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 Nov. 22, 2018 -
Questions & Answers on Shanghai 15-day Visa-free Policy for Cruise Tour Groups
Asked by TONIA | Nov. 20, 2018 10:47Reply
Do we qualify for free Visa -in Shanghai? Sames question as Mr. David Silver.
however, we are from The Netherlands
Do we qualify for free visa?
My husband and I are Netherland Nationals boarding a cruise in Hong Kong on 7th March 2019 stopping at Taiwan,Japan, South Korea,Japan again before stopping for 1 day in Dalian (China) on 18th March,1 day in Tianjin (China) on 19th March before finally arriving in Shanghai (China) at 4 p.m. on 21st March and disembarking on 22nd March 2019 where we intend to say 2 nights before taking our flight non-stop on 24th March back to the U.K. We intend to take day tours on all three last stoppings in China. Do we qualify for a free visas?
Answers (1)
Answered by Taylor from USA | Nov. 22, 2018 00:50

No, you don't qualify for the 15-day free visa. Because the policy regulates that tourists groups should enter Shanghai by cruise ship and exit from China by the same cruise ship, but you enter China from Dalian. Therefore, you cannot enjoy the 15-day free visa.
Asked by Maia Lee from UNITED STATES | Nov. 13, 2018 10:45Reply
Do we need a visa if we stay in Shanghai for 3 days after the cruise?
We will be on a 14 days cruise starting from Singapore, Bangkok, Vietnam, Hong Kong and SH. We get to SH on 2/3/19 and we don't fly home until 2/6/19. Do we need a visa to stay in SH? Do we need a separate visa to go to Beijing? Please advice if we should just spend 3 days in SH and not go to Beijing. Thank you.
Answers (1)
Answered by Bena from AUSTRALIA | Nov. 13, 2018 22:45

If you exit and entry China via Shanghai and just spend 3 days in SH and not go to Beijing, you are eligible for 144-hour free visa. If you also want to visit Beijing, you need to apply for a Chinese visa in advance.
Asked by Barb Berman from USA | Nov. 09, 2018 04:55Reply
We are flying to Hong Kong staying for 5 days before boarding cruise ship to Shanghai and Beijing.
Get the 15 day free visa by booking a tour. While in Hong Kong are we allowed to visit sites on the mainland and then return to Hong Kong before boarding ship?
Answers (1)
Answered by Caesar from UNITED KINGDOM | Nov. 11, 2018 19:03

Dear, what places or cities are you going to visit in mainland China during the 5 days?
Asked by Anna Young from UNITED KINGDOM | Nov. 08, 2018 11:39Reply
Sailing into Shanghai for two days then two days at sea before arriving in Tianjin
where the ship will be for a further two days. Then sailing off to next port in Japan. Do we need a visa?
Answers (3)
Answered by Gene from HAITI | Nov. 08, 2018 22:16

Yes, you need a visa.
Answered by Heather from UK | Nov. 12, 2018 12:02

Hi Anna
I think I am on the same cruise and think you can use the 15 day visa free mentioned above. If you go on an organised tour in Shanghai, you will also be covered in Beijing. This is how I read it.
Answered by Rob from UNITED KINGDOM | Nov. 14, 2018 08:15

Anna and Heather – looking at your questions, it’s possible that my wife and I are on the same (or at least similar!) cruise to yours. We are on Queen Mary, with the SH to Beijing sector covering 22 Feb ’19 to 27 Feb inclusive. I have also been struggling to resolve the visa question, and both Cunard and their ‘visa agent’ CIBT have proved unable to answer the (I would have thought) straightforward question! I have wondered if the 144 hour no-visa rule, which *separately* applies to our SH and Beijing stops, would apply. So, in practice, one would go into SH apply there for the 144 waiver; depart SH, in effect closing that waiver down; and then arrive in Beijing and applying there for *their* 144-hour waiver. What I can’t work out is whether this would be invalidated by the fact that we do not go to another country immediately after SH, which appears to be a condition of this arrangement. I contacted the UK Chinese visa center in London, which acts as a front-end for the Chinese Embassy, but they were also unable to answer this question/proposition! What we are doing on these two visits is clearly within the spirit of the 144-hour waivers, but I can’t get an answer to the question of whether you can do two of these sequentially, as it were.
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