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).
As with most visa policies from China the details and rules are rather spread around and not entirely clear so I’ve put together a quick how to guide below based on my experience.
This does not constitute official guidance and you may want to contact immigration authorities or your airline for further details.
- 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