China's visa-free policies allow nationals of certain countries, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, to travel to China for stays ranging from 24 hours to 180 days without obtaining a visa if certain requirements are met.
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.
1. 24-Hour Visa-Free Transit
Those with a confirmed seat on an international flight, ship, or train transiting through China for another country are exempt from needing a visa provided they stay in China for less than 24 hours without leaving the port.
This policy is applicable to passengers of most nationalities at most ports of entry, except the airports in Shenzhen, Yanji, Mudanjiang, and Fuzhou.
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2. 72-Hour Visa-Free Transit
The passport holders from 53 countries or regions can enjoy the 72-hour visa-free transit policy if transiting via and traveling in the following ports of entry: Xi'an, Guilin, Chongqing, Harbin, and Changsha.
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3.144-Hour Visa-Free Transit
The 144-hour visa-free transit has been implemented in Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Beijing, Tianjin, Shijiazhuang, Qinhuangdao, Dalian, Shenyang, Xiamen, Qingdao, Wuhan, Chengdu, Kunming, and Guangdong Province, with the addition of Xi'an and Chongqing from December 1, 2019.
Passengers from the 53 countries including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand can visit the above areas for 144 hours without visas as long as they meet the 144-Hour Visa-Free Transit policy.
Find our about China's Top 6-Day Visa-Free Travel Destinations.
4. Visa-Free Policy in Hong Kong and Macau
For most visitors, a visa is not required if traveling to Hong Kong and/or Macau.
Hong Kong: The former colony continues its liberal entry policies established by the British government. Citizens of about 160 countries can obtain visa-free entry for durations that range from 180 days to 7 days. See detailed information about Hong Kong visa.
Macau: The territory's policies are more restrictive than those of Hong Kong. British nationals can stay for 6 months. Citizens of about 38 countries including those of the EU, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel, and South Korea can stay for 90 days. See detailed information about Macau visa.
5. 6-Day Visa Exemption to Pearl River Delta
All visitors to Hong Kong and/or Macau are able to visit the surrounding Pearl River Delta visa-free as long as they go with a registered travel agency, such as ours, and meet certain conditions. The group size ranges from three to 40 people including the guide.
Visitors are allowed to stay within these cities: Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen, Zhaoqing, Huizhou, and Shantou.
Stays within the Pearl River Delta area can last for 6 days or 144 hours for most countries; but for several countries, 21-day tours are possible.
6. 6-Day Visa Exemption for ASEAN Tour Groups to Guilin
Tour groups from ASEAN member countries, including Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Myanmar, Brunei, and the Philippines, can visit Guilin for 144 hours without visas as long as they meet the visa-free transit policy.
Shanghai has a 15-day visa-free policy for foreign tourist groups entering China via a cruise. You must arrive and depart on the same cruise and be received by a Chinese travel agent at the Shanghai cruise terminal (or Wusong Passenger Center).
During the visa exemption period, you are not only allowed to visit Shanghai but also other coastal municipalities (Beijing and Tianjin) and provinces (Liaoning, Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, and Hainan).
8. Hainan 30-Day Visa-Free Access
No visa is required for staying on Hainan Island for up to 30 days for ordinary passport holders from 59 countries. Group and individual tourists must book their tour through an accredited travel agency approved by China's National Travel Administration and that’s registered in Hainan Province. The designated countries are:
- 25 Schengen Agreement Countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
- 15 Other European Countries: Russia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia (FYROM), Albania, Belarus, Monaco
- 6 American Countries: the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile
- 2 Oceania Countries: Australia, New Zealand
- 11 Asian Countries: Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, United Arab Emirates, Qatar
9. Citizens of Singapore, Brunei, Japan and Qatar
A visa is not required for citizens of Singapore, Brunei, and Japan visiting China for traveling purposes, visiting relatives, and doing business for less than 15 days, but they must enter through designated open ports. Qatar citizens with ordinary passports may stay in China for less than 30 days without a visa.
For nationals of these three countries, a visa is required in the following circumstances:
- (1) An ordinary passport holder stays for more than 15 days.
- (2) An ordinary passport holder visits for the purposes of study, work, an official visit, settling down, and an interview.
- (3) A Japanese Diplomatic and Official passport holder.
10. APEC Business Travel Card Holders
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travel Card holders are entitled to enter China many times within the card’s validity period by showing the passport that corresponds with the card. The card serves as a multi-entry visa valid for 3 years. Each entry must not exceed 2 months.
11. Holders of Aliens’ Residence Permits
No visa is required for those who hold aliens’ permanent residence certificates issued by the People’s Republic of China Public Security Bureau (PSB).
Foreigners visiting China for study, employment, and working as resident correspondents must apply for Aliens’ Residence Permits with the PSB within a month of arrival in China.
How to Visit China Without a Visa (with Sample Itineraries)
With the above visa-free policies, you can save a lot of hassle with your visa application and make the most of your stopover time in China.
When you plan your tour, you can consider the following two things to help you maximize your stay in China:
- 1. Make the most of the special regions of China. Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan are visa-free for most nationalities and considered as third countries/regions for transit purposes.
- 2. You can combine more than one visa-free policy in your China trip.
Travelers could visit China for 1–2 weeks easily without a visa. Here are two sample tours for inspiration:
- 1. US – Beijing/Tianjin (4 days, 144-hour visa-free transit) – Hong Kong (2 days) – Shanghai/Suzhou/Hangzhou (6 days, 144-hour visa-free transit) – US
- 2. US – Hong Kong (2 days) – Beijing (3 days, 72-hour visa-free transit) – Macau (2 days) – Shanghai/Suzhou/Hangzhou (6 days, 144-hour visa-free transit) – Hong Kong (2 days) – Guilin (3 days, 72-hour visa-free transit) – US
Enjoy a Hassle-Free China Tour with Us
If you want to enjoy a hassle-free tour in your limited time in China, contact our travel experts who have explored all the country’s facets and can help tailor a trip to match your interests.
Here are two recommended visa-free tour ideas. The following itineraries, and any other ideas you may have, can be customized by us to fit your length of stay, and other needs: