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How to Transit Through China for 144 Hours Without a Visa

Written by CindyUpdated Mar. 7, 2024
Good news for travelers!

Visa-Free Access to China: If you're from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Austria, Belgium, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Malaysia, you can visit China visa-free for 15 days until December 31st, 2025. If you're from Singapore, you can relish visa-free access to China for up to 30 days. New Zealand and Australia will also be added to China's 15-day visa-free list.

If your nationality isn't listed above or if you aim to discover China for more than two weeks, we offer a Port Visa Service for just US$50 per person (valid until June 30th, 2024) once your tour booking is confirmed with us. No stress of embassy visits and visa interviews.

China Implemented 144-hour visa-free transit policy, which allows you to enjoy a longer stay (6 days) in China without a visa.

The 144-hour visa-free policy currently applies only to passengers transiting through China via the following cities: Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Beijing, Tianjin, Xi'an, Chengdu, Xiamen, Shijiazhuang, Dalian, Shenyang, etc.

A key distinction between the 24-hour and 72-hour Transit Without Visa (TWOV) policies and the 144-hour visa-free policy is that the latter allows travelers to move within one of the three designated regions, rather than being restricted to a single city. For instance, under the 144-hour visa-free policy, you can travel from Shanghai to Nanjing, as they are both part of the Yangtze River Delta Region. However, travel to Beijing is not allowed as it is part of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region.

You can only travel within the designated region under the 144-hour visa-free policy:

  • Yangtze River Delta Region: Shanghai, as well as Jiangsu Province (major cities: Nanjing, Suzhou) and Zhejiang Province (major cities: Hangzhou, Ningbo)
  • Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region: Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei Province (major cities: Shijiazhuang, Qinhuangdao)
  • Guangdong Province: Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Zhuhai, etc
  • Chengdu Region: Chengdu, Leshan, Ya'an, Deyang, Suining, Meishan, Ziyang, Zigong, Yibin, Neijiang, and Luzhou
  • Xiamen city only
  • Chongqing
  • Xi'an and Xianyang
  • Wuhan city only
  • Kunming city only
  • Liaoning Province: Shengyang, Dalian, etc
  • Shandong Province: Qingdao, etc

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Will My Route Qualify for China 144-Hour Visa-Free Transit?

Over 20 cities in China apply to the 144-hour transit policy, including Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Shenyang, Dalian, Qingdao, Chengdu, Xiamen, Kunming, Wuhan, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chongqing, Xi'an, Ningbo, etc. Here is a quick test to see if you comply with the policy:

Quick Test: Will My Route Qualify for China 72/144-Hour Visa-Free Transit?

1. I will depart from (only applies to direct or connected flight):

2. I will arrive in China at [city], [airport / railway station / port].

3. My arrival date is...

4. I will leave for [country/region] from China (the bounding destination on the air ticket):

5. My departure date is...

6. My nationality is...

144-hour Visa-Free Transit

If you want to enjoy the 144-hour visa-free transit policy, you need to meet relevant qualifying criteria, as detailed below:

  • You must be a passport holder from one of the 53 countries listed below, and your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of intended arrival.
  • You must hold, before entry into China, an onward ticket departing Chinese mainland within 144 hours.
  • Your arrival and departure cards must be completely filled in.
  • You must be in transit to a third country or region (Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan are included). For example, USA–Shanghai–Taiwan is an acceptable itinerary for a 144-hour transit visa in Shanghai, but USA–Shanghai–USA is not.
  • You may need a visa for the third country/region that you are traveling to before you depart, e.g. a visa to Taiwan. An e-visa may not be acceptable as proof that you can travel to the third country and may invalidate your visa-free transit.
  • You must use one of three types of transport to enter the visa-free area: train, ferry, or airplane.
  • Your must have no stopovers of any kind within Chinese mainland prior to arrival or after departure at the port of entry.
  • Your transit time must be no more than 144 hours from 00:00 on the day after arrival.
  • You must stay within the permitted region and not travel out of it at all. For example, you cannot make a trip from Beijing to Xi'an or Shanghai as that would violate the visa policy.

Here are some appealing China tours that you can experience with the 144-Hour Visa-Free Transit:

Which Countries Are Covered in the 144-Hour Visa-Free Policy?

The nationals of the following countries are eligible for the visa exemption program:

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

Here are some appealing China tours that you can experience with the 144-Hour Visa-Free Transit:

How Are the 144 Hours Calculated?

The 144 hours start from 00:00 on the day after entry. For example, if you enter Shanghai at 6am on June 1st; your 144 hours starts from 00:00 on June 2nd, and you can stay until 23:59 on June 7th.

So it's possible have more time than 144 hours if you can find suitable transport.

[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 a flight cancellation, you must apply for a visa from the Municipal Public Security Bureau. To avoid this don't cut it too close.

144 Hours Visa-Free Transit Permit

How to Enter China with 144-Hour Visa-Free Policy?

The 144-hour visa-free policy presents an excellent option for numerous travelers eager to visit China without the hassle of obtaining a visa. This policy can apply to 53 countries including the US, the UK, Singapore, Canada, etc.

There is a special access for 144 visa-free policy visitors which you can find by following the signs after you get off the plane. You will need to fill in the form as required and show the materials, mainly a ticket to a third country, the hotel reservation confirmation, and your passport. Then you will get a entry permit as shown on the right.

144-Hour Transit in 5 Steps

144-hour Visa Free

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.

Just contact us to plan a visa-free China tour.

Differences Between 24-, 72-, and 144-Hour Visa-Free Transit

There are three types of transit without a visa (TWOV) programs in Chinese mainland: 24-hour TWOV, 72-hour TWOV, and 144-hour TWOV.

  24-Hour TWOV 72-Hour TWOV 144-Hour TWOV
Nationalities Covered Nearly all nationalities 53 nationalities 53 nationalities
Ports of Entry Most Chinese cities 18 cities Over 20 cities including Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Beijing, Tianjin, Xi'an, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalian, Shenyang, etc.
Arrival and Departure Can be by different ports. Must be by the same port Can be by different ports.
Means of Transport Plane, ship, or train By air Plane, ship, or train
Travel in Chinese Mainland Limited to the transit area Limited to a city area Limited to a region

Take a Visa-Free Transit Tour with China Highlights

Touring Shanghai with China HighlightsTouring Shanghai with China Highlights

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:

Further Reading

15-Day Visa-Free Travel for Cruise Groups at Shanghai Ports

Shanghai has adopted a 15-day visa-free policy for foreign tourist groups entering China by cruise.

Read more about this policy.

Guilin 144-Hour Visa-Free for 10 ASEAN Countries

Guilin now offers 6-day (144-hour) visa-free transit to ten ASEAN countries. Passports holders from Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), Singapore, Brunei, and the Philippines can enjoy the new visa-free transit policy.

Read more about Guilin visa-free policy.

Pearl River Delta 144-Hour Visa-Free for Visitors to HK/Macao

All visitors to Hong Kong and/or Macao are able to visit the surrounding Pearl River Delta visa-free as long as they go with a registered tour group and meet certain conditions. The stays can last 6 days or 144 hours for most countries.

Read more about this policy.

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