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Getting a Chinese Visa in Mongolia

Apologies to anyone hoping to read a witty and insightful blog piece with some pretty pictures. This post is mind-numbingly dull. The mayhem at the Chinese Embassy in Mongolia warrants explaining though, as there is no information anywhere on these new rules imposed on 1st September 2016.

Due to time constraints and other visas being more pressing issues, we decided not to apply for our Chinese visas in London. A single entry visa in London would cost £151, and I knew we could get them in Ulaanbaatar for £20, so it didn’t make sense to try and squeeze in the Chinese visa in our final week before leaving.

However, since Sept 1st 2016, China have changed their rules, and there is no information online warning you of this.


As of September 2016:

Single entry-exit / transit

- Mongolian citizen: $53

- American citizen: $140

- Canadian citizen: $79

- Romanian citizen: $75

- Others: $30

Double entry-exit / transit

- Mongolian citizen: $79

- American citizen: $140

- Canadian citizen: $79

- Romanian citizen: $100

- Others: $60

Multiple entry-exit for half a year

- Mongolian citizen: $106

- American citizen: $140

- Canadian citizen: $79

- Romanian citizen: $150

- Others: $90

Multiple entry-exit for one year

- Mongolian citizen: $159

- American citizen: $140

- Canadian citizen: $79

- Romanian citizen: $150

- Others: $180

Extra pick-up fees

- 4 working days: free

- 2 working days $20

- same day after 4pm: $30

What you need:

· Letter from your home country embassy (in Ulaanbaatar) validating your passport. This was easy for UK, which has an embassy there, only cost £30, and was ready the following day. Every foreign national needs this.

· Flights (they don’t like trains) in AND out of China, for however many entries you are applying for. We went to Airmarket (travel agents) in UB to arrange our itinerary. They give you fake flight bookings on an official looking document for no charge.

· Itinerary once in China, and hotel bookings for your entire stay (printed). We booked free cancellation rooms on, so you can change your plans once you have the visa in your passport. Note, you will only get a visa for as long as your itinerary is planned for. One guy in front of us was only granted a 7 day visa because he only had one week of hotel bookings. If you want a double entry visa, you must have flights and accommodation booked for both entries. They never used to check these itineraries thoroughly, but now they dictate the length of your visa.

· Letter of invitation from your first accommodation for each entry into China, stating your names, passport numbers, length of stay at that place, and total cost. Email them, and most know what to send back to you. Not all hostels do this, but Beijing Granary Hostel does.

· Copy of current passport

· Copy of visa for country you are entering China from (Mongolia in our case)

· Copy of all previous visas for China, PLUS a copy of the photo page of the passport these visas are in. One Canadian in front of us was sent away and told to bring back his physical old passport, and that scans weren’t enough, but that wasn’t the case for us.

· Plus a completed application form, which you can download from the website for the Chinese Embassy in London. At the time of writing, the latest version was the 2013 document, 4 pages long.

· We were all grilled on our occupation, exact job title, no acronyms in company name, and your University course.

· They also asked us why we were visiting China, and as we were applying for a double entry visa, why we were going back. Our answers were clearly not good enough, as she only granted us a single entry, and told us to apply for another visa next year if we want to get back in. Note, we had all requested documents for a double entry, and were still rejected. The couple behind us saw this, and pushed for a double entry, and were given it. It is largely at the discretion of the woman at the counter. However, the double entry they got only allows them a stay of 28 days per visit.

The Chinese Embassy is open for visa applications on Mon, Wed, Fri from 09:30-12:00. We arrived at 09:30 and were 50th in the queue. Around 20 people got let in all day. We returned next time at 6am in the pitch black, freezing conditions, and were still 10th in the queue (first people arrived at 4am). Foreigners queue up one side, locals on the other. However, the guard decides which queue gets let in when, so expect the locals to get favourable treatment. We got let into the building at around 10am, and got to the front of the queue at 10:30. Once you make your application, you must take this slip to Golomt Bank opposite to pay the fee, and take both these receipts back to the embassy to collect your visa.

Photo of us in the queue at 06:30:

You must go early, wrap up, bring a flask of coffee, snacks, some people even brought sleeping bags. There is an internet café above Uni Coffee around the corner if you need to do any last minute printing (opens at 08:30). It was a largely horrible experience all round, but mainly because we knew none of the above information before trying. If you’re prepared and don’t mind an early start, there’s no reason why you can’t get a visa.

We did hear rumours of anyone with Turkey stamps being rejected, but they didn't ask about our stamps. It’s not much easier in London from what we heard, as the Chinese Embassy there now asks for proof of all travel from the UK into China if you’re not flying direct. Bearing in mind this was about 9 train journeys that we were yet to book in our case, this is not simple either. If you're still awake, you're clearly very determined to get into China. It is much cheaper, but be prepared to put in the legwork.

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