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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 May. 07, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on 24-Hour Visa-Free Transit
Asked by Allison from USA | May. 22, 2019 03:13Reply
Do I need a visa for my route?
I am traveling from Bangkok, Thailand to Almaty, Kazakhstan (where i live and have a work visa) with a USA Passport.

My route is Bangkok-->Guangzhou (2 hour layover) --> Urumqi (5 hour layover) --> Almaty.

Do I need a transit visa for these layovers?
Answers (1)
Answered by ZUPAN | May. 22, 2019 03:23

Yes, you need a visa because your layover in Urumqi is more than allowed maximum of just 2 hours and you are also combining domestic to international flights in Urumqi, that is also not allowed. Urumqi is specific and practically only international to international connections are allowed with maximum of 2 hours layover. So, in case that your flights are already booked, you should hurry and apply for Chinese visa. In case that you didn't book your flights, I suggest you a route without Urumqi and that will make you eligible.
Asked by Jim from INDIA | May. 22, 2019 01:08Reply
Please confirm I will be eligible for 24hrs visa free transit and I can exit the airport.
Arriving in GZ Baiyun Airport at 7:30pm from SGN and connecting flight is next day at 7:00pm to Delhi
Both flights on China Southern
Answers (1)
Answered by ZUPAN | May. 22, 2019 03:17

Yes, you are eligibe for 24 hours visa free transit because your overall transit time in Guangzhou is 23 1/2 hours, i.e. from 19:30 (7:30pm) until 19:00 (7:00pm). You don't have to worry because of possible overstay because only the scheduled times of arrival and departure are counted. So, if your flight to Delhi is late, you are just fine.

As far as your exit from the airport is concerned, you have to apply for 24 hours free entry permit upon your landing in Guangzhou. Keep in mind that is highly advisable to have your accommodation booking done before your arrival in Guangzhou and ready to present it in hard copy. Anyway, although you will almost certainly be allowed to exit the airport, you have to know that the last word always depands upon discretion of immigration official.
Asked by FinnB from AUSTRALIA | May. 21, 2019 19:27Reply
Does this now include Shenzhen airport, for Australian and Bristish passports.
I have read a visa was required on some web pages but different in others?
Answers (1)
Answered by Paul from UNITED KINGDOM | May. 21, 2019 19:50

Yes, this now includes Shenzhen Airport. BTW, Shenzhen Airport is now also available for the 144hrs visa-free transit in Guangdong.
Asked by Monique from USA | May. 21, 2019 18:29Reply
24hr TWOV
We are arriving back in Shanghai on July 23 8 am via cruise ship, but flight isn’t until 4:40 pm same day going to USA with a 3hr layover in Beijing. Are we eligible for the transit free visa? Cruise ship offers an early day tour in Shanghai until flight but no mention if we need to obtain transit free visas from the port terminal.
Thank you
Answers (1)
Answered by Grace from USA | May. 21, 2019 20:02

Monique, you can count the hours between your scheduled arrival and departure. If it's within 24 hours, then you don't need the visa. You can apply for a temporary stay permit at the port terminal in order to leave to attend the tour.
Asked by AZIZ ULLAH from UNITED STATES | May. 21, 2019 12:35Reply
24-Hour TWOV for Pakistani Passport holder
I am flying from New York to Pakistan and want to fly through Air China and take layover of 21 hours at Beijing Airport. Will I eligible for TWOV?
Answers (2)
Answered by ZUPAN | May. 21, 2019 14:03

With 21 hours time from your scheduled arrival until your scheduled departure from Beijing, you are definitely eligible for 24 hours visa free transit in Beijing. It is important that you don't have some other landing in mainland China because that would bring you to over 24 hours and to consequent ineligibility for visa free transit. Having such a long layover, you can apply, upon your arrival in Beijing for 24 hours free entry permit to exit the airport. It is highly advisable that you book your accommodation in advance and have your confirmation in hard copy upon arrival in Beijing.
Answered by Azizullah from PAKISTAN | May. 21, 2019 20:30

This is so helpful Thank you so much Zupan
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