In order to facilitate the international visitors’ short stay for sightseeing in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, and Chongqing, these cities adopt a visa-free transit policy in 2013, which allows transit passengers with passport of the following 51 countries to stay for up to 72 hours without visa on direct transit via Beijing Capital International Airport, Shanghai Pudong Airport, Hongqiao Airport, Guangzhou Baiyun Airport, Chengdu Shuangliu Airport and Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport. From January 1st, 2014, Shenyang and Dalian had also adopted this free transit policy for passengers from following 51 countries traveling via Shenyang Taoxian Internatioanl Airport and Dalian International Airport:
Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States.
1. Confirmed interline ticket and valid visa to the third country or region (if required) are needed for entry. According to presentations by the Exit and Entry Administration of Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau (PSB), the 72 hour will be counted from the moment visitors get their transit permits, but not the time when they land at the airport. However, different airport may have different policies regarding this. For example, the 72 hour will start from the 12:00am on the next day when you transit via Guangzhou Airports. Besides, some airlines may also have their own policies. For example, passengers may be denied boarding their flights if they do not have confirmed tickets for leaving within 72 hours (here the 72 hour can be simply calculated based on scheduled landing and scheduled departure of the flights). So to avoid hassles, transit passengers from said countries are suggested to book a flight ticket for leaving within 72 hours to a third country or region.
2. Visitors are required to register at a police station with their transit permits within 24 hours after entry. (Here it should be clear that the registration will be done when you check in to a hotel. So, personal registration is required only for those who stay at their friends' or family's place.)
Restrictions of the 72-hour Visa-free Transit:
1. This regulation does not apply to passengers who travel on round trip flights (e.g., Hong Kong - Beijing - Hong Kong), which means the destination and place of departure can not be the same. That is to say, only those who make transit through International Airports in above cities to the third country are eligible for this policy.
2. The 72-hour free stay only applies to transit via Airports. Passengers by train or any other vehicles should still apply for a transit G visa in advance.
3. For air passengers who are interested to go out of the airports for sightseeing, conference/meeting or family visit during stopover, they should make sure put forward transit permit requests to the carrier airlines in advance, so that the airlines can declare it to the airport customs before landing. NOTE: for passengers transiting via Beijing Capital International Airport, they can apply for this free transit permit after arrival.
4. Visitors are not allowed to leave the transit city to other cities during the 72 hours. They can only depart from the same airport where they get their permit issued.
5. If visitors are unable to depart on time due to unavoidable reasons, such as flight cancellation or treatment of sudden disease, they need to apply for a visa from Municipal Public Security Bureau (PSB). Otherwise, tourists cannot apply for an extension of stay.
Punishment on Violators:
Visitors from said countries should strictly follow the restrictions above. Violators of Chinese law, shall be warned, fined or detained for a few days depending on the circumstances. Cases of gross violation shall be expelled from China and prohibited re-entry.
Currently, the airports have already optimized the transit formalities with the Customs, the Entry-Exit Inspection & Quarantine Bureau and Frontier Inspection Station. There are service centers for transit passengers in the terminals, offering rest places with drinking water and reading materials if they do not want to leave the airport. For visa-free transit passengers, the airports also provide services for currency exchange, mobile phone rental, car rental, left luggage, as well as local souvenir shops. Tour buses are available from the terminals for the convenience of tourists.
Tips: Some goods are prohibited entry, like fresh fruits and vegetables, which shall be destroyed under the surveillance of Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau. But if passengers travel with companion animal or carry storable food, they can apply to Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau for temporary custody within the stopover period and re-export.
Read FAQ about 72-hour Visa-free Transit
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