Chinese Visa Passport Service Recommendation
As I wrote about the other day, I am taking my dad to Asia to re-live his younger days when he was stationed there in the Navy. We will be ending our trip in Shanghai and while he will just be using the transit Visa, I wanted to finally get my Chinese Visa since I have been putting it off. I am in the area enough that having the Visa will be convenient and allow me to see some cool new areas and maybe even ride some of the new coasters they are building over there.
Of course getting a Chinese Visa isn’t all that easy. According to the Chinese Embassy’s website there are 3 steps:
- STEP 1: Select a visa category that best describes your trip to China and prepare your visa application including necessary supporting documents accordingly.
- STEP 2: Submit your application to the Visa Office of Chinese Embassy/ Consulate General based on your State of residence (Locate a Visa Office that serves your state)
- STEP 3: Pay the visa application fee at the Visa Office and pick up your visa. (Click to check fees and payments)
So I got about halfway through Step 1 and started reading about the type of Visa I needed along with the documentation required and my head started spinning. Not that I can’t do this all myself, but it seemed like a steep learning curve and a hassle. While I am generally someone who always does stuff himself, I realized I wanted some help so I looked for a service. The one I had heard about from other blogs was Allied Passport.
Allied Passport 10 Year Chinese Visa Service
Allied had also approached me to see if I wanted to have a referral relationship with them and I thought this would be the perfect way to test out their service. So I went to their website and suddenly things made a lot more sense. They broke it down simply and told me that I needed:
- One completed China visa application. Save to your desktop before typing.
- One professionally printed passport photo on hard stock glossy paper
- Actual passport valid 6 months beyond trip completion and side by side blank visa pages
- One flight itinerary with passenger name listed on reservation (required, but does not have to be purchased ticket or confirmed reservation, unbooked itineraries are acceptable)
- One Allied Passport & Visa order form Save to your desktop before typing.
Starting the Visa Process
They made it easy with the instructions. Before long I filled out my application and their order form and was ready to mail my stuff off when…..my wife and I decided to go to Mexico to join our friends at the Hyatt Ziva! Uh-oh. Eventually I decided to bring the app and all of the other information with me on the trip so I could mail it from the East Coast (where we went from Mexico).
So there we were in New York having a great time and do you know what I forgot to do? Yup! I forgot to mail the Visa application. Thankfully I wasn’t out of luck. My next stop was Washington DC where Allied is located. I emailed Steve from Allied and asked if I could drop my documents off at his office. He said that was fine, but that he was out the rest of the day so I should put them in the security slot. That was Monday September, 12.
On Tuesday morning the Allied folks came into work and began processing my application. They have a website setup to allow you to see the progress of your Visa. I did pay for their rush service (see below) which gave them up to 9 business days to complete the process before shipping. On their form they ask for the date you need the passport back. I said September 24 and they agreed to have it for me by then, but they did so much better.
On Thursday, just two days later, I received an email notification from FedEx. I had an overnight delivery coming the next morning from Washington DC. It was my passport. Allied got my passport on Tuesday morning and managed to have it in the mail with a 10 year Chinese Visa two days later.
The bottom line is that Allied Passport paid for themselves by saving me time and effort on figuring out the Visa process.. Had I not been in a time crunch, I simply would have mailed my passport to them and received it back. They make it simple and their website tracking was a pleasant surprise. So let me talk about their pricing.
The first fee you will pay is a Visa fee. This is the money that is going to the Embassy for the Visa.
- 10 business days processing: $140
- 5 business days processing: $140
- 2 business days processing: $160
*Add $10 if you are outside of the DC Area jurisdiction.
Next, you have the Allied processing fees. This is the fee they charge for the work they do of getting your Passport to the Embassy and getting that Visa taken care of.
- Standard Processing (10+ Business Days): $49
- Expedited Processing (4-9 Business Days): $109
- Emergency Processing (1-3 Business Days): $199
The last cost is for them to ship your passport back to you.
- FedEx 3 Day: $22
- FedEx 2 Day: $26
- FedEx Next Morning: $33
- FedEx Saturday: $45
What I Paid
Since you no doubt think at this point that Allied must be paying me off to write this, that isn’t the case. I want to be 100% clear that I paid for their service with the caveat that they did give me free return shipping. That was nice, but I assure you it would take more to buy me off. 🙂
My Total Fees Were:
- $170 Embassy Fee
- + $109 Expedited Processing Fee
- – $5 Miles to Memories Referral (You get this too!)
- = $274
As I said above, anyone can save $5 on their Chinese or any other Visa through Allied Passport. Simply use the link below and then on the order form put “Miles to Memories” in the referral box. They will subtract $5 from the total. We do get a few dollars as well if you say we referred you.
To be honest, I was going to write this article anyway, because I think a lot of people are overwhelmed by the Chinese Visa process. Whether it included Allied Passport or not really depended to me on the service I was given and Steve and his staff really shined. If you plan ahead (and don’t travel out of the country last minute like me), then for $49 ($44 after discount) they take care of the hassle for you. That is pretty cheap.
Do you have a Chinese Visa? Did you do it yourself or did a company help you? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments to help others make up their mind whether using a service makes sense or not!