· In order to get the visa, you must have a US passport that is valid for at least another six months and has at least one completely empty page. Fill out the application and be sure to check the "multi-entry valid for 12 months" option, as it costs the same amount as others, but offers greatest flexibility. Our friend made the mistake of having a travel agency help her do her visa application, and they put her down for single-entry visa, meaning she couldn't come when we went to China for a second time in one year.
· Locate your nearest Chinese consulate via this website. If you live in the Washington DC area, it will be the Chinese embassy. Note the consulate's opening days and hours and plan for a day to go and hand-deliver your application. Mailed applications are not accepted.
· You do not need an appointment to drop off your visa application. Bring along your passport, completed application form, and a 2x2" passport photo. The consulates are usually busy with wait times, and you must take a number and wait for the windows to call you up, by number.
· Once the consular official has deemed you have all the necessary paperwork, they will take your passport and documents for processing, giving you a stub with a time and date for pickup. This is typically a week from the day you dropped it off. Go home, relax.
· Go to your pick-up appointment at the consulate, but this time do not take a number; instead, go to the window used expressly for visa pick-ups. Here, you will retrieve your passport with the Chinese visa inside, taking up an entire page. Americans must also pay $130 for said visa, payable only by Visa, MasterCard, Money Order, Cashier's Check or Company Check.
· You must then visit China within 90 days of receiving the visa in order for it to remain valid, and you cannot stay longer than 30 days in the country. With a multiple-entry visa though, you can leave and return as many times as you want during your dates of validity.
Have a safe and happy World Expo in Shanghai! We'll be there briefly to check it out, so stay tuned for Shanghai Expo coverage here on Jaunted, later this spring.
[Street signs in Shanghai photo: Jaunted]