144 Hours (or 72 Hours) China Visa Free Travel Permit – The Complete Guide

How to transit China for 72 (or 144) hours without a visa Pudong International Airport, Shanghai

important noticeStarting January 8, 2023, China has resumed its visa-free policy, allowing eligible individuals to travel without a visa. A negative PCR test taken within 48 hours before departure is required, but no quarantine is necessary upon arrival.

If you have a layover in one of the Chinese airports while traveling in Asia, you may be eligible for a visa-free visit to China for up to 3 or 6 days, depending on your arrival city (see details below).

The Chinese government has released a tool that allows you to check if you qualify for the exemption by entering your nationality and city of entry.

However, please note that we cannot guarantee you will receive an exemption, as it is ultimately up to your transportation company to evaluate your eligibility and allow you to get off the transportation without a visa.

For more information on China’s entry requirements, you can refer to our guide on the Chinese visa application.

If you need a hotel for a couple of nights, we suggest checking out our guide on how to book a hotel in China.

In which Chinese cities and provinces can I get a visa exemption for a maximum of 144 hours?

1. Shanghai, Jiangsu Province, and Zhejiang Province

Transit without a visa is permitted for 144 hours only if you arrive in one of the following cities:

  • Shanghai: Shanghai Pudong Airport, Shanghai Hongqiao Airport, Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal, Wusong Passenger Transport Center and all railway stations;
  • Hangzhou: Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport;
  • Nanjing: Nanjing Lukou International Airport.

The list of entry points may change at any time. Thus, we always suggest you confirm this information before planning your trip.

The visa exemption policy allows international travelers to move around Shanghai Municipality, Zhejiang, and Jiangsu Provinces – no matter the city where they arrived.

Moreover, from what we know, it isn’t necessary to enter and depart from the same port. For example, you could enter China at the Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal, and leave the country via the international airport in Hangzhou. The important thing is to not leave the region of Shanghai and the provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangsu.

Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province

Since the end of 2017, transit without a visa is permitted for 144 hours also if you arrive in one of the following cities:

  • Beijing: Beijing Capital International Airport, Beijing West Railway Station;
  • Tianjin: Binhai International Airport, Tianjin International Cruise Home Port;
  • Shijiazhuang (in Hebei): Zhengding International Airport;
  • Qinghuangdao (in Hebei): Qinhuangdao Port.

Also, in this case, the list of entry points may change at any time. Thus, we always suggest you confirm this information before planning your trip.

The visa exemption allows international travelers to move around Beijing Municipality, Tianjin Municipality, and Hebei Province – no matter the city where they arrived.

In addition, as far as we know, you don’t have to enter and exit from the same port. For example, you could enter China via the Beijing West Railway Station, and leave the country from the international airport in Tianjin. The important thing is that you don’t leave the region of Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei Province.

Liaoning Province

Since January 1, 2018, a transit visa for a maximum of 144 hours is permitted even if you arrive at one of the following cities:

  • Dalian: Taoxian International Airport;
  • Shenyang: Zhoushuizi International Airport Shenyang.

International travelers who arrive in China through one of the two airports listed above can freely move around Liaoning Province, and then leave China through one of these two airports (you don’t have to arrive and depart from the same airport so long as you only use these two).

To conclude, even in this case the list of entry points could change at any time. So we always suggest that you verify the most recent information you read here on our site.

Other cities

The following cities also allow free visa transit for a maximum of 144 hours:

  • Chengdu (Chengdu Shuang Liu International Airport);
  • Kunming (Kunming Changshui International Airport);
  • Qingdao (Qingdao Liuting International Airport and seaport);
  • Wuhan (Wuhan Tianhe International Airport);
  • Xiamen (Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport and sea port).

Note that if you arrive in Kunming, Wuhan, or Xiamen, you can’t leave the city you’ve stopped in. Instead, if you land in Qingdao or Chengdu, then you can’t leave their respective provinces (which are, in order, Shandong and Sichuan).

Therefore, if for example you stopover in Kunming, you cannot go beyond Kunming municipality limits, while if, for example, you stopover in Qingdao, you cannot beyond Shandong Province limits.

In which Chinese cities can I get a visa exemption for a maximum 72 hours?

Beside the cities and Provinces that 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:

  • Changsha (Changsha Huanghua International Airport);
  • Chongqing (Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport);
  • Guangzhou (Guangzhou Baiyu International Airport);
  • Guilin (Guilin Liangjiang International Airport);
  • Harbin (Harbin Taiping International Airport);
  • Xi’an (Xi’an Xianyang International Airport).

Note that in cities that allow transit without a visa for a maximum of 72 hours, travelers can only arrive at and depart from the country by air; they also can’t leave the city where they landed (or the province they landed in depending on the arrival city).

Remember that if you land in Chongqing, Guilin, or Harbin, you can’t leave the city you’ve stopped in. If you land in Xi’an, you can only stay in Xi’an or go to Xinyang. Lastly, if instead, you land in Changsha or Guangzhou, then you can’t leave their respective provinces (which are, in order, Hunan and Guangdong).

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?

Here are the required documents:

  1. Passport valid for at least three months from the date of arrival
  2. Visa for your destination country (if required)
  3. An air ticket – with a departure time within 72 hours (or 144 hours depending on the city), – for the country you’re going to (if you don’t already have your boarding pass, I suggest that you at least print the email confirmation you received from your airline;
  4. Yellow entrance/exit card (which you’ll be given on the plane or which you can find in the airport once you land).
  5. A negative PCR test taken within 48 hours before departure

Note that the countries of origin and destination cannot be the same. For this reason a ticket Los Angeles-Shanghai-Houston won’t allow you an exemption; you’ll need a ticket such as Los Angeles-Beijing-Tokyo or Los Angeles-Shanghai-Seoul. The final (or initial) destination can also be Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan.

From when do we start counting the 72 hours (or 144 hours)?

From the most recent information we’ve read (though we ask you to confirm this detail), the countdown of the 72 hours (or 144 hours) starts exactly at midnight of the day following the passenger’s arrival (I think you can trust the date on the stamp you receive at the border when arriving by plane – see the photo in this article).

So if, for example, you arrive on September 1st at 6 in the morning, you’ll have to start counting hours the following midnight. This means that if you have a 72-hour exemption, you can stay up until 23:59 on September 4th, while if you have a 144-hour exemption, you could stay until 23:59 on September 7th.

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:

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.

How do I request the visa exemption?

If you have everything required listed in this article, the procedure is rather simple:

  1. Contact the airline you intend to travel with so that they can advise the immigration inspection office;
  2. Fill out the yellow entrance/exit card (this is normally given to you on the plane, but if not you can find it in the international section of the airport as soon as you land
  3. Request exemption at the immigration counter (in many airports there are special lines for those requesting exemptions; if you see a sign with the writing “72 hours” or “144 hours” go to the indicated counter;
  4. Once through the immigration counter (they’ll attach a sticker on a page of your passport and stamp it with the entry date) get your bags and leave the airport as you normally would.

In the event that I land, for example, in Changsha, and requested an exemption, can I leave China in one of the other airports that allows exemptions (Chengdu, for example)?

No, not only do you have to leave from the airport in Changsha, but you can’t even leave the jurisdiction of Changsha!

Not even “stopovers” are allowed. For example, if your air itinerary is like this: Rome -> Changsha (72-hour stop) -> Xi’an (a half-hour stop without even getting off the plane) -> Hong Kong, then you can’t request an exemption because your itinerary includes two Chinese cities.

Obviously, there are exceptions in provinces where you can travel freely for 72 or 144 hours. For example, if your flight arrives in Shanghai, connects in Hangzhou (which is located within the same 144-hour region of Shanghai, which is the important thing), and you then leave China before the 144 hours expire, there’s no problem.

What is the 24 hour exemption?

The 24 hour visa exemption allows for transit through a Chinese city for a maximum of 24 hours (so long as the plane makes only one stop in China, and the departure and arrival countries are different, such as Canada -> China -> Australia for example).

These exemptions can be applied for in almost all Chinese airports by people of almost all nationalities, even if there are exceptions regarding smaller airports and certain nationalities (especially Asian countries considered “high risk” such as Syria, Iraq, etcetera).

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 probably need a 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.

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 Changsha 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.

Photo Credits: Creative Commons License Shanghai Airport by majaX1

228 thoughts on “144 Hours (or 72 Hours) China Visa Free Travel Permit – The Complete Guide”

  1. Hi. Thank you for your information.
    Is HKG and TPE considered as 3rd country? I am not sure as they are considered as SAR.
    So our travel plans are: PRG – PVG (stay 4 days) and continue to HKG/TPE, stay 2 nights and fly HKG/TPE – PEK (stay 3 days) and continue to ZRH. Will this work?
    Thanks a lot for your support!

  2. Gareth Gaukroger

    I’m slightly confused, I believe by reading this I should be ok.

    April 6th my family and I fly into Beijing for a connecting flight which leaves roughly an hour after I land. However on my return on the 15th we stopover in Chengdu for a night. This is covered with the 144 hours, would we just fill in the yellow form as normal and be ok?

    This being said it all depends as well if we are even allowed to fly out due to Covid 19!

    1. It should be OK if you only stop in Chengdu. Also, notice that the situation in China is starting to go back to normal (except in Hubei) and the restrictions might be in the opposite way (depending on your origin).

  3. Hi,

    I’m planning to travel from Toronto Canada > Argentina > Singapore > Shanghai > Toronto in January. Is this route qualify for the 144 hours visa free transit?
    And I’m thinking of arriving to Shanghai from Singapore on Jan 28 (stay 5 or 6 days) and leave on Feb 2 to Toronto.
    Since I have to have confirmed plane ticket to the third destination, what should I do if I get denied even if I have the prequalified online application?

    1. If you read the article you can probably understand if it qualifies or not; you shall also contact your flight company to confirm

      If you get denied you will have to get a flight out of the country.

  4. Hi,

    I am very confused on China’ s 72 hours vs 144 hours policy for transit without a Visa.
    I am British passport holder and my itinerary is as below.
    21st Dec from London to Shanghai (transit through Moscow) reaching 22nd Dec night.
    Leaving Shanghai on 25th Dec morning to Sydney (change planes in Xiamen).

    Do i qualify for a 72hrs or 144 hrs visa?


  5. I am Pakistan citizen travelling from Sydney to Islamabad via 11 hour transit at Beijing and we are planning to use the hotels outside the airport for rest and then continue our journey.

    Pakistan is not an eligible country for visa free entry for 144 hours, but are we eligible for transit without visa for 10 hours?


    1. We are not sure about the specific regulation for Pakistan citizens, you should ask directly to the Chinese embassy in your country or in Australia.

  6. I am a US Citizen and we were planning to fly from the US to Hong Kong and stay there for three days and then fly from Hong Kong on a separate flight to Shanghai and stay for three days and then fly home to the US. So even though we are starting in the US, I was told that Hong Kong would be the point A and Shanghai would be point B and the US would be point C since I would be flying into Shanghai from one country and out to another country. But when I called the consulate they said this wouldn’t qualify? Is there a reason behind it? Do I need to fly US to Shanghai to Hong Kong to US to qualify because from what I read point A or C could both be Hong Kong as long as Shanghai was point B.

        1. Thank you for the information, during the last 3 years many local PSB websites have changed (a lot of them removing the English version).
          We got oficial confirmation that the visa exception has been resumed, but we are unsure if there are small changes in some cities’ rules.

  7. Thank you so much for this article. I am a US citizen traveling from US to Beijing and applying for a tourist visa. If the Chinese visa consulate rejects my application, would I still be eligible for the 144hr TWOV (given that I add Hong Kong to my trip)?

    1. You are eligible if you meet the requirements specified in this article. Yes, in this case Hong Kong is considered like a “3rd country”

  8. Hi,
    when you say that if someone stops in Kunming he cannot go beyond the limits os the Kunming municipality, how can you understand where these limits are? Even more specifically, is the Stone Forest within municipality limit? Thank you in advance for your reply.

    1. Yes the stone forest seems to be within the limits. However, please verify by yourself. You can use google maps to see where Kunming municipality ends

  9. Hi!

    I am citizen of Russia and I hold an X2 visa in China with 2 entries to china (one is used already). I want to fly Beijing-Kuala Lumpur-Beijing-Moscow but in beijing I want to use 144 rule insted of my 2nd entry. I do this because I don’t want to waste that entry just for 6 days. Is that possible? Or will they require to use the chinese visa and the entry?

    Also I am arriving on 9th but my flight to Moscow is at 6AM on the 17th. Will they let me stay a little longer? I can arrive at the airport before 16th 23:59.

    Thank you in advance, the article was very useful

    1. Hi there,

      I have no idea if you can “save” your second entry, as this is a very special case, and I have no experience with it.

  10. Trying to be extra careful and the Chinese consulate is not answering calls.
    We hold USA passports (American citizens). We are traveling San Francisco, California, USA to Tokyo, Japan and staying in Tokyo for a week. Then we are traveling Tokyo, Japan to Shanghai Pudong and staying for less than 144 hours. Then we travel from Pudong to San Francisco, California.
    We follow all the timing rules and zone rules (144 hours, staying in Pudong/Shanghai area hotels). However, do we follow the “3 country” rule? Do we qualify for the free transit visa? Leaving mid-June. Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi there,

      the answer is “yes and not”. Yes if you just look at half of your itinerary, and no if you look at overall. I suggest to contact your airline, more than the Chinese consular office

  11. Hello!
    I have a flight from Sidney to París with 4 days layover in Bejing. I read about this visa free transit for 144hours. I read many blogs and websites, all of them mention the 53 countries elegibles for this visa but is not consider Peru in the list (my nationality).
    Your blog is the only one which post this tool app from the government, where I checked that as Peruvian I can get this visa.
    My question is, where can I confirm Peruvian has this visa? I don’t want to take the risk to be stopped on the airport. That link is up dated and trustworthy?

    I called to the consulate in my country without answer :(
    Thank you

    1. Hello Claudia,

      although the tool is published on a chinese gov website, I wouldn’t trust it 100% as there might be errors. I never heard about Peru. You could also try to call the Peru Consular Office in China, to see if they know more.

      I definitely suggest you to double check, before you venture into China without a Visa, as Peru is not mentionned on the list of countries, as far as I know

  12. If I have a 15 hour layover in Shanghai, does it make sense to apply for a 144 hour visa or is there a different process that I should take?

  13. My husband & I flying from Australia to Singapore then cruising to Shanghai. Our last port is Hong Kong before we disembark in Shanghai & fly out same day to Bangkok. We transit in Kong Kong for 3 hours of the way to Bangkok. Shanghai-Hong Kong-Bangkok. Can we use the 144 hour visa exemption.

    1. Hello Coral,

      if you do Australia -> Singapore -> Shanghai -> Hong Kong -> Bangkok, in principle it shall work.

      However, you are arriving by boat. So you must be absolutely sure that you can apply for the exemption on the exact port where you arrive (as not all entry points in Shanghai might qualify for the exemption). In the article, you find a link to a chinese gov website that shall provide more advice on the entry points.

  14. Hi, do you have any idea is it possible to have the 144h transit visa if you’re going to departure via train to Hong Kong not by plane.

    1. It really depends: some cities offer the exemption from SPECIFIC train stations, so it must be evaluate case by case

    2. It depends on not only the train station but the actual train. Beijing overnight train from West station to HK qualifies but the new high speed train from the same station does not.

  15. Rhodora Delapena

    Hi there, I read in your article that one of the documents required for a visa exemption is a passport with at least 3 months validity. So does this mean that the Chinese Immigration no longer enforce the 6 month rule of passport validity to enter China? The reason I’m asking is because I will be transiting through China for 5 hours then fly onward to Canada with confirmed onward ticket with date and seat but my Canadian passport is only valid for 5 months from the time I enter China. Is this no longer a problem then? Please help. It will be greatly appreciated.Thanks so much.

    1. Hi there, as far as we know, 3 months shall be enough for the exemption (note, this is not a visa). However, as we disclaim in the article, we are not a “entry/exit authority” and regulations may change at any time.

      Thus, we always advice to get an opinion from a Chinese consular office / your flight company.

  16. Hi,

    Traveling from DTW-PEK 09APR stopping to see the great wall. Leaving PEK-PVG 11APR, then PVG-CMB(Sri lanka). Would i qualify for the exemption?


    1. Hello Sarah,

      I’m sorry but I have no idea what “DTW” is. Also, please have a look at the article, it’s pretty clear, so you shall be able to understand if you qualify or not

    2. Not you don’t qualify you have too many landings in China.. writer of this article is not very familiar with the process or the airporrs of the world so this is not a good place to ask specifics

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