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. Thanks, The actual wording of the rules from a Beijing Gov’t site I have found, is that you may enter and exit through any of the 6 allowed entry points listed and must have onward air, vessel or train tickets to a third country.It does not say the entry and exit has to be the same which was the case with the 72 Hour visa (you had to arrive and leave by air from Beijing Airport)
    I’ll try and get clarification from Beijing Immigration at the Airport as to their interpretation,

    1. Hi Rob,

      Have you got a clarification from Beijing Immigration at the Airport as to their interpretation?
      We are party of 2 flying from Sydney, Australia to Shanghai, staying 3 nights from 21 August 2018 to 24 August 2018. Check out of hotel the 24th August.

      Then go to Wusongkou International cruise terminal for cruise back to Sydney. The first port after leaving Shanghai will be Pusan (South Korea), following to ports at Vietnam, Hong Kong, Singapore before coming back to Sydney. Can we apply for 144 hour visa in Shanghai or shall we apply for Chinese visa in Sydney before we leave?

      Best regards


      1. Hi Oleg
        I emailed Shanghai/Beijing Immigration but have had no reply. I see no problem with your situation, as with mine. The old 72 hr visa exemption clearly states you must arrive and exit by air. The new 144 hr visa exemption allows entry or exit through any of the authorised airports, train stations or cruise ports.
        Other Travel sites I have contacted have confirmed this is the case.

  2. Hi
    I realize there are no guarantees but would like your advice as to whether you see any problems with my trip qualifying for the Beijing 144 Hour transit visa.
    I am an Australian citizen. Arriving at Beijing Capital Airport via overnight transit in Singapore.
    I will be sightseeing within the Beijing area for 3 nights and then leaving on a cruise out of Tianjin back to Singapore. The first country on the cruise is Japan. I understand it is only the last country before arriving and the first after leaving, that is considered by Immigration when granting the 144 hr Transit Visa. Therefore Singapore – Beijing – Japan should quality? Under the new 144 Hour rules, it also seems acceptable to arrive and depart from a different location (within the Beijing/Tianjin Province)? In my case, arrive Beijing Airport
    and depart Tianjin International Cruise Terminal.


    1. Your trip has two aspects that may cause some problems:

      1) You enter and exit in different port/airport
      2) Arriving by plane and leaving by cruise: I’m not sure is possible.

      Anyway you should try to confirm with your airline, cruise company or the Beijing local authorities. If you decide to try luck be sure to have the plane and cruise ticket and the hotel booking of your stay in Beijing/Tianjin

  3. Hi, I wondered if we might qualify for the 144 hour transit visa. We fly into Beijing, stay for 3 nights and then leave by cruise ship from Tianjin to Japan. I can’t get a clear answer!

    Your advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks

  4. Hi Sborto
    Thank you for your reply.
    I was hoping because we were leaving Shanghai by cruise to Japan for seven days and then re entering China we might be lucky enough.
    Thank you

  5. Hi I was wondering if you could help as I am not sure if we will qualify for a free transit visa in China.
    We are flying
    London – Hong Kong staying for a two days
    Hong Kong – Shanghai staying for two days
    Hong Kong cruise terminal cruise to Japan for seven nights
    Hong Kong cruise terminal / Shanghai airport / Hong Kong / London

    Thank you

    1. I think you don’t qualify because the origin and destination are the same, HK. Anyway you should confirm it with the airline

  6. Inga Bettin Waldmann

    Hi, I am a German citizen and have to go to an urgent meeting in Zhanjiang. Can I get a 72 hour transit visa if I have the following itinerary:

    Bergen – Amsterdam – Guangzhou (her I get the 72 visa) – Zhanjiang

    Zhanjiang – Guangzhou – HK – Amsterdam – Bergen

    I saw on one website that you can leave the airport you get the visa as long it is within the same district (Guangdong), but not sure if you can actually continue on a domestic flight… I assume it is ok if I buy this as a separate ticket.

  7. Hello, I am wondering if I am eligible for the 144 hour visa free transit to Beijing.

    I have a US passport and my itinerary is as follows:

    All one way tickets –
    Portland, OR to Tokyo Japan
    Tokyo, Japan to Bangkok, Thailand
    Phuket, Thailand to Bali, Indonesia
    Bali, Indonesia to Beijing, China
    Beijing, China to Portland, OR

    Does this qualify?

    1. Hello Shay,

      In theory, I would say yes, because you Indonesia -> China -> US

      In practice, always confirm it with your flight company as they are the ones that decide if you let you in the plane or not!

  8. Hello Furio Fu!

    I am back with another question.
    A bit tricky one, but actually real!

    I am now traveling from KL to Beijing.
    The SCHEDULED arrival time is 00:20 on 03/04/18 (Malaysia airline)
    The 144h exemption starts at 0:00 on the 04/04/18, correct ? Then 6 days bring me to the 09/04/18, day I plan to leave.

    My question is : when do they actually consider you “arrive”?

    Is it base on the SCHEDULED arrival time? Or the ACTUAL real time you landing? Or when you cross the customs?

    Because my flight is a 6h flight by night, and is scheduled to land after midnight, but night flights often happen to arrive before their schedule time… what will happen if I land at 23:50 the day before…

    Sorry for this question twisted but it concerns me a lot…

    1. If I remember well they start to count from the 00:00 hours of the day after, but it’s better you confirm this info

  9. Thank you for your reply.

    That is what I fear too that immigration will class it as returning Hong Kong flight, even though I did not clear Hong Kong Customs.

  10. Sorry if i missed comments on this already but i just wanted to confirm that the 72hr Visa Free policy does not apply if we enter Beijing via air but depart Beijing via international train. We would be in Beijing less than 72hrs but it seems the waiver only applies if we were to depart by air correct? Thank you in advance as i’ve spent hours trying to research this online and think I have found my answer but have also seen some contradictory information. One person did suggest purchasing a fully refundable airline ticket for leaving the country but then still departing via the train as planned. That makes me nervous……

    1. Hello Naomi, I’m sorry but I’m not sure if the exemption applies, when departing by train, as I never did that myself

  11. Hi

    We are flying UK to Beijing via Hong Kong (2hr transit in Hong Kong) with Cathay Pacific, and will not go through immigration.

    Then we will fly Beijing to Hong Kong and staying in Hong Kong for 1 week before returning to UK.

    So for all intents the journey is:
    UK – Beijing via Hong Kong (Just transit)
    Beijing to Hong Kong
    Hong Kong to UK

    I am confused if China Immigration will class our journey into China as originating from UK or Hong Kong?

    1. Personally, I don’t think you can get the 144 hours exemptions because both your inbound and outbound flights are from Hong Kong. However, I’d suggest you to discuss this with your airline

  12. Hello Furio Fu.

    Your article is gold for people looking for Info.

    I was planning a KL- PEK – (KL transit 2h, without going through custom) – DPS (Indonesia).

    But apparently I may be denied the VISA exemption due to back and forth in KL.

    So I’ll do KL-PEK-HKG.

    I don’t want to be disrespectful of your help but do you have the link to an official Chinese website or an embassy about this 144h visa rule? I can’t find any on the french government website.

    Sorry to bother and thanks a lot.

    1. Hi there,

      yes, going back to Kuala Lumpur wouldn’t allow you to get the exemption, that’s correct.

      I don’t remember the link of the official law, just look on google. No disrespect at all, in fact this is exactly what we recommend: our article may help, but it’s always good to verify by yourself, also because the laws may change any time!

  13. Ciao Furio,
    ho una domanda.
    Io volo a Shanghai da Tokyo per 3 giorni, poi Shanghai – Beijing per altri 3 giorni. In totale sono meno di 144 ore, devo applcare per la visa?


    1. L’esenzione, da quello che sappiamo, vale solo se lo scalo in Cina è unico. Visto che andate sia a Pechino che Shanghai, direi di sì. Nota che noi non possiamo confermare se vi serve un visto, dovreste chiedere al consolato e/o alla vostra compagnia aerea.

  14. Hello,

    Thanks for the information.
    I will have a flight from Katmandu to Beijing with a 3h stopover in Guangzhou (without leaving the airport) and then leave from Beijing to Paris a few days days later.
    Does the stopover affect the possibility to be applicable for the 72 or 144 hours visa free transit?

    Thanks again.

    1. Hello Louis,

      I’m afraid that if you stop twice in China, you can’t apply for the exemption. I still suggest, as we always do, to contact your airlines and ask them for further information.

  15. Thanks for the info. One particular question: Would an itinerary like Boston – HKG – Beijing – Boston qualify for the the 144 hr visa exemption if I stay in Bejing (arriving from Hpng Kong) for less than 6 days, holding a US passport?

    1. I guess it depends on how your flight is structured, as they may consider HK just as stopover. Honestly, your case is borderline and I don’t have an answer.

      As we always say: this is something you must confirm with your flight company

  16. Hello! Thank you so much for this post and the hard work you have put into it!
    Im still confused about the outgoing/inbound countries policy;

    Q1) my planned route is:
    Perth(AUS) – Guangzhou(CN) – Taipei(TWN) – Seoul(PRK) – Perth(AUS)
    Will I qualify for the 72h visa-free transit?

    Q2) i’ve heard they are extending the 72h transit to 144h for the guangdong province (baiyun airport). have you heard any news on that?

    Thanks again!

    1. Hello Crystal,

      in theory you qualify, in practice you must confirm with your airline…

      As for Guangdong province, we heard of the extension to 144 hours, but we couldn’t find any official news yet

  17. Curious to know how much time one should allow when going back to the airport for your continuing flight. We will be staying at the Hilton next door to Beijing airport. Flight is at 8:30in the morning. What time should we plan to leave the hotel?

  18. Hi,

    Thinking about arranging a 3 or 4 days stop at Beijing on the way back from Japan.

    Plan is to have a AEROFLOT Paris to Tokyo and then a Beijing to Paris for the way back.

    Then, after staying in Japan, if I fly a china eastern tokyo to beijing, do you think I can spend 3 or 4 days in beijing before flying aeroflot to moscow?

    I do not find clear information about that and if the visa free is granted only with one ticket or can be a combination of two different flight…

    Thanks for advice

  19. Arrival in Tianjin by Royal Caribbean cruise ship from Singapore in April 2018. US Passport holder with flight from US to Singapore and return from Beijing to US. Any update as to whether this will now qualify for the 144 hour transit Visa? Plan on 4 nights in Beijing. I know the Cruise Line will check documents at boarding in Singapore but was wondering if you’ve heard if this is now available to Cruise passengers? If so, do you know where the 144 hour transit Visa office is at Tianjin port? Thank you.

    1. Hello Sue,

      you shall ask to your travel company / agency. We certainly cannot assure you that they will let you in with the visa exemption, we can only report the news we found, from sources that were trustworthy in the past (read the article for the details)

      1. Thanks for the reply. I’ve contacted the tour company and they say we’re eligible for the Tourist Visa. Now to get assurance from the cruise line that we can board without a regular Chinese Visa.

  20. Everyone seems so confused about this – good to know I’m not alone. I am flying Melbourne – Hong Kong. Overnight stopover in Hong Kong. Then next day I am taking a flight from HK to Shanghai. Then 5 days later, flying Shanghai to Melbourne. Is this ok – as long as I have stopped over in Hong Kong? Thanks for your help

    1. Probably you can’t ask for this exemption if all the flights are with the same company, because the origin and destination is the same country. Anyway you can ask to your airline to be sure.

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