Visas have long been an annoying inconvenience for travellers since biblical times and it is thought that the Passport was first introduced by Louis XIV 1643-1715 when he personally singed documents to his court favourites to enable them to “pass through a port” and were known as ‘Passe Port’. Most European countries soon after adopted the Passport system with visas required to visit other countries. With the rise of tourism due to rail travel in the mid-19thcentury there was a complete breakdown in the European passport system and that they were almost completely abolished by 1914. World War 1 saw the renewed necessity of proof of domicile and Passports were re-introduced.
A Visa is a conditional authorisation granted by the territory, allowing them to enter and stay for the period of the Visa. Visa requirements vary from Nation to Nation but are generally based on a reciprocal agreement by both countries.
An impending first visit to China had me researching Google to check on the requirements necessary to apply for a Tourist visa. The Chinese Visa Application Service Centre link is quite informative and relatively easy to follow. However, the website currently requires the need to apply for an appointment. Having tried many times, I wrote to the centre and received a very detailed letter informing me of all the documents that are required and that appointments are no longer necessary. The Visa Application Form is easy to download here
With a duly completed form and a photo attached I was required to submit the following to support my application:-
- Passport (min valid for 6 months with free pages)
- Visa Application Form with 1 photo attached +plus an additional photo*
- Photocopy of Passport page
- Photo Copy of my Thailand Immigration stamp
- Photocopy of a ‘Letter to Certificate myself’ (text supplied on the letter)
- Confirmation of Air Ticket
- Hotel Reservation
With trepidation I made my way to the China Visa Application Service located in the Thanapoom Tower on New Petchaburi Road. So express bus to Suvarnabhumi, Airport Link to Makkasan and a short motor-bike taxi to Thanapoom Tower. The Visa Centre is on the 5thfloor. Having travelled most of my life and required hundreds of visas my general perception of Consulates or Visa Centres has not been high. Mostly un-friendly, crowded and time consuming. With this image in my mind I arrived on the 5thfloor. I was taken back to find a modern, brightly lit and highly efficient looking centre. I was welcomed brightly by one of the Reception Staff with a wonderful smile, the lady checked my details and discovered that I only had 1 photograph and 2 are required(I had not picked up on this with their letter) However downstairs on the 2ndfloor is an industrious shop offering instant photos and photo-copy services if required. Next to this store is a coffee shop so just time for a quick espresso before returning to the 5thfloor. The same lady and the same bright smile. On presentation of the photo I was given a number and asked to take a seat. Generally, this is now the most tedious part of any visa procedure. However I had only just settled in my seat when my number was called!
At the counter my documents were carefully checked and the only discrepancy was that the photo on the form was not the same as the second photo. The first was removed and replaced by my new photo. Did I want express service (2 days) or regular service (4 days)? I took regular and was provided with a sheet of paper advising me to return in 4 days. “That’s it?” I asked and the bemused assistant answered yes with a smile. In total it had taken me less than 20 minutes and I was on my way back to Jomtien on the 11:00 bus.
In all my experiences of Consulates and Visa Agencies, this has been my best experience! I am sorry China if I had doubted you, your service is a credit to your nation and the staff in the Bangkok office are amazing, quick, efficient and great service with a smile!
Kim Waddoup enjoyed a lifetime in the tourism business and is an active ‘Silver-Ager” living in Thailand. He writes for his age group with high varied articles covering subjects relevant to retirees living in, or visiting Thailand.
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