From what I can tell, they seem to be pretty interchangable, you can do both for a visa, passport, etc. Just wondering whether you can 办 something but not 申请 it, or vice versa?

  • see dictionaries, e.g. bkrs: semantic field of 办 much larger than that of 申请, #401manage, do, handle; deal with 申请 #2153 to apply for sth application (form etc)
    – user6065
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 10:19
  • re top (later) answer: 办 can mean 办手续 go through the formalities ichacha: 我有点事得办一办。 I have something to attend to.esp. can apply to applicants (for passport, etc) themselves going through the required procedure, search dictionaries, web for examples like 办护照,签证,驾驶执照, iciba:I had a quite a Bit of trouble getting my passport. 我在办护照时遭遇到许多麻烦. 办签证不像你想的那么容易。我们是不是需要办签证?我明天得去大使馆办签证. (办 often simply means "get")
    – user6065
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 12:48

4 Answers 4


"申请护照" means "to apply for a passport" It describes the action of file an application for obtaining passport

"护照" means "make arrangement to obtain a passport" It describes the whole procedure of obtaining passport


办 is short for 办理 in this context.

Actually, 办理 and 申请 are used quite differently. Say you apply for (申请)a visa, the staff will (办理) make it ready for you, which might include inspecting your application form and other relevant documents. For example, 我提出申请,请您帮我办理。

  • When you say I am going to '办护照' that means you will apply for one and the passport office will 发护照 to you.
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 13:26

IMO 办 is a general statement for "deal with / ask people to handle some license related stuff", which includes 申请. So "申请" (apply for) is a subset of "办", whereas you can also say "办手续" but here 办 doesn't mean 申请. Also "办" is more colloquial, and 申请 is more formal. The formal version of 办 is 办理. Additionally, 办 is only for license (usually government related) stuff, but 申请 can be "apply for" for anything. i.e. you can say "申请大学" (apply for college) but you can't say 办大学.


Sometime they are the same. But they are always different. 办 Means deal with, 申请 means apply for, weather sth can be done depends on the person whom you applied for!

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