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China 24-Hour Visa-Free Transit

24-hour visa-free transit in China, also called the 24-hour transit without visa (24-hour TWOV for short), regulates that visa is not required for air, train, and ship passengers transiting in mainland China for a stay of no more than 24 hours before heading for a third country or region.

Who are eligible for the 24-hour TWOV of China?

National of most countries are eligible for the 24-hour visa-free transit, while there are exceptions in certain airports for some nationalities.

1. Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Yemen passport holders transiting in Xiamen require a visa.

2. Syrian citizens transiting in Guangzhou are not eligible for the 24-hour visa-free transit.

What are the port restrictions?

Though a majority of international airports in China opt in the 24-hour TWOV, passengers transiting through the following airports all need a visa no matter how long the layover is.
• Fuzhou Changle Airport
• Huangshan Tunxi Airport
• Mudanjiang Hailang Airport
• Yanji Chaoyangchuan Airport

Besides, in Urumqi Diwopu International Airport, most travelers only enjoy visa-free transit for a maximum of 2 hours and  are not allowed to get out of the airport. For citizens from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Thailand, Turkey and Yemen, they have to get a visa in advance.

If transiting in Guangzhou for less than 24 hours, you are able to apply for the 24-hour TWOV from Guangzhou Baiyun airport instead of its railway stations or other ports of entry. That is, only entering Guangzhou by air, you would be issued the 24h visa-free transit under qualified travel itinerary.

What is an eligible transit route?

24-hour direct transit
24-hour Direct Transit Rules

An eligible transit route goes like Country A → China → Country C.

A and C are different countries. Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan can be regarded as A or C in this respect. For instance, if a passenger travels like USA – Beijing – Hong Kong, there is no doubt that this route qualifies for China 24 hour TWOV.

Generally speaking, the 24-hour visa-free transit allows aliens to have multiple stops in China as long as they leave the country within 24 hours, therefore the route USA - Beijing - Shanghai - South Korea also counts as eligible.

What are the requirements for TWOV?

 Passport valid for at least 3 months from the date of entry
 Onward air, cruise or train ticket with confirmed seat and date
 Visa for a third country or region (if needed)

Can I get out of the airport during layover?

Passengers wishing to get out of the restricted transit area to claim luggage, take a connecting flight, or do some sightseeing in the city can apply for the 24-hour visa-free entry permit, which is a stamp or sticker on passport showing the permitted stay length.

Apply for 24-hour visa-free entry permit in 4 steps

 Fill an Arrival/Departure Card at the border inspection counter
 Get the temporary entry permit stamp or sticker
 Claim the luggage (if needed)
 Go through the customs

How to count the stopover time?

Starting: scheduled arrival time
Ending: scheduled departure time

Recommended Day Tours for Transit Passengers

Great Wall TourBeijing Layover Tours

To Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Great Wall…

Terracotta Warriors TourXi'an Terracotta Warriors Bus Tour

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

Shanghai TourOne Day Shanghai Private Tours

To Yuyuan Garden, the Bund, Shanghai Museum...


Differences among 24/72/144-hour free transit 

24-Hour TWOV 72-Hour Visa-Free Transit 144-Hour Visa-Free Transit
For almost all countries For 53 countries For 53 countries
Available in most Chinese cities Available in major Chinese cities Guangdong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Dalian, Shenyang, Chengdu, Wuhan, Qingdao, Kunming, Xiamen, Xi'an, Chongqing
By air, cruise, train By air By air, cruise, train
Counted from the landing time Counted from 0:00 the day following the entry date (Scheduled landing time in Beijing) Counted from 0:00 the day following the entry date
Multiple stops Single stop Multiple stops

Note that if 1) you lack any of the required documents listed above, 2) or your route does not qualify, 3) or you have the record of overstaying in a country or getting visa refusal before, your application for the 24-hour visa-free transit may be turned down. For fear of inconvenience caused by such case, 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 24-Hour Visa-Free Transit
Asked by Mario from U.S. | Jan. 20, 2020 16:59Reply
Taking a cruise departing from Shanghai
We are taking a cruise departing from Shanghai. We are arriving by plane in Shanghai 2 days prior to the ship departure. Do we need a Visa for 2 days?
Later on, the ship arrives in Tianjin and stays there for 3 days. Do we need a Visa for those 3 days?
Thank you in advance for your response.
Asked by Na Thanh Huong Le from CANADA | Jan. 20, 2020 14:30Reply
Can a Vietnamese citizen transit in Guangzhou(China) without visa application under 24 hour transit.
Hi I am a Vietnamese citizen and I am now studying Canada. I am booking the ticket from Canada-Guangzhou (China)-Viet nam and back. Can I ask whether I can layover in Guangzhou (China) for under 24hr transit without a visa application. Thanks so much
Asked by Kris from UNITED KINGDOM | Jan. 20, 2020 12:40Reply
Flying from UK to Japan transiting via Shanghai Pu Dong Airport
Hi, I am a British citizen transiting at Shanghai Pu Dong airport for about 4-5 hours.

Do I qualify for the 24 hour TWOV?

Answers (1)
Answered by Saul | Jan. 20, 2020 13:03

Of course.
Asked by Trenton kinworthy from USA | Jan. 20, 2020 04:39Reply
Hello, I fly from Manila to Guangzhou where I change planes and then fly to shanghai and then to japan. Since I have a layover in China am I still able to get the 144hr twov in Shanghai if I do not get one in Guangzhou or go through customs?
Answers (1)
Answered by Thomas | Jan. 20, 2020 04:46

As you have 2 stops in China, you just can use the 24h twov.

If your transit is longer as 24 hours, you need a tourist or transit visa.
Asked by Julien from GERMANY | Jan. 18, 2020 07:54Reply
Train Transit Vietnam to Hong Komg
Is it be possible (EU passport) to transit by train from Vietnam via Nanning and Guangzhou to Hong Kong within 24h?
Answers (1)
Answered by CDKING from US | Jan. 18, 2020 13:34

Train needs a tourist visa. 24 hour transit is by plane only.
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