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EU to expand network of visa desks in China

The European Union will expand the number of visa centres in China to offer 15 visa locations for each Schengen country. 04 Mar 2016

Applications for a Schengen visa require fingerprints and other biometric data, so must always be made in person, the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the EU said.

EU Schengen visas are valid across the Schengen area but visitors must still apply for a visa from the EU country where they plan to spend most of their time, a spokesperson for the presidency said.

Under Chinese law, applications could previously only be made in a city with an embassy or consulate of that country. For example, the Netherlands was only able to offer an office in Beijing, Chongqing, Guangzhou and Shanghai, and applicants often have to travel long distances to apply, the presidency statement said.

Countries are now allowed to offer visa desks in cities where many of their companies are active. The Netherlands, for example, will now open 11 new desks. The first will open in Chengdu and Shenzhen, followed by Hangzhou and Fuzhou before summer, and Nanjing, Jinan and Shenyang before the end of 2016. Further Dutch desks will be opened in Changsha, Kunming, Wuhan and Xian next year.

China and the UK have overhauled the visit visas required for travel to one another's countries this year, in a bid to boost both business and tourism travel. With two year multiple-entry visas now available, both countries hope to see an increase in visitors.