Comment)

Hey, Liz!

Let me know if you need me to run to the Chinese consulate in Accordion City to grab forms or the like. It's a short bike ride from home and near the Mac store, so I always have excuses to pass by.

Comment from Pooja on January 12, 2004 3:22 PM (Permalink to Comment)

Hi Liz,

I'm just over the bridge from NYC - if you're in a bind, let me know and I'll drop off the paperwork for you!


Comment from AG on January 14, 2004 9:23 PM (Permalink to Comment)

Liz, let me know what you decided to do, and how it's working out. As I recall, getting an entry visa for China from Tokyo was a simple process - I left my passport (not without some trepidation) and about 6000 yen at a travel agency in Shimbashi, waited three days, and voila. If you need it, I'll email my friend Ping and see if she remembers the agency's name and contact info.

At any rate, best of luck. China was the trip of a lifetime - flying into Beijing under clear winter skies, with the blooms of New Year fireworks unfolding beneath me: wow.

Comment from Cathy on January 15, 2004 4:40 PM (Permalink to Comment)

If you need something done in DC, try the Assistant Stork in Virginia. She mostly does paperwork for families adotping children from foreign countries. She has a wonderful webpage of visa requirements for different countries. I didn't use her myself, since I was close enough to drive in, but I did meet her at the state department and many other families have used her as well.

Have fun on the trip,


Liz sipping melange at Cafe Central in Vienna