It’s now easier for tourists in different parts of China to apply for visas to visit Norway – and vice versa.
Norway has opened eight new visa centres in different parts of China this week, which means shorter travel times for applicants and a lower threshold for applying for a visa, according to Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The move comes ahead of Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines opening direct flights between Beijing and Oslo in spring 2019 with three departures per week.
The combined population in the cities hosting the new visa centres is around 65 million. This number is higher still if factoring in the surrounding regions.
Norway and China have long been negotiating the opening of new visa centres. Now applicants can submit their visa applications and issue biometrics in these eight new locations.
The new Norwegian visa centres have opened in the cities of Hangzhou, Shenyang, Xian, Wuhan, Chengdu, Chongqing, Changsha and Kunming.
Easier means of obtaining a visa will not only contribute to increased tourism, the Norwegian ministry hopes, but also to more person-to-person cooperation. It should also strengthen business cooperation between the two countries.
Up to now, Chinese tourists who wanted to visit Norway had to travel to Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou to apply for a visa. That meant, for example, that potential tourists from the city of Chengdu had to travel 1,800 kilometres to Beijing.
Norway is sure that ease of travel can be facilitated in the opposite direction too.
As late as October last year, Norwegians were still the only citizens of the Schengen Area who could not travel visa-free to Shanghai and Beijing. But this is changing.
“Norway is already on the list of countries that can travel visa-free to the island of Hainan, and we hope Norway will soon be included in the visa-free transit programme that applies to other parts of China,” Frode Overland Andersen, communications manager at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told the news agency NTB.