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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 the 24-hour TWOV from Guangzhou Baiyun airport instead of its railway stations or other ports of entry. That is, only entering and exiting 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 Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Dalian, Shenyang
Chengdu, Wuhan, Qingdao, Kunming, Xiamen
Guangdong (To be implemented soon)
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 Mar. 07, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on 24-Hour Visa-Free Transit
Asked by Howard Rubinstein from UNITED STATES | Mar. 18, 2019 17:36Reply
Immediate travel from Shenzhen airport to Hong Kong
I will land at Shenzhen airport from the U.S. and travel immediately to Hong Kong. Do I qualify for the 24 hour free transit? Do I need to present a ticket for my trip to Hong Kong or can I purchase that later?
Answers (1)
Answered by John Doe | Mar. 18, 2019 17:58

You need a visa or different flights. Transit to HK or Macau from SZX always require a visa.
Asked by TinyT from UNITED KINGDOM | Mar. 18, 2019 10:23Reply
Sri lankan passport but UK resident permit - chinese visa for less than 24 hours?

I am an ordinary sri Lankan passport holder but with a UK resident permit and I am resident in the UK. I am in transit (wishing to get out of the airport) from about 20 hours in shanghai. Do I need a transit visa if so how should I apply?
I also am transiting through flights on my way in for 1.5 hours (in the airport only) do I need a visa for this or is this permitted?
Asked by Cindy from HONG KONG | Mar. 18, 2019 02:23Reply
US Citizen taking Highspeed MTR to Guangzhou then have a flight to manila within 24 Hours.
Do i need to get the 24 hours free transit ?
How can i get the 24 hours free transit? from the Highspeed MTR Train Station in Hong Kong?
Answers (1)
Answered by Hector | Mar. 18, 2019 03:39

You need a visa in advance from an embassy or consulate. If you don't have a visa, you must fly to Guangzhou.
Asked by Rhej from PHILIPPINES | Mar. 18, 2019 01:56Reply
15 hour Lay over in Beijing Capital, Beijing Terminal 2
I am holding a Philippine Passport and is going to travel to Seoul South Korea from Dubai, UAE. I have 15 hour Lay over time in Beijing Capital Airport Terminal 2.
Do i need to apply for a transit visa in order to go out of the Beijing Capital Airport?
Thanks in advance.
Asked by Jon from US | Mar. 17, 2019 20:23Reply
What kind of visa do I request?
I asked a question on the forum re: my 2 city transit layover...en route to USA.

Indonenia to Beijing (23 hours)
Then, Beijing to Shanghai (10 hours) then to USA

I was wondering if I am eligible for 72 or 144 hour transit (free) between the two cities.

Someone replied that I DO need a visa since over 24 hours

OR if I stay in airport for Shanghai layover, is that okay --- that is, if I do not leave the airport after Beijing?

Thank you very much for your informative website.

Answers (1)
Answered by Jean | Mar. 18, 2019 00:35

Your trip doesn't qualify for the free transit policy. You are supposed to apply for visa beforehand.
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