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China 24-Hour Visa-Free Transit

 China has resumed the 24-hour visa-free transit policy since January 8th, 2023 after 3 years’ suspension because of the covid-19 epidemic.

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.
• Huangshan Tunxi Airport
• Mudanjiang Hailang Airport
• Yanji Chaoyangchuan Airport

Citizens from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Thailand, Turkey and Yemen are not eligible for 24-hour visa-free transit in Urumqi Diwopu International Airport.

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 Tours for Transit Passengers


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 updated on Sep. 20, 2023 by Kate Liu -
Questions & Answers on 24-Hour Visa-Free Transit
Asked by Maja Rivera from PHILIPPINES | Dec. 03, 2023 13:55Reply
Layover in Guangzhou
I am flying from Manilla to Amsterdam, with a 18 hour layover in Guangzhou. I booked an airport hotel during the layover, which I believe is part of the airport premises. I won’t be leaving the airport premises. Do I need a Temporary Entry Permit?
Answers (1)
Answered by Borut | Dec. 04, 2023 00:26

Yes, you do. Every time when a passenger wants to exit the airside (transit) area she/he has to apply for a temporary entry permit. The good detail is that you have a long layover and you will also be able to present your accommodation booking confirmation (as a printout please), so the airport officials will issue to you a temporary entry permit almost for certain. You should just apply for a permit immediately upon your landing in Guangzhou and this application is for free.
Asked by Haroom from AUSTRALIA | Dec. 02, 2023 16:31Reply
24 Hour Transit Visa Required?
I am a Pakistan citizen and resident of Australia. I am planning to travel from Sydney to Lahore via Guangzhou. My layover time is 21 hours and I am looking to get the 24 hour transit visa. This will allow me to take overnight stay in nearby hotel and have a smooth layover. Do I have to arrange this transit visa before travelling or I can apply at the airport?

Answers (1)
Answered by Borut | Dec. 04, 2023 00:23

Haroon, you do not need any kind of visa because you will be covered by 24 hour visa free transit.

However, if you want to exit the airport, you will have to apply for a temporary entry permit immediately upon landing in Guangzhou at 24/144 hour visa free transit counter. You have to know that the granting of this entry permit is based solely on discretionary decision of airport officials on the day. So, I strongly advise you to make hotel reservation and to print out that reservation to have it at hand in order to be presented to the airport officials. This will definitely increase your chances to be granted a permit along with your very long layover. This application is for free and your chances to be granted a permit are really very good.
Asked by Chutimon from THAILAND | Dec. 02, 2023 08:36Reply
I have to transit in Chengdu for 18 hour
(Thailand - Chengdu - Dubai)
Do I need visa to for it because I need to check in again
Answers (1)
Answered by Borut | Dec. 04, 2023 00:18

No, you do not need any kind of visa and you will be covered by 24 hour visa free transit.

Since you will have to do new check-in you will just have to approach 24/144 hour visa free transit counter immediately upon your landing in Chengdu where you will apply for a temporary entry permit. This is formality where you will present your ticket for Dubai. This application is absolutely for free. After a short check, you will be allowed to exit the airport and later to perform new check-in. You are good to go.
Asked by Odin from NORWAY | Dec. 01, 2023 14:08Reply
Transit visa?
I have a transit in Senzhen in 7h before leaving to Vietnam. Im from norway and flying Senzhen airlines To and from China. Do i need a visa?
Answers (2)
Answered by Borut | Dec. 04, 2023 00:15

Odin, since you have mentioned that you will fly in and out of China, Shenzhen in your case, by Shenzhen Airlines then you can rely on 24 hour visa free transit and you do not need any kind of visa.
Answered by Matt | Dec. 04, 2023 12:58

Borut, thanks for answering questions. I am flying from UK to PVG to Bangkok. I will have a layover in Shanghai for 13 hours. I plan on staying at the airport. I just wantet to confirm I do not need to do any paperwork etc.? Just show my tickets (for onward travel) and passport when I arrive at PVG?
Asked by Thao Ly from VIETNAM | Nov. 30, 2023 12:19Reply
Flight Rome - Chengdu - Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnamese passport)
I have a Vietnamese passport.

I will travel Rome - Chengdu - Ho Chi Minh city (Vietnam) with Sichuan Airlines round trip. The transit time in the outward travel to Vietnam is 12 hours, while in the return flight to Rome is 14 hours.

Do I apply for 24 hours TWOV? If yes, does it mean that I can also leave the airport for sightseeing and come back to check in for the second flight? Or I am restricted to stay in the transit area?

Does the same policy apply for outward and return flight?

Answers (1)
Answered by Borut | Nov. 30, 2023 23:28

The most important detail is that you will travel through China (Chengdu in your case) covered by 24 hour visa free transit. So, you will not need any kind of visa.

This visa free scheme allows you to travel visa free via Chengdu and there is no doubt about it. Both of your journeys are eligible for visa free transit scheme and there is no difference between outward and return flights. Having in mind that you plan to exit the airport in order to enjoy some time in the city, you will approach 24/144 hour visa free transit counter immediately upon your landing in Chengdu. There you will apply for a temporary entry permit that is issued to those with long layovers, but always based on discretionary decision of airport authorities on a day of travel. You will present your flight itinerary and even better if you can add accommodation booking confirmation in case that you decide to rest in some of local accommodations. Since your layovers are long, I would say that your chances to be granted a temporary entry permit are very good. This application for a temporary entry permit is free of any charge.
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