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,
    I need some advise. I am taking a flight from
    LAX – SHANGHAI HONGQIAO but this has a 2.5 hr stop over in GUANGZHOU
    leaves from the same terminal with the same airline, obviously I won’t be leaving the airport at all.
    My flight leaves PVG to Australia (arrive in China 29th and Leave 5th)
    Am i still able to get the 144 transit visa for Shanghai province?

    I just want to make sure my entry to China is considered in Shanghai and not Guangzhou as I couldn’t get a direct flight from LA.

    1. I don’t think you can apply for the exemption, as you have 2 stops in china.

      However, as explained on the article, we aren’t an official source. You shall confirm this with your airline

  2. Hi There,

    Will I be eligible for the 144 hour transit exemption if I flying from

    Toronto – Hong Kong (July 23, with 2.25 hour layover in Shanghai)
    Hong Kong – Shanghai (August 3-August 6)
    Shanghai – Toronto


    1. I don’t know, because:

      a.) you go into China twice and
      b.) Your trip starts and ends in Toronto

      You shall ask to your flight company, in the end they will be the ones deciding if you can board your plane without a visa or not

  3. If I fly from Tokyo to Shanghai, and then stay there for two days, am I allowed to use the transit-visa if my flight home routes via PEK?

    My flight path would be:
    NRT-PVG (stay less than 144 hours and don’t leave the city)
    PVG-PEK-JFK (don’t leave the airport in PEK)

    Is this allowed????

      1. I don’t know what are “PIT” and “YUL”, but if it’s either in China or in the same country, I don’t think the flight would qualify for the exemption

          1. If it’s Canada -> Shanghai -> Canada, I don’t think you qualify for the exemption. However, we suggest to contact your flight company to get a confirmation

  4. Hi! I have a US passport, and am headed to Thailand next week. On the way back to the US from Phuket, my friend and I have a 12 hour layover in Shanghai. Do we need a visa for this trip?


    1. Hi,

      if you have a flight Thailand -> Shanghai -> US you might be able to get the exemption. Read the details in the article and see if your case applies.

  5. Hello,

    Is the 144 hour rule only for stop overs? I want to fly round trip between Seoul, South Korea and Beijing. My trip will be less than 144 hours. Do I need a visa?

    My mother will be joining me. She will fly from Seoul to Beijing and then back to the United States. Will she need a visa?

    Thank you!

    1. Hello Emily,

      I don’t understand your question. The exemption is valid for a maximum of 144 hours, as long as you can comply with the rules that allow the exemption

  6. Hi

    I’m in this situation that we have bought non-refundable tickets Denmark – Shanghai – Denmark. In this situation the visa exemption does not apply – that I know. Therefore we are planning to buy new tickets from Shanghai to Hongkong and from Hongkong to Denmark. We still have the return ticket from Shanghai to Denmark because we cannot cancel it without cancelling our outbound ticket (which we are planning on using).

    So my question is do you think the airplane company won’t allow us to board the plane without a visa – because we have the return ticket (which we are not going to use), even though we bought new separate tickets for Hong Kong? I originally thought the problem would occur when we land in Shanghai (but then we would just cancel the return ticket when we had used the outbound ticket) not on our way over there? Where would you say your problem lies? And what would you say is the likelihood that we won’t be allowed to enter the country?

    Thanks in advance?

    1. Hello Mia,

      I’m sorry but what I think here is not very important, as it’s the air company in Denmark that will decide if you can board the plane or not. I advice you to call them and ask (call, not email). Also, make sure to PRINT your flight tickets Shanghai-Hong Kong, and show them at the checkin. This is the best you can do but, as I said, the air company will decide if you can board the plane or not.

  7. Hi..informative article! I will be flying from Bangkok to Beijing with a 2 hour stopover in HK, I will then be leaving Beijing onto London again via a HK stopover of a couple of hours only. Will the visa apply? Thanks

    1. Hello Ray,

      in your case I don’t know. It’s borderline because they may consider Hong Kong -> Beijing -> Hong Kong, in which case the exemption won’t apply. I suggest you to get in touch with your travel agency / flight company

  8. This is great news! Thank you for providing this. I am a US citizen and will be traveling to several countries with my family this summer. During the last leg of our trip, we will be flying to Beijing from Bangkok, Thailand. We plan to spend 2 and 1/2 days in Beijing, then fly home to the United States. Does the exemption apply in our case because we will be arriving to China from Thailand? Please let me know if you know the answer. Thanks!

    1. Hello Ryan,

      if your itinerary is Bangkok -> Beijing -> United States, it shall apply. However, we always suggest to confirm this with your aircompany

  9. Hi thanks for the helpful information.
    I’m Malaysian which will need to transit in China Shang Hai for 16 hours.( Malaysia > China ShangHai > New Zealand ) I’m planning to go out of the airport boundaries and travel around shanghai among that 16 hours, should I apply for visa?

  10. How many times can you use this exemption? For instance, My daughter and I flew into Shanghai in October 2017 for less then 24 hours.

    My family and I plan on flying from Okinawa Japan to Beijing for 48 hours and then Beijing to Hong Kong for 48 hours to back to Okinawa Japan.

    Are you only allowed to use the exemption once in a life time?

    1. Hello Raeven,

      honestly I don’t know how many times you can use the exemption, it’s something we shall research and add to the article ASAP!

  11. I have been searching everywhere but not really able to find what I am looking for. I actually have a round trip from Montreal, Canada to Beijing, China, but I have a third and fourth country I am seeing. So my trip will be the following:
    Montreal to Beijing (staying in Beijing for 3 days)
    Beijing to Taipei (staying in Taipei for 3 days)
    Taipei to Tokyo (staying in Tokyo for 3 days)
    Tokyo to Beijing (probably stay 1 more night in Beijing) to catch flight home to Montreal.

    So A will be Montreal, B will be Beijing (apply for 144 hour visa, or maybe even 72 hour visa if that is all that is required) and C will be Taipei, the only thing is that I am coming back to Beijing after traveling Japan and Taiwan and staying in Beijing for another night, will it be problematic to apply for another 24 or 72 hour visa on top of the 144 or 72 hour visa within less than 2 weeks? In addition, I know round trips aren’t valid, so Montreal-Beijing-Montreal (I already booked this and it is on the same reservation code) would not be okay, but I am leaving to other countries, so technically, it would be like Montreal-Beijing-Taipei-Tokyo-Beijing-Montreal. How would this work? Would this be okay or not?

    1. Hello Laura,

      I’m sorry but I can’t tell you more than what is written in the article. I never heard of somebody using the exemption twice within 2 weeks, so I don’t know if it’s possible or not.

  12. Hi,
    I have a simple itinerary and just need confirmation if this will qualify for the 144 TWOV policy. LAX – Beijing (nonstop flight, will stay 5 days) – Manila, Philippines (nonstop flight, will stay 5 days) – Beijing (2 hour layover) – LAX. Will call China Air when they open but for now, need confirmation from someone with TWOV experience. I have emailed the Chinese consulate but they just sent me TWOV information on their website. Thank you!

    1. Hi there,

      we can’t provide “confirmations” as we aren’t an official organism. We can only tell you to check the information, judge for yourself, and contact your flight company

  13. We’re flying from USA into Shanghai airport and planning on staying for 3 nights before boarding a cruise ship for many nights. It ends in Singapore where we stay more nights before flying home to the USA. From what I read we qualify for the 144 Visa free entry. Sounds right to you? Thanks!

  14. I am looking at using the 144 hour visa to go to Beijing from London and return to Paris.
    Does anyone know if it’s an issue for the layover stop on the return flight to be London?!
    So I would travel London to Beijing direct, then Beijing-London-Paris on the return leg.

    1. I think it may be a problem, even though I have no personal experience with this. I strongly suggest you to CONFIRM this with your flight company, as you risk to be denied to fly, if the flight company deems that you don’t apply for visa exemption

    2. HI Chloe, what was the outcome of this situation? Were you ok to travel under the 144hr transit visa? I have a similar query and can’t find anything official on the internet/with the embassy. Thanks!

  15. please tell me if i need a visa – or if passport is enough

    houston USA direct flight = beijing 3 days
    flight beijing – hong kong stay 3 days –
    hong kong direct flight to houston USA

    1. Hi Karen,

      we can’t tell you if you “need a visa”. The best we can do is present to you the information we have (see article, you shall be able to find the answer by yourself, once you read it).

      Also, we always suggest to contact your flight company and confirm with them

  16. Greetings! I’m a US passport holder living/working in Japan. I will be taking a one way cruise to Shanghai from Yokohama port. My plan is to stay in Shanghai upon arrival for 64 hrs to be exact (nov 11 thru 14) before I catch a flight to Manila (have a ticket with seat assignment already). Based on this, I should qualify for the 144 hrs transit visa correct?

    1. Hello Rolando,

      based on what you say, it could qualify. However, we always recommend to confirm with the cruise/flight company as, ultimately, they will be the one evaluating your case and deciding if letting you in without a visa (which they will only do if they think you qualify for the exemption).

  17. Hello and thank you for the helpful information. We are travelling:

    US to Japan for 5 days, then Japan to China (Shanghai) for 4 days, then flying to Osaka (2-hr. stopover) where we change planes back to the U.S.

    Is this considered Japan>China>U.S.?

    Appreciate the clarification.

  18. Hello.
    I am Canadian passport holder who will be cruising from Tokyo to Dubai for 30 days.
    One of our destinations is Shanghai where we will stay for 35 hours (2 calendar days). Port before Shanghai will be Tokyo, next port after Shanghai will be Okinawa.
    I was wondering if I am eligible for the 72 hours exemption visa?
    If yes, does it means I don’t need to apply for any official document before exit from the cruiseship?
    Thank you very much in advance for help.

  19. Your article mentions that “in some
    cities, passengers can apply directly for the free transit policy (144 hours) after arrival at the airport.” Is Shanghai one of these cities? If you don’t know, where can I find out?

  20. Hello,

    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. We are not sure if you can get the exemption arriving by plane and departing by cruise. Try to contact the embassy or the cruise company

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get 3 Months FREE with EXPRESS VPN

+ Best VPN For China
+ 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
+ 24/7 Live China Customer Support
+ 3 Months Free on 12 Months Package

Scroll to Top