I hate visas. They’re up there with seagulls, mushrooms and Sharon Osbourne, though it’s normally worth the stress when you get a nice, shiny label for your passport. I perhaps naively thought the process of getting into China would be quite simple, given how close (geographically) Hong Kong and the mainland are, but if anyone can overcomplicate getting into their country, the Chinese government can.
The need for a visa came after I booked a trip to Beijing during our upcoming ‘reading’ week in October. I’ve been reliably informed that Autumn is a great time to see the Wall and I thought I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t take this chance to go. As I hate visas, I wanted to get it out of the way as quickly as possible so soon after I booked my trip, I headed to the China Resource Building in Wan Chai to get a double entry visa (as I’m planning another trip to Shanghai after Christmas).
They want to see pretty much everything you can imagine before giving you the visa. If you’ve got the receipts for your most recent shopping trips, a copy of your 10 most recent Facebook statuses and a copy of your GCSE certificates then bring them along – the visa processors will probably want to see them.
I had to give in the application form (which they give you there), a recent passport photo (which you can get done in the building for $50 for 4 photos), my passport, my temporary HKID, a photocopy of my passport and Hong Kong student visa and a hard copy of my flight details and hotel bookings. After queuing for around 90 minutes (there’s not even a time I can recommend going to avoid the queues – it’s busy ALL THE TIME), I was told as I only had a copy of my flight details on my phone in the form of an email, I couldn’t have my visa processed and I’d have to come back the next day with a hard copy.
Perfect. So, after a wasted day, I had to head back to uni, print off my flight details then go back the next day and queue again for another hour before I was finally able to hand in my application and passport. Collection was far less of a hassle. It took 4 working days to process and though you pick up your visa in the same place, you skip the majority of the queues. I paid HK$540 for my double entry visa (they very kindly boost the price up for UK citizens, guess we pissed them off somewhere down the line) and then was finally reunited with my passport, complete with a shiny new visa inside. China had better be worth it…