China guide head arrivals

Take a pen on the plane for your flight to China, since on your flight, you will be an given arrival (and departure) card to complete. In your passport, you will have received a Chinese visa that you will need to reference when filling out your card. It’s pretty self explanatory.

guide arrivalcard

  1. On arrival at the (most likely Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou International airports), you will first go through health temperature scanners that will look for anyone with a fever or higher than normal body temperature. During times of higher than normal H1N1 (Bird Flu) scares, they may additionally do other screenings.  Just keep following the “Foreigners” signs…guide airport arr foreigner
  2. If you do not have a visa, and are taking advantage of the 144 or 72 Hour Transit Visa program, follow the signs for that special line.
    china guide 144 hour transit visa sign        China Visa Free Sign
  3. From there it’s onto immigration (if you have a Chinese Visa, join the FOREIGNER line, not the Chinese Citizen line), where they will check your passport, take your arrival card, photograph you, typically fingerprint you before stamping your passport and letting you move on.
    guide airport arr hall        guide airport arr passport
  4. After passport control, they will wave you through towards luggage claim.
    guide airport arr carousel        guide airport arr trolleys
  5. Once you collect your luggage, you will go through China Customs, where sometimes they will x-ray your bags on arrival, but more often than not, let you walk through.

Welcome to China.

Arriving into: for detailed passenger guide for arrivals (or departures)…
Beijing Visit the official site of Beijing Capital International Airport (in English)
Shanghai Visit the official site of Pudong International Airport (in English)

e-channel at China Immigration

For those who have crossed the border here a few times have noticed about half the border are these pods or plexiglass glass gates people are walking through. It’s a way to “skip” filling out the immigration form, talking to a customs official by simply placing your passport on the scanner, the door opens, and you then go inside the “pod”. In the pod they take your thumbprints and scan your face. Once they see this matches you on the file, the door to enter (or leave) China is complete.  No stamps, no talking to a customs official, no customs forms, and normally no line or a very fast moving line.

china echannel gates

Frequent traveling foreign passport holders with Z visas can apply to use the e-channel (the one with the Plexiglas gates) to speed through immigration lines upon returning to China. 

The primary prerequisites for obtaining this permission is to have an “e-passport” enabled with a microchip and a valid visa and residence permit with at least six months of validity.