Visitors from the United States and Canada are required to obtain a visa before traveling to Suzhou. Here are some simple steps to take to ensure your documentation meets Chinese guidelines.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
There are 16 types of Chinese visas. The tourist visa, or “L” visa, is one of the most common. The items below pertain to those who plan to complete the “L” visa.
- Valid passport that won’t expire for at least six months from the final date of travel and includes at least two blank pages for stamping.
- Photocopy of your passport with your picture in it.
- Completed application.
- One 2"x2" photo of yourself, similar to your passport photo.
- Proof of residence (if not applying in the country of citizenship).
- Photocopy of any previous Chinese passports or visas.
- Any additional documentation. For example, for “L” visas, you must provide proof of round-trip airfare and hotel reservations, or an invitation letter issued by a relevant entity or individual in China.
- Fee(s) paid by Visa, MasterCard or cashier’s check payable to “Chinese Embassy.” Be mindful that personal checks are not accepted.
WHEN TO APPLY
Timing is everything — we recommend you apply for your visa one month prior to travel. If you apply too late, you may not get it in time.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
Application fees for U.S. citizens start at $140, while Canadian application fees start at $50. Expect to pay more if you plan to visit anywhere outside of Mainland China in addition to your trip to Suzhou. U.S. fees and Canadian fees differ, so be sure to check their respective websites.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE
Pending accurate documentation, it normally takes four business days to hear back, processing the visa will take additional days. For an additional fee, applicants can request express service (two or three business days) or rush service (24 hours).
WHERE TO SEND YOUR APPLICATION
All applications must be hand-delivered — not mailed — to your country’s Chinese Embassy or Consulate General. If you do not live near your jurisdiction’s Consulate General or Chinese Embassy, you can hire a travel document courier service or have someone deliver your application for you.
In the United States, there are five Consulates General (New York, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco and Los Angeles) and one Chinese Embassy (Washington D.C.). Check the U.S. website to see where you will need to submit your application.
In Canada, there are four Consulates General (Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal) and one Chinese Embassy (Ottawa). Check the Canadian website to see where you will need to submit your application.
More information can be found on these websites.
One of the best ways to tour the "Venice of the East" is from a front row seat on a hand-steered canal boat. Afterwards, stop into 130-year-old Pin Von Teahouse for exotic teas served in private booths on the second floor. It overlooks Pingjiang Lu, an 800-year-old lively pedestrian street, one of China's "National Historic and Cultural Streets." next tip>