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72-Hour Visa-Free Transit in China

Visa Free Transit Service
Transit Service Counter
in Beijing Capital Airport

The 72-hour visa-free transit policy in China allows air passengers from 53 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

24 Schengen Agreement Countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, 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

Tiananmen SquareBeijing Layover Tours

To Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Great Wall…

Terrocotta WarriorsXi'an One-Day Tours

To Terracotta Warriors, City Wall, Small Wild Googe Pagoda...

Li River CruiseEssence of Guilin & Li River

3 days private tour to Guilin, Longsheng and Yangshuo

Conditions for Application

1. The confirmed seat onward 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)
 An onward ticket with confirmed seat are 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. 

- Last modified on Dec. 30, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on 72-Hour Visa-Free Transit
Asked by Lloyd from NETHERLANDS | Feb. 12, 2020 13:19Reply
Amsterdam > Beijing > Seoul
I am flying from Amsterdam to Beijing and arrive on the 13th of May 2020 at 09:20 local time. I depart to Seoul on the 16th of May 2020 at 10:50 local time. If the 72 hours start at 23:59 of the 13th of May it seems to fall without the 72 hours, if it starts at 9:20 it is not.

In your experience, will this still fall within the 72 hour transit visa time?
Answers (4)
Answered by Lloyd from NETHERLANDS | Feb. 12, 2020 13:20

"without" must be "within"
Answered by John Doe | Feb. 12, 2020 17:48

Beijing has replaced 72-hour transit with 144-hour transit years ago so as long as your visit is under 6 days you will be fine. Duration of stay still starts from the day after arrival.
Answered by Lloyd from NETHERLANDS | Feb. 13, 2020 03:55

Hi, thank you for your quick reply.

So looking at your answer my travel plan should cause no problems and should be possible?

Do you maybe also have any links to official government websites or an official confirmed statement? This would make me feel more secure about the possibilities. I hope you understand.
Answered by John Doe | Feb. 13, 2020 08:52

China is at a post-internet age so nothing gets posted on websites (which don't work most of the times either) but IIRC PEK's official website made a mention of it. If you want concrete confirmation, you can rely on millions who have traveled on the program on travel forums, or call the immigration office at PEK.
Asked by Ira from RUSSIA | Feb. 06, 2020 08:25Reply
Transit visa yes/no?
Leaving to Paris from Seoul via Shanghai, flying in to Hongqiao 15 hours layover then flying out from pudong airport, do I need to apply for transit visa ? Russian citizen
Answers (1)
Answered by Louise | Feb. 06, 2020 14:21

You don't need a transit visa.
Asked by Sue roche from UNITED KINGDOM | Feb. 02, 2020 10:40Reply
London to Shanghai 22nd Nov, then cruise from Shanghai to Japan 24th Nov, am I covered by 72 hour vi
I am a British citizen
Answers (1)
Answered by Andrew from CANADA | Feb. 05, 2020 21:22

Yes, actually you are covered by the 144h visa-free transit policy.
Asked by Boris from AUSTRALIA | Jan. 30, 2020 19:42Reply
Hi, we stop in HK and will have a full day between flights. We'd like to spend this day in Shenzhen.
Do we have apply for the usual 3 months visa or is there a short visa. Also Do we obtain it in Australia prior departure or can we do it on the spot, say on the boarder train station in HK?
Answers (4)
Answered by John Doe | Jan. 30, 2020 21:44

Under normal conditions you can get a 5-day visa on arrival valid only for Shenzhen. The only eligible ports of entry are Shekou ferry terminal, Lo Wu/Luohu and Huanggang/Lol Ma Chau. If you travel by train you will need a regular tourist visa.
Answered by John Doe | Jan. 30, 2020 21:47

Also if you have seen the news and/or visited your country's travel advisories you will find that traveling to Mainland China is not the best idea at the moment.
Answered by Boris from AUSTRALIA | Feb. 01, 2020 00:56

Thank you very much for your reply, Do you know how much 5 days visa costs and how long it takes to obtain it, we'll only have 10 hours for Shenzhen.
P.S. we are not going till mid of March However you advice is well taken.
Answered by CDKing from USA | Feb. 01, 2020 04:25

169cny to be paid in local currency. There isn't much for local tourism so it's not usually with the time and effort on such a short visit
Asked by Gretchen from IRELAND | Jan. 30, 2020 02:21Reply
2x72hr China Visas??

I have plans to go from...

Dublin > Beijing (stay for 2 nights) > Hong Kong (stay for 2 nights) > Shanghai (stay for 2 nights) > Seoul, South Korea > Dublin

My question is will we be able to receive 2 72hr visa free admissions within a week? One at Beijing and then later at Shanghai?

Answers (1)
Answered by John Doe | Jan. 31, 2020 19:08

It's not a visa but a visa waiver, and you can get it as many times as you want as long as you have followed all the rules during your visit.
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