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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
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 Nov. 06, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on 24-Hour Visa-Free Transit
Asked by Chloe from BELGIUM | Nov. 11, 2019 10:22Reply
Transit visa in Schenzhen trip to HK
We arrive and leave from Schenzhen( stop over of 20 hours) and would like to go to Hong Kong for a visit of about 8 hours. How is the best way to do this or which Visa would allow us to do this ? Is this allowed just with the 24 hour transit Visa?
Thanks in advance
Answers (2)
Answered by ZUPAN | Nov. 11, 2019 12:31

Unfortunately, you cannot do that on 24 hour visa free transit because this particular option doesn't allow the passengers who use this visa free transit option to cross to Hong Kong or Macau. In reality, you could do that, but only if you obtain a Chinese tourist (L) visa in advance. This visa would allow you to take a train or a bus or a ferry from Shenzhen to Hong Kong upon your arrival and for your return you will have to apply a Shenzhen visa on arrival at the border crossing arriving to Shenzhen from Hong Kong. Of course, you can immediately apply for a double entry Chinese tourist visa to avoid application for a Shenzhen VOA on your return from Hong Kong.

Honestly speaking, I sincerely discourage you from a hassle of obtaining a visa and traveling to Hong Kong during your 20 hour layover because this is too short time for such an investment, money expense and time loss. Trust me, you will be satisfied even with some of Shenzhen details during your layover. Anyway, you are those who will make a decision.
Answered by Chloe from BELGIUM | Nov. 12, 2019 02:07

Ah that's a super useful response !! Thank you so much. Very very helpful 😊
Asked by jan from POLAND | Nov. 11, 2019 02:35Reply
Transit in Shenzen
Is it possible to obtain free 24h transit in Shenzen arriving from Hong Kong? I'd like to take a train from Hong Kong and next flight from SZX to CTU and next to Europe (all within 24h)?
Answers (3)
Answered by CDKING from US | Nov. 11, 2019 05:01

24 hour visa free transit requires you to fly. You cant do VOA either since you will continue to another Chinese port. Its not worth the hassle to save a few bucks. book a flight out of HK
Answered by jan from POLAND | Nov. 11, 2019 11:44

In general 24-hour visa-free entry permit allows You to travel by train and plane with multiple stops. But I've read somewhere that Shenzen is one of extemptions and It's not possible to get permit in this particular case.
Answered by ZUPAN | Nov. 11, 2019 12:40

Jan, the situation with Guangdong province is specific if you want to travel there from Hong Kong and Macau. The only way how you can use any available visa free transit option is to fly. There is no other way, definitely. You can take a direct flight from Hong Kong to Guangzhou or from Macau to Jieyang Chaoshan Airport. Beside the mentioned, you cannot enjoy any other transport option from Hong Kong (and Macau).

If you take a flight and after that a flight to Chengdu and you depart Chengdu within 24 hours from your scheduled landing in Guangzhou or Jieyang Chaoshan Airport, you will be eligible for 24 hour visa free transit.
Asked by B+M from BELGIUM | Nov. 10, 2019 14:02Reply
24-hour visa free entry at Guangzhou airport: possible with luggage being checked through or not?
Are there any people here who have experience with getting a 24-hour visa free entry (and leaving the airport for a couple of hours during layover), while at the same time not picking up their checked luggage but simply checking it through to their final destination?

Reason I ask is the fact that I came across some stories where people are stating that in order to get a 24-hour visa free entry you are absolutely required to always pick up your checked luggage and can't have it checked through. But on the other hand it is nowhere officially stated that way and I also can't think of a logical reason why this would indeed be the case...
Answers (2)
Answered by ZUPAN | Nov. 10, 2019 23:42

Part one:

In reality, to be granted a temporary entry permit (a permit that allows you to exit the airport), there is no condition that you are supposed to pick-up your luggage at all. This is more like an urban legend, than a reality. To be granted this permit when you are flying on 24 hour visa free transit, there are more important details that are of interest for Chinese authorities like the length of your layover (the longer, the chances to be granted a permit increase) and also of having a confirmation of accommodation booking if the layover is during the night hours. So, the truth is that having a luggage or not does not change your chances.

Anyway, it is possible that the root of this confusion is in the fact that the travelers traveling on separate tickets or with more than one stop within China, simply have to collect their luggage and perform a recheck for their connecting flight. They are granted a temporary entry permit practically automatically because there is no other way how would they perform those operations without exiting from the transit zone of the airport. In other words, people who were observing the travelers collecting their luggage and being granted a temporary entry permit have wrongly concluded that you have to pick-up your luggage to be allowed to exit the airport, i.e. to be granted a temporary entry permit.
Answered by ZUPAN | Nov. 10, 2019 23:42

Part two:

Here I have one information that is not the most ideal in your case... It appears that Guangzhou airport authorities have, at least according to the relevant sources, banned the issuing of temporary entry permits to passengers traveling on 24 hour visa free transit and having international to international connections on a single (through) ticket. I cannot confirm if this is a general stance, but you are even in this case, allowed to approach 24 hour visa free transit counter and apply for a temporary entry permit. In any case, I wish you a successful application.
Asked by Astrid from INDONESIA | Nov. 10, 2019 07:32Reply
Hello, I am Indonesian travelling to USA but transit in Xiamen (both Return) can also eligible for TWOV? i don’t have any plan yet to go out of the airport. But, I’m worried that I need to have Transit Visa. Need enlightment.
Thank you.
Answers (1)
Answered by ZUPAN | Nov. 10, 2019 10:34

Astrid, if your itinerary is:

Indonesia - Xiamen - US

US - Xiamen - Indonesia

And your entire transit time in Xiamen is less than 24 hours, you are definitely eligible for 24 hour visa free transit both ways and you don't need any kind of visa.

You will print out your flight tickets and have those printouts with you. Also, you will declare at check-in in Indonesia that you will travel to US via Xiamen using 24 hour visa free transit. Basically, that's it.
Asked by Vladimir from GERMANY | Nov. 09, 2019 15:32Reply
Free visa possible for Guilin even with a stopover in Beijing without leaving the airport
HI, thanks for this page. I still have one question: I fly from germany with austrian Airline to Guilin and than on to Kuala Lumpur with airasia. I would like to stay 3 days in Guilin. But I have a stopover for few hours in Beijing. If i not leave the airport in Beijing can i get the free visa in Guilin? Because it is not anymore an international flight? The Flight from beijing to Guilin is with a Chinese airline. The flight from Cologne to Guilin was bought as one ticket. I hope someone can answer this question. Thanks Vladimir
Answers (1)
Answered by CDKING from US | Nov. 09, 2019 15:48

Sorry Vladimir. Under China visa free transit, a stop even just to refuel is the same as stopping for a week. Due to the flight between Guilin and Beijing. You need a tourist visa if the total time in mainland china is over 24 hours. There are not many route options that allow a visit to Guilin that qualify. None of those routes are to/from outside of Asia.
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