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.
Huangpu River CruisePrivate Shanghai One Day Tours

To Yuyuan Garden, the Bund & Huangpu River...

Zhujiajiao Water Town2-Day Private Shanghai Tours

To Zhujiajiao Water Town, Jade Buddha Temple, Tianzifang...

Forbidden City2-Day Private Beijing Tours

To Badaling Great Wall, Forbidden City, Summer Palace...

 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 Nov. 02, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on Shanghai 15-day Visa-free Policy for Cruise Tour Groups
Asked by John Banks from UNITED KINGDOM | Nov. 11, 2019 11:36Reply
Westerdam cruise -Jan 2020 to Feb 2020 UK Citizens
We are flying from Uk to Hong Kong via Qatar Airways transit in Doha.we have 2 nights in Hong Kong
then embark ship,to Manila,Taiwan,Japan,South Korea and disembarking Shanghai, flying home same day.Can someone please confirm my view that I don't need a Chinese(or any other) visa but can rely on obtaining a 144 hours or other tourist visa on arrival in SH?
Answers (1)
Answered by ZUPAN | Nov. 11, 2019 13:58

If your last port of call, immediately before SH, is in South Korea and if your flight from SH to, I assume, UK does not have any additional landing in mainland China and in South Korea, you are perfectly eligible for 24 hour visa free transit in SH and you don't need any kind of visa. I have mentioned 24 hour visa free transit because you have mentioned that you will depart from SH during the day of your arrival by cruise and that implies that your entire transit time in Shanghai will be less than 24 hours.

You will print out your flight ticket from SH to UK and have that printout with you because it will be required by Chinese immigration to confirm your visa free transit eligibility.
Asked by Annemarie from NETHERLANDS | Nov. 09, 2019 01:32Reply
15 day visa free policy, entering Shanghai with Holland American Line cruise starting March 2020
Do we have to book tours in all folliwing harbours too or is one starting in Shanghai the first day enough for obtaining such a visa?
Annemarie from Netherlands
Answers (1)
Answered by ZUPAN | Nov. 09, 2019 01:55

It is perfectly fine if you book just one tour, for example in Shanghai. It is not necessary to book a tours for the following Chinese destinations, although you can do that if you want. By the way, this is not a visa, but 15 day visa free option, so the difference is huge because there is no visa at all.
Asked by David Leonard from AUSTRALIA | Nov. 06, 2019 22:54Reply
Do i need a visa to visit china in the following situation?
We will be flying from Melbourne ( Australia) to Shanghai transiting through Taiwan. We leave on October 4th 2020 from Melbourne to Taiwan for a 3 hour layover to join our next flight to SH landing 11am October 5th. We will stay in SH until October 7th when we board a cruise back to Australia. After leaving SH we have 3 days at sea and our first port of call will be Hong Kong on October 10th than onto Vietnam.
Answers (3)
Answered by ZUPAN | Nov. 07, 2019 13:05

OK, this is Princess Cruises route. You itinerary makes you definitely eligible for 144 hour visa free transit in SH area and you don't need any kind of visa. You should just print out your flight and cruise tickets and have those printouts with you. You will also declare at check-in in Australia and repeat in Taiwan that you are traveling to Hong Kong via SH using 144 hour visa free transit.

The reason for such a statement is in the fact that the portion of your itinerary, that is of interest to Chinese authorities is:

Taiwan - SH - Hong Kong

This is absolutely eligible and you don't need to bother you any more with any bureaucratic issues.
Answered by David Leonard from AUSTRALIA | Nov. 07, 2019 21:35

Thanks Zupan for clarifying.
The way I understood it, was to qualify for the 144 hour visa free period you had to enter and leave China by the same means. That is if you fly in then you have to fly out. As we are flying in and cruising out of China I wanted to make sure.
Thanks for your assistance.
Answered by CDKING from US | Nov. 08, 2019 07:27

I think that may have been an old 72 hour visa free transit rule. You can enter from one port and depart from another as long as its part of the Shanghai transit zone

Shanghai: All international air, sea and railway ports, including Pudong Airport, Hongqiao Airport, Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal, Wusong Passenger Transport Center and all railway stations.

Hangzhou of Zhejiang: Hangzhou Xiaoshan Airport

Ningbo of Zhejiang: Ningbo Lishe Airport

Nanjing of Jiangsu: Nanjing Lukou Airport

Entry and Exit Ports
Passengers can enter and leave from any of the above ports. Eg: One can take a cruise to Shanghai and leave by air from Hangzhou or Nanjing.
Asked by Michael from NEW ZEALAND | Nov. 02, 2019 17:55Reply
We cruise from Hong Kong to Shanghai-Beijing-Dalian-Japan. Are we qualified for 15-day exemption?
Hi, we are cruising from Hong Kong to Tokyo. The itinerary is, Hong Kong - Shanghai - Beijing - Dalian - Nagasaki and then more Japanese stops. Are we qualified for the Shanghai 144-hours exemption? In other words, will Shanghai authorities consider Shanghai as the first Chinese port of entry or they will count Hong Kong as the first one?
Many thanks,
New Zealand
Answers (1)
Answered by CDKING from US | Nov. 02, 2019 20:02

Shanghai is first port just making sure they are not meaning Shenzhen when they refer to Hong Kong. It's eligible for the 15 day visa free cruise exemption (not the 144 hour which is not valid for your route). You must be received on a group tour by a legitimate Chinese travel agency:

"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."
Asked by KENTARO TOMODA from UNITED STATES | Oct. 29, 2019 15:53Reply
China visa
My wife and I are thinking of cruise from Shanghai to Tokyo on Celebrity cruise starting on March 28, 2020. We will arrive in Shanghai on March 27 and start the cruise on 38th. It stops at Beijing for 3 days for tours, then off to Korea and Japan. Do I need Visa from China for this trip? We both have passport from United States
Answers (1)
Answered by CDKING from US | Oct. 29, 2019 20:03

You will need a tourist (L) visa since you will visit more than one transit zone. The 15 day only works if you arrive in Shanghai by boat and leave China on the same boat you entered on.
Ask a Question
Question Summary (100 characters)
Details (optional) (2,000 characters)