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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 Sep. 10, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on China Visa Exemption
Asked by Gemma from UK | Oct. 17, 2019 11:17Reply
24 -TWOV
I arrive in Shanghai on the 19th December 2019 from London. I am travelling with my 23 month old son. My sons first passport was issued on the 19th September 2019. My passport was issued Aug 2019. Our stop over is 16 hours before flying on to New Zealand. I would like to leave the airport to go to a hotel nearby. Are we eligible for the 24 TWOV? And how do we go about getting this? Is it something you get on arrival to Shanghai airport?
Answers (1)
Answered by ZUPAN | Oct. 17, 2019 14:09

You are definitely eligible for 24 hour visa free transit and you don't need any kind of visa. Anyway, to be allowed to exit the airport, you will have to apply for a temporary entry permit upon your arrival in Shanghai. Since your layover is very long, you are advised to book your accommodation in advance and to have a confirmation in hard copy. Your chances to be allowed to exit the airport are really very good, but please keep in mind that the issuing of this permit entirely depends on immigration official discretion. The application for the permit is simple and is free of charge. It is done on 24 hour visa free transit counter.
Asked by Luuly from VIETNAM | Oct. 16, 2019 04:57Reply
Is 24h TWOV applied when 1st leg of transit is Guangzhou (multiple stops in China)
My flight (China southern airlines) will be from Vietnam - Guangzhou - wuhan - USA, total time form transit is 16h ( less than 24h). So, would I be eligible to apply for 24h TWOV entry permit?
Answers (3)
Answered by ZUPAN | Oct. 16, 2019 13:20

Yes, you are eligible for 24 hour visa free transit and you don't need any kind of visa. Anyway, you should carefully calculate your entire transit time in China. It is calculated from your first scheduled arrival, in your case in Guangzhou, until your last scheduled departure, in your case from Wuhan. If the entire transit time is less than 24 hours, you are perfectly eligible for 24 hour TWOV. You will just apply for a temporary entry permit upon your landing in Guangzhou because you will proceed by a domestic flight to Wuhan.
Answered by Luuly from VIETNAM | Oct. 16, 2019 19:19

Dear Zupan, could you confirm information that I read from China highlight website: multiple stops in China acceptable at Guangzhou only when the first point of transit is Beijing? I really confuse since they updated in Sep. of 2019. Whereas my 1st transit is Guangzhou. I also searched in other forum, however, most of information i got is the same with your answer. Moreover, the CSA staff also said that they may not issue onboard ticket if I dont have Visa. I think it’s unreasonable, the CSA staff can not do like that. Are CSA staff have not updated the policy of China 24h TWOV? Thanks very much for your soon reply!
Answered by ZUPAN | Oct. 17, 2019 14:03

This detail with Guangzhou really appears at China Highlights website, but this is quite an old thing and you can read about it also from several forum like places even a year or even more than that ago. In reality, this is baseless claim, there is nothing about it written in Timatic and there are literally hundreds of people using 24 hour visa free transit daily even in case if Guangzhou is their first stop in mainland China or they have two stops and Beijing is not among them at all.

All you have to do is to forget the false and incompetent advises by airline staff and all you have to do is to print out your tickets, have the printouts with you and to state at check-in in Vietnam that you will travel to US via China (via Guangzhou and Wuhan) by using 24 hour visa free transit. Just repeat this "magical" construction and you will realize that you will arrive in US absolutely visa free.
Asked by Charwanda from UNITED STATES | Oct. 15, 2019 18:30Reply
I'm visiting my mom in shenzen from north Carolina with my five year old son are we eligible for 5
I'm visiting my mom in shenzhen from north Carolina with my five year old son are we eligible for 5 Day visa
Answers (1)
Answered by ZUPAN | Oct. 16, 2019 13:01

You are strongly advised against a try to obtain a Shenzhen VOA when you land in Shenzhen. Trust me, you will be, almost for certain denied boarding in your origin airport and you will find yourself in a huge problem because you will lose your money, your flight and also all your plans will collapse.

Your best options are:

- To rely on 144 hour visa free transit if you want to escape from visa obtaining. In this case, you have to find a third country and create an itinerary that will look:

A Country - Shenzhen (or Guangzhou) - C country

Also, keep in mind that you can also use Guangzhou for your flight in and out of Guangdong province, but you cannot have any additional landing within mainland China beside the airports within Guangdong province.

- To obtain 10 year multiple entry Chinese tourist (L) visas.
Asked by Puput from INDONESIA | Oct. 15, 2019 06:51Reply
Korea to Indonesia, transit in Guangzhou
i am an indonesian passport holder. i want to flight from Korea to Indonesia and transit in Guangzhou for 18 hours. do i need apply a visa to leave the airport for city sightseeing?
Answers (1)
Answered by ZUPAN | Oct. 15, 2019 11:14

Your itinerary, under the condition that you have mentioned your all stops, is definitely eligible for 24 hour visa free transit and you don't need any kind of visa.

If you are traveling on a single (through) ticket, you will not be able to exit the airport. If you are traveling on two separate tickets, you will be able to exit the airport. In other words, if you are traveling on a single (through) ticket, you will really need a transit (G) visa if you want to exit the airport.
Asked by Jonathan from UNITED STATES | Oct. 14, 2019 14:37Reply
I want to fly directly into Beijing from the US, stay for less than 24 hours, and then return to US.
Do I need a visa for round trip from the USA and staying less than 24 hours in Beijing?
Answers (1)
Answered by ZUPAN | Oct. 15, 2019 11:11

Yes, you need a visa obtained in advance. This is, as you have mentioned by yourself, a round trip and there is no any option that could help you to escape from obtaining a visa. Of course, if you introduce a third country into your itinerary, like:

US - Beijing - Seoul - US

US - Beijing - Canada - US

That would be entirely different thing and you would be eligible for 24 or 144 hour visa free transit in Beijing.
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