For several years China has offered a 72 hour transit without visa program, where you can transit select cities in China for up to 72 hours without requiring a visa. The catch is that you need to be in transit between two countries, meaning you need to be arriving from one country and continuing to another country (in other words, flying from the US to Shanghai and then back to the US two days later wouldn’t qualify for the transit without visa, since you’re not in transit).
China realized how beneficial this policy was to tourism, so in late 2015 they announced that they’d introduce a 144 hour (six day) transit without visa program. This was introduced in January 2016 in Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Nanjing. At the time we hoped this would eventually be expanded to other cities as well, though it took a while for that to happen.
China is now allowing a six day transit without visa at six more points of entry, including Beijing Capital International Airport, Beijing’s West Railway Station, Tianjin Binhai International Airport, Tianjin International Cruise Home Port, Shijiazhuang Zhengding International Airport, and Qinhuangdao Port.
Citizens of the following 53 countries are eligible for the 144 hour transit without visa:
Schengen 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
Other European Countries: Russia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia (FYROM), Albania, Belarus, Monaco
America: US, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile
Oceania: Australia, New Zealand
Asia: Republic of Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, UAE, Qatar
Much like the 72 hour transit without visa, I want to once again emphasize that this is only valid if you’re connecting in China between two other countries. It’s fine for the flights to be on separate tickets, as long as you’re flying into China nonstop from one country, and connecting nonstop internationally out of an eligible airport to another country.
Beijing Capital Airport
Fortunately the transit without visa feature is a bit less valuable than in the past, given that China now offers US passport holders 10 year visas. Previously they had single entry and one year visas, so it’s much more practical to get one visa and be able to enter China as often as you’d like for 10 years. If you don’t want to go to the consulate directly, I recommend using Allied Passport, which offers a $5 discount to readers of One Mile at a Time.
It’s great to see China further expand their 144 hour transit without visa program. A transit without visa can be a fantastic option if you’re looking to visit China without a visa, assuming you’re traveling between two different countries. Personally I haven’t had to take advantage of China’s transit without visa program lately, since I have a 10 year visa.
Maybe next China can eliminate their visa requirements altogether, or at least introduce e-visas.
Have you used China’s transit without visa policy lately? What was your experience like?
(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)