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Stopping in Beijing or Shanghai for several hours or a few days of your international journey? Don't want to apply for a China visa but want to wander around the city? What should you do?
You're in the right place.
You can enjoy China's 144-hour visa-free transit policy.
Good news: Travellers enter China at selected cities with China Highlights can benefit from our "Hassle-Free Visa". Provide us a photo of your passport and we will handle your visas. Click to see details.
The nationals of 53 countries are eligible for the visa exemption program, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
Americans (of 6 countries): the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and the Republic of Chile
European citizens (of 39 countries): Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Russia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, Belarus, and Monaco
Oceanians (of 2 countries): Australia and New Zealand
Asians (of 6 countries): South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar
Many famous tourist destinations are included in this policy, including Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Xi'an, Chengdu, and Guangzhou.
Good news: Since December 1, 2019, the visa-free stay for eligible foreigners at Chongqing and Xi’an has extended from 72 hours to 144 hours.
1. Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang Area
You can enter and leave from any of the above ports, and travel around Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang. See details about 144-Hour Visa-Free Transit in Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang.
2. Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei Area
Beijing Railway Station and Beijing West Railway Station are two different railway stations. Beijing Railway Station is not a permitted port for the 144-hour visa-free policy. See How to Visit Beijing without a Visa.
3. Xi'an: Xianyang International Airport
The stay is limited to Xi 'an and Xianyang cities.
4. Guangdong Province
5. Liaoning Province
6. Chengdu: Shuangliu International Airport
You are allowed to travel within Chengdu City. See details about 144-hour Visa-free Transit in Chengdu. Since December 1, 2019, Chengdu's 144-hour visa-free transit policy has been extended to 10 surrounding prefectures (Leshan, Deyang, Suining, Meishan, Ya 'an, Ziyang, Neijiang, Zigong, Luzhou, and Yibin) covering more Sichuan attractions to the south: the Giant Buddha, Bifengxia Panda Base, etc.
7. Chongqing: Jiangbei International Airport
8. Xiamen: Gaoqi International Airport and sea ports
9. Kunming: Changshui International Airport
10. Wuhan: Tianhe International Airport
11. Qingdao: Liuting International Airport and sea ports. You are allowed to stay in the whole Shandong Province.
To reduce the risk of denied entry, you should understand the rules and restrictions.
You should be in transit to a third country or region. That is to say, you can’t book a round-trip ticket from the United States and use the 144-hour transit visa. Your journey should go like this:
Departure country A→ B (one of the allowed areas in mainland China)→C (the third country or region)
It is worth noting that Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan can be regarded as A or C in this respect.
Here are examples:
√ USA – Shanghai – Hong Kong
√ UK – Beijing – Japan
× USA – Beijing – USA
To be eligible for the transit visa, make sure your international flights have no stopovers of any kind within mainland China before arrival or after departure at the port of entry.
You're unable to use the policy if your journey is along the lines of: UK – Beijing – Shanghai – Hong Kong.
Not sure whether your route is eligible? Contact us to check.
The visa-free areas are separate. You have to stay within the permitted region and not travel out of it at all. You must arrive, move about and depart all within the same region. For example, you cannot make a trip from Beijing to Shanghai on the same transit visa trip.
If you arrive in Shanghai, you can tour around Shanghai and then Hangzhou, and then depart from Hangzhou as both of them are in the same visa-free region.
This visa-free policy is not limited to air passengers but also applies to train and cruise passengers. For example, you can arrive at a Shanghai cruise port and leave from an airport.
You need to provide the documents listed below to apply for the 144-hour visa-free transit:
1) Inform your carrier of your intent to use 144-hour TWOV, and acquire your onward ticket before travel.
2) Fill in arrival and departure cards (available on flights).
3) At the dedicated counter for 144-hour visa-free transit at your arrival port, provide the immigration officer with your documents.
4) Claim your luggage, go through customs, and exit the airport, as you would with a visa.
5) Leave from a designated port as normal before midnight on the sixth full day, handing in your completed departure card at immigration.
The 144 hours start from 00:00 on the day after entry. That is to say, it's possible to have more time than 144 hours if you can find suitable transport.
For example, if you enter Shanghai at 6 am on June 1st; your 144 hours starts from 00:00 on June 2nd, and you can stay until 23:59 on June 7th.
[Please note that some airports have their own special regulations about how they count these hours: from airplane touchdown, or from midnight, or from when they issue the visa-free travel permit in the airport. So find out in advance about the specific airport regulations. ]
If you are unable to depart on time due to unavoidable reasons, such as flight cancellation, you must apply for a visa from the Municipal Public Security Bureau. To avoid this don’t cut it too close.
[Note: Your application for the 144-hour visa-free transit may be refused to the following situations: 1) Your travel documents are valid for less than 3 months at the time of entry; 2) Your route does not qualify; 3) You lack any of the required documents listed above; 4) You have Chinese visa refusal stamps in their passports.
The above information was updated on Sep 19th, 2019. The situation changes on a daily basis. Please double-check when you plan your tour.]
A 144-hour visa-free tour to China has become a reality. We can customize a tour for you to make the most of your time. Just let us know your interests and requirements.
Here are our most popular Shanghai and Beijing area tours, for inspiration: