Shanghai 15-day Visa-free Policy for Cruise Tour Groups

The Shanghai 15-day visa-free policy enables cruise tour groups from all over the world to visit Shanghai and other Chinese coastal provinces for up to 15 days. Tourist groups should enter Shanghai by cruise ship and exit from China by the same cruise ship. The local Chinese travel agency receiving the tourists will handle the official paperwork upon their arrival.


 A qualified foreign tourist group must contain at least two members and will be received by a legitimate Chinese travel agency like TravelChinaGuide at the Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal or the Wusong Passenger Transport Center. The local Chinese travel agency should have legally registered in mainland China.

 Tourists should book a tour with the local Chinese travel agency at least 24 hours before their arrival.
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 Upon arrival, passengers just need to show travel document, usually a passport, at the immigration counter to disembark from the ship. Neither an Entry Card nor an Exit Card is needed. No entry or exit record will be stamped on the travel document.

 The total time that the applicant spends in China shall not exceed 15 days, the 15-day limit counting from the following day after their arrival. 

Areas Allowed

Aliens eligible for this policy are not only allowed to stay in Shanghai. They can also travel to Beijing and other coastal provinces with the ship, including Liaoning, Hebei, Tianjin, Shandong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan. For example, if a French citizen enters Shanghai with a cruise and he has booked a tour from TravelChinaGuide, then he visits Dalian, Beijing, Weihai, Guangzhou, and Japan along with the ship, and his total layover time in China is less than 15 days, he will qualify for the 15 days visa-free policy. Therefore, there is no need for him to apply for a visa for China.

FAQ about Shanghai 15 Days Visa-Free Policy for Cruise Tour Groups

 1. If I enter Shanghai by cruise but don’t leave with the cruise, can I still use this policy?
 Sorry, if you want to use the 15-day visa-free policy, you must leave by the same cruise. You can check whether the 24-hour direct transit or 144-hour visa-free transit is applicable to you. See more about 24-Hour Direct Transit and 144-Hour Visa-Free Transit.

 2. What should I do if my stay is longer than 15 days due to circumstances beyond my control?
 If you have to stay for more than 15 days, you need to take relevant proof and a letter from the travel agency to the local exit and entry administration to apply for a normal visa.

 3. Must I return to the ship to spend the night or can I stay in a downtown hotel?
 Either is fine. When you register at the hotel, your passport and a tour member name list stamped with entry record are required.

 4. Who should I contact if I want to learn more about this policy?
 You can contact Shanghai General Station of Immigration Inspection at 086-021-31366000 or Pujiang Immigration Inspection at 086-021-31366700.
- Last modified on Jan. 21, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on Shanghai 15-day Visa-free Policy for Cruise Tour Groups
Asked by Michael from UNITED KINGDOM | Jan. 21, 2019 12:20Reply
Fly/Cruise tour - visa requirements for China and Hong Kong
Itinerary: Fly London to Beijing (2 nights) then Tianjin 15 day-sea cruise to Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Japan, Xiamen, Hong Kong (2 Nights), fly back to London. British citizen (74yr old) - must I get Tourist (L) visa? Do I need separate visa for Hong Kong? Need to attend in person at Embassy to obtain visas?
Would appreciate advice in understanding the requirements.
Asked by Mark King from UNITED KINGDOM | Jan. 17, 2019 02:59Reply
Cruise from Japan - Shanghai - Beijing - Hong Kong

I have a cruise, which goes from Japan, calls in SH overnight, then goes to Beijing overnight, then finishes in Hong Kong.
I think I can use the 15 day visa free, as leave from Japan, then first entry is SH, then go to Beijing, then cruise ends in HK, where I fly back to UK from. Time in China is much less than 15 days, so should be ok yes?


Answers (2)
Answered by Emily from CANADA | Jan. 17, 2019 21:49

Yes, you can use the 15 day visa free policy as long as you enter Shanghai and exit from China by the same cruise ship.
Answered by Paul from USA | Jan. 20, 2019 08:55

Also make sure your group (2 or more passengers) are received on a tour from an approved Chinese travel agency in Shanghai as you cannot do a self guided tour.
Asked by Carly from UNITED STATES | Jan. 15, 2019 13:46Reply
We are flying into Shanghai from the U.S. We plan on staying in there for 2 days.
Then board a cruise ship for 5 days. The last stop will be Okinawa, then a full day of cruising before returning to Shanghai to board an airplane to the United States. Will the 144 hour Visa cover this stay?
Answers (1)
Answered by Jeremiah from USA | Jan. 15, 2019 22:04

Yes, Carly, you can enjoy the 144 hours visa free policy.
Asked by Mark King from UNITED KINGDOM | Jan. 13, 2019 12:10Reply
UK - Shanghai - Beijing - Japan

Flying in to Shanghai, staying 2 days.
Then boarding a cruise, first stop is Beijing (overnight)
Next stop is Japan, no more calls to China.
Fly home from Hong Kong.

I think I need a visa. Can't see how this fits with the other options.

Help please?


Answers (1)
Answered by Paul from USA | Jan. 13, 2019 12:47

You will need a Tourist (L) visa for this since you cannot travel outside the shanghai area on a transit without visa. The 15 day cruise exemption is for people who will arrive in Shanghai by ship and leave china on the same ship. It is not valid for flights arriving in China.
Asked by Cliff from UK WITH AN AUSTRALIAN PASSPORT | Jan. 11, 2019 08:54Reply
Do I need a visa for Shanghai (48 hours) then cruise 2 days then Tianjin (36 hours)then cruise
Can I get a 144 hour visa if I arrive in SH, spend 66 hours there (after midnight on the first day) before departing by cruise ship for two sea days before arriving at Tianjin for Beijing for a further 45 hours before leaving by cruise ship to South Korea?

If I can't then can I get one for SH and stay on board ship for Tianjin?
Answers (1)
Answered by Paul from USA | Jan. 12, 2019 02:53

This needs a visa even if you stay on the ship in Tianjin. Sorry. Shanghai visa free transit does not allow you to leave Shanghai transit zone.
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