Recently, China announced a new 144-hour visa-free transit policy, which allows you to enjoy a longer stay (6 days) in China without a visa.
This visa currently only applies to passengers transiting through China via the following cities: Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Beijing, Tianjin, Shijiazhuang, Dalian, and Shenyang.
The major difference from the 24-hour and 72-hour Transit Without Visa (TWOV) policies, is that you can travel within one of three whole regions, instead of just one city area.
What Regions and Ports Are Visa-Free?
Passengers 144-hour transit must be confined to one of three regions. They must stay within their Permitted Area of Stay. However there is a choice of entry/exit ports within each region :
- Region 1: Shanghai, Jiangsu Province, and Zhejiang Province
- Region 2: Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei Province
- Region 3: Liaoning Province
The entry/exit ports, listed in the table below, may change at any time. Therefore, we always suggest you confirm this information before planning your trip.
|Region||City||Permitted Ports of Entry/Exit||Permitted Area of Stay|
|1||Shanghai||Shanghai Pudong International Airport||Shanghai, Jiangsu Province, and Zhejiang Province|
|Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport|
|Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal|
|Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal|
|Shanghai Railway Station|
|Nanjing||Nanjing Lukou International Airport|
|Hangzhou||Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport|
|2||Beijing||Beijing Capital International Airport||Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei Province|
|Beijing West Railway Station*|
|Tianjin||Tianjin Binhai International Airport|
|Tianjin International Cruise Home Port|
|Shijiazhuang||Shijiazhuang Zhengding International Airport|
|Qinhuangdao||Qinhuangdao Sea Port|
|3||Dalian||Dalian Zhoushuizi International Airport||Liaoning Province|
|Shenyang||Shenyang Taoxian International Airport|
(Guangdong Province is going to carry out this transit policy, but the government has not released an official statement yet. [January 1st, 2018])
* 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. So, you cannot enjoy this policy if you take the following international trains which use Beijing Railway Station: K23: Beijing – Ulaanbaatar; K3 and K19: Beijing – Moscow.
What Are the Conditions?
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.
- 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.
- You must enter and leave a visa-free area using an eligible port . Your arrival port and departure port can be different, but they must be in the same region (1, 2, or 3 above). For example, you can arrive in Shanghai and leave from Hangzhou as both ports are in region 1.
- 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.
Which Countries Are Covered in the 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
What Documents Are Needed?
You need to provide the documents listed below to apply for the 144-hour visa-free transit:
- Valid passport
- onward tickets to a third country (region) with confirmed date and seat
- Visa for a third country/region (if needed)
- Arrival and departure cards (completely filled in)
144-Hour Transit in 5 Steps
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.
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.
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||Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Beijing, Tianjin, Shijiazhuang, Qinhuangdao, Dalian, Shenyang|
|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|
[The above information was updated on January 31st, 2018. The situation changes on a daily basis. Please double-check when you plan your tour.]
Take a Visa-Free Transit Tour 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:
- 5-Day Essence of Shanghai and Hangzhou Tour — a combination of the essence of Shanghai and Hangzhou, including Wuzhen Ancient Water Town
- 3-Day Water Town Photography Tour from Shanghai — taking you to photograph three of the top six water towns in China
- Private 4-Day Emperor's Tour of Beijing — taking you to explore the emperors' Forbidden City, walk along the Great Wall, and relax at the Summer Palace
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.