Considering the website for the Mongolian consulate in Australia actually recommends you pick up your visa in Beijing, I figured that getting my Mongolian visa in China would be a piece of cake.
Thankfully, I was right! Although like all things bureaucratic, it takes some patience.
The Mongolian embassy is located just around the corner from the Silk Street market in Beijing, at No. 2 Xiu Shui Beijie. It’s a fifteen to twenty minute walk from Jianguomen or Yong’anli subway stations. All the embassies look the same (high walls, barbed wire), so ask one of the many guards on the street, and they’ll point you in the right direction.
You don’t actually go inside the embassy – the Visa counter is on the street, so chances are you’ll see a huge line of people anyway.
As of September 2010, it’s open for applications from 9am to 11am Monday, Wednesday and Friday and from 2pm to 4pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Pickup is from 4pm to 5pm Monday to Friday.
Try and get there as early as possible – when I arrived at 9.30am on a Monday, there was already a long line and it was almost closing time when I got to the window. When I went back to pick the visa up on Tuesday, some people waiting to drop their applications in missed out when the staff closed the window at 3.45pm.
What to bring
Your passport, and a letter of invitation, if you need one. As an Australian, I didn’t need a letter, but I overheard a couple talking about a French girl who did. You can print an application form in advance from the embassy website, or pick one up when you arrive.
What happens next
Once you’ve handed in your application, you’ll be given a receipt and instructions on where to pay your visa fee (currently 495RMB + 10RMB bank commission for a 1 day service. Foreigners can only choose this service, there is no cheaper option available).
Take the receipt to the Bank of China, which is just across the other side of the main road, near Scitech Plaza. Show the receipt to the guy at the information counter – he’ll assist you from there.
The following day, head back to the embassy just before 4pm to line up to pick up your visa.
Too easy! In all, it took about three hours on the first day, and an hour on the pick up day, most of that spent waiting around. Take a book!