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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 Sep. 06, 2020 -
Questions & Answers on China Visa Exemption
Asked by David Biddick from UNITED STATES | Sep. 01, 2020 07:28Reply
Wife and I will be in China by cruise ship for seven days in early March of 2022. Do we need a visa
Cruise ship departs Japan on 6 March. In Dalian, China 8 March from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM for 9 hours. In Xingang (Beijing) on 9-10 March arriving at 8:00 AM on the 9th and departing at 8:00 PM on the 10th. In Shanghai on 13-14 March arriving at 8:00 AM on the 13th and departing at 6:00 PM on the 14th. In Hong Kong on 17-18 March arriving at 8:00 AM on the 17th and departing at 3:30 PM on the 18th. What are the visa requirements?
Answers (1)
Answered by Nathan | Sep. 06, 2020 23:06

David, you will need a visa for mainland China. In Hong Kong, you can enjoy visa-free policy.
Asked by Carlo Lopez from ITALY | Aug. 14, 2020 01:38Reply
Do I need a visa for China with an HK passport?
Answers (1)
Answered by Larrisa from CANADA | Aug. 16, 2020 23:27

No, but you need a mainland travel permit.
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.
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