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 Sep. 07, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on Shanghai 15-day Visa-free Policy for Cruise Tour Groups
Asked by Neil Kahn from UNITED KINGDOM | Sep. 20, 2019 21:42Reply
Hi- We are travelling (3 persons) - 2 with British & 1 with Philippine passport
to Shanghai for a 7 day cruise to Japan.
Arrival 27/3/20 - Depart 28/3/20 on cruise. Return to Shanghai on 4/4/20 for 3 days then want to catch the fast train to Beijing for 4 days - depart on 11/4/20 back to our home destination.

Can we use the free 15 day visa and do we have to book our tours through a local agent, which we intend to do?

Kind regards

Neil Kahn
Answers (2)
Answered by ZUPAN | Sep. 21, 2019 00:51

Unfortunately, you cannot use 14 day visa free policy for cruise tour groups because your itinerary has failed to fulfill the main condition for this scheme and that is:

"Tourist group should enter Shanghai by cruise ship and exit from China by the same cruise ship."

As you can see, you are arriving by plane to Shanghai, at least if I have properly understood, so you are ineligible for this visa free option.

In reality, you will have to obtain a Chinese tourist (L) visa in advance because you will travel through two Chinese transit areas, in your case Shanghai and Beijing, in a row and that is only allowed under 24 hour visa free transit option. Since you intend to stay in China for a longer period a visa is needed.

For UK citizens it will be enough to obtain a single entry visa for the second portion of your journey, i.e. after you disembark from the ship and continue your itinerary toward Beijing. They will be covered during the first arrival by 24 or 144 hour visa free transit in Shanghai if the flight from, I assume UK, to Shanghai does not have any additional landing within mainland China and Japan. Anyway, the Philippine citizen will maybe need a visa even for this portion because I cannot know from your initial post whether your stay in Beijing (counted from your scheduled arrival in Shanghai by plane, until your scheduled departure by cruise). So, if that time is longer than 24 hours, you will be eligible for 144 hour visa free transit in Shanghai, but your Philippine colleague will have to obtain a visa even for thi
Answered by ZUPAN | Sep. 21, 2019 00:55

...s portion. In case if the that time is less than 24 hours, you will be all eligible for 24 hour visa free transit.

As you can see, you will really need a visa obtained in advance and I suggest you to look carefully, especially for your first stop in Shanghai, to calculate carefully the entire transit time, to see whether your transit time is less than 24 hours or longer than that. This is very important especially for your Philippine colleague.

I suggest you to write here a more detailed itinerary, especially for your first stop in Shanghai, so that we can give you a correct and reliable answer.
Asked by Christine Whittaker from AUSTRALIA | Sep. 19, 2019 00:51Reply
Shanghai 144 hour visa free entry got cruise ship passenger
I am on the Westerdam which arrives in Xiamen port and departs same day the 9 December. Next port is Shanghai the ship arrives on 11 December and departs at 6.00 PM on 12 December does the visa free transit scheme apply for this cruise?
Answers (1)
Answered by ZUPAN | Sep. 19, 2019 14:45

Unfortunately not because you will travel through two Chinese cities located in different transit zones (Xiamen and Shanghai) in a row. This detail made you ineligible for any Chinese visa free transit scheme and you will need to obtain a Chinese tourist (L) visa in advance.
Asked by Mark Kass from UNITED STATES | Sep. 16, 2019 14:40Reply
Arriving Shanghai on 30/04/20 and departing by cruise ship on 02/05/20. Can I apply for 144 hr visa?
Answers (1)
Answered by CDKING from US | Sep. 17, 2019 09:04

Its not a visa but a transit without a visa. If the country you land in Shanghai from is not in the same country as the first cruise port then you an do the 144 hour | visa-free transit
Asked by Mr Richard Hawes from UNITED KINGDOM | Sep. 16, 2019 06:04Reply
hi i am in shanghai by air on 27/03/20 then to Tianjin and leave at 1800 on 03/04/20 am i safe
Answers (1)
Answered by ZUPAN | Sep. 16, 2019 14:39

Unfortunately not because you have one day more than it is allowed. As you can see, 27/03 is not counted against 144 hour visa free transit, but even without 27/03, your departure on 03/04 means that you intend to depart from China on 03/04, i.e. on your 7th day and that is not allowed. In other words, you need a Chinese tourist (L) visa obtained in advance or to rearrange your travel itinerary to fit within 144 hours (6 days) time frame.
Asked by Elizabeth Annan from U.K | Sep. 07, 2019 13:22Reply
Arriving in Tianjin 17.3.20 on Cruise Ship and then leaving Shanghai 20.3.20 can I apply for 144 vis
Answers (1)
Answered by ZUPAN | Sep. 07, 2019 15:26

Unfortunately, you will have to obtain a Chinese tourist (L) visa in advance because you will be traveling through two Chinese transit regions in a row, in your case Tianjin that is in Beijing area and Shanghai. This type of itinerary, along with your time frame, makes you ineligible for any kind of visa free transit scheme. Sorry.
Ask a Question
Question Summary (100 characters)
Details (optional) (2,000 characters)