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72-Hour Visa-Free Transit in China

 The 72-hour visa-free transit has been resumed from January 8th, 2023 on, after being suspended for 3 years because of the covid-19.
Visa Free Transit Service
Transit Service Counter
in Beijing Capital Airport

The 72-hour visa-free transit policy in China allows air passengers from 54 countries to transit and stay for up to 72 hours (3 days) in 18 China cities without a visa. In order to facilitate international visitors' short stay in China, the policy is promising to be carried out in more and more cities in the future.

Qualified Countries

25 Schengen Agreement Countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland

15 Other European Countries: Russia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia (FYROM), Albania, Belarus, Monaco

6 American Countries: the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile

2 Oceania Countries: Australia, New Zealand

6 Asian Countries: Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, United Arab Emirates, Qatar

Cities Enjoying the Policy

Harbin, Guilin, Changsha

Beijing, Tianjin, ShanghaiXi'anChongqing, Shenyang, Dalian, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Shijiazhuang, Qinhuangdao, Chengdu, Wuhan, Xiamen, Qingdao, Kunming, the whole Guangdong Province - Extended to 144-hour Visa-free Transit

Areas Allowed to Stay

 Cities only with the 72-hour free entry policy:

Passengers transiting in Changsha are allowed to travel in the whole province.

Passengers transiting in  Harbin and Guilin cannot leave the transit city.

 Cities where the 72 hours scheme has been extended to 144-hour transit without visa (TWOV):

Passengers transiting in Shanghai, Zhejiang, or Jiangsu can move around the three places. With the implementation of the 144-Hour Visa-Free Transit Policy, they can actually stay for as long as 144 hours.

Passengers transiting in Xi'an Xianyang Airport are permitted to travel in Xi'an and Xianyang.

Passengers transiting in Guangdong can travel around the whole province.

Passengers transiting in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei can also move around the three places freely for 144 hours.

Passengers stopping over in Dalian or Shenyang can travel in the whole of Liaoning Province.

Passengers transiting in Chengdu, Kunming, Wuhan, Chongqing or Xiamen cannot leave the transit city.

Passengers transiting in Qingdao are allowed to move freely within the whole Shandong Province for 144 hours. 

Recommended Tours for Transit Passengers in Different Cities


Conditions for Application

1. A confirmed ticket and valid visa to a third country or region (if required) are needed for entry. Based on the latest information, the 72 hours starts from 00:00 the day following the entry date in almost all the airports, except Beijing Airport. For example, if an air passenger arrives in Guangzhou at 08:00 on June 2nd, then the latest time for him to leave is 23:59 on June 5. In this case, the actual stopover time is more than 72 hours. However, in Beijing, the 72 hours count from the scheduled arrival time of the flight. To play on the safe side, passengers are recommended to be more conservative and not to exceed the "strict 72 hours" which counts from the flights' scheduled arrival time to the departure time.

2. The flights can only stop in one Chinese city, meaning passengers have to enter and exit from the same city, except in cities where the 144-hour visa-free transit has been implemented. For instance, if a flight lands in Xi'an via Beijing, passengers are not able to enjoy the policy. In addition, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan are regarded as a third region in terms of transit issues. If a flight passes USA – Beijing – Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan, passengers are able to enjoy.

3. Only use flights to transfer in China. Passengers using other vehicles (including using flight for single trip) are not eligible to enjoy the policy.

4. Passengers are required to leave from the same airport that they arrive, except in some of the cities with 144-hour visa-free transit scheme where they may enter or leave from land or sea ports.

Documents for Application

 Passport valid for at least 3 months from the date of entry. Actually there are cases that some passengers are denied at the immigration counter because the remaining validity of their passport is not more than 6 months, so it's better to keep your passport valid for at least 6 months to play safe.
 Visa for a third country or region (if applicable)
 A full completed Arrival/Departure Card (including name, nationality, passport no., visa no. & issuance place, flight no., purpose of visit, date of birth, gender)
 A confirmed ticket to a third country or region is needed. 


Inform the airlines when boarding – Fill an Arrival/Departure Card on the flight - Apply the 72-hour permit – Claim the luggage – Go through the custom - Leave airport

Visa Free Direction Board
Direction Boards for 72-hour Special Counter

1. It is necessary to inform the airline at check-in, so that they can declare your request to the airport custom before landing. Passengers transiting via Beijing Capital International Airport can apply for this free transit permit after arrival.

2. There is a special counter/lane for the 72-hour free transit at the immigration, so passengers can go there directly by following the signs. For example, the immigration channels 2 to 4 are for 72-hour TWOV passengers in Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport.

3. After the request to enjoy the 72-hour China TWOV is approved, the officer will stamp a stay permit on your passport. The duration of stay is written on the passport. Remember to tell the officer that one wants to use the 72-hour free transit if he/she already has a valid visa for China.

4. After leaving the airport, remember to register at local police station within 24 hours of arrival if one wants to stay over 24 hours. Those who live with family or friends need to go to register in person at the police station with relatives or friends. Those who live in hotels do not need to go, because the hotels will do it for the guests.

5. If visitors are unable to depart on time due to unavoidable reasons, such as flight cancellation or treatment of sudden disease, they need to apply for a visa from Municipal Public Security Bureau (PSB). Otherwise, tourists cannot apply for an extension of stay.

Difference between 72-Hour Visa-Free Transit and 24-Hour Visa-Free Transit

Direct Transit within 24 hours is available for any nationality passenger and it is applicable to any vehicle, while the 72-hour Free Transit is only possible for passengers from designated countries and requires to transit in the airport.

Two pictures are helpful to make you clear.

24-Hour Direct Transit 72-Hour Free Transit

Other Services for Free Transit

There are service centers for transit passengers in the terminals, offering rest places with drinking water and reading materials if they do not want to leave the airport. For visa-free transit passengers, the airports also provide services for currency exchange, mobile phone rental, car rental, left luggage, as well as local souvenir shops. Tour buses are available from the terminals for the convenience of tourists.

 Read FAQ about 72-hour Visa-free Transit

In case that 1) you can't provide any of the required documents listed above, 2) or your flight route does not qualify, 3) or you have the record of overstaying in a country or getting visa refusal before, your application for the 72-hour visa-free transit permit may be refused. For fear of troubles caused by such cases, please make sure that you are eligible or apply for a regular transit visa in advance. 


 Further Reading:
China Visa-free Policy

How to Travel to China without a Visa

- Last updated on Mar. 20, 2024 by Brenda Lian -
Questions & Answers on 72-Hour Visa-Free Transit
Asked by Viktoria from BULGARIA | Apr. 09, 2024 15:04Reply
Travelling to Hong Kong from Guangzhou
Hello! My boyfriend (a Spanish boy) and I (a Bulgarian girl) have a return ticket from Seoul with a layover in Guangzhou on 29th of April. Since they made a change on the next flight (Guangzhou-Amsterdam) we were thinking of changing it (free of charge because of the change the airline made) for 2 days later so we have 2 days and a half in China. I was wondering if as European citizens we need to apply for the visa free transit and if yes can we have a day trip to Hong Kong and return to Guangzhou for our return flight?
Answers (1)
Answered by Borut | Apr. 09, 2024 23:48

You do not need any kind of visa because your itinerary is eligible for 144 hour visa free transit that is valid for entire Guangdong province. However, you as Bulgarian citizens are not allowed to make a day trip to Hong Kong because when you exit to Hong Kong you cannot return back to Guangzhou because Hong Kong has different immigration rules compared to the mainland China. It is true that your Spanish boyfriend can do that because Spanish citizens are allowed to enter and to stay in mainland China for 15 days visa free. Unfortunately, this detail is not valid for Bulgarian citizen. So, you as Bulgarian citizen can enjoy 144 hour visa free transit, but you cannot exit and return to Guangzhou under this option, You simply have to stay within the borders of Guangdong province. Since your time in Guangzhou is short, I recommend you to find interesting details there and to forget about Hong Kong during your 2 days.
Asked by Fahad Saud from SAUDI ARABIA | Apr. 03, 2024 22:39Reply
Stopping in Shanghai does it require a visa?
We are a group of different nationalities. We will travel from Cairo to Auckland (New Zealand) with China Eastern Airlines, stopping in Shanghai, about 18 hours round trip.
Do we need a transit visa?
Can we leave the airport to a nearby hotel?
Best regards
Answers (2)
Answered by Lori | Apr. 07, 2024 20:58

If you are staying in Shanghai for no more than 24 hours, then the 24-hour visa-free transit (suitable for citizens of most of countries which has established diplomatic relations with China) is enough for you, no need for the 72/144 (only for citizens from 54 countries listed). And the 24-hour transit allows you to leave the airport as long as you get a 24-hour visa-free entry permit easily at the border inspection counter.
Answered by Borut | Apr. 08, 2024 00:00

You do not need any kind of visa regardless of different citizenship within your group because you will be covered by 24 hour visa free transit.

The basic rule of 24 hour visa free transit is that a passenger has a right to transit through China visa free, but that same rule says that it has to remain within the airport transit area.

However, there is also a temporary entry permit that allows a person, if granted, to exit the airport. This permit is not a passenger's right, but more as a bonus that is granted to those traveling with small children, with physically disabled passengers and those with long/overnight layovers. In any case, this is not the right, but as I have told you, just a bonus. In other words, upon your landing in Shanghai, you will immediately approach transit counter where you will apply for a temporary entry permit by presenting your flight tickets and hotel booking confirmation. This application is free of charge. Having in mind the nature of your layover, your changes to be granted a permit are really almost certain. After this, you will cross the immigration and you can spend your time in Shanghai as you wish.
Asked by Fredrik Landhager from SWEDEN | Apr. 03, 2024 15:24Reply
Visa free to canton fair
Im from Sweden and plan to visit guangzhou. Is it possible for 72h or 144h as visa free?
My pland route is.
Flight Sweden-HK.
Train HK - Guangzhou
Ferry guangzhou - HK airport
Answers (1)
Answered by Borut | Apr. 07, 2024 23:52

No, your itinerary is not eligible for 144 hour visa free transit because Hong Kong - Guangzhou - Hong Kong is not a transit, but a return trip and taking trains between Hong Kong and Guangzhou is not eligible.

You can alter your itinerary by taking a flight from Hong Kong to Guangzhou and then exit to Macau by ferry from Shekou port in Shenzhen. Like this, you will be in transit, but you should keep in mind that you will need to buy your ferry ticket before your arrival in Guangzhou through TurboJet website, print out the ticket and have it at hand.
Asked by Dinesh from UNITED KINGDOM | Apr. 01, 2024 20:56Reply
Can I use two different airlines for 72 hours visa transit in Shanghai
I am a UK national planning to use 2 different airlines to travel from Bangkok to Tokyo via Shanghai and aim to avail the 72 hour visa transit in Shanghai. I read somewhere that the flight has to be a connecting flight and cannot be two different airlines whereas in other places I read it can be two different airlines.
Answers (1)
Answered by Borut | Apr. 02, 2024 03:17

It is 144 hour visa free transit in Shanghai that has replaced 72 hours long years ago.

Traveling on separate tickets and using unrelated airlines is fine and it was always acceptable. It is itinerary that is important. So, if you plan to travel:

Bangkok - Shanghai - Tokyo

And you do not have any additional landing within mainland China, you are definitely and undeniably eligible for 144 hour visa free transit in the area that consist of Shanghai city and two provinces: Zhejiang and Jiangsu.

You are advised to print out your flight tickets and to have them at hand as well as your hotel booking confirmation, for at least the first overnight. Enjoy your journey.
Asked by Lucille Brown from AUSTRALIA | Mar. 26, 2024 22:46Reply
High speed train from West Kowloon to Guangzhou
Hi there,
Is the 24hr visa free option available if you are entering China via the high speed train from West Kowloon to Guangzhou. We are Australian citizens and our return flights are booked and paid into Hong Kong. We would like to book the high speed train to Guangzhou returning to Hong Kong on the same day (attending the Canton Fair). Can we use the 24hr visa free option or the 144hr visa free option for this or does entry to China have to be via an airport?
Answers (2)
Answered by Lori | Mar. 27, 2024 19:12

It's not available for neither 24-hour or 144 visa-free transit if traveling between HK and Guangzhou by train.
If you directly fly from Australia to Guangzhou, then to HK by ferry, you are eligible for the 144.
Answered by Borut | Mar. 28, 2024 01:18

No, unfortunately, the train is not an eligible way how you could enter mainland China from Hong Kong using 24 or 144 hour visa free transit. You can only enter mainland China or to be precise Guangdong province by air. This is the only eligible way.

Another problem in your itinerary is the fact that you plan to return by air. So if you adapt to the entry requirement to enter Guangzhou by air, you cannot exit in the same way and remain eligible for 24 or 144 hour visa free transit because that would be a round trip and not a transit. A transit represents a journey where there has to be three countries (or eligible territories) within the itinerary. If you only have asked how to organize your visit to Guangzhou under 144 hour visa free transit, I would suggest you to fly from Hong Kong to Guangzhou and then to exit from Shenzhen by ferry to Macau. That would be a transit.

Now, I cannot see a simple solution if you have already bought your ticket from Guangzhou to Hong Kong. Maybe you could think to fly from Hong Kong to Taiwan and from Taiwan to Guangzhou. That would be also an eligible itinerary.

Please, try to think about the possibility to change your flight ticket in order to enter mainland China by air and to exit mainland China by ferry from Shekou port in Shenzhen to Macau. If you need some additional clarification, just write here and you will be assisted.
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