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72-Hour Visa-Free Transit in China

 The 72-hour visa-free transit has been resumed from January 8th, 2023 on, after being suspended for 3 years because of the covid-19.
Visa Free Transit Service
Transit Service Counter
in Beijing Capital Airport

The 72-hour visa-free transit policy in China allows air passengers from 53 countries to transit and stay for up to 72 hours (3 days) in 18 China cities without a visa. In order to facilitate international visitors' short stay in China, the policy is promising to be carried out in more and more cities in the future.

Qualified Countries

24 Schengen Agreement 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

15 Other European Countries: Russia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia (FYROM), Albania, Belarus, Monaco

6 American Countries: the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile

2 Oceania Countries: Australia, New Zealand

6 Asian Countries: Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, United Arab Emirates, Qatar

Cities Enjoying the Policy

Harbin, Guilin, Changsha

Beijing, Tianjin, ShanghaiXi'anChongqing, Shenyang, Dalian, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Shijiazhuang, Qinhuangdao, Chengdu, Wuhan, Xiamen, Qingdao, Kunming, the whole Guangdong Province - Extended to 144-hour Visa-free Transit

Areas Allowed to Stay

 Cities only with the 72-hour free entry policy:

Passengers transiting in Changsha are allowed to travel in the whole province.

Passengers transiting in  Harbin and Guilin cannot leave the transit city.

 Cities where the 72 hours scheme has been extended to 144-hour transit without visa (TWOV):

Passengers transiting in Shanghai, Zhejiang, or Jiangsu can move around the three places. With the implementation of the 144-Hour Visa-Free Transit Policy, they can actually stay for as long as 144 hours.

Passengers transiting in Xi'an Xianyang Airport are permitted to travel in Xi'an and Xianyang.

Passengers transiting in Guangdong can travel around the whole province.

Passengers transiting in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei can also move around the three places freely for 144 hours.

Passengers stopping over in Dalian or Shenyang can travel in the whole of Liaoning Province.

Passengers transiting in Chengdu, Kunming, Wuhan, Chongqing or Xiamen cannot leave the transit city.

Passengers transiting in Qingdao are allowed to move freely within the whole Shandong Province for 144 hours. 

Recommended Tours for Transit Passengers in Different Cities


Conditions for Application

1. The confirmed seat onward ticket and valid visa to a third country or region (if required) are needed for entry. Based on the latest information, the 72 hours starts from 00:00 the day following the entry date in almost all the airports, except Beijing Airport. For example, if an air passenger arrives in Guangzhou at 08:00 on June 2nd, then the latest time for him to leave is 23:59 on June 5. In this case, the actual stopover time is more than 72 hours. However, in Beijing, the 72 hours count from the scheduled arrival time of the flight. To play on the safe side, passengers are recommended to be more conservative and not to exceed the "strict 72 hours" which counts from the flights' scheduled arrival time to the departure time.

2. The flights can only stop in one Chinese city, meaning passengers have to enter and exit from the same city, except in cities where the 144-hour visa-free transit has been implemented. For instance, if a flight lands in Xi'an via Beijing, passengers are not able to enjoy the policy. In addition, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan are regarded as a third region in terms of transit issues. If a flight passes USA – Beijing – Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan, passengers are able to enjoy.

3. Only use flights to transfer in China. Passengers using other vehicles (including using flight for single trip) are not eligible to enjoy the policy.

4. Passengers are required to leave from the same airport that they arrive, except in some of the cities with 144-hour visa-free transit scheme where they may enter or leave from land or sea ports.

Documents for Application

 Passport valid for at least 3 months from the date of entry. Actually there are cases that some passengers are denied at the immigration counter because the remaining validity of their passport is not more than 6 months, so it's better to keep your passport valid for at least 6 months to play safe.
 Visa for a third country or region (if applicable)
 A full completed Arrival/Departure Card (including name, nationality, passport no., visa no. & issuance place, flight no., purpose of visit, date of birth, gender)
 An onward ticket with confirmed seat are needed


Inform the airlines when boarding – Fill an Arrival/Departure Card on the flight - Apply the 72-hour permit – Claim the luggage – Go through the custom - Leave airport

Visa Free Direction Board
Direction Boards for 72-hour Special Counter

1. It is necessary to inform the airline at check-in, so that they can declare your request to the airport custom before landing. Passengers transiting via Beijing Capital International Airport can apply for this free transit permit after arrival.

2. There is a special counter/lane for the 72-hour free transit at the immigration, so passengers can go there directly by following the signs. For example, the immigration channels 2 to 4 are for 72-hour TWOV passengers in Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport.

3. After the request to enjoy the 72-hour China TWOV is approved, the officer will stamp a stay permit on your passport. The duration of stay is written on the passport. Remember to tell the officer that one wants to use the 72-hour free transit if he/she already has a valid visa for China.

4. After leaving the airport, remember to register at local police station within 24 hours of arrival if one wants to stay over 24 hours. Those who live with family or friends need to go to register in person at the police station with relatives or friends. Those who live in hotels do not need to go, because the hotels will do it for the guests.

5. If visitors are unable to depart on time due to unavoidable reasons, such as flight cancellation or treatment of sudden disease, they need to apply for a visa from Municipal Public Security Bureau (PSB). Otherwise, tourists cannot apply for an extension of stay.

Difference between 72-Hour Visa-Free Transit and 24-Hour Visa-Free Transit

Direct Transit within 24 hours is available for any nationality passenger and it is applicable to any vehicle, while the 72-hour Free Transit is only possible for passengers from designated countries and requires to transit in the airport.

Two pictures are helpful to make you clear.

24-Hour Direct Transit 72-Hour Free Transit

Other Services for Free Transit

There are service centers for transit passengers in the terminals, offering rest places with drinking water and reading materials if they do not want to leave the airport. For visa-free transit passengers, the airports also provide services for currency exchange, mobile phone rental, car rental, left luggage, as well as local souvenir shops. Tour buses are available from the terminals for the convenience of tourists.

 Read FAQ about 72-hour Visa-free Transit

In case that 1) you can't provide any of the required documents listed above, 2) or your flight route does not qualify, 3) or you have the record of overstaying in a country or getting visa refusal before, your application for the 72-hour visa-free transit permit may be refused. For fear of troubles caused by such cases, please make sure that you are eligible or apply for a regular transit visa in advance. 

- Last updated on May. 25, 2023 by Catherine He -
Questions & Answers on 72-Hour Visa-Free Transit
Asked by Rachael from UNITED KINGDOM | Aug. 22, 2023 15:46Reply
UK resident travelling to South Korea
Hi, my flight to South Korea requires a stop at Beijing for 1.5 hours on the way there and two stops in Shanghai one for 6.5 hours and the last one 2.5 hours on the way back. Do I need a transit visa?
Thank you
Answers (1)
Answered by James | Aug. 22, 2023 20:40

No, because you are eligible 24-hour visa-free transit.
Asked by Sara from ITALY | Aug. 22, 2023 09:53Reply
72 Hour visa free transit
Hi! I have a flight from Bangkok to Beijing Airport the 8th of January 2024 and I want to stay in Beijing till the 11th of January (I have a flight at 00.40 to Istanbul with a stopover for Rome. Italy ).

We have an absolute certainty that the permission will be obtained?

I don't want problems...

Answers (1)
Answered by Mia | Aug. 22, 2023 20:53

If I understand rightly, your itinerary is Bangkok - Beijing - Rome - Istanbul. If yes, there is no problem. You are eligible for the 144-hour visa-free transit (the original 72-hour visa-free transit has expanded to 144 hours)
Asked by Michal from NEW ZEALAND | Aug. 22, 2023 03:28Reply
48 hours in shanghai- visa?

We're stopping in shanghai for 48hours, heading home from London, via shanghai, to auckland NZ where we live.
It looks as though we can stay up to 72 hours but do we need to apply for a short stay visa at the airport?
Answers (1)
Answered by James | Aug. 22, 2023 18:46

In fact, the 72-hour visa-free transit is replaced by 144-hour visa-free transit. You can apply for a temporary stay permit at the airport to get out of the airport and explore the city.
Asked by Nigel from AUSTRALIA | Aug. 21, 2023 21:47Reply
Visa free travel at Guangzhou for 20 hours
Hi there,

We are traveling from Sydney to London and stoping at Guangzhou airport, we would like to stay at a nearby hotel as we are laying over for 19 hours, do I need a visa for such a short stay?

Thank you.
Answers (1)
Answered by Cathy | Aug. 21, 2023 23:26

You are eligible for 24-hour visa free transit. But you need to apply for a temporary stay permit at the 24/144-hour visa-free counter upon landing, so as to leave the airside. It's totally free.
Asked by Mike from UNITED KINGDOM | Aug. 19, 2023 13:03Reply
I'm travelling from London to Tokyo on China eastern airways stopping in Shanghai for 4 hours
I don't plan leaving airport, do i need transit visa?
Answers (1)
Answered by Bella | Aug. 20, 2023 19:38

No, you don't need a transit visa.
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