China’s Visa-free Transit Policy: A Complete Guide on Transit Visa Exemptions in China

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Visa-free entry or visa-free transit to a country is a good tourism opportunity for the people of another country. These days, many countries in both the hemispheres are offering a visa-free policy for transit travelers to cash in on their tourism potential. In the Asia-Pacific region, China is a major transit layover for several airlines operating flights from and to the United States. No other country’s visa policy for transit travelers is as liberal as China’s visa free transit policy.

Though the transit visa exemptions in China are the same for travelers from a total of 53 countries across the world, different hours-based types of visa-free transit to China apply to different cities and provinces. The nationals of the below listed 53 countries can make the most of the policy while traveling on Air China flights from USA or some other airline transiting through China.

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Details of transit visa exemptions in China

In most cases, the traveler will only be allowed to visit certain cities during their layover in China. Travelers entering China via Beijing, Tianjin, Shijiazhuang, and Qinhuangdao are allowed to travel within the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and the ones entering via Shanghai, Hangzhou and Nanjing are allowed to travel within Shanghai, Zhejiang and Jiangsu province.

China’s 144-hour Visa-Free Transit Policy:

If you travel to another country of destination within 144 hours of your landing in China, to say, from USA to Shanghai flights, you need not have a transit visa to China. Further, you must also have a valid passport from one of the 53 countries that China’s visa-free transit policy is extended to. The 53 countries include 24 Schengen and 15 other countries in Europe, six countries in North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Japan, Qatar, Singapore, South Korea, and the UAE.

China’s 144-hour visa-free transit policy was first implemented in East China’s Shanghai-Jiangsu-Zhejiang area and later was expanded to North China’s Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. In January 2019, the government decided to implement it in the cities of Xiamen, Qingdao, Wuhan, and Chengdu. Eventually, later this year all the international airports under Guangdong province started following this policy. Starting December 2019, the 144-hour visa-free transit policy is set to cover 20 cities with four railways, eight land entries, and 27 ports. The 20 cities include Beijing, Tianjin, Shijiazhuang, Qinhuangdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Shenyang, Dalian, Qingdao, Chengdu, Xiamen, Kunming, Wuhan, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Jieyang.

China’s 72-hour Visa-Free Transit Policy:

To be eligible the 72-hour transit visa exemptions in China, you should carry a confirmed flight ticket to another country of destination and travel to the final destination within 72 hours of transit through the participating ports of entry in China. Having a valid passport from one of the 53 countries listed above is an eligibility criterion, according to the China visa-free transit guide. Changsha, Guilin, and Harbin are within the ambit of 72-hour visa-free transit in China.

China’s 24-hour Direct Transit Policy:

The eligibility norms for 24-hour visa-free transit in China are the same as those for the above-mentioned types of China’s visa-free transit policy. If you travel to another country of destination within 24 hours of your landing in China, to say, from USA to Beijing flights, you need not have a transit visa to China. However, a confirmed travel booking to the final destination is mandatory. Most ports of entry in China offer 24-hour visa-free transit to the eligible foreign nationals.

Countries eligible for China’s visa-free transit policy

The eligible countries include 24 Schengen countries in Europe – Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Among them are 15 other European countries – Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Macedonia, Monaco, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia, UK, and Ukraine.

Six countries in North and South America – Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico, and the US; Two Oceanic countries – Australia and New Zealand; Six Asian countries – Brunei, Japan, Qatar, Singapore, South Korea, and the UAE are also eligible for the transit visa exemptions in China.

Visa-free Entry to Hainan in South China:

Foreign travelers from a total of 59 eligible countries can travel to South China’s Hainan province and stay for up to 30 days without a visa. The eligibility norms for visa-free entry to Hainan in South China are different from those for transit visa exemptions in China. China’s visa-free policy for Hainan Province does not require travelers to hold a confirmed travel reservation to a third country. However, they are allowed to visit Hainan only on travel bookings made through travel agencies registered in Hainan and approved by China’s National Tourism Administration.

The 59 countries, the citizens of which are eligible for visa-free entry to Hainan province, include 25 Schengen and 15 other European countries, six countries in North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Philippines, Qatar, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, and UAE.

Furthermore, travelers planning to obtain any of the above-mentioned visa exemptions are advised to confirm their eligibility with their local Chinese embassy or the concerned port of entry in China prior to departure. The Chinese State Council has also released a tool to help potential travelers to determine their eligibility based on their nationality and the port of entry in China.

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