When applying for different types of Chinese visas, The China Consulate will frequently require various documents with a “chop” on it. Many of our clients get frustrated with this requirement and leap to the conclusion that getting the document “chopped” will be difficult, or they are afraid that their contact in China won’t understand the request for a document with a chop. We are here to tell you that they WILL know what a chop is, as the Chinese chop all sorts of things everyday!
A chop is a stamp or seal derived from the wax stamps that were used 100 years ago to seal things. It is typically round and red with Chinese characters. Chops in China are used similarly to signatures on important documents in the US. Rather than signing a document, the Chinese stamp a seal on their documents (the chop). A document with a chop is essentially a binding commitment from the company’s owner or the company’s legal representation. It is very important, and caries a lot of weight.
There are over 10 categories of chops. The ones we see associated with Chinese visas tend to be company chops. This chop is used to sign all legal documents. For example, if you are getting a business visa, you need a business invite. This business invite will have a company chop on it. Possession of the stamp is considered sufficient identification of the person using it to establish the person’s authority to bind the company. The other common chop we see is a person chop. A personal chop is the name chop of the company’s legal representative, and is sometimes used as a signature for letters. This is not a stamp that mimics a physical signature, but it does have the carved-out letters of the representative’s name.
Regardless of what type of visa you need, if one of the requirements on out required document checklist for your visa indicates that one of the visa requirements need to have a chop, just consult with your inviter. You will not need to instruct them on what a chop is, or which type they should use. This is part of their everyday culture, and they are sure to get you what you need.
Rob Lee is co-founder of Swift Passport and Visa Services. Originally from Michigan, Rob is an avid fisherman and SCUBA diver who enjoys adventure travel.