Pudong International Airport, Shanghai
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When traveling in Asia, oftentimes you’ll have to pass through a Chinese airport. For some time now, if you have a stopover in one of the airports listed below, you have the option of visiting China (for a maximum of 3 or 6 days, depending on the city where you arrive, see below for details), without needing Chinese a visa.
P.p.s. Notice that the visa exemption only applies under specific conditions, thus we suggest you to read the whole article!
In which Chinese cities can I get a visa exemption for a maximum of 144 hours?
For more information on the cities that allow a 72 hours visa exemptions, see below. Transit without a visa is permitted for 144 hours only if you arrive in one of the following cities:
- Shanghai (Shanghai Pudong International Airport or Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport);
- Hangzhou (Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport);
- Nanjing (Nanjing Lukou International Airport).
Beside extending the visa exemption from 72 to 144 hours, the new regulation allow international travellers to move around Shanghai Municipality, Zhejiang and Jiangsu Provinces – no matter the city where they arrived – and to enter China through ports and railways (beside airports).
Notice that, for the cities under the 72 hours visa exemption (see below for the complete list), internationals travellers are only allowed to arrive by plane and to stay within the borders of the city (or Province, according to each city policy) where they landed.
In which Chinese cities can I get a visa exemption for a maximum 72 hours?
Beside Shanghai, Hangzhou and Nanjing (which allow a 144 hours visa exemption), transit without a visa is permitted for a maximum of 72 hours only if you stopover in one of the following cities:
- Beijing (Beijing Capital International Airport);
- Changsha (Changsha Huanghua International Airport);
- Chengdu (Chengdu ShuangLiu International Airport);
- Chongqing (Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport);
- Dalian (Dalian International Airport);
- Guangzhou (Guangzhou Baiyu International Airport);
- Guilin (Guilin Liangjiang International Airport);
- Harbin (Harbin Taiping International Airport);
- Kunming (Kunming Changshui International Airport);
- Qingdao (Qingdao Liuting International Airport);
- Shenyang (Shenyang Taoxian Internatioanl Airport);
- Tianjin (Tianjin Binhai International Airport);
- Wuhan (Wuhan Tianhe International Airport);
- Xiamen (Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport);
- Xi’an (Xi’an Xianyang International Airport).
While visa exemption in Shanghai or Beijing (where it went into effect back on January 1st 2013) isn’t exactly news, the same cannot be said for cities such as Changsha or Qingdao, where it’s only been possible to request an exemption since November 2015.
Remember that you cannot go outside of the stopover city if you land in Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalian, Guilin, Harbin, Kunming, Shenyang, Tianjin, Wuhan or Xi’an and you cannot go outside of the stopover Province if you land in Changsha (Hunan Province), Guangzhou (Guangdong Province), Qingdao (Shandong Province) or Xiamen (Fujian Province).
Therefore, if for example you stopover in Kunming, you cannot go beyond Kunming municipality limits, while if, for example, you stopover in Guangzhou, you cannot beyond Guangdong Province limits (or else you risk ending up in big trouble in the event you’re stopped by the police).
Note: Passengers travelling on US and Canadian passports are not permitted to use the multiple-stop transit within China if transiting through Weihai or Wuhan.
In this photo you can see the blue stick that I got in my passport at Shanghai Airport, when I required the visa exemption for 4 hours
What documents must I have for an exemption?
Besides a valid passport, you’ll have to have a visa for your destination country (if required) and an airline ticket – with a departure time within 72 hours (or 144 hours, according to the city), – for the country you are traveling to.
Note that the countries of origin and destination cannot be the same. For this reason a ticket Rome-Shanghai-Milan won’t allow you an exemption; you’ll need a ticket such as Rome-Beijing-Tokyo or Rome-Shanghai-Seoul. The final destination can also be Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan.
Be advised that the 72 (or 144) hours begin the moment you receive permission for transit at the border, and not when your plane lands in China.
For more information you can call the following numbers:
Beijing General Station of Immigration Inspection: 0086-10-56095400;
Shanghai General Station of Immigration Inspection: 0086-2151105100;
Guangzhou General Station of Immigration Inspection: 0086-2032090088.
Nationals of what countries have the right to transit?
You may receive a right of transit only if you have a passport from one of the following countries: Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States.
How do I request the visa exemption?
You can forward your request for transit to your airline in advance, so that the airline can declare this to the Immigration Inspection prior to your visit. You will be granted a transit permit at the airport if you meet all requirements. NOTE: Beijing Capital International Airport has now changed this procedure; passengers can apply directly for the free transit permit after arrival at the airport.
If I landed in Beijing and asked for the exemption, can I leave China from one of the other airports that allow exemption (Shanghai Pudong, for example)?
No, not only must you continue on from Beijing’s airport, but you cannot leave the jurisdiction of Beijing!
If the stopover lasts more than 72 hours (or 144 hours, for the cities that allow that), can I stay in the airport’s international zone for a bit and then ask for the exemption when it is less than 72 hours (or 144 hours) until departure?
No, if the stopover lasts more than 72 hours (or 144 hours, for the cities that allow that) then you’ll need a transit visa (or G visa) before your departure flight. In this case the problem is that the airline may deny you access to the departing flight if they realize that your stopover lasts more than the allowed hours and you do not possess a visa.
Can I get the 72 hours exemption if, for example, I land in Beijing and then take the train to an international destination (Such as on the Transiberian, for example?)
No, you can only ask for the exemption if you arrive and leave China through the same airport. If you intend to leave China by train, ship, bus or camel, then you’ll have to apply for a transit visa before your departure flight.
However, explained at the beginning of this article, if you arrive in Shanghai, Hangzhou or Nanjing, that is the cities that qualify for the 144 hours visa exemption, then you can also arrive by train or ship.
If I travel with my pet cat, dog or crocodile, can I get the exemption?
No. You can however request at the airport’s Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau to keep your pet in custody during the exemption period. Note too that you also cannot cross the border with fruit or vegetables.
What should I do in the event that I land, for instance, in Beijing but, due to something unforeseen, I have to leave the city?
In this case you should apply for a visa at the Exit-Entry Administration Department of the Municipal Public Security Bureau (PSB) in the city you’re in.
What can I do if I’m unable to leave China within 72 hours (or 144 hours, for the cities that allow it)?
The same as above: you’ll have to apply for a visa at the Exit-Entry Administration Department of the Municipal Public Security Bureau (PSB) of the city you’re in.
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[Photo Credits (Creative Commons License): www.flickr.com/photos/majax1/]