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 May. 05, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on Shanghai 15-day Visa-free Policy for Cruise Tour Groups
Asked by Michael Hanz from UNITED STATES | May. 16, 2019 14:26Reply
US citizen flying from US to Shanghai and spending one night.
Then we leave on a 7 day cruise to Japan. Then we return to SH and leave the same day to return to US. Do we need Chinese visa?

Mike Hanz
Answers (1)
Answered by Kevin from CANADA | May. 16, 2019 23:56

You are eligible for the 144-hour free visa transit so no Chinese visa is needed.
Asked by Fred Ventura from US | May. 13, 2019 01:36Reply
Taking a 15 day cruise where on the final leg the cruise ship departs from a port in Japan
And lands at Shanghai port ( Cruise originated in Hong Kong) and leaving the same day from Pudong airport for a flight back to the U.S. Do I qualify for visa free travel or do I need a regular Chinese visa?
Answers (2)
Answered by CDKING from US | May. 13, 2019 05:34

Cruise visa free is for those arriving shanghai by boat w/ Chinese group tour and departing china on the same boat. What you are looking at is the 24 hour visa-free (without visa) transit. You must continue on non-stop flight to a third country. Make sure your return flight does not make a landing in Japan or visa will be needed.
Answered by Fred Ventura from USA | May. 14, 2019 12:09

Thanks for advice. The flight is a direct non stop flight from SH to Los Angeles.
Asked by Rob from AUSTRALIA | May. 08, 2019 04:01Reply
We will fly from Sydney to Shanghai and stay for 2 days.
We then go on a cruise from SH to various ports in Japan and return to SH. After this we fly back to Tokyo. Do we need a visa?
Answers (1)
Answered by CDKING from US | May. 08, 2019 09:22

You will need a visa for Japan > China > Japan portion
Asked by Manuel Alecio from GIBRALTAR | May. 02, 2019 06:38Reply
Further advice required on China visa requirement after Celbrity cruise line changes itinerary
On the 6 April we were correctly advised by CDKING that we did not qualify for 144 hours and/or 15 day visa free for our up upcoming Celebrity cruise to Japan because it would depart from Shanghai but the first port of call was Beijing and not a third country.
However Celebrity cruises have now change their port of calls and now the Ship will depart SH but the the first port of call will be Seoul - South Korea.
From Seoul the ship will return China to its third port of call which Beijing and departs Beijing 3 days later toward Jetu Island - South Korea.
Would these changes in the ship itinerary to its port of call mean that we could now qualify for the 144 hours and/or 15 day visa free requirements.
We thank you anticipation for your valued advice.
Answers (1)
Answered by CDKING from US | May. 02, 2019 15:09

You will need a visa for the second part as Korea > China > Korea is not allowed
Asked by Caroline from UNITED KINGDOM | May. 02, 2019 00:42Reply
Uk citizen flying to Shanghai for 3 day's cruising round Japan for 8 days
U.K. Citizen flying to SH in August, stay for 3 days then cruise round Japan for 8 days cruise back to SH then same day flight to Beijing for 3 days then back to the UK. Will we need a visa please
Answers (2)
Answered by CDKING from US | May. 02, 2019 06:36

UK > SH (144 hours) > Japan does not need a visa
Japan > SH > Beijing > UK needs a visa. Multiple Chinese stops = 24 hours only in China
Answered by Caroline from UK | May. 05, 2019 11:47

Thank you
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