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 China 72-Hour Visa Free Transit

China 72-Hour Visa Free Transit

Written by CindyUpdated Aug. 4, 2022
72 Hour Hisa-free Transit Through China

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.

Qualified Countries

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

Cities Enjoying the Policy

It’s possible to enjoy the 72-hour visa-free policy if transiting through the following 5 cities (from December 1st, 2019): Guilin, Changsha and Harbin. 

Port of Entry Areas Permitted to Stay
Guilin Liangjiang International Airport Guilin
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, Xi'an, Chongqing, and Guangdong Province offer a 144-hour visa-free transit policy.)

72-hour Visa-free Chinese Cities

Conditions for Application

For 72-hour TWOV (Transit Without Visa):

  • You must be in transit to a third country or region. Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan are treated as separate regions.
  • You must enter and leave from an eligible airport
  • You must not leave the city area (prefecture or municipality) during the 72 hours, except for Changsha, from which you are allowed to travel anywhere in Guangdong Province.

If you find you aren’t eligible for the visa-free transit, you need to apply for a visa.

Eligible Transit Routes

72-hour Visa-free Transit

Departure Country A: → B: one of the allowed areas in Chinese Mainland → 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 – Guilin– Hong Kong
√  UK – Guilin – Japan

×  USA – Guilin – 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 city in Chinese mainland. Multiple domestic stops are not allowed.

The Required Documents

  • A valid passport
  • An onward air ticket with a confirmed seat
  • Completed Arrival Card and Departure Card
  • Visa for a third country or region if needed

72-Hour Transit in 5 Steps

72-hour Visa-free Transit

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).

How the 72 Hours Are Calculated

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.

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 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 Chinese Mainland 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.]

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