China’s 6 Day Transit Without Visa Policy Now Official

Filed Under: Travel

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… you’re simply flying back and forth to the same country).

A few weeks back I wrote about how China was in the process of extending the transit without visa program from three days to six days at select airports, though a start date hadn’t yet been announced.

Well, it’s now official. As of this Saturday, January 30, 2016, China will be offering a six day transit without visa in Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Nanjing. This includes Shanghai Pudong Airport, Shanghai Hongqiao Airport, Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport, and Nanjing Lukou International Airport.

Citizens of the following 51 countries will be eligible for the new 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: Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Croatia, Ireland, Macedonia, Republic of Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia, UK, Ukraine

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, 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.

Special counter for those in transit without a visa

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.

Bottom line

It’s great to see China loosen restrictions a bit for foreigners looking to visit. 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’m very happy with my 10 year visa.

Here’s to hoping that China extends the 144 hour transit without visa to other cities in China, and also eventually makes the process of applying for a visa easier.

Hopefully this policy will eventually be extended to Beijing Airport

Will China’s new six day transit without visa policy impact whether you visit?

(Tip of the hat to Shanghaiist)

  1. If I go from DFW to Shanghai and the leaving Shanghai to Hong Kong, would Hong Kong be considered another country or not? I know is part of China; but they have different foreign and travel policies.

  2. Funny how Norway is the ONLY Schengen country not included.

    Someone is still angry because Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel Peace Price…

  3. Or you could fly to & from hongkong and book a flight from hongkong to shanghai and then to macau, from there a ferry ride straight to the airport.

  4. What is the cost of getting the VISA? Planing to go in June to Beijing before getting to Tokyo

  5. Lucky, FWIW I travel to China fairly often, I have a visa, but my travel companions have had issues a number of times with transit visas and AA wherein they they were nearly refused boarding because their onward tickets were not on a OW carrier. I even had one bring proof from the consulate explaining that this was not an issue but was still met with significant resistance from the AA CSR.

  6. Ben–does the entry and exit have to be from the same airport? Say we fly into PVG but want to leave from Beijing. Would that be allowable?

  7. Ben, I am glad you took a picture of the special counter required for the Transit Visa! We found out the hard way when we flew to Beijing during the past Christmas and lined up at every single counter and got rejected! As you mentioned, this counter is the only line that will process Transit Visas. Someone should post this on all blogs so if anyone needs a Transit Visa when they arrive in China, they know which line to queue!

  8. Are you guys sure that’s the right counter? I’m 99% sure I’ve seen the 72 hour transit counter on the left side of terminal 3 immigration, rather than the right side, where this picture is taken. Also, it says on the screen that the counter is for diplomatic personnel.

  9. Michael C, I transited through Beijing both directions travelling to Australia in November, on the outbound, the 72 hour visa counter to the left hand side was open (only had a few people in the queue ahead of me, compared to the main immigration line). On the way back, this was closed, so I queued up in the normal line only to be directed to the desk in the photo.

    Thankfully, the main immigration queues were much shorter travelling in this direction, so I didn’t waste too much time. It was around noon when the desk was open as opposed to 6am when it was shut, so maybe it’s something to do with office hours.

  10. Jacob, you’re not allowed to leave the arrival city under the transit visa rules; so that rules out leaving from a different airport

  11. @Xavier @lucky
    When asked: “If I go from DFW to Shanghai and the leaving Shanghai to Hong Kong, would Hong Kong be considered another country or not?”,

    Lucky answered: “Yep, considered a different country.”

    Nope. They are obviously the same country! That’s why the 6 day transit without visa policy has never, ever, been phrased in term of countries only. The wording has always been “You must transit to a third country or region…”, where “third region” refers to a region outside of mainland China, i.e. Hong Kong, or outside of mainland China’s jurisdiction e.g. Taiwan, as opposed to say, Hainan Island.

    The Chinese are pretty sensitive about such things. So you can bet they will not make such errors in their wordings, especially when it comes from their foreign affair ministry. 🙂

  12. Ben says: How about JFK/PVG/TPE? Taiwan counts a diff country?
    lucky says: @ Ben — It does.

    Of couse, it does not!

    The Chinese government would never dream of counting Taiwan as a different country, any more than the Union would dream of counting the Confederation as a different country! And while the confederation is long gone, the issue of Taiwan is on-going, and therefore a very sensitive issue to the Chinese government. How can anyone even imagine the Chinese Foreign Ministry (being responsible for visa affairs), of all ministries, making such a mistake?

    But, yes, Taiwan counts as a “third region”, in the Transit-Without-Visa Policy which states, in part: “You must transit to a third country or region…”. Here “third region” refers, I would imagine, to an area not under mainland Chinese’s current actual jurisdiction.

  13. I’m flying into Shanghai from LA, then flying back to the US via Hong Kong (PVG-HKG-JFK), but not staying in Hong Kong. Would I be eligible for the 6-day transit visa, or would I need to actually stay in Hong Kong?

  14. What about DFW – HKG – PEK (AA and Cathay) and then PEK – NRT (JAL).
    Will this qualify for Transit Visa?

  15. @Jenny: It doesn’t matter if you’re also transiting your third country/region, so going onward from HKG is fine.

  16. I am traveling SFO-PEK on UA then PEK-SHA on Hainan Airlines. We will only be transferring in Beijing Capital (around 2 hours) and not clearing customs as I only have carry-ons. Can I still take advantage of the 6 day transit visit in Shanghai? We will exit Shanghai as PVG-HKG on China Eastern the HKG-SFO on UA>

  17. David, You can’t get the visa free entry doing this as you have to stay in the city you first arrive in. If you flew into Shanghai, then went to Hong Kong on the way back you’d be fine but you can’t transit in Beijing.

  18. Hi, can you advice if flying from Melbourne -> Hong Kong (not a stopover) -> Shanghai (for 5 days) -> Macau qualifies for the 144hr visa? If so, what to we have to do at arrival in Shanghai airport? Thank you

  19. If I fly out of Vancouver B.C. (YVR) to Shanghai then to Seattle Washington. Will I qualify for the 144 hour visa..and how do I get permission to travel outside shanghai to go see guilin. ?

  20. Is there a place to print off a complete list of the rules for 144 hour transit without visa so I can show it at check in in Tokyo? I plan to travel from DFW-NRT-SHA/PVG-DFW. Only in Shanghai for 5 days.

  21. Hi! If I arrive at Shanghai Hongqiao on the 144 transit but leave from Shanghai Pudong is that okay? Or should it be the same airport?

  22. Hi. Sorry if this is a dumb question, but all of the examples I’ve seen are Region 1-China-Region 3-Region 1, ex; JFK-PEK-HKG-JFK. What if instead I want to do Region 1-Region 2-China-Region 1, ex JFK-NRT-PEK-JFK? Does that count since the country I’m entering China from (Japan) is different than where I’m heading to (USA)?

  23. Hi I am flying from Raleigh Durham to DTW to PVG to Singapore in 2 weeks. It is basically too late to get a Visa or I would to make like easier. I know this qualifies for 144 TWOV, but how much trouble will they give me in Raleigh Durham? I’m sure they don’t see too many people coming through going to China without a Visa.

    And also will they accept my Singapore airlines printout confirmation for my outbound flight from PVG-SIN? I’m just really worried about Delta, I’ve heard horror stories dealing with the TWOV, but I can’t find much info if a printout is sufficient, especially since it is a different airline from Delta.

  24. I am going to stay in Shanghai this April on my way to Japan. My flight path is; London – Beijing (short layover of about 4 hours) – Shanghai – Tokyo – Beijing – London.

    Will I still be able to take advantage of the 6 day transit visa in Shanghai or will I need to purchase a visa?

    Many thanks.

  25. I’m no expert on the matter but from my understanding you must enter China (Shanghai) from country A and depart directly to country B without any stops in China (except Hong Kong). No connections allowed inside China. Google “TIMATIC” for current info. For you to use the temporary visa in Shanghai routing would need to be London-Shanghai-Tokyo or Tokyo-Shanghai-London. Hopefully others will chime in and either confirm or correct my answer to you. Good luck

  26. Flying from uk staying in singapore for two days picking up cruise and going to Hong Kong Vietnam then Okinawa leaving cruise at Shanghai for two nights then flying back to uk is this ok for 144 hour waiverplease

  27. Hi, we will be staying in Shanghai for 5 days then boarding a cruise ship for 12 days then cruising to Sth. Korea, Taiwan, Phillipines, Vietnam and then staying in Hong Kong for 2 days before flying home to Australia do we need a Visa. Thank you. Trish.

  28. From my understanding,
    If you leave Shanghai, do not go directly to another port within mainland China and proceed directly to another port in another country,
    You should not need a visa for China. Hong Kong is considered separately regarding visa requirements. It depends on which country is your residency and passport holding. Google “TIMATIC” for Chinese temporary transit visa info. Hopefully this is correct and up to date. Apologies in advance if it is not. Good luck

  29. I have a question and I hope someone can help me. If I am coming from London to PVG with 5 days stop over in PVG then onto Japan, this would be ok, but my flights will be with Cathay Pacific, so technically the plan is coming from and to HKG before and after PVG even though the HKG is transit. Does this make sense, is this allowed or would this be risky?


  30. Please help I’m so confused!!

    I arrive from Singapore to Shanghai for 1 night pick up cruise ship in Shanghai for japan 7 nights arrive back in Shanghai for 2 nights leave for Singapore 1 night then Australia do I qualify for 144 hr visa ? the cruise ship is no help the Embassy is no better where can you get the information you need? Will the cruise ship let us on without a visa royal Caribbean ?

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