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 Jamal Masih from USA | Jul. 15, 2019 16:49Reply
Question Do we need china visa if our stay is less than 144 hours in Shanghai and Beijing?
Dear Sir or Madam,
Here is our itinerary first we leave Oklahoma City on Oct. 23, 2019 to Los Angles, CA then from there we catch another flight operated by American airlines leaving Los Angles and arrive Pudong International airport on Oct. 24, 2019 around 4.30 P.M. It is a direct flight to SH from Los Angles.
Then November 11, 2019 we leave Tokyo to return to Oklahoma City via Los Angles.
We spend two nights in SH area and catch the Celebrity Cruise from Baoshan Cruise port on October 26, 2019. Here is our cruise itinerary: Sat. Oct 26, 2019 we leave SH 8.00 PM
Sun, Oct 27 at sea, Mon. Oct 28 ship arrives in Seoul South Korea at 7.00 A.M. and leaves 7.00 P.M.
Tue,Oct 29 at sea. Then on Wed,Oct 30 we arrive in Beijing (Tianjin) at 6.00 A.M. and leave Beijing on Fri, Nov 1,2019 at 6.00 P.M. Sta,Nov 2 at sea. Sun, Nov 3 the ship arrives in Cheju City , at 8.00 A.M. Mon, Nov 4 at sea. Tue, Nov 5 arrive in Kobe , Japan at 9.00A.M. and leave Kobe on Nov 6 at 5.00 P.M. Thu, Nov 7 ship arrives in Shimizu,Japan at 11.00 A.M. and leave Shimizu at 7.00 P.M. on the same day. Friday Nov 8 ship arrives in Tokyo 9.00 A.M. and then disembark ship on Sat.
We both are United States Citizens. I hope I have provided all the information you need give us the appropriate answer, We greatly appreciate your help and advise. Thank you very much .
Answers (3)
Answered by Kate from USA | Jul. 15, 2019 19:15

So you route is Oklahoma City-Los Angles-Shanghai-Seoul South Korea-Beijing (Tianjin)-Cheju City.... right? Don't worry, you are eligible for 144-hour visa-free transit.
Answered by ZUPAN | Jul. 16, 2019 10:21

Actually, a Chinese visa is required because of this detail:

Seoul (South Korea) - Tianjin (Beijing) - Jeju City (South Korea)

This is obviously not a transit, but a visit to China. I assumed that this is the case, so I have written that under the 4th condition in my answer to the poster's previous post.
Answered by Jamal Masih from USA | Jul. 16, 2019 18:57

Actually after visiting Soul , South Korea on Oct. 28 we are back on international waters and then arrive in Beijing on Oct 30 and leave Beijing on Nov 1, 2019. After Beijing we are going to Japan not South Korea. Is this considered visit or transit.
Asked by Jamal Masih from USA | Jul. 14, 2019 20:25Reply
Question if our 106 hours stay in Shanghai and Beijing covers 144 hours policy?
Hi we fly from Oklahoma City, USA to SH and arrive around 4.30 PM on October 24th,2019. We spend two nights in SH and take the Celebrity Cruise on October 26th, 2019 and depart SH at 6.00 PM. So our total stay in SH is for about 48 hours.
After SH our ship goes to South Korea and returns to Beijing on October 30th,2019 at 6.00 A.M. and leaves on November 1st, 2019 at 6.00 PM. A total stay in Beijing is for 60 hours after this ship leaves for Japan. We leave Japan to come to Oklahoma City. We hold USA passports.
Please advise if we need visa or not. Thanks.
Answers (1)
Answered by CDKING from US | Jul. 15, 2019 10:04

As long as your flight from USA > Shanghai does not make a landing in Korea then you wont need a visa for the trip. It would be two separate 144 hour transits. Once you leave China the 144 hours starts over again upon next entry. There is no minimum time you have to leave china in order to transit again

Country A (not Korea and not another Chinese city ) > Shanghai > Korea is the first 144 hour transit without visa

Korea > Beijing > Japan is a second 144 hour transit.
Asked by nelson wong from UNITED STATES | Jul. 14, 2019 15:34Reply
Nelson wong from United State,July 14 2019
cruise ship leaving from hong kong,port at Shanghai for two days then at Qingdao,the ship port for two days at Tianjin,land at Daliaam and from there ended in Japan.Do we need visa?.We hold USA passports.
Answers (1)
Answered by CDKING from US | Jul. 14, 2019 19:12

If you have arrive in Shanghai by boat, book a group tour operated by Chinese travel agency, then leave China on the same boat within 15 days then you can take take advantage of cruise tour exemption.
Asked by Jamal Masih from USA | Jul. 13, 2019 21:24Reply
Question do we need chinese visa as per detailes written below.
Do we need Visa to visit China? We fly into Shanghai on October 24th, 2019 and stay in SH for 48 hours. Then we catch Celebrity cruise on 26th from SH and goes to South Korea and return to Beijing on October 30th,2019 at 6.00 A.M and leaves Beijing on November 1st, 2019 at 6.00 P.M. This stay in Beijing involves 60 hours.

Our total stay in China within two cities i.e SH and Beijing = 108 hours which is less than 144 hours. Please advise us if we need Chinese Visa or not? We have U.S.A passport. Thanks
Answers (2)
Answered by ZUPAN | Jul. 14, 2019 05:43

Jamal, you didn't mention from where will you arrive in SH and this is such an important detail. OK, I will assume that you will arrive to SH from US. Basically, this is your entire itinerary:

US - SH - South Korea
South Korea - Tianjin (Beijing) - X country

Having in mind your dates and times, this itinerary would allow you 144 hour visa free transit in both SH and Beijing (Tianjin). Anyway, since I miss several important details, I will write here the conditions your itinerary has to fulfill for you to be really and undoubtedly qualified for 144 hour visa free in SH and Beijing (Tianjin):

1. Your flight from US to Beijing should not have any additional landings in mainland China and in South Korea
2. Your cruise from SH to South Korea should not have as the first port call, immediately after SH, a port in mainland China
3. Your cruise from South Korea to Beijing (Tianjin) should not have as the last port call, immediately before Tianjin (Beijing), a port in mainland China
4. Your cruise from Tianjin (Beijing) to X country should not have as the first port call, immediately after Tianjin (Beijing), a port in mainland China and in South Korea (Jeju island included).

Like this, you can review your entire itinerary and see whether your itinerary meets the above mentioned conditions. In the case of any kind of misunderstanding, feel free to come here again.
Answered by ZUPAN | Jul. 14, 2019 06:13

*Under condition number 1, I wanted to write:

1. Your flight from US to Shanghai (not Beijing) should not have any additional landings in mainland China and in South Korea

Asked by elaine from UNITED KINGDOM | Jul. 12, 2019 08:55Reply
is Shanghai visa needed for china?
we fly to japan for 5 days cruise for 5days to Beijing then stay in china for 3 nights and then fly back to the uk do we need visas
Answers (1)
Answered by ZUPAN | Jul. 12, 2019 13:14

In reality, your entire itinerary is:

UK - Japan - Beijing - UK

If the above itinerary is correct, then you are qualified for 144 hour visa free transit in Beijing. Anyway, there are several conditions that have to be fulfilled:

- Your flight from UK to Japan, should not have any kind of landing within mainland China
- Your last port call, immediately before Tianjin (Beijing), should not be in mainland China
- Your stay in Beijing should be within Beijing transit area (Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province)
- Your flight from Beijing to UK should not have any kind of landing within mainland China and Japan.

If the above mentioned conditions are met, you are definitely eligible for 144 hour visa free transit.
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