How to get a Shenzhen visa on arrival when visiting from Hong Kong

How to get a Shenzhen visa on arrival when visiting from Hong Kong

If you're making a quick side-trip from Hong Kong to Shenzhen, you'll need a visa to cross over the border at China – but this doesn't have to be a Chinese visa, as the country also issues special Shenzhen visas which are available on arrival at the border checkpoint.

These single-entry visas are good for just one visit, although you can stay up to five days – and your excursions are limited to the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone, which includes greater Shenzhen and Shekou and the surrounding countryside, but not Guangzhou or the greater Guangdong region.

The Shenzhen visa costs ¥168 ($34) for Australian passport holders and residents of most other countries, but some two dozen countries pay a higher fee – this includes ¥304 (£35) for Great Britain and ¥956 (US$150) for the USA. Both cash and credit cards are accepted for payment.

Here's how to get your Shenzhen visa on arrival at the Hong Kong - Shenzhen border crossing of Lo Wu, which is where most travellers come across by train from Hong Kong.

Read more: How to travel by train from Hong Kong to Shenzhen

We’ll proceed on the basis that you’ve passed through Hong Kong immigration, crossed the footbridge over the Sham Chun River and are headed for the Chinese immigration checkpoint.

Go all the way to the Chinese immigration gates – there’ll be a duty free shop on your right – and watch for the Port Visa sign on the left.

If you don’t see it, veer to the left side of the immigration checkpoint and double back – you should see a set of escalators which will take you upstairs to the visa office.

Grab a visa application from the desk outside the office (and make sure you have a pen handy, maybe bring one from your hotel)...

... then walk into the office, take a queue ticket from the machine at right, then sit down and fill out your form.

If you’re just visiting for the day, in the section of the form asking for your address in Shenzhen it’s sufficient to write ‘Shenzhen’.

(Don’t stand at the counter to fill out the form and then take a ticket – you’ll just spend extra time sitting around waiting for your number to be called.)

Now begins a step-by-step process which can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes depending on the crowd, and which sees you bobbing up and down again as your application progresses through the system.

The first step is that your ticket number will appear above one of the Application windows. Hand over your visa application form, passport and queue ticket. The customs officer will take your photo and hand back the scrub of the queue ticket. Sit back down again and wait for your number to appear in the next window along.

Head to that window with your ticket and your ¥168 in hand; you’ll be handed back the ticket stub and sent back to your seat.

Now it’s just waiting for your number to appear atop the Collection window at the far right. This stage appears to take the longest, but when it’s done you’ll have your passport with a Shenzhen visa.

Head downstairs to the Chinese immigration checkpoint, grab an arrivals slip from the desks at far right (you can write ‘Shenzhen’ for your address if seating just for the day, and if you came by train from Hong Kong write ‘MTR’ as the flight number.

Again, this is when it’s handy to have your own pen, because you can join the queue and and fill out the form while standing in line.

Once you’re through customs, head for the ‘Nothing to declare’ lane and place your passport, opened at the photo page, into the e-Channel gate, then go through the security checkpoint. 

If you’re short on local currency there’s a row of ATM machines to the left.

After the relative quiet of the immigration ares you’ll walk out into a maelstrom of noise and people and touts – welcome to Shenzhen!

Walk straight ahead for entry to the Shenzhen metro subway, or turn right for the Luohu Commercial City shopping plaza.

When you’re returning from Shenzhen, note that foreigners should proceed to level 2 of the immigration building, while Chinese nationals head to level 3. Again, don’t follow the signs to the e-Channels, as those are only for Hong Kong and Chinese nationals.

David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.
 

29 comments

  • sdtravel

    sdtravel

    7 Mar, 2018 05:40 am

    This seems like a lot of waiting especially if you're only making a day trip.
    Interesting that you can do this now though.
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  • Toottifruitti

    Toottifruitti

    20 Mar, 2018 10:03 am

    Each time we've been up there, we try to get there very early just as it is opening, usually you don't have to wait long. Weekends are very busy.
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  • Rob  Moore

    Roberto26

    23 May, 2018 07:02 pm

    Just returned after a visit to Shenzhen 10 days ago. Have done this journey numerous times. This time there was an additional formality. You are required to produce a photograph with your application and this photo needs to be taken by yourself at one of 3 photo kiosks located at the entrance of the visa office. Photos are free of charge.
    My visit was done on a Tuesday at 11am and took about 35 minutes.
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  • David Flynn

    David

    23 May, 2018 07:33 pm

    Thanks for the update, Roberto. That's very interesting, as previously you had to bring a passport-style photo with you, then they moved to taking the photo at the application counter.
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  • David Flynn

    David

    7 Mar, 2018 07:34 am

    Actually very little waiting at the visa office, I was done inside of 15 minutes, but a bit more waiting at the checkpoint (I travelled on a Saturday, arriving at Shenzhen late morning).

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  • johnaboxall

    johnaboxall

    7 Mar, 2018 07:53 am

    Doesn't take long at all. Don't forget to sign up for echannel at HKIA if you can, adds to the savings.
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  • Andrew McNicol

    ACM

    7 Mar, 2018 08:32 am

    Mid week the wait is ok, weekends or holiday times not so good.
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  • sdtravel

    sdtravel

    7 Mar, 2018 08:50 am

    When i get off the train either in Shenzen or Guangzhou i make a bee line for immigration. A few minute wait to get a visa could mean a much longer wait to get through immigration with more pax arriving every few minutes.
    Luckily i have a HKID card so can get ahead of a some people but that gain could be easily lost waiting for a visa.


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  • joshm998

    joshm998

    7 Mar, 2018 08:51 am

    Last time I was in Hong Kong I tried to get this Visa and was denied because my passport was too new, they told me that if the passport is too new they will need your old passport to check.
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  • aklrunway

    aklrunway

    7 Mar, 2018 09:10 am

    😂😂😂 funniest thing I’ve read all week
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    Toottifruitti

  • Tom Paseka

    peskey

    7 Mar, 2018 10:42 am

    Minor corrections: don't write MRT, write MTR. MRT is in Singapore and you didn't take that train!
    Payment is available in Chinese yuan only. Hong Kong dollars are not accepted, however there are currency exchange there and ATMs.
    The port visa is ONLY available at Lo Wu. Lok Ma Chau, Shenzhen Bay and other road crossing do NOT have port visa availability. You'll be turned back from the Chinese border embarrassingly, and if you're on a bus, you'll find that the bus has left you behind and you'll probably need to take a taxi to somewhere accessible. Don't make this mistake!

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    PG44

  • David Flynn

    David

    7 Mar, 2018 11:34 am

    Hi Peskey – that's correct, only at this Lo Wu crossing can one get the 'on arrival' visa. As for payment, during my visit I was told that credit cards were acceptable, although I'd always suggest carrying Yuan anyway as you're going to be spending in Shenzhen so you may as well be prepared.
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    Toottifruitti

  • JeCCo87

    JeCCo87

    7 Mar, 2018 02:12 pm

    Lo Wu isn't the only place where you can get the Visa On Arrival for Shenzhen, as Peskey said, you can get it at Lok Ma Chau and Shenzhen Bay as well. The other two crossings are even faster than Lo Wu with usually no line at all - been in and out in less than 5 minutes many times.

     
    Take the direct bus from Wan Chai ferry pier or many of the other locations in HK to Lok Ma Chau. Faster, similar price and a lot more comfortable. Gets you out of standing for the journey and jostling for space on the MTR up to Lo Wu in exchange for a recliner bus seat.
     
    Also there is far more to see in Shenzhen besides the Lo Wu area which is frankly mostly filled with shopping malls with knock-offs, massage parlours, touts and barely any attractions.
     
    Lok Ma Chau is also much closer to the theme parks, CoCo parks, ICT art gallery areas, not to mention the new CBDs districts of Futian and Shekou.
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    Toottifruitti

  • JeCCo87

    JeCCo87

    7 Mar, 2018 02:56 pm

    And not to mention some of the cheapest 5 star hotels in the world in the Futian area, which is a 10 minute cab ride from the Lok Ma Chau crossing.
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  • Graeme Bray

    Livewireshock

    7 Mar, 2018 11:43 pm

    The Chinese border crossing you mean is Huanggang Port, across from the Lok Ma Chau vehicle crossing point where buses go to. This is different to the Futian Control Point which is across from the Lok Ma Chau MTR station and does not issue the Shenzhen visa. So if travelling by train, they are correct in saying that you must go to Lo Wu, because there is no access between Lok Ma Chau MTR station and the Lok Ma Chau vehicle crossing point.

    It is definitely not available from Shenzhen Bay either, but from the new Shenzhen Prince Bay Cruise Homeport, where the HK ferries now arrive at in the Shekou district. The Fuyong ferry terminal at Shenzhen airport also issues the Shenzhen visa.

    The e-Channel on the return to Hong Kong is open to foreigners registered for HK e-Channels, however you must use the same machines as Chinese mainlanders, which can have a longer line that manual processing, pending on the time and date. There is no separate Foreigners e-Channel like HKIA.

    It does take up a whole passport page and it can not be applied for or processed prior to leaving Australia, only regular Chinese visas.

    Lastly a similar visa is available for Zhuhai, on the mainland from Macau. This is convenient for cheaper Zhuhai hotels than at the Macau casinos.
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  • Toottifruitti

    Toottifruitti

    20 Mar, 2018 10:08 am

    As JeCCo87 says Shenzhen has a lot to offer. We've been to Windows of the World a couple of times. One advice take a roll of toilet paper with you to SZ as there is usually none available.
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  • S

    S

    7 Mar, 2018 08:04 pm

    David,
    Did this take up a whole page in your passport?
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  • daft009

    daft009

    7 Mar, 2018 10:38 pm

    What if I want to apply from Sydney before flying to HK?
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  • ajd

    ajd

    8 Mar, 2018 03:51 pm

    You can't - only available from the visa office at the border.
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  • stewart7000

    stewart7000

    8 Sep, 2018 11:22 pm

    I found out the hard way. I did not see this page before leaving. Chinese visa in Australia is a minimum of a month period and cost over $100 if you go to their office. I'm from Adelaide and cost $130 because it was by post. I even paid for the envelopes :-(
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  • Paul Martin

    Phxlab

    8 Mar, 2018 09:18 am

    Thanks for posting this article. I would like to ask if anyone knows if this visa is also available for French citizen? I didn’t see clearly the list of countries authorized. Thanks for your reply.
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  • jennycheung88

    jennycheung88

    12 Mar, 2018 07:38 pm

    Hello, does anyone know if the passport has to be valid over certain period like 6 months?
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  • aeromedic

    aeromedic

    19 Mar, 2018 05:49 pm

    Not a new thing. My wife and I have been doing this for years when visiting family in HongKong. Sad to say that the family has moved from HKG now.
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  • Shane Hodges

    shanech

    4 May, 2018 01:00 pm

    Thank you for the post David. I want to go to Shenzhen from Hong Kong mid May 2018 for 4 days. Is this visa service still available?
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  • Michael Goodall

    Mikegood49

    6 May, 2018 03:05 pm

    New additional procedures from 1 May:
    A photo is required with applications. You cannot bring your own, you must use the photo booths installed outside the Visa office. So you need (1) Passport (2) Visa Application Form (3) Visa Photo from booth (4) Ticket with service number from machine at entrance and 168RMB for the Visa. They take credit cards.
    Once you have your visa, proceed downstairs to the Customs and Immigration Hall. You need to provide fingerprint identity using the terminals on the left of the hall as you walk in. Scan your passport and scan 4 fingers of BOTH hands. (This is only required once and once you're in the system isn't needed for subsequent trips.) Complete the Arrival Card and then you can proceed to the Customs line.
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  • Shane Hodges

    shanech

    6 May, 2018 05:37 pm

    Thank you for the update on the visa process Mike
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  • Hoylen

    hoylen

    28 Jan, 2019 02:29 am

    If you already have a China Visa, they will not issue a Shenzhen visa to you. That is because you can't have two concurrent visas. For example, if you already have a single-entry (full) China Visa (e.g. you are on your way elsewhere in China after a Hong Kong stop over), but want to spend an unplanned side-trip to Shenzhen: you can't get a Shenzhen-only Visa for it, and they will insist you use the China Visa first.

    So either plan ahead and get a (full) multi-entry China visa in the first place (that's the best option); cancel your unexpected Shenzhen side-trip; or use up the visa and have to apply for another China Visa in Hong Kong before continuing your (second) journey into China (which is probably not practical or not possible, depending on your situation).

    You will need to press down very hard on the fingerprint scanners for them to register properly. The initial registration requires the 4 left hand fingers, then the 4 right hand fingers, and then the two thumbs. As mentioned before, you only ever need to do this once. If you've done it before, go straight to immigration (where they will scan the 4 right hand fingers to confirm your identity).
     
    Tip: don't forget to pick up an arrivals form, before queueing for immigration. Especially since is easy to forget, after dealing with the fingerprint registration machines. The forms are immediately in front of the fingerprint registration machines, but is easy to miss, since it is not signed and is only visible if you look backwards (towards the fingerprint registration machines) instead of forwards towards the immigration counters (where you would naturally be looking).
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  • Zolan

    Zolan

    23 Jun, 2019 11:33 pm

    Does anyone know if you can now get the Shenzhen Visa from the new High-Speed rail station in West Kowloon?
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  • David Flynn

    David

    24 Jun, 2019 10:08 am

    Reports indicate you cannot - this is available only on the slower route mentioned above. For the new high-speed train from West Kowloon you already need to have the necessary visa.
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    Zolan

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23 Jul, 2019 09:52 pm

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