GETTING China-bound Singapore travellers to apply for visas is going to entail extra work and cost, say travel agents and corporate travellers.
But they are thankful that the new rule, effective July 1, is temporary and can be expected to be lifted after the Olympic Games, which Beijing is hosting from Aug 8 to 24.
A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday made official the latest change to China's visa rules.
Visas are currently not needed for Singaporeans, Japanese and Bruneians making trips there lasting 15 days or less.
Frequent traveller Tan Sze Wee, chief executive of biotechnology company Rockeby, said the rule made it inconvenient, but did not pose too much of a problem for corporate travellers.
Noting that visas were also required for travel to India, he added: 'What this means is we have to plan for the trips to China much earlier to take into consideration turnaround time for visa application.'
Agreeing, Ms Ruth Lim, the manager for marketing and communications at SA Tours, said it was a return to the situation before 2003, when visas were required for travel to China.
'Fortunately it is only temporary,' she said.
Agreeing, her counterpart at ASA Holidays, Ms Eileen Oh, said: 'We do not foresee much disruption to our tours, since the July to October period is typically a low season for travel.'
To apply for a China visa:
- The passport must be valid for at least six months. The endorsed visa becomes invalid if the passport expires. The validity of the visa starts on one's date of application.
- The visa application must be submitted with a passport photo affixed to it. A copy of the ticket both in and out of the country and a hotel voucher must also be presented. If there is an accompanying child on the trip, the child's photo is required with the application.
- There are single-entry visas and double-entry ones. The duration of one's stay will be determined by the visa officer.
- Third-country passport holders must also provide the original and a photocopy of their Singapore Permanent Residency, Work Permit, Employment Permit or valid visa.
It costs $25 and takes four working days to get a visa to China. The application can be speeded up but this will cost $50 more. Only cash is accepted.
A receipt will be issued for passport and visa collection. If the receipt is lost, applicants must be present in person with their identity cards to collect their visas.