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China Visa Exemption

China visa exemption policy mainly applies to 10 groups of people, including 24-hour direct transit passengers, 53 countries’ passport holders enjoying 72-hour or 144-hour visa-free transit, tour groups organized by local travel agencies to specific areas like Hainan and Guangdong, and holders of Japanese, Singaporean, Qatari and Bruneian passports, or Chinese Alien Residence Permit. Please read the following details to check whether you meet China visa exemption requirements.

Under the 24-hour visa-free transit rule, no visa is required for international flight, ship, or train passengers who transit directly through mainland China and will stay for less than 24 hours. This policy is applicable to almost all nationalities. Most airports are eligible, except the airports in Shenzhen, Yanji, Mudanjiang, and Fuzhou. Passengers should hold tickets to a third country or region and have a confirmed seat.

In case that they want to leave the port for city sightseeing or transfer to another port during the 24 hours, they can apply for a Temporary Stay Permit upon arrival. Those who transfer in more than one city of China within 24 hours can also enjoy this policy. For instance, if one's trip is Los Angeles – Beijing – Shanghai – Bangkok and the total time in China is less than 24 hours, the passenger can still enjoy the 24-hour direct transit.

Passport holders of the following 53 countries and regions can be granted a visa-free stay up to 72 hours while transiting via Beijing Capital Airport, Shanghai Pudong Airport, Shanghai Hongqiao Airport, and airports of Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Shenyang, Dalian, Harbin, Xi'an, Guilin, Kunming, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Tianjin, Qingdao, Nanjing, Changsha, and Xiamen:

 24 Schengen Agreement Countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland

 15 Other European Countries: Russia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia (FYROM), Albania, Belarus, Monaco

 6 American Countries: the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile

 2 Oceania Countries: Australia, New Zealand

 6 Asian Countries: Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, United Arab Emirates, Qatar


Passengers from the above countries transiting in Guangdong, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Liaoning, Chengdu, Wuhan, Qingdao, Kunming, and Xiamen can enjoy a visa-free stay up to 144 hours.

 See Beijing Layover Tours


Citizens holding the passport of the 59 qualifying countries are exempt from China visas when they travel to Hainan Province as a group or an individual organized by Travel Agencies in Hainan. The stay is limited to 30 days in general, and the 30 days start from 00:00 the day following the entry date.

Foreigners who take a cruise to Shanghai and leave with the cruise from Shanghai or other ports of China can enjoy a 15-day visa-free stay in China given that they are received by a local travel agency as a tour group. The group should contain at least two members. Eligible passengers can travel with the ship to other coastal cities and provinces, including Beijing, Liaoning, Hebei, Tianjin, Shandong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, and Hainan. The stay period counts from the following day after arrival.


6-Day Visa Exemption for Tourists to Pearl River Delta

Citizens holding passports issued by the nations with diplomatic relations with China are exempted from China visas if they join a tourist group at Hong Kong or Macao organized by registered travel agencies in HK and Macao to visit the Pearl River Delta region for tourism and stay up to 6 days. The region includes Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Zhaoqing, and Huizhou.

 Do I Need A Visa for Guangzhou If Traveling from Hong Kong?


6-Day Visa Exemption for ASEAN Tour Groups Visiting Guilin

Tour groups from ASEAN member countries, including Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Myanmar, Brunei, and the Philippines, can visit Guilin for six days free of visa. They should be received at Guilin Liangjiang Airport by local travel agencies in Guilin. During the six days, all members cannot leave Guilin. In addition, tour groups using this visa exemption policy shall exit from Liangjiang Airport only.


Nationals of Singapore, Brunei, Japan, Qatar and Armenia

Ordinary passport holders of Singapore, Brunei and Japan are allowed to enter China without visas for up to 15 days for tourism, visiting family or friends, or minor business purposes provided they enter through international ports open to foreigners. According to Mutual Visa Exemption, Qatar citizens with ordinary passports may stay in China for less than 30 days without visa. Armenian citizens who stay in China for no more than 90 days every 180 days are exempt from visas.

For nationals of these countries, a visa is required under following circumstance:
(1) Ordinary passport holder visits for tourism, business, visiting friends and relatives but stays for more than 15 days (30 days for Qataris, 90 days for Armenians).
(2) Ordinary passport holder visits for the purposes of study, work, official visit, settling down and interview.
(3) Japanese Diplomatic and Official passport holder.


Holders of Aliens' Residence Permit

Foreigners who visit for study on X1 visa or for work on Z visa and resident foreign journalists shall apply for Aliens' Residence Permit at local public security bureau within 30 days after entry.
Within the period of the validity of the Residence Card, the holder is entitled to enter and exit from China for multiple times without applying for another visa.


Holders of APEC Business Travel Card

The APEC Business Travel Card is regarded as a multiple entry visa valid for three years. With this card and relevant passport, the holder is entitled to enter China for many times within its validity. The duration of each stay should be within 2 months.


Diplomatic, Service or Official Passport Holders

China has mutual visa-exemption agreements with some foreign countries, but they are mainly for diplomatic, service or official passport holders and only allow a stay less than 30 days.

- Last modified on May. 29, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on China Visa Exemption
Asked by Beri from SLOVAKIA | Aug. 17, 2019 00:21Reply
Travelling to Hainan with X1 visa
Hi everyone, if I'm a holder of X1 Chinese visa and have a residence permit for 1 year, I can go to Hainan for a couple of days (probably 2 to 3 days) without applying for any additional travel documents and without using a travel agency?
Thanks in advance for your answers.
Answers (1)
Answered by ZUPAN | Aug. 17, 2019 02:33

You are definitely allowed to travel to Hainan since you are already in China with a valid visa and with a residence. Your travel to Hainan is definitely the same as if you were traveling to Chengdu or to Shanghai. There are no differences in your case. Purely domestic flight and total absence of any kind of immigration control. You also don't need any kind of additional documents and you can also perfectly bypass the travel agencies. In other words, your journey to Hainan is the same as the travel to any other part of mainland China.
Asked by Charles from FRANCE | Aug. 13, 2019 23:14Reply
Visa Exemptions for French Citizens

First I'd like to thank you in advance for your assistance.
I was wondering if I was elligible to the 144 hours visa exemptions.

My itinerary is as follow:
Trip 1: Vietnam -> Beijing (staying 24 hours) -> Pyongyang
Trip 2: Pyongyang -> Entry to China with bus via Dandong (Liaoning) -> Beijing -> leaving China within 144 hours by plane via Shenyang (Liaoning) -> Destination country

Thank you very much in advance.

Answers (2)
Answered by CDKing from USA | Aug. 14, 2019 04:55

You need a visa to cross the border by ground.
Answered by Charles from FRANCE | Aug. 14, 2019 18:48

Thank you!
Asked by Lauren from USA | Aug. 12, 2019 14:05Reply
I am traveling from Chicago to Shanghai to Indonesia. We have a 24 hour layover in China.
When we go through customs do we need to supply anything showing that we don’t need a visa or will they be aware of this 24 no visa rule. I have read stories of people have issues getting into the country.
Answers (5)
Answered by ZUPAN | Aug. 12, 2019 14:53

Is your layover exactly 24 hours long? This detail can cause significant differences.
Answered by Lauren from USA | Aug. 12, 2019 18:15

It is 23 hours and 30 minutes long. Do I need to fill anything so China is aware on my intent to be in the country or does that come standard with the airline having a layover of that length?
Answered by ZUPAN | Aug. 13, 2019 10:08

Your itinerary, under the condition that you don't have any additional stop of any kind within mainland China, is definitely eligible for 24 hour visa free transit. No, we can discuss about the potential issues that you may encounter. Well, to be allowed to exit the airport, you will have to apply for 24 hour free entry permit and here I strongly suggest that you book your accommodation in advance and to have a confirmation in hard copy, ready to be presented to the relevant authorities.

Here, I would like to inform you that the issuing of entry permit is not a passenger's right, but it depends entirely upon discretion of immigration authorities. This is the detail you have mentioned in your initial post that some people have not been allowed to enter the country. In reality, it was not their right and they were lawfully rejected for some reason. In the same time, they were not denied their right to transit without a visa. In my opinion, you will be granted an entry permit because of the length of your transit time, but you should definitely book your accommodation in advance to show that you will spend a night in the "legal" place.

My intention regarding the question of your exact time of transit was based on hope that your entire transit time was just a bit longer that 24 hours because in that case you would be eligible for 144 hour visa free transit and that means a granted exit from the airport.

To conclude, you will declare at the check-in in US that you will be traveling to Indonesia via Shanghai using 24 hour visa free transit and after your tickets are inspected, you will be allowed to board the plane. Upon your arrival in Shanghai, you will look after 24 hour TWOV counter and make your application there for your entry permit. Basically that's it.
Answered by Lauren Trisler from USA | Aug. 13, 2019 19:28

Thank you so much for the detailed response. My follow up question to that is- am I able to pre apply for the 24 free transit visa before arrival in shanghai or is the only way to do it to apply upon arrival in the airport?
Answered by ZUPAN | Aug. 14, 2019 08:10

No, there is no such a possibility. The only way is exactly as I have written in my last passage.
Asked by Simon from MACAU | Aug. 11, 2019 16:06Reply
Visa free travel. Macau-China-HK
I live and work in Macau. I hold a UK passport with Macau work visa. Can I take advantage of the visa free travel, to visit Chinese cities, by travelling Macau-China-HK, or even the other way round? Are Macau and HK S.A.R classed as separate countries as far as transiting goes?
Answers (1)
Answered by Juliet | Aug. 12, 2019 01:02

Yes to all questions.
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