China 72 Hour Transit Without Visa Tips

I hate travel visas, and actively go out of my way to avoid travel to countries that require you get them in advance without an option to do so electronically. I respect the need for them (theoretically), but with how much I travel it’s tough for me to send in my passport to a visa service and be without it for 1-2 weeks. The application process isn’t fun either.

One of the cool things that China allows is a 72-hour transit without visa. And I’m actually taking advantage of that right now, as I’m in Beijing for just under 48 hours.

Beijing-Airport
Beijing Airport

China 72 hour transit without visa basics

To qualify, you must be traveling on 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.

You must be transiting one of the following airports (meaning you’re arriving and departing from the same airport):

Beijing Capital International Airport, Shanghai Pudong Airport, Hongqiao Airport, Guangzhou Baiyun Airport, Chengdu Shuangliu Airport and Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport,Shenyang Taoxian Internatioanl Airport, Dalian International Airport, andXian Xianyang International Airport.

You must actually be in transit, meaning you must be connecting to a third country. This means that if you’re flying from Chicago to Beijing and then 48 hours later back to Chicago, that’s not transit, since you’re not continuing to a third country.

Ultimately you can be on an itinerary that eventually gets you back to the country of origin, it just can’t be the next airport you fly to. It also doesn’t have to be a logical connection, but rather just to a third country. So for example, I’m flying from Zurich to Beijing, and then from Beijing to Addis Ababa right now. That’s not exactly a “logical” connection, but still meets the requirement.

You can find the full requirements for a 72 hour transit without visa on travelchinaguide.com.

My experience with China 72 hour transit without visa

While you would hope the process would be simple, unfortunately it usually isn’t.

Let me give an example of our travel day yesterday. We were flying from Warsaw to Zurich to Beijing.

Upon check in at Warsaw we were asked where our visas were. When I explained we were doing a 72 hour transit without visa, the agent had never heard of it, so he walked over to the “visa desk” to verify. He came back and said we needed visas, so I asked if I could talk directly with the “visa desk.” He walked us over there, and it seems that the “visa desk” was simply wherever his supervisor was standing. The supervisor had heard of the 72 hour transit without visa, but was confused by our transit to Ethiopia. I showed him the rules, and after a few minutes he agreed and let us proceed.

My friend Andrew somehow misplaced his boarding pass between Warsaw and Zurich, so we had to go to the transfer desk in Zurich. There the agent again wanted to see the visa. We explained the process again, and after looking in the computer she said that transit without visa was limited to a 24 hour stay in China at most. I showed her the relevant documentation, she called a supervisor, and we were eventually sent on our way.

Then at the gate there was another visa check, and the guy couldn’t get over the fact that we were transiting China enroute from Switzerland to Ethiopia. He was more amused by it than anything.

Tips for dealing with China 72 hour transit without visa

So what tips do I have to avoid issues with your 72 hour transit without visa? Some of these might sound obvious, but I’ll share them anyway:

Arrive at the airport and gate early

While the 72 hour transit without visa is perfectly legitimate, that doesn’t mean the agents have actually ever heard of it. So allow a bit of extra time for them to look it up and potentially get a supervisor involved. Similarly, be sure you arrive at the gate for your flight to China a bit early, since there’s always a passport check there as well, whereby they stamp your boarding pass to indicate that you’re good to go.

Print out your itinerary

Usually I don’t print out my itinerary when traveling, but rather just have a copy of it on my laptop. To make everyone’s life a bit easier I’d suggest printing out a copy when you’re transiting China. You’ll be asked to show it at check-in, at the gate, and at immigration.

Stand your ground and stay calm

Just because something is allowed doesn’t mean that airline agents know about it. Don’t panic if you’re told they won’t fly you because you don’t have a visa. Stand your ground, stay calm, and you’ll be fine.

How do you really define “transit?”

One slightly tricky thing is that it’s called 72 hour transit without visa, which they only define as connecting to a third country. But practically speaking, are you really in transit in China if you’re flying from the US to China to Canada? Per the rules it’s permitted, but that doesn’t mean all agents will interpret it this way.

So in our case the agent was laughing and asked if going via China was really the most direct way to get to Ethiopia. I just laughed and said the ticket was cheap that way, which didn’t get much push back. So to avoid trouble I wouldn’t necessarily tell an agent “oh I really wanted to visit China but wanted to avoid getting a visa, which is why I booked it this way,” but rather just vaguely comment about how the ticket was cheaper that way, or how it worked best for your travel plans.

Arrival in China

Once you arrive in China, immigration really doesn’t care about transit without visa. So if you get on the plane you have nothing to worry about upon arrival. Do keep in mind, however, that typically you’re supposed to use a different lane at immigration if you’re doing a transit without visa. In the case of Beijing Airport, it was the Diplomatic Line, or “D P” line, as they call it. Sounded more intimidating than it was! 😉

Beijing-Airport-Immigration
Lane for what?!

While there were only a few people ahead of us in the queue, this seemed to be the lane for everyone with immigration issues, so it took a while for the agent to assist us.

Nonetheless once he did we were through in no time.

Bottom line

72 hour China transit without visa is an awesome thing, but don’t expect it to always go as smoothly as you’d like. Don’t worry, stand your ground, and you’ll be fine, though.

Guangzhou-Airport-Transit
Guangzhou Airport immigration signage

Comments

  1. Should 72-hour TWOV travelers use the D/P lane at all of the applicable airports or only at PEK? Anyone have CTU experience specifically?

  2. This was my observation as well…China didn’t really care as long as you had your printed itinerary and the routing was valid (country A -> China -> country B). And for this exercise, TPE and HKG does NOT count as China, so you can still qualify if arriving from or traveling onwards to HKG.

    But the problem came from the airport/check-in staff for your flight getting into China. For us, he was very skeptical, and this was at SFO. I’m glad I printed out content from random websites, but was lucky to find one person who would listen and help us. I wish the China Embassy website had something more official to print.

  3. Hey Ben,

    i was just wondering if this route to shanghai would be allowed.

    lax-pvg(72 hour)-hkg-lax

    thx in advance

  4. The Chinese above the Land for D/P only reads as the diplomatic passengers and passengers who require physical assistance line. Hope this helps!

  5. Yes, lax-pvg-hkg-lax is legit. I’ve done atl-icn-pvg-hkg-icn-atl. Hong Kong is a “3rd country” for immigration & border control purposes.

  6. The diplomatic details aren’t correct. I’ve done a 72 hour transit about 6 times now, and you can just use the normal line. In Shanghai they had a transit line but it’s always closed. Must’ve been a confused immigration official.

  7. I think it is worth mentioning that for the visa waiver you must be “transiting” from the same airport. You cannot fly into PEK from country “A”, then take a DOMESTIC flight from PEK to PVG, and then depart PVG to country “B”….(even if it is all within 72 hours).

  8. @enthusiast, to be politically correct, HK is actually considered a 3rd REGION instead of country…

  9. Thanks for the head up. I have a flight next month from CDG-PEK and then onwards to SFO. I am very much worried about French immigration. I hope it is not going to be a problem with the language barrier

  10. Have you heard anything about passengers being stuck at the airport because the visa desk was not open. Had to wait for the visa desk to open up in the am in order to process the 72hour no visa transit entry into china.

  11. Here are the three itinerary I have done through the PRC in the last year.

    ORD-NRT-PVG-HKG-PVG-NRT-ORD. PVG-HKG-PVG was a separate ticket.

    MKE-MSP-SEA-PEK-FNJ-PEK-DTW-ORD. PEK-FNJ-PEK was a separate ticket. Required a DPRK visa to transit.

    MSN-DTW-PEK-CAN-AKL. One way ticket as part of an around the world redemption. I was kind of surprised that this one worked. I think I had a 24hr transit visa of some type. The times were short enough that I didn’t leave the airport, but I had to change terminals to landside then back.

    There is usually a designated line, but it has been closed two out of three times for me. Any line worked. Always have your documentation!

  12. We are planning this:

    ICN-PEK
    Stay in Beijing 24 hours
    PEK-HKG-SFO separate booking from ICN-PEK

    So it sounds like this should be OK? thanks

  13. Which would be the most authentic web site to print all this information to show if there are any issues at the departing airport?

  14. Is arriving from Macao to Shanghai (SHA airport) and then Shanghai (PVG airport) to Tokyo qualify for Transit Visa (staying 48 hrs)?

  15. I booked that Eastern Europe/Asia mistake fare/fuel dump a month ago, and am flying from AMS-PEK on one paid ticket and PEK-TPE-LAX on an award ticket. Will this be an issue? I’ll be in the country for something like 60 hours, and will be en route from AMS-TPE, so it should theoretically work. But I’m on 2 tickets.

  16. Ben,

    A Lufthansa First Class question for you. This past march I flew from FRA —> JFK on LH 747-400. The lufthansa website gave the “green dot” indicating that it was the new first. As my luck would have it – it was the OLD first product- even though the site indicated it was to be the new product. SOOOOO disappointing after flying to MUC from EWR on the new first class. Anyway, I’m now looking to travel from JFK –> FRA next week and the site shows it will be operated by the new first class on a 747-400. Is there another way for me to check to see if it’s the new product????

    Thanks

    Adam

  17. Another data point: I did TWOV in Shanghai and Beijing and used normal line without any issues.

  18. Traveling Macao to Shanghai (SHA) but leaving Shanghai (PVG) to Tokyo (NRT) in less than 72 hrs. Is it OK for Transit Visa?

  19. I just did a TWOV in Beijing and Shanghai two weeks ago. Beijing had a dedicated 72-hour transit visa lane (on the most left side), and when I went through the normal channels, they asked me to use that lane.

    In Shanghai you can use normal lanes, but I was told there are two different visas: one is the 72 hour transit and another is a 24 hour transit. I was told that the 24 hour transit required less documentation, and that if you’re staying for under 24 hours to apply for that one.

  20. Have you found DP intimidating in the past? I always see people walking right past it with ease.

  21. I used it when I was too late to get a visa for Shanghai.. fortunately I was flying out from LHR via HKG..only stopped for a few hours, then on to PVG and back direct to LHR. Same issues as you – even the Cathay staff in HKG were bemused, but no issues at all at immigration. Very cool.

  22. I’m flying from Zurich to Beijing, and then from Beijing to Addis Ababa right now.

    Few cooler sentences have ever been written. Unless you can change your itinerary and go Addis Ababa to Casablaca. Then that would be cooler.

  23. my friend tried to use this 72 hour transist visa recently and it was a nightmare. the airlines will ask if you have a visa for china when you check-in. they have no clue about this new transit visa and it took them so long to verify this that he missed his flight. he caught another flight and again in BOS and LAX they had no clue again.

    i would highly recommend that you call your airline before departure and make sure they understand the policy, put a note in your record, add the connecting flight information into your record, and print as much information about the 72 hour visa for the ticketing agent when you check in. you can also ask the airline to notify the chinese airport that you are coming in a 72-hour visa.

    also, please note that this visa only allows you to stay in that city of transit. if you fly into shanghai and want to take the train to nanjin or fly domestically to another city, it is not allowed.

  24. No one had heard of the 72 visa when I flew from EWR on United in February either and they didn’t allow me to board until the very last minute when a telephone call finally came in to confirm it was legal. Further complicating things was this was a connecting flight to Pyongyang and although I had my DPRK visa printed out, no one at the Newark airport could read Korean and they were skeptical that it was legal to fly there also. I strongly suggest anyone doing this proactively go to the desk and clear everything ahead of time just in case the airline workers aren’t familiar with the rules.

  25. You do realize that you can get a second US passport? I had to do this in the past so that I could still travel while my primary passport was in the visa approval process for a future trip. it was a relatively simple process and I think that I had to pay a small expediting fee, but it was well worth it. A second passport is also necessary sometimes when visiting the Middle East – some of the Arab countries will not accept a passport if it has an existing entry stamp from Israel.

  26. I agree that I hate travel visa with a vengeance. As a top 10 most desired passport holder, I definitely count myself pretty fortunate to be able to travel to a lot of countries without a visa.

    Unfortunately the passport that I hold don’t qualify for US Visa Waiver Programme, I had to apply for one and it was definitely an experience. Fortunately, I was granted a travel visa for 10 years which is pretty good and hopefully the renewal process would be straightforward next time around.

    Again, I emphasize that I dislike travel visas very much.

  27. I took advantage of the transit visa last September when doing CTS-PEK-SIN without a problem. Really quick and easy, and the supervisor was only required when the immigration officer miswrote my date of arrival on the transit visa stamp.

  28. My experience has been that ground staff in Asia are much more familiar with the concept than in Europe. Flying out of both HKG and SIN, ground staff have not even batted an eyelid when I said I was on the 72 hour transit visa. In Europe, you typically have to walk them through the rules.

    On a couple of occasions in PEK, immigration have wanted to see the boarding pass for the flight I am coming in on as well as my itinerary showing my flight out of PEK.

  29. I just landed at Beijing (PEK) an hour ago and used the TWOV. There is a dedicated “72-hour transit visa (leaving airport” lane (on the far left side). Also there are HUGE arrows on the pathway leading up to Customs to direct the 72-hour visa people to this special lane. Fortunately you posted this today, just in time so we were super aware looking for a “DP” lane, when we saw the actual TWOV lane. Thanks for the timely post! It did help having a printed itinerary to prove the 72-hour transit…otherwise no problems at all.

    PS: The smog is absolutely horrendous in Beijing today.

  30. I was just there last week on a 23 hour overnight connection. Got to see the Great Wall and Tiananmen Square. Would have been really cool to have run into you. Charlie

  31. India is supposed to institute Visa on Arrival for most passports beginning in October 2014. Assuming they get it right, this will make travel there a lot easier.

  32. That counter for the transit without a visa in Beijing is the furthest one to the left of all counters in the immigration hall area. There is also a poster hanging on a tripod on the floor stating “Transit without Visa” but if you arrive and the area is packed like it was when I arrived, it is very hard to see.

  33. Used 72 hour visa without transit successfully twice this January. Our itinerary was ORD-NRT-CTU-TPE-PVG-ORD.

    We did not have any major problems but when we checked in for our flight at Narita the agents had not heard that the rule applied to Chengdu. There was some discussion in Japanese between 2 agents and the agent consulted a book. Not sure if the rule was in there but it must have been because she gave us our boarding passes. This probably cost us about an extra 10-15 minutes at check in.

    We were asked for our onward ticket both at checkin and at immigration so agree with Lucky that you should print your tickets.

    We arrived at Chengdu late and recall seeing a special lane for transit without visa but it was closed so we went to a regular lane. In Shanghai you just go to any regular lane.

  34. Last December I was voluntarily bumped from an United ORD-HKG flight to a ORD-PVG-HKG routing on the following day. While the gate staff who provided me with the new ticket knew about the transit visa and that this routing would work, virtually no other United staff at ORD knew about the new visa policy. So it pays to bring lots of patience with you both at your departing airport as well as in China. Also a print out of your itinerary is valuable. It came in handy when another passenger on the same routing had forgotten her itinerary and was having problems explaining herself to the immigration agent in Shanghai.

  35. Thank you so much for this! We will be doing this en route to Taiwan and I was having some.doubts but this article put all my fears to rest. Awesome tips and so much helpful info so I know what to look out for and expect. Hopefully China Air will know these regulations at SEA and we wont have to deal with that.
    Great article!

  36. Used TWOV in Beijing last year. HNL-NRT-PEK-FRA. I ran into the exact same problems first with United in HNL, then in NRT. I arrived very early and thankfully I did. I had my itinerary printed and explained the TWOV rules. United at HNL never heard of it. He went back and forth to a back room 10 to 15 times over an hour. Finally he came out with a rule book and we both were going through it to find the TWOV section, which we finally did. I wasn’t able to print my boarding passes the night before either because it said I needed a visa. I was really surprised to have this happen in NRT just 10 hrs or so later. They called my name over the speaker and asked for my visa. I again explained and after a half hour of phone calls and computer typing, I was cleared to go, and this was on Air China for crying out loud! You’d think they would know the rules. Arriving in Beijing they just directed me to any lane and the guy just needed to see my itinerary that I printed at home showing my flights arriving and leaving Beijing. No problems there. Stayed 68 hrs. Worked out perfect.

  37. Hello,

    Just wanted to clarify that you don’t need to actually “Apply” for a TWOV do you? I can just show up at the airport with my itinerary and all papaer work/passport etc?

    Also- while I am in China for 24 hours, should anything happen, police involvement or medical emergency will I have a paper saying i’m there on a TWOV?

    Thank You!

    Lindsey

  38. @ Lindsey Kszos — Correct, you don’t need to apply for it in advance. Your passport will get stamped, so if you have your passport on you, you can show that.

  39. I’ve read that it only counts for transit to a third country – would it be valid for New York > Shanghai > Singapore > Shanghai > New York if the 72 hours is spent on the way back? So the transit is between Singapore and New York?

  40. I wonder if anyone could help,

    Would UK>Helsinki>Xa’in>Shanghai>Kuala Lumpur be excepted in the 72hour visa waver

    Due to leave in 2 weeks so it’s pretty urgent, nobody seems to know

    Also do I need to apply for a 72 hour Visa or just turn up at the airport ready to go

    Thanks

  41. @ Gemma — It wouldn’t since you can’t fly within China on a 72 hour transit without visa. You have to be arriving and departing the country from the same airport.

  42. My wife and I are traveling to Indonesia from US in May. We are flying from Detroit to Shanghai, staying in Shanghai for just over 48 hours, and then on to Indonesia. On our way back to the US from Indonesia we have the same route, but will just be in Shanghai for a 4 hour layover (will not leave airport – Bali>Hong Kong>Shanghai>Detroit). Would travel back through China for a connection affect the 72 hour visa exemption?

  43. I would
    Does anyone know whether it matters if the onward journey is on a separately purchased ticket, and not indicated on the itinerary showing arrival in China? e.g. Suppose I have purchased a round trip DXB-PVG-DXB ticket with airline A and a separate PVG-HKG-PVG ticket with airline B within the timeframe of the first itinerary, so the overall itinerary looks like DXB-PVG-HKG-PVG-DXB but it is not shown on a single itinerary, since the two segments are purchased separately. Would that cause any issues?

    Also, can a 24 or 72-hour stay be repeated on the same itinerary within a short time frame (say a couple of days apart), once en route to the final destination (HKG), and once on our way back to home country?

    Thanks for the helpful insights!

  44. @Amir – Strongly suggest you have PRINTED out confirmations/ticketing information. Airline A may not let you board at DXB since you don’t have a VISA to cover you stay at PVG…so you may have to prove to THEM that you have a ticket from airline B…and thus qualify for the waiver.

  45. Hello, I am traveling from Manila to New York via Shanghai (with two different airlines). I plan on staying in Shanghai from June 27 through June 30. Am I OK with the 72-hour visa? Is there anything else I need to do?

  46. @ aceman — You should be fine if you’re there for less than 72 hours. It’s very important it’s actually scheduled to be less than 72 hours on the ground, and not just “about” three days. Just bring print outs of your itinerary.

  47. Hi. Is it possible to use the 72-hour visa twice in two weeks? For example, I will fly Vancouver-Beijing-Ulan Baatar then 10 days later fly the reverse trip back to Vancouver. Can I spend 3 days in Beijing on the way into Mongolia, and another 3 days in Beijing on the way out of Mongolia? Thank you.

  48. My question is does a “stopover” in a third country count for 72 hour PRC visa?

    My planned SQ itinerary is Bali – Shanghai (via Singapore — transit only) on June 10

    Shanghai – Singapore on June 13 (stopover)

    Singapore – Bali on June 18

    Thank you for any insights.

  49. @ Thomas C. Malayil — Since you’re coming from Singapore and continuing to Singapore it wouldn’t, since you’re not continuing directly to a third country.

  50. I am planning to travel from Amsterdam (holland) to Beijing en than from beijing to dusseldorf (germany). Is stay 72 hours in beijing. Can I TWOV?

  51. @ bennie — Technically you probably can, though you may get some pushback, given that you can’t easily argue you’re in Beijing to transit between Amsterdam and Dusseldorf.

  52. Flying to from JFK – PEK ( 16HR layover) – Seoul.
    Depart Seoul – PEK ( 23 hr layover_ – JFK .
    Is there 24hr visa free lane ? I would like to sleep at hotel in downtown Beijing and book hotel at a good price. But today I call China embassy they say I need visa or call airline. I called the airline, clueless.. except they can reserve a hotel room.
    Frustrated because I am playing phone tags all day and afraid to book a hotel room for 1 night in Beijing. Is there helpful web links that I print so that me and my younger daughter can travel smoothly.

  53. @ Sue — You can go without a visa, and there is indeed a special lane for those connecting in less than 24 hours.

  54. Hi Ben,

    You mentioned that when questioned in Warsaw you “showed him the rules” and he ultimately agreed with you. Can you point out a document that can be printed and carried during 24 & 72 hour TWOV? I’m having trouble finding anything official.

    Mike

  55. Hi,
    I will fly from shanghai to Manila then i will do vacation in philippines.
    The problem i have is that i will fly back from manila to shanghai and then shanghai to Milano (24h:25min stop). I got to do that because i am moving back to Italy and i have to take back all the luggages with me.
    I have only one entry visa in china so i wanna use the 72 hours transit visa.
    2 questions:

    1: i have two tickets with two different airlines (Cebu from Manila to Shanghai and Ethiad to milano)
    can be an issue?

    2: Since the Cebu says in their site that they are not responsible for travellers documents, are u sure that they will let me board on the flight?

    Thank you in advance
    Marco

  56. @ marco — Yep, just make sure you have copies of both tickets to show the airline representative and immigration officer.

  57. Is one able to use the 24 hour visa and fly

    A-PVG-B via A?

    Can I argue that B is my final destination, and only reason I am flying back to A is to connect to B?

  58. @ Gabriel — Sorry, not following how you would fly A-PVG-B via A? Could you give real life example?

  59. If I arrive at PVG airport from the U.S. and have a 48 hour layover before continuing on to Malaysia I can get a 72 hour TWOV. While I am in PVG can I visit Nanjing? I would get there via train (not flying). From what I’ve read you must stay within a “region” around the airport you are transiting…but not sure how to find out who big that region is. Would the train people even care when they sell you a ticket?

  60. @ Conway — Not sure where specifically the line is drawn on “regions,” but I believe you are indeed supposed to stay in the same one. I wouldn’t risk it, personally.

  61. Hello,

    I am planning a trip to Asia this winter and I really want to visit Beijing for at least two days. For the TWOV would it work if I buy flights from San Diego, California to Beijing (PEk) and then stay in Beijing for 2 days and then fly to Seoul, Korea. Would this work? I want to make sure before I book my flights and hotel. Thank you!

  62. Help please – I am getting conflicting info from travel agent and airline. Trip planned for 6 people. OKC – LAX (2 days) – HKG (4 days) – PEN (4 days) – HKG (4 days) – PEK (2 days) – LAX (plane change in HKG) – OKC. Would we qualify for TWOV while in Beijing? The question seems to be the plane change in HKG on return. I have been unable to find an answer anywhere. Thank you so much.

  63. Great blog. Similar question to Conway. I’m hoping to use 72hour transfer visa next week. I transit through Guangzhou and was hoping to sneak in a visit to Hong Kong. It should only take 3.5 hours to get there. Do you think this would be ok with/without an overnight in HK? If I stayed a night in HK would a hotel “registering me with local police” cause problems? Thanks!

  64. I am travelling from UK to Thailand via Beijing at the end of October/beginning of November. I have decided to stop in Beijing for a few days and just need clarification on whether I qualify for the 72 Hour visa waiver.

    The actual stay is approximately 80-81 Hours due to flight timings but I have read that the visa doesn’t apply to 00.01 the following day after arrival in Beijing. If that was the case I would be covered to travel without applying for a visa.

    My flight arrives at 12.00 on 31/10/15 and leaves on 03/11/15 at 19.40. If the rule is correct I should have to 23.59 on 03/11/15 to leave

    Please can anyone clarify if this is correct?

  65. Here is a new twist on the China TWOV question– I could not find an answer to this scenario anywhere and hope you can help:

    I’m planning to fly ORD – PEK – HKG – PVG – ORD. Staying under 72 hours in PEK, HKG and PVG.

    Will this itinerary qualify for _two_ TWOV entries, one in PEK and one in PVG? The same stay in Hong Kong would have to count for both transits. I hold a US passport.

    Thanks!

  66. Posting the verbiage from the timatic output since it’s helpful. It also answers the last question above, which is that if you hit more than one city, you only get to do the 24 hour visa, not the 72 hour one. You also can’t do it if you are doing a route like SEA-PEK-SEA, since it’s not actually transit.

    Also, it doesn’t seem to address the “how far can you go” question, but it looks like how far you can go depends on the region: http://www.travelchinaguide.com/embassy/visa/free-72hour/

    The long and short of which is you can’t leave the city where you arrived, unless it’s Guangzhou and Hangzhou, in which case you can’t leave the province.

    ====
    TWOV (Transit Without Visa):
    Visa required, except for Holders of confirmed onward airline
    tickets for a max. transit For details, click here time of 24 hours.
    Transit incl. multiple stops within China (People’s Rep.),
    with a total transit time of max. 24 hours, is permitted.

    – Not applicable at Fuzhou (FOC) and Yanji (YNJ).
    – Nationals of USA are not permitted to use the multiple-stop
    transit within China, if transiting through Tianjin (TSN),
    Weihai (WEH), Wuhan (WUH), Xi’an (XIY) or Zhengzhou (CGO).
    – Visa required, except for Nationals of USA holding confirmed
    onward airline tickets to a third country, if arriving in and
    departing from the same city:
    – at Beijing (PEK), Chengdu (CTU), Chongqing (CKG), Dalian
    (DLC), Guangzhou (CAN), Hangzhou (HGH), Shanghai Hongqiao
    (SHA), Shanghai Pudong (PVG), Tianjin (TSN), Wuhan (WUH),
    Xi’an (XIY) or Xiamen (XMN) for a max. transit time of 72
    hours, starting from 00:01 on the day following the day of
    entry.
    – at Guilin (KWL), Harbin (HRB), Kunming (KMG) or Shenyang
    (SHE) for a max. transit time of 72 hours;

    – All transiting passengers are subject to a check by
    immigration. Passengers in transit must hold passports or
    passport replacing documents that are accepted for entry
    into China (People’s Rep.). For more details on document
    requirements, please enter China (People’s Rep.) as a
    destination.

    – Not applicable at Beijing (PEK) if staying in the
    international transit area.

    – Leaving the transit area is allowed.
    – Transit without visa (TWOV) is not permitted when the
    passenger arrives AND departs on direct flights from/to USA
    and Guam or Northern Mariana Isl.

  67. Hi, Would the following qualify for TWOV?

    Melbourne to Hong Kong (in transit only for 2 hours) to Chongqing (72 hrs) to Hong Kong (in transit only for 2 hours) to Sydney.

    Thanks

    Robert

  68. Hi Lucky, curious if you might know the answer to this.

    US Passport holder residing in Hong Kong here.

    I wonder if I can fly HKG-PVG-MFM (macau), using the 72 hour transit without visa? Do you think I would get a hard time from the airline or PRC immigration for flying that route?

    Thanks,
    Michael

  69. Hey Ben, big fan of your blog. Could you please help me with this? I have a trip to PEK and then separate ticket PEK-HKG-PEK on a refundable ticket (depends if I get a meeting). Can I just show that and if I dont make it to the meeting in HKG cancel the ticket and be ok?

  70. Hi,
    Would this qualify for 72 hours TWOV in Beijing: JFK->PVG->PEK->PVG->DEL. I am connecting to Beijing bound flight at Shanghai and flying to Delhi out of Beijing via Shanghai.
    Thanks

  71. Thought I would post the following as it was just my experience and it took lots of digging around the internet to confirm it was ok.

    Flew USA-HKG-TPE and spent two days in TPE.

    Then flew TPE-HKG.

    I was confused as everywhere refers to both TPE and HKG as a separate region in China, so I wasn’t sure if it was considered “the same place” since they are in the a “3rd chinese region.”

    It was no problem and considered separate as an onward destination.

    We arrived, filled out the landing card and were on our way.

  72. Andrew. TPE is not part of the people’s republic of China so isn’t involved in this visa at all

    I flew from CDG/PEK/MEL and SYD/PEK/LHR in November and I thought I’d share my experience of it. Leaving Paris I only had a 13 hour stopover in Beijing, so they checked me and my bag all the way to Melbourne, so there was no need for a China visa check. In Beijing I just showed by two boarding passes at the 72 hour desk and they stamped me into the country (which was better than staying in the airport for half a day)

    On the return from Sydney, the check in lady asked me if I was planning on using the TWOV and asked to see me proof of my onward flight so I showed her my printed itinerary (the hardest part of the whole thing was finding and Internet cafe in Chinatown in Sydney and working out how to print this out ). On arrival at Beijing (5.00am) the transit visa desk was closed so went in the normal line only to be told to go to the D/P line that lucky went in.

    One other tip. Don’t visit Beijing in November with the clothes you pack for Australia….

  73. Hi there,
    We’re travelling from Toronto to Taipei with a stopover in Beijing and would like to take advantage of the 72 hr. visa. I’m not sure if we’ll be eligible though as this is our itinerary – Toronto+(4hr layover in Taipei) -Beijing – Taipei (2 days later). Are we still going to be eligible for the exemption even though we have a layover in Taipei? Is this trip considered Canada-China-Taiwan, or Taiwan-China? Will they ask us why we never left the airport in Taipei and had to go through Beijing? In reality, this was the cheapest ticket with this itinerary, but I wonder if they will see it this way. May thanks for all your thoughts!

  74. Guys, need an experienced advice. Planning to visit Shanghai in couple days, My route is going to be following: Prague-Amsterdam-Shanghai-Paris-Prague,
    I consulted the matter with Shanghai Immigration – they said it’s OK, since I’m coming from Netherlands and going to France – so 2 different countries condition is met, but anyway – should I be expecting troubles at the check-in desk etc ?

  75. @ A.K. — Technically that’s fine, but I’d say it’s also risky. It’s hard to argue you’re in transit in Shanghai when traveling between Amsterdam and Paris. So I wouldn’t 100% count on getting away with it, because ultimately if you’re denied boarding in Amsterdam there’s not much you can do.

  76. Well, the Chinese themeselves say they don’t care, the only thing important for them is that I come from country A and go to country B…
    Has anyone tried such a route, when China was a transiting country between 2 European ?

  77. Here’s our experience travelling from Australia to San Francisco via Beijing with a 78 hour stop in Beijing (Dec 2015).
    Initially the airline (Air China) would not issue our boarding pass (in Australia) because they said the 72 hours was from when you land until when you leave. We tried to tell them the 72 hours starts at midnight the day after you land but 3 levels of reps all said no. We persisted and told them to check Timatic. Eventually they agreed that we were correct, but it took an hour and a bit of stress. Apparently we were the first people to ever try this at this airport! They actually told us that. After getting the boarding pass, the rest was easy. Beijing immigration didn’t seem to care about the 78 hours at all. But it did take a while to get thru immigration. Just make sure you have your printed itinerary showing arriving flight and departure flight.

  78. Eloisa:

    Can i do twov. My route is
    New york – PEK – philippines. My lay over in PEK is 23 hours 40 mins. Questions:

    1) what if flight from pej to philippines got delayed? I only have 20 mins to spare

    2)what if on some stroke of bad luck my airline decides to change my flight to another date/ terminal and it is more than 24 hours from the date i landed to the date of departure. Will i be held accountable for something i cant control

  79. Just realized (I have a slow brain) that I can book my ‘real’ ticket to and from the US and book an award ticket for my ‘return flight’ to wherever that I don’t need a visa for (roughly the same departure time) – then cancel the award ticket after I pass through security – (fortunately I can cancel award tickets without penalty)….

  80. Has anyone done a mileage run, with an imbedded separate itin?

    IE SEA-PEK (PEK-ICN-PEK 4 hour turn) PEK-DTW

    Long of the short, booked MR and THEN realized it didn’t qualify for the visa and its too late to get a full visa

  81. I don’t understand how that doesn’t qualify. Surely there’s a 3rd country each way? US-China-Korea then in reverse.

  82. Hi Lucky, I haven’t read all the comments, but this is our trip and wanted to see if we qualify for the 72 hour transit visa. We fly from the US to go to Singapore and stay 2 days, catch a cruise-Thailand, Vietnam and land in Hong Kong. we stay 1 night then fly to Beijing for 3 nights then straight back to the US. They are all separate flights with diff. airlines and we have a US passport.

  83. @ A.K. I’m planning to take a similar route, did you eventually manage to get the transit visa (also, did you fly with KLM/Air France?)

  84. Hello, is there anyway to contact this person to know how did things go for him? The route of @marco is the same as mine, so I would like to know how was his experience and if everything was alright. Can you provide me with his email please? I text below Marco’s comment.

    Thank you

    Marco wrote this comment in July 9, 2015 at 11:53 am :

    marco says:
    July 9, 2015 at 11:53 am
    Hi,
    I will fly from shanghai to Manila then i will do vacation in philippines.
    The problem i have is that i will fly back from manila to shanghai and then shanghai to Milano (24h:25min stop). I got to do that because i am moving back to Italy and i have to take back all the luggages with me.
    I have only one entry visa in china so i wanna use the 72 hours transit visa.
    2 questions:

    1: i have two tickets with two different airlines (Cebu from Manila to Shanghai and Ethiad to milano)
    can be an issue?

    2: Since the Cebu says in their site that they are not responsible for travellers documents, are u sure that they will let me board on the flight?

    Thank you in advance
    Marco

  85. I plan to visit Japan and Beijing this fall. Will the following trips
    qualify for a 72 hours Visa for China.

    (1) LAX-Tokyo-Beijing-LAX or
    (2) LAX – Beijing-Tokyo -LAX

    Will both qualify for 72 hour visa.
    Thanks in advance for any reply to my comment,

  86. Has anybody had any problems using TWOV in Guangzhou on the way to Nepal? My husband and I are doing that this week, but we won’t have our visas for Nepal until we arrive there. Just wondering if anybody has had a problem with not having the visa for the 3rd country when doing TWOV, or if anybody has insight on Guangzhou. We’re flying China Southern.

    Thanks,

    Becky

  87. Hi, Im flying into Shanghai on China Eastern airlines and onto Japan on China Southern airlines. Does changing carriers actually make a difference in transfer?

  88. It doesn’t look like a lot of these have been answered recently but I am going to try anyway. Especially since Jose a few comments up may be able to answer my question. I’m an American living in Japan I will be traveling to Seoul in a couple months. I have some time after that that I would like to travel to Beijing before returning back to Japan. Every example I read has people using the transit visa on their way to a new destination instead of on the way home. I have tried contacting the embassy and consulate but have not gotten a clear answer. Has anyone successfully used this on their transit home. I interpret this policy to mean that would be OK. However I had a friend tell me she did not think that was allowed so now I am paranoid.Thank you.

  89. As long as the country you arrive in China from is different than the one you depart to, there should be no problem.

    The only time you might run into problems would be if the transit seems unlikely (such as france-china-UK). The Chinese immigration wouldn’t care but you might have issues explaining it to check in staff at your departure point that you’re going to China to “transit”

  90. Thank you Lumma. I also heard back from the Chinese consulate in Los Angeles and they also confirm this was OK. Wanted to share for others.

  91. Hi Lucky or Anyone can help,

    I am in US, planning a trip to Malaysia, but wanted to take advantage of Beijing 72 hours visit without VISA. If I am going from US on the 3/28/17 to Malaysia, then flight from Malaysia on the 4/1 to Beijing and arrived at Beijing on 4/2 at 1am. I will flight back to Malaysia on 4/4 from Beijing and stay in Malaysia a day or two before going back to US. Is that still a qualify transit?

    So it’s basically this:

    3/28/17 US –> Malaysia (arrived 3/29/17)
    4/1/17 Malaysia –> Beijing (arrive 4/2/17 @ 1am)
    4/4/17 Beijing –> Malaysia (arrive 4/5/18 @ 4am)
    4/6/17 Malaysian —> US

    1) Is the above a valid 72 hours transit to beijing? Or are they looking at me flying in from Malaysia and back to Malaysia, not consider a valid transit eventhough I am from US?

    2) Do I have to bring a plane ticket itinerary to proof that I will be leaving before 72 hours out of Beijing?

    Thanks for any advice

  92. Phan

    It needs to be a different country than the one you arrive from so you could do for example, Malaysia-China-Thailand/Singapore but you wouldn’t be allowed to return to Malaysia.

  93. Thanks Lumma for the answer. Another questions.

    What if my itinuary is this?

    3/28/17 US –> Malaysia (arrived 3/29/17)
    4/1/17 Malaysia –> Beijing (arrive 4/2/17 @ 1am)
    4/4/17 Beijing –> Hong Kong –> US ( Is this OK?)

    And you think it’s OK if I decide to visit Hong Kong for a day or two before going back to US on 4/6/17?

    Thanks,
    Phan

  94. Yeah phan, that would be fine as Hong Kong is classed as a different country for the transit visa.

    I’m not 100% sure of US citizen immigration rules for Hong Kong but I imagine you’ll get a visa on arrival there (like British citizens do) so having a couple of days shouldn’t be an issue

  95. Thanks Lumma, your answers help a lot. Cause I called the China consulate and left a voicemail because they never pick up the phone. I even emailed and have not heard a thing back 🙂

    I think visiting Hong Kong doesn’t required Visa unless you stay more than 3 months according to https://hongkong.usconsulate.gov/acs_prcvisa.html

    I do have another question just incase I don’t end up going Hong Kong. What’s if my itinerary is like this:

    3/28/17 US –> Malaysia (arrived 3/29/17)
    4/1/17 Malaysia –> Beijing (arrive 4/2/17 @ 1am)
    4/4/17 Beijing –> US (arrived 4/5/17) —— Is this OK? Flight back to US from Beijing incase I skip Hong Kong)

    Thanks,
    Phan

  96. Here is my current itinerary: MEL-HKG-PEK-HKG-JFK with HKG-PEK-HKG being a separate ticket but same airline. Is this eligible for the 72-hour visa? I am leaving HKG to PEK on the following day of my arrival from MEL and leaving HKG for JFK on the same day of my arrival from PEK. All flights are on CX and the only reason I am going to back to HKG is to connect to JFK.
    Thanks in advance for your help! Love your blog!

  97. Can anyone advise whether they think this would be acceptable, there is a group of 5 of us going to see a friend in Beijing.

    Depart 5/02/2017 10:55 London LHR > Moscow SVO > Beijing PEK arrive 6/02/2017 09:50
    Depart 8/02/2017 11:55 Beijing PEK > Amsterdam AMS > London LHR arrive 8/02/2017 17:00

    Many thanks!

    Jonathan

  98. Hello!
    I’m traveling to Beijing in less than a month and I’ve been stressing out about this issue. I’m planning to do:

    LAX-Shanghai (3 hourlayover)-SGN (vietnam)
    then i’m going from SGN-Bangkok-Beijing (3 days)-LAX

    Would this be fine? I purchased separate tickets for the intercontinental flights but booked a round trip flight (LAX-SGN and then PEK (beijing)-LAX) all on the same reservation. Would they allow me to qualify even though technically I booked a round trip flight back to LAX?

    Thanks so much for the help!

  99. I am a US passport holder, if I want to use the 72 visa to stop in PVG is it an issue if my plans change and I leave early ? Must it be the same airline or just get out before the 72 or less?

  100. @Lucky – Any help and clarification here would be much appreciated.
    Flying SFO-Vancouver-Beijing and returning Beijing-Toronto-SFO on Air Canada.

    Could I avail of the 72 hour transit? Thanks in advance

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