Shanghai & Beijing offer Visa-free transit travel for transit tourists from many countries to spend up to 144 hours in Shanghai or Beijing without a visa. Changsha, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalian, Guangzhou, Guilin, Hangzhou, Harbin, Kunming, Nanjing, Qingdao, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Wuhan, Xiamen and Xi’an similarly offer visa-free transit travel for transit tourists to spend up to 72 hours. This waiving visas policy permits visa free entry for transit travelers with visas and plane tickets to a third country to transit through for a brief visa-free stay. The policy does not apply to travelers arriving by ship.
The Transit Visa Exemption Program lets you spend a short time in China without the hassle and cost of applying for a single-entry visa. Great for business travelers for meetings in a single city. You have to be travelling onwards to a third country directly from the arrival city, such as flying from USA to Hong Kong to via Shanghai.
You must have a confirmed, onward ticket to a third country before you board your flight to China. Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan are “international flights” so you may fly there on a non-stop flight after your time in China. If you’re just flying into Beijing or Shanghai and then heading straight back home again you’ll have to obtain the appropriate visa (or an APEC card) before boarding your flight to China.
- You cannot have a return ticket to the country you came from, even if the cities are different (i.e. New York-Beijing-Los Angeles would not work).
- You are not allowed to leave the city you arrive in. You must fly into and fly out of the same city. Note: In Shanghai you can fly into or out of either airport, ie. into Pudong and out of Hongqiao or vice-versa.
The recommended itinerary:
USA –> Shanghai (2 day) –> Hong Kong –> USA
(and often the cheapest in last minute flights also)
On arrival into China, look for the Transit Visa lanes at passport control.
The current visa-free countries include:
Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Japan, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States.