Yesterday I entered China for the first time without a visa. Considering all the time and money I’ve spent in the past applying for them this was quite a revolution.
Starting earlier this year a number of big cities in China have begun a 72-hour visa-free transit policy which is intended to encourage citizens of certain countries to spend a couple of days in China while on their way to somewhere else (presumably to aid the local economy and business links).
- You must have a passport from one of the eligible countries (see below)
- You must have a connecting flight ticket to a third country within 72 hours of arrival
Note: Passengers to and from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan are regarded as international passengers.
- Schengen countries in Europe: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovak, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland
- Other European countries: Russia, Great Britain, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine
- American countries: The United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Chile
- Oceanian countries: Australia and New Zealand
- Asian countries: Republic of Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar
Eligible Transit Airports
- Shanghai (Pudong or Hongqiao Airport – you may fly into one and out of the other)
Note: you are not allowed to leave the transit city during the 72 hours.
- Departure airport – at check-in tell the staff that you will be entering China on a 72-hour visa-free transit and show your connecting flight ticket (printout of e-ticket fine). The airline may make a copy of this.
- Arrival airport – at immigration use the dedicated 72-hour visa-free transit lane if available. You will be asked to show your connecting flight ticket again after which they will place a special stamp in your passport and explain the conditions of stay.
- Within china – if you are staying at someone’s home (opposed to a hotel) you must register at the local police station within 24 hours otherwise you may end up with a visit from the police and/or a hefty fine. It’s an annoying rule but one which is enforced (as I discovered).
- Departure from China – you must leave within 72 hours or face deportation/fine/prison. In case of a special need to stay longer you should apply for the relevant visa to the exit-entry administration department of the municipal public security authorities.
- Beijing – (+86) 010-56095400
- Shanghai – (+86) 021-51105100
- Guangzhou – (+86) 020-32090088
- Ministry of Public Security