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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, Xi'an, Chongqing, 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 Jun. 01, 2020 -
Questions & Answers on China Visa Exemption
Asked by Gerry Hollis from GREAT BRITAIN | Jun. 10, 2020 06:18Reply
Joining Cruise ship in Shanghai
We are flying in Oct2020 to Shanghai ,staying 4 nights in Equatorial Hotel Shanghai, before joining Cruise ship Spectrum of the Seas to sail to Japan, do we need visas for China?
Answers (1)
Answered by Ken from CHINA | Jun. 14, 2020 19:36

Gerry, if you fly into Shanghai from a country different from Japan, then you can make use of the 144h visa-free transit policy. However, due to the COVID situation, I'm not sure whether the visa-free policy will be resumed by that time.
Asked by Lynda Austin from UNITED KINGDOM | May. 29, 2020 10:41Reply
We are from UK on a cruise ship. Do we need a visa
We fly to USA and join a cruise ship. After stops in Hawaii and Japan we go to South Korea. After that we are in Beijing for 3 days ,then go back to South Korea then to Shanghai for 2 days before flying back to UK. We are inchina for less than 6 days but not continuous.
Answers (1)
Answered by Monica from UNITED KINGDOM | Jun. 01, 2020 00:03

Lynda, for the stay in Beijing, you need a visa because the route is South Korea - Beijing - South Korea. For the stay in Shanghai, you don't need a visa. However, this is all based on the condition that China has lifted its ban for foreigners.
Asked by Sam from INDIA | May. 25, 2020 08:52Reply
When can students with x1 visa travel back to China?
Answers (1)
Answered by Galvin from AUSTRALIA | May. 27, 2020 20:18

Sam, it's not clear now. You should keep attention on the latest news.
Asked by Bond Oh from UNITED STATES | Apr. 24, 2020 17:43Reply
Travel to China from US
I know things are rough right now with people flooding China for treatment and with the US closing borders and being on essential personnel only. I'll be honest. My girlfriend of Chinese heritage is stuck back home in Jinan. I am a US citizen stuck in the middle of New York. I want to go to her because she cannot come to me. I've read other options without Visas but they're nowhere near Jinan, Shandong. Would the Chinese Consulate in NYC even accept my application right now? I've never left the country without being on orders. This would be my first time using a civilian passport. And if they wont right now due to the outbreak, when should I apply. And what happens to me if I get caught in China without a Visa?
Answers (1)
Answered by Miranda from USA | Apr. 26, 2020 19:54

Bond, actually, even if you can get a valid Chinese visa, you are not allowed to travel to China now.
Asked by Adoul from U. S. A | Feb. 24, 2020 08:54Reply
Visa enquireries
How do a Ghanaian green card holder in the U S. Apply for a Chinese visa.
Answers (1)
Answered by Mandy from UNITED KINGDOM | Feb. 26, 2020 19:17

If you are in the US, you can just do the application like a US citizen. Besides your passport, you need to show your green card, application form, passport size photo, and evidential documents to prove your travel purpose. The fee is different from US passport holders. You can pay as a Ghanaian.
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