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Hainan is unique in all of China in that the island offers visa on arrival without the need for visitors to pre-apply for a Chinese visa in their home country. Note there is a separate visa on arrival policy for groups of more than 5 people from the 21 countries of South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Russia, Germany, Britain, France, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand which is not covered here.
Eligibility for visa on arrival
People from countries which have “diplomatic relations and official trade with China ” [official government wording] can apply for a 15 day tourist visa on arrival at Haikou and Sanya via sea or air. The procedure takes less than half an hour and requires the following documentation.
1) Valid passport
2) 2 passport sized photographs
3) Processing fee (this varies according to nationality but is typically around USD 20)
4) It is also recommended that visitors have a second form of ID such as a photo driving licence in case one is required.)
The 15 day visa on arrival can be extended for a further 15 days (i.e. giving a maximum stay of 30 days) at the visa section of the Public Security Bureau (PSB) in either Haikou or Sanya
Travelling to the mainland with a Hainan issued visa
The Hainan visa on arrival can be used to travel to the mainland and you can thereafter leave China from any port of embarkation (i.e. sea and airport) as long as the visa hasn’t expired. Note that if you have the original 15 day visa on arrival you CANNOT extend it outside Hainan . In practice, this means that you can visit China without a visa (subject to the eligibility rules above) as long as Hainan is your first port of arrival. Visitors can spend up to two weeks in Hainan , extend their visa on the island then travel on to the mainland for up to a further two weeks.
IMPORTANT: THIS INFORMATION IS CURRENT AS OF JUNE 2009 BUT MAY CHANGE ACCORDING TO NEW OR REVISED CHINESE GOVERNMENT VISA RULES.
1. Be sure to check with your airline as some airlines are still refusing to allow travellers to Hainan with out a visa as of June 2010.
2. You MUST be travelling from outside of China in order to be eligible for the Hainan visa.