A holder of a valid Chinese visa can enter China during its validity and stay there for the allowed duration after each entry. It's important to carefully check the number of entries, validity and duration of each stay after your visa is issued to avoid any problems.
Number of Entries: Single (01), Double (02) and Multiple (M)
|China Visa Sample (click to enlarge)|
China issues single, double, and multiple-entry visas. A single-entry visa only allows you to enter China once, a double-entry twice, and a multiple-entry visa enables you to exit from mainland China and re-enter on the same visa for multiple times during its validity.
Once you leave mainland China, you must either have another valid entry on your original visa or obtain a new visa to return. Remember that even a few hours in Hong Kong or Macau is an exit from mainland China in this context. Also, remember that you cannot gain extra entries on a visa once it has been issued. In case you need more entries, you would have to apply for a new visa.
When filling out China Visa Application Form, you can tick the intended number of entries and validity of your visa in Section 2.2. For US, Canada, and Argentina citizens, they can also tick the last option "Other (Please specify)" and express their wish for getting a 10-year China visa with multiple entries in the blank after. However, you are not guaranteed to get the intended number of entries you select. The consular officers may judge by your actual itinerary and make their own decision. It seems that they are less willing to issue multiple entries if you apply outside your home country.
China Visa Validity: 3 Months, 6 Months, 1 Year, 10 Years
The validity of a China visa is the period between the "Issue Date" and "Enter Before" date shown on your visa. It is usually 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, and sometimes even 10 years. Holders please note that they must enter mainland China before 24:00 of the "Enter Before" date. Otherwise, the visa will expire and cannot be extended no matter whether there are entries left, and reapplication is required.
Duration of Each Stay after Entry
Duration of each stay is clearly shown on a China visa, which refers to the maximum number of days the holder is permitted to stay in the mainland of China each time and is counted from the next day after entry.
The granted duration of stay ranges from 7 to 180 days. For transit visas, the duration of stay is 7 to 10 days. For a regular single-entry tourist visa, it's often 30 days. The longest durations of stay for X2, S2, Q2, and J2 visas are 180 days. If you receive Z, Q1, S1, J1, or X1 visas, you may find that the stay duration shown on your visa is 000. In this case, you need to apply for a temporary residence permit from a local exit and entry administration within 30 days after entering China. During the validity of your residence permit, you can stay in China for any number of days as you wish.
Travelers need to keep in mind of the time limit in order not to overstay. Overstaying is against the Chinese laws and regulations, punishments such as fines or even expulsion will be made.
In need of an extended stay, applicants should apply for it at the Exit and Entry Administration of local public security at least 7 days before the allowed stay duration runs out. See China Visa Renewal and Extension.