Update: as of 2016, tourists and foreign residents in Japan can now apply for a visa at the Chinese Visa Application Service Center so you no longer have to use a travel agency.


If you’re a foreigner living in Japan (not a tourist) you can no longer apply for a Chinese tourist visa (type L) direct from the Chinese embassy in Tokyo (although type F business visas are still available). Despite conflicting information on their website you will be given the number of a travel agency who charge more than double the going rate than the embassy (10,000 ¥ vs 4,000 ¥).

Embassies in many countries seem to be doing this in recent years but it feels a lot like a money-making racketeering scam and the only thing you can do is shop around to find the cheapest travel agency (as opposed to the embassy recommended one).

After a bit of research online I found Weston (ウエストン) in Roppongi who can apply on your behalf and charge a more modest fee. While their website is only in Japanese, some of their staff speak basic English. There are many different lengths of visa you can apply for but here’s the most straight forward:

Single Entry 30-day Tourist Visa (L)

  • Non-Japanese/US citizens: 6,500 ¥ (4 days) / 9,500 ¥ (2 days)
  • US citizens: 18,000 ¥ (4 days) / 22,000 ¥ (2 days)

The high fees for Americans are reciprocal charges levied because of the high price for Chinese to get US visas.

Requirements

  • Passport with at least 6 months till expiry
  • Passport photo on light background
  • Copy of Japan resident card
  • Copy of return flight tickets
  • Copy of hotel reservation or invitation letter from a Chinese national (when staying at their home)

Office

株式会社 ウエストン (Weston Ltd.)

Address:
〒 106-0031
Tokyo, Minato-ku, Nishi-Azabu 3-1-18
Roppongi Newborn Building 4F

Phone: 03-3403-0661
Office hours: 9am to 6pm (Mon-Fri), 10am to 2pm (Sat)

You could go to their office directly or make an appointment by filling in their online form (Japanese only). Payment can be made by cash at their office with an additional fee if you want your passport to be delivered somewhere.

Hope this helps and leave a comment below if you have any other recommendations or questions.

Comments

  1. H says:

    Long post: Non Japanese citizen in Japan getting visa for China as at 21st Sept 2016

    The closest train station is Hiroo-head out exit one, turn left at the top of the stairs and the first street on the left. Follow that road all the way around, past the park on your right for about 7minutes. The embassy is also on the right(marked by guards). Visa applications are from 0900-1200. If you are limited with time, get there early. By 0900 there’s a line on the street. (I tried to get a visa for China in Bangkok the week prior-beware of local AND Chinese public holidays that impact embassy hours)The embassy was not open on Saturday when I was there.
    You’ll pass through security-so have your pockets emptied etc in preparation. They will also want to see your passport before you enter.
    Go to level 3 to information desk first and show them your documents, they will ask you to photocopy your Japanese landing permit in your passport and also your main passport page if you haven’t already done this. There are photocopiers there-they take 10yen per page. Info will also give you a ticket and you wait your turn.
    I got to the counter, gave them my passport, completed Chinese visa application(download it from interwebs), proof of inbound and outbound flights, accommodation confirmation and insurance certificate.

    They will ask you to complete your passport receipt slip-they will ask you for a Japanese phone number in case they have issues with your application(I didn’t have one) they won’t email you and coming back in to check isn’t acceptable either. If you think there might be potential issues it could pay to get a throw away sim at the airport(this is not Thailand-I found them impossible to find outside the airport).
    Picking up your visa occurs on level on 1. You go to lane 4, give them your receipt, they will pull your passport out and give it to their colleague in lane 6. They give you a bill and a chip(looks like a poker chip). You then go to the machines opposite and insert the required money as shown on your receipt(yen and cash only-no cards). I spent several minutes trying to figure out where this poker chip doobalacky thing went into the machine-it doesn’t. You just insert your $ and then press the corresponding amount as shown on the machine buttons. It gives you a receipt for payment. Take your poker chip, receipts and head to lane 6. They will show you your visa in your passport and jobs done.
    To note: express service was submit between 9-12 one day then pick it up they next day between 9-12. They will not do a same day turnaround.
    Photo booths on level 1 if you need new passport photos
    Take 10 yen coins for photocopier in case they ask you to photocopy anything
    You pay for your visa on pickup not drop off-cash only
    If you are lined up outside awaiting security clearance stay to the right side of the path to allow pedestrians to still access the path-security will move you across if not.
    This price was for australian express.
    Good luck

    • Dominic Gibson, Akasaka says:

      That’s a perfect Long Tan Post thanks H. If there is necessary detail, I like good Glen McGrath line and length and you have delivered plenty of it.

      I have now resolved all the conflicting information I have come across and you have answered every nuance that has run through my head while procrastinating to avoid the preparation and the visit to get this visa.

      I’ve got everything now and you have given me certainty. Much appreciated!

      Don’t ‘spose i should hit the Roppongi Vulture Bars as a means of staying up and getting towards the front of the queue around 8am – I imagine a dim view would be taken of the vapours emanating from my gob!

      • A says:

        Hi there! Any luck getting that visa?

        I am a non-Japanese citizen (currently studying in Hong Kong) and will be in Japan for the next 2+ weeks. I am hoping to go China shortly afterwards and the only way to get a visa will be while I am in Japan. Were you both successful in getting yours while in Tokyo? How long was the non-express turnaround?

        Thanks!

  2. Sangeetha says:

    Hi, I’m a student who is studying in Sapporo. I like to travel in china for two weeks to visit my friend. Can I apply for Chinese tourist visa.. If I can, How should I do it?

  3. Julius says:

    Update 17.03.2017
    I just went to the Chinese embassy in Tokyo yesterday and they told me it is not possible anymore for foreigners to apply directly at the embassy. So you have to do it through the “Chinese Visa Application Service Center” (visaforchina.org) which is 9000 Yen. Weston apparently raised their prices and it is now 14000 Yen for the 30 days Tourist visa.

    • Charles says:

      Thank you for this comment, I was planning to get my visa as well, and I have to leave for China within a month. Hope it gets fixed before then, please post a comment if you manage to get yours done.

  4. surfcoast says:

    I went to the Chinese Visa Application Service Center today and they said they are only processing visas for foreigners with Residence Cards (?) because of some kind of system problem. They said they hope the system is fixed in 2 weeks time, but can’t be sure and indicated I should phone ahead to check if it is possible before returning. They indicated it usually takes about 4 days to process the application (when the system is working).

    • Sebastien says:

      Hello.
      Thanks for the information, we will be in Tokyo on 23 May do do the visa too.
      Did you manage to do it?

    • Dennis says:

      Hi!

      I am very curious. Did it work? The “System” answer sounds like a lie.

    • Charles says:

      Thank you for this comment, I was planning to get my visa as well, and I have to leave for China within a month. Hope it gets fixed before then, please post a comment if you manage to get yours done.

    • surfcoast says:

      Good news! I spoke with the China Visa Application Center today and they said the system is working again.

  5. Carmen says:

    Thanks for the information, pretty helpful. I am in Fukuoka though… Anywhere to apply closer to here?

  6. Evan says:

    Long Post #2 on this thread: Temporary Visitor to Japan getting visa for China as of 20th June, 2017 through the Chinese Visa Application Center in Tokyo.

    I was invited to visit some friends in China after finishing a two-month internship in Tokyo, and was unsure of my chances of getting a visa given how hesitant the Chinese embassy seems to give them out to temporary visitors to Japan.

    Q: Can I get a visa as a temporary visitor to Japan?
    A: I read on the internet that, as a temporary visitor to Japan, my chances were not that great. In reality, however, they did not seem to care at all that I was a temporary visitor. They did not even tell me that my chances are slim or that they are making an exception for me. Don’t let the admonitions on the web page deter you. My weird application featuring dual citizenship, multiple invitees, and non-round-trip flights (I plan to spend a week in Beijing before going to Bangkok, rather than back to Tokyo) seemed like a liability to me at first, given how little information is out there, but in spite of all of those things I was perfectly fine.

    Q: I’m a dual citizen; what passport should I apply with?
    A: Apply with whichever passport the Japanese authorities stuck your temporary visitor landing permission into. I was hoping to apply with my EU (Greek) passport to avoid the high cost that US passport holders have to deal with, but my landing permit is in my US passport, so I had to apply with my US passport (and the corresponding expensive rates). It might help to choose one passport to fill the application out with. I filled it out with both just in case, but that didn’t really sit too well with the staff.

    Q: What time frame should I apply for?
    A: If you hold a US passport, apply for 10 years. I chose the 90-day option and was corrected to 10 years (60 days per visit) by the application center staff, since the prices are essentially the same for US citizens. I was asked to pay 20,400 yen at pickup (I did this with cash and got change). I cannot speak for citizens of countries aside from the US.

    Q: How can I get a picture with the right dimensions?
    A: This minor detail really stressed me out. The 証明写真機 everywhere in Tokyo do not have the right photo dimensions for the visa application, which wants 48mm x 33 mm (I believe), with the face in a certain position, and a white background. Save yourself the trouble and take a picture of yourself in the photo booth at the visa application center (yes, there is a photo booth, for 800 yen). If you can’t find scissors or tape to stick it on, they’ll do it for you. If you have a picture and are not sure if they’ll accept it, just put it on and hope for the best. Worse comes worse, they’ll just ask you to take another picture. When you’re done, you can go straight to the front of the line of the front counter and continue the procedure (or at least that’s what they told me to do).

    Q: What application materials do I need?
    A: Basically, whatever the website says. Be sure to have flights into and out of China, a living arrangement in China (hotel booking or invitation form/letter by a friend including information as published by the Chinese government), photocopies your documents, i.e. passport, landing permission (if you don’t have access to a photocopier, you can use the one they have there). I couldn’t get the person who was hosting me to write an invitation letter/fill out an invitation form and send me the photocopy of their Chinese ID on time so I just had a mutual friend of ours write the invitation in her stead. It was absolutely no problem.

    Q: What if I get rejected and I can’t cancel my flights?
    A: This was my principal worry with applying, but my advice is to just go ahead and book. If you really want to be safe, maybe check in with the visa application center to see if their application system for temporary visitors is up and running (in case you’re applying last minute; I was applying with a lot of time to spare so it wouldn’t be a big deal for me to come back a few weeks later). As far as I understand, you need to have a really incomplete application, or something else that goes quite wrong, in order for them to even consider rejecting you. And even if they did reject you because of an incomplete application, you could probably just fix all the things they don’t like and be fine.

    Q: How does the process work/how do I get there/how long does it take?
    A: I arrived at Roppongi-Icchome station on the Namboku line because that was easiest route from where I was coming. I took the north exit and a bunch of escalators before being face-to-face with the Swedish embassy. I turned left after crossing the street, went straight, passed the Spanish embassy to my left and an area without a sidewalk before turning right, going down a hill on a street which curved a little to the left at the end. Arriving at the bottom, I turned right and walked a bit until I saw a Tully’s Coffee across the street, crossed the street, and entered the building it was part of. The visa application center is on the 8th floor of that building, to your right when you exit the elevator. I went on a Thursday and arrived at 8:30. The center was unlocked but no staff was there yet, and very few people waiting. By the time they opened it was at most 10 people, most of whom were picking their visa up. I honestly could’ve arrived a little later because a) the staff are efficient, b) it’s not as crowded as you think.

    At first, you line up at this counter (left is new applications, right is pickup), where you show your application materials and the people there look over them to make sure everything’s in order. They then give you a number and tell you at approximately which counter your application will be handled. At the counter, they go through every detail of your application and have you fix things. Upon completion, they will give you a pick-up slip, keep your passport, and ask for a phone number with which to give you a call in the afternoon to let you know when to pick up your passport with the visa in it. I have a phone at my dorm but they seemed very willing to e-mail me in case things didn’t work out with the phone. I was out by 9:30 and got a call at around 16:00.

    I went on the pickup date (Tuesday) as they said, arrived at 9:00, showed my slip to the main counter by the entrance on the right-side line, got a number, waited by the pickup counters (2, also 3 on that day) until my number was called, and was out within 30 minutes. I paid cash and they had change.

    Mondays and Tuesdays are supposedly the busiest days for the Tokyo center, which is why I went on Thursday.

    Q: Any other advice?
    A: Rather quick and easy process. Fill out your materials right, and it should be no problem. Don’t hesitate to apply!

    This is all the information I wish I had while applying. I hope it helps!

  7. Anupreeta says:

    Non-japanese applying for short visit to China.
    Just wanted to add my own recent experience at the visa center in Tokyo. Thanks to the post by Evan – it was very helpful.

    I also went on a Thursday morning, reached by 9am and was out by 9:15am. Everything went smoothly and the staff was friendly. I was also asked to collect my visa on the following Tues. (fingers crossed).

    I was applying for visa type F (non-business work visit).
    All they needed was the official invitation letter which had an extra page. This page was a form with a translated title in english – “Invitation letter of duly authorised unit”. This had my personal details along with invitee’s contact info and signature/seal, intended length of stay, purpose, etc.

    They also used the copy of my passport and residence permit (which I had carried along although there was a photocopier there as mentioned in previous posts). They did not want the copy of my flight booking or hotel booking. But they said this was because of my official invitation letter. In any case, I’d suggest to carry all the supplementary documents rather than having to visit again.

  8. Kate says:

    Hello,

    I am pretty worried about that too. I am a Greek citizen, I am going on a round the world trip. I will be in Japan as a TOURIST and I have to get my Chinese visa from Tokyo. They told me by email that they can issue a L type (tourist) visa at the Chinese visa application center. So, you all seem quite positive that it is not that hard?

    Thanks for all the posts- I am at the end of my tether- same issue with Russia. If anyone is interested, you can’t get it from any foreign country. It is even more difficult- only transit visas to Russia from mainland China/Hong Kong!!

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