How to Get a Chinese Visa in Penang Malaysia: A Step by Step Guide

It's possible to get a Chinese visa in Penang without traveling all the way down to Kuala Lumpur. This complete guide tells you everything you need to know to apply for your China Visa in Penang.

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Few people seem to know that since 2016 it’s possible to apply for and get a Chinese visa in Penang, Malaysia without the need to travel to Kuala Lumpur. The good thing is that in Malaysia, even travelers holding a simple tourist visa can apply for their Chinese visa.

Penang’s Chinese Visa Application Service Center is located at the end of Lebuh Bishop near the intersection with Beach Street. It’s a 10-minute walk from Chulia street and its enclave of backpacker spots and affordable Penang boutique hotels. The Chinese Visa Application Service Center in Penang is open from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 3 pm, and closed on public Malaysian and Chinese holidays (check their holiday calendar carefully). You can drop your application or collect your passport anytime between 9 am and 3 pm.

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The Penang China Visa Center is located at the upper end of Bishop Street, near the junction with Beach Street, in a building called “Bishops Gate”. You can’t miss it. (image by Marco Ferrarese)
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The entrance to the China Visa Center in Penang, Malaysia (image by Marco Ferrarese)

Can I apply for a Chinese Visa in Penang as a non-Malaysian resident?

When we asked in June 2019, the employee said that yes, it is possible to apply for a Chinese Visa in Penang, Malaysia as a non-resident. The short answer is YES. But the catch is, it could take longer than the normal week to process, and the application may be rejected. But one can still try his luck.

In case your application is rejected, the good news is that you would not need to pay the full visa amount (RM200 for a single entry, 30-day visas valid for 3 months from the date of application), but only RM70 (about US$18) to cover processing fees.

What do I need to apply for a Chinese Visa in Penang?

To apply for a Chinese Visa in Penang you will need the following documents/photocopies:

For Malaysian citizens:

  1. Duly compiled application form (set of 4 pages) you can pick up at the visa center. You can only use a gel pen to fill in your particulars — they are provided at the Chinese Visa Application Service Center.
  2. Two recent passport pictures on white background.
  3. A photocopy of the first page of your passport with your picture and data, including the next page with details of issuing authorities.
  4. One photocopy of your last Chinese visa (if applicable).
  5. One photocopy of your flight ticket reservation which shows: your full name, flight number and arrival/departure times. Only the one-way ticket to China was asked, not a return ticket.

OR

One photocopy of at least one-night hotel booking in China.

Documents needed for Malaysian residents (meaning people holding PR, working pass, student pass, or long term social visit/spouse passes):

  1. Duly compiled application form (set of 4 pages).
  2. Two recent passport pictures on white background.
  3. A photocopy of the first page of your passport with your picture and data, including the next page with details of issuing authorities.
  4. One photocopy of your current valid Malaysian pass.
  5. One photocopy of your latest entry stamp into Malaysia.
  6. One photocopy of your last Chinese visa (if applicable).
  7. One photocopy of your flight ticket reservation which shows: your full name, flight number and arrival/departure times. Only the one-way ticket to China was asked, not a return ticket.

OR

One photocopy of at least one-night hotel booking in China.

How much does a Chinese Visa cost in Penang?

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China visa fees in Malaysia as presented over the counter at the China Visa Center in Penang (image by Marco Ferrarese)

For a single entry visa, valid for three months from date of issue, and giving you 30 days stay in China from the date of entry, the cost is:

  1. RM100 for Malaysian nationals
  2. RM200 for Third-country nationals holding a Malaysian pass

You can get other categories of visas, too:

  1. Double entry valid for 6 months, 30 days per entry. RM120 for Malaysian, RM270 for third-country national.
  2. Multiple entries, valid for six months. RM150 for Malaysian, RM320 for third-country national.
  3. Multiple entries, valid for one year. RM190 for Malaysian, RM470 for third-country national.

Note well: US citizens pay RM535 and Canadians pay RM370 for any type of visa, regardless of entries and duration. If you are a citizen of one of these two countries, given the price, your best bet is asking for the longest option.

How long does it take to get a Chinese Visa in Penang?

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Marco holding his China Visa Application receipt at the Penang China Visa Application Service Center (image by Kit Yeng Chan)

In Penang it takes 6 days from the date of submission and, unlike in Kuala Lumpur, there is no chance to pay extra for an express or rush service.

This means that you have to factor a full week (8 days) to get your Chinese visa in Penang. For example, if you apply on a Monday between 9 am and 3 pm, you will be able to collect your visa only on the next Monday at 9 am.

This time includes 6 working days, plus Saturday and Sunday. You will be able to collect your passport with visa on the eight day.
This means that, if you have a very short time to travel to China, it’s probably best to travel to Kuala Lumpur and apply there. Most flights to China leave from KL anyways.

How to apply for a Chinese Visa in Penang?

Once you have collected all the necessary documents, go to the Chinese Visa Application Service Center and collect a number. Sit and wait and you will be served quickly — there’s never a big rush here.

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The waiting hall at the China Visa Center in Penang. Luckily, it’s never too busy and operations are quite swift (image by Marco Ferrarese)

If you have all the documents required (and explained above) with you, the clerk will revise your application and you will be able to submit it on the same day. If you prefer to get the forms and ask the clerk to double check that everything is in order, you should either visit early and submit on the same day before 3 pm or come back on the next working day. If you need additional photocopies, the easiest place to find them is along tourist haven Chulia Street: several guesthouses and photography shops offer this service, but it costs more than elsewhere — usually, it’s about 50SEN per copy, compared to 10/20SEN you find elsewhere in Penang. But if time’s against you, this is the best spot to get your application done in a day.

Applying for a tourist visa, we noticed that you don’t have to put a lot of details in your forms: for example, there’s no need to provide the name and address of an inviting contact in China, and your travel itinerary can be as loose and bare-bone as possible. We offered to write down a complete list of travel dates, places and hotel names we thought of staying at, but were told “not necessary”. Easy procedure, nonetheless.

Once all your documents are submitted, you will receive a receipt stating your name, category of visa and duration details, and collection date. Absolutely don’t lose it, as you need it to pay for your visa and collect your passport a week later.

Come back on the day with your receipt, pay the required fee, collect your passport, check your visa details, and travel happily to China.


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