72-Hour Transit Visa Exemption FAQ
In order to make it easier for international travelers to visit China, 18 cities throughout the country have adopted a new policy that allows transit passengers arriving by air to enter for up to 72 hours without a visa. Passengers from 51 international countries who have a booked airline ticket to a third country or region (and a valid visa for the third destination, if required) for within 72 hours can explore Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Shenyang, Dalian, Xi’an, Guilin, Kunming, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Xiamen, Harbin, Tianjin, Nanjing, Qingdao, and Changsha visa-free.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Which cities have adopted the 72-hour transit visa exemption policy?
Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Shenyang, Dalian, Xi’an, Guilin, Kunming, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Xiamen, Harbin, Tianjin, Nanjing, Qingdao, and Changsha.
Are travelers from all countries around the world eligible for the 72-hour transit visa exemption?
Travelers from 51 countries may apply for the 72-hour transit visa exemption; these 51 countries are:
• 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.
• 13 other European countries: Russia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia (FYROM) and Albania.
• 6 American countries: The United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Chile.
• 2 Oceania countries: Australia and New Zealand.
• 6 Asian countries: Republic of Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
What should be done in case a passenger who is traveling within the 72-hour transit visa exemption time period cannot leave China within 72 hours due to some special reason?
Passengers traveling with the transit visa exemption should leave China within the permitted time. In case of special circumstances, the passenger should apply for the relevant visa from the exit-entry administration department of the municipal public security as required by the law. In case the passenger fails to apply for the required visa, he or she shall be dealt with in accordance with the law for illegal residence in China by the exit-entry administration department of the public security authorities or border control station of the location where such an act is found. Border control authorities are entitled to deny the passenger’s future application for the 72-hour transit visa exemption via an airline company the next time because of such a breach.
Can a passenger leave the city where they started their 72-hour transit visa exemption travel for another Chinese city as long as it’s within the approved time frame?
It depends on the city in which the passenger arrives. At the airports of Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Chongqing, Shenyang, Dalian, Xi’an, Guilin, Kunming, Wuhan, Xiamen and Harbin, passengers may not leave the administrative precincts of the city within the 72-hour visa exemption period. From the airports in Guangzhou or Hangzhou, passengers may leave the city but not travel beyond the administrative precincts of Guangdong province and Zhejiang province, respectively. If a passenger needs to leave the precinct for some special reason, he or she must apply for a visa from the exit-entry administration department of the municipal public security authorities as required by the law.
Can a traveler apply for the 72-hour transit visa exemption if he or she plans to purchase an air ticket to a third country that leaves within 72 hours of entry to China, but has not actually purchased the ticket yet?
No. The policy states that the air ticket – with confirmed date of flight and seat – must already be purchased and confirmed before entry to China.
How is the 72 hours calculated?
According to the latest information from the airports, the 72 hours are calculated from midnight the following day from the passenger’s entry date through to the scheduled departure time. The one exception is at Beijing Capital International Airport, which calculates 72 hours beginning at the flight’s scheduled arrival time.
Can a passenger enter China via train, cruise ship or other vehicle and then leave by air within 72 hours?
The transit visa exemption policy is currently available only for review and approval at the airports of the 14 participating cities, so passengers must obtain the visa exemption at the airport.
Does the transit visa exemption policy apply to a traveler from a participating country who is coming to a city in China that has adopted the policy, and who has a confirmed air ticket to fly back to the same country within 72 hours with a confirmed date of flight and seat?
No. According to the requirements, the 72-hour transit visa exemption measure is for passengers who will continue on to a third country or region. Example: If a passenger’s flight is from New York, and stops over in Beijing on his/her way to Los Angeles, that passenger is not eligible for the 72-hour transit visa exemption stop in China. If, however, the passenger coming from New York were continuing on to a country other than the U.S. after China, he or she would be eligible for the 72-hour transit visa exemption.
Can passengers utilizing the 72-hour visa exemption leave from a different Chinese airport than the one where they originally arrived?
Passengers are required to leave from the same airport that they arrive, except in Shanghai. In Shanghai, there are two airports (Pudong International Airport and Hongqiao International Airport). Passengers are allowed to land in either of the Shanghai airports and depart from the other if they so choose.
What steps are necessary to obtain a 72-hour transit visa exemption?
For passengers who are eligible from one of the 51 countries listed above, and who have valid international travel documents and an air ticket with confirmed date of flight and seat for a third country or region, traveling within 72 hours, it’s quite simple to travel to China visa-free. Passengers can take care of all the necessary steps while on the airplane and once they have landed at the airport in the participating Chinese city. Simply follow this procedure:
• Inform the airline when checking in
• Fill out an Arrival/Departure Card on the flight
• Claim luggage
• Submit the completed Arrival/Departure Card to border control authorities at the airport, along with the following documents:
• Valid passport
• Onward dated ticket with confirmed seat for another country or region
• Visa for third country or region (if needed for that destination)
• Go through customs
• Leave airport
• Enjoy China!
For more information, contact the People’s Republic of China Embassy or Consulate General in your area. For the United States, the China Embassy’s website is:
Find your nearest Chinese consular post at: