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If your layover in China is less than 72 hours, you can consider applying for 72-hour visa-free transit as long as you meet the criteria. It is possible for you to enjoy a city tour without a visa.
Those using passports of the following countries are eligible for the 72-hour visa exemption program:
Americans from 6 countries: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico, the United States
Europeans from 39 countries: Albania, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Denmark, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom
Oceanians from 2 countries: Australia, New Zealand
Asians from 6 countries: Brunei, Qatar, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates
It’s possible to enjoy the 72-hour visa-free policy if transiting through the following 5 cities (from January 1st, 2018): Chongqing, Guilin, Xi'an, Changsha and Harbin.
|Port of Entry||Areas Permitted to Stay|
|Xi'an Xianyang International Airport||Xi'an & Xianyang|
|Guilin Liangjiang International Airport||Guilin|
|Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport||Chongqing|
|Harbin Taiping International Airport||Harbin|
|Changsha Huanghua International Airport||Hunan Province|
(Now, as an alternative, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Beijing, Tianjin, Shijiazhuang, Qinghuangdao, Dalian, Shenyang, Xiamen, Qingdao, Wuhan, Chengdu, Kunming and Guangdong Province offer a 144-hour visa-free transit policy.)
For 72-hour TWOV (Transit Without Visa):
If you find you aren’t eligible for the visa-free transit, you need to apply for a visa.
Departure Country A: → B: one of the allowed areas in Mainland China → The Third Country C
Please note: Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan can be regarded as A or C in this respect.
Here are examples:
√ USA – Xi'an– Hong Kong
√ UK – Guilin – Japan
× USA – Xi'an – USA
× UK – Xi'an – Guilin – Hong Kong
1) Passengers need to enter one of the allowed cities from Country A and then leave for Country C. A and C should be different countries/regions.
2) Passengers can only stop in one mainland Chinese city. Multiple domestic stops are not allowed.
1). When you are checking in, inform the airline(s) of your intention to TWOV and collect your onward ticket.
2). Fill in arrival and departure cards (available on flights).
3). On arrival, find the dedicated counter to apply for 72-hour TWOV. (If successful, your passport will be stamped with a 72-hour visa-free permit stamp showing the date you arrive and when you must leave by.)
4). Claim your luggage, go through customs, and exit the airport as normal.
5). Leave on your planned flight (or apply for a visa to stay longer).
Generally speaking, the 72-hour limit is calculated starting from 00:00 on the day after arrival (or 24:00 on the arrival date), except at Beijing Capital International Airport, where the 72 hours starts from the scheduled arrival time of the flight.
For example, if you enter Shanghai at 06:00 on April 1st; your stay starts from 00:00 on April 2nd, and you can stay until 23:59 on April 4th. (So, you could have more than 72 hours visa-free with suitable flights.)
[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. ]
Those who don’t depart within the time limit, for whatever reason, should apply for a visa at the local Public Security Bureau Exit-Entry Administration Office. To avoid this situation in the case of delays, don’t book the onward flight too close to the time limit.
There are three types of transit without a visa (TWOV) programs in mainland China: 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||5 cities||Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Beijing, Tianjin, Shijiazhuang, Qinghuangdao, Dalian, Shenyang, Xiamen, Qingdao, Wuhan, Chengdu, Kunming and Guangdong Province|
|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 Mainland China||Limited to the transit area||Limited to a city area||Limited to a region|
[Note: Your application for the 72-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.]
The following popular itineraries can be customized to your length of stay and interests: