If you wish to visit China without having to apply (and pay!) for an extended visa, then China’s visa-free transit could be a great option for you. The guidelines are fairly straightforward and simple as long as one plans ahead and provides the required documents. This guide will walk through the updated policy as of December 1st, 2019.
Which Countries & Nationalities Qualify for China Visa-Free Transit?
The following 53 countries are eligible for the 144-hour visa-free transit visa:
European countries: Russia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia (FYROM), Albania, Belarus, Monaco.
American countries: United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile.
Asian countries: Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, United Arab Emirates, Qatar.
Schengen Agreement countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.
Oceania countries: New Zealand and Australia.
Which Cities Offer Visa-Free Transit in China?
It’s important to understand the difference between the ports of entry and the regions of movement. In order to stay within the policy guidelines, all travelers MUST arrive and depart directly through one of the following cities via airport, seaport or train station if applicable:
Beijing, Shanghai – 144-hour visa-free by air, sea or train;
Tianjin, Xiamen, Qingdao – 144-hour visa-free by air or sea;
Qinghuangdao – 144-hour transit visa via sea port only;
Guangzhou, Xian, Chongqing, Ningbo, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Shijiazhuang, Qinghuangdao, Dalian, Shenyang, Kunming, Chengdu, Wuhan – 144-hour visa-free via airport only;
Harbin, Changsha, Guilin – 72-hour visa-free service;
Once entered through one of the ports of entry, visitors must remain within the specified regions for each port that include:
Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei (Qinghuangdao, Shijiazhuang): Travelers entering each of these ports here can move freely among these three regions.
Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang: Travelers entering each of these ports may move freely within these provinces.
Guangzhou, Chengdu, Xi’an, Kunming, Wuhan, Chongqing, Changsha, Xiamen, Guilin, Harbin, Qingdao: Movement restricted to each of these city’s respective provinces (i.e. entering Chengdu gives you access to travel throughout Sichuan, entering Kunming gives you access to Yunnan, etc.).
Photo courtesy of Travel China Cheaper.
Rules & Restrictions for China’s Visa-Free Transit
You must enter from and exit to different countries. For example, you cannot fly from the U.S. to China and then back to the U.S. You must choose a different country from the one you came from. This includes layovers so be sure to check your flight details carefully.
As mentioned previously, once you enter through one of the ports of entry, you must remain within the specified regions for that port. Also, make sure you don't stay longer than the allotted time. For example, if you're on the 72-hour visa, make sure you leave before that time expires.
The following acts will be punishable by law by the immigration inspection authority or local public security authority:
- traveling beyond the specified areas of stay
- overstaying the visa-exemption transit period
- departing from unspecified ports
- failing to register residence information