Its a pretty common route, jumping on the Trans Mongolian in Moscow, a few weeks enjoying the vast open spaces of Mongolia and then onwards to China, but if you are like us and travelling for many months, the logistics of visa’s can get tricky. We met so many travellers following the same path, but surprisingly little info online on how to apply for a Chinese visa from Mongolia. Many travellers are able to apply from their home country before the journey begins, but if you are like us and 5 months into the trip, this isn’t an option.
Travel blogs were the most useful source of information, but the application process seems to have changed from previous years and may have even become slightly more relaxed. Previous items such as a letter of invitation aren’t required now, which is thankfully one less piece of paper to worry about.
So, if you are an Australian applying for a Chinese Tourist visa from Mongolia, here’s the process. Note: This seemed to be the case for most other countries too, unless you are Indonesian and then you can only apply with a Mongolian permanent residency card (which makes it virtually impossible….this happened to an unlucky Indonesian in our travel group)
This is what you will need to apply:
1.VISA APPLICATION FORM: The visa forms are available online from the Chinese Embassy website. If you need to print in Ulaanbaator, head to the post office located on Peace Avenue.
Once inside turn right and go upstairs to the mezzanine level where you’ll find an internet cafe with printing facilities.
You can also pick up forms from the Embassy if you have time.
2. PASSPORT PHOTO
For this you will need
Documents showing the itinerary including air booking record (round trip) and a proof of hotel reservation etc. OR an invitation letter issues by a revenant entity or individual in China.
We included the details of our itinerary, meaning we didn't need to obtain a letter of invitation.
We booked our first 3 nights in Beijing at the Dragon King Hostel, and requested they send us a confirmation letter, and also included printed confirmation from Booking.com
For the rest of the itinerary, we just picked places from booking.com based around a rough itinerary, but didn’t actually book anything.
To show proof of a round trip, we had our train already booked from Ulaanbaator to Beijing, and for the exit trip our Guesthouse (Khongor Guestsouse) arranged for a travel agent to print off a confirmation of an exit flight from Beijing to Kathmandu, which we never actually booked.
APPLYING AT THE EMBASSY
The Embassy only accepts visa applications on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from 9.30 to
The embassy opens at 9.30am for visa applications, but the line starts forming a lot earlier, mostly full of Mongolia students applying for student visa’s. We arrived about 8.30am and only had about 5 Mongolian students in front of us. As the line grew and the time got closer to opening, ‘someone’ told the foreigners that we had to line up in a separate line. This isn't the case, and as soon as the doors open everyone rushes in anyway with total disregard to the.
When you enter, go to the first line on the left, the right side is for the students all running around in a frenzy trying to push and shove each other out of the way to get to the front of the queue. Once we took them all out of the mix we had all of our documents submitted in less than 20 minutes, and after a cursory glance from the Chinese man behind the desk, we were off to the final step of paying at the nearby bank.
After submitting your application, you’ll have to go to the bank across the road to deposit the payment, so make sure you have cash with you in either USD or Mongolian Tugrik. They will give you instructions on how to do this after you’ve submitted your forms.
In stark contrast to the process of applying for our Russian visa’s in Turkey, the staff at the Chinese embassy were very helpful, relaxed and friendly. We were even ushered into a VIP line when making the payment at the bank, skipping ahead of all the students once again, and were out the doors with the whole process conquered in less than an hour.
Our visa was available within 4 days, although we left on a 16 day tour around Mongolia the day after we applied, so we left the receipt for payment and pickup with our guesthouse for them to pick up, and we arrived back in Ulaanbaator to our shiny Chinese visa’s waiting for us. If you need your visa more quickly it’s possible to pay extra for express service, with same day or two day options available.
EMMA & PETE
We're just two Aussie's who met in London, married in Prague and travelled overland back to Australia.