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Last night we received official word from American that they will be honoring the $450 business class fares which they published between Washington and Beijing on Tuesday night.
Presumably that means hundreds of us are headed to Beijing. And presumably that means hundreds of us need visas for China.
The great news is that as of recently China issues 10 year multi-entry visas, which takes the sting out of the application process a bit, in my opinion.
Taking advantage of China’s 72-hour “Transit Without Visa”
China does technically offer a 72-hour transit without visa, though chances are this probably isn’t useful to you if you booked this fare.
To qualify for a 72-hour transit without visa, 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 Washington to Beijing and then 48 hours later back to Washington, 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 if you’re taking a side trip to Hong Kong or Singapore, that should be fine.
You can find the full requirements for a 72 hour transit without visa on travelchinaguide.com. And I wrote about my experience transiting Beijing with a 72-hour visa last year.
Can the 72-hour transit without visa be tricked?
A lot of people have asked me if there’s a sneaky way to use the 72-hour transit without visa to circumvent visa requirements.
Let me give a specific example. Say you’re scheduled to be in Beijing for 48 hours, landing on April 1 and departing on April 3. Could you get to Beijing on April 1, and then have a refundable ticket booked from Beijing to Hong Kong on April 3 to get through immigration, and then cancel it and get on your American flight to the US?
In theory this might work, but it’s really risky. Keep in mind that on your immigration form you have to list your departing flight, and immigration may also ask for your boarding pass. So while there’s a chance you might get away with using the above strategy, I wouldn’t count on it working.
If you’re not in transit, you will need to arrange a visa in advance
US Citizens can now apply for a 10-year, multi-entry visa for China, which does take some of the sting out of the process.
As a reminder, Allied Passport and Visa is offering a $5 discount to readers of One Mile at a Time — simply write a note on your Allied Order Form that One Mile at a Time referred you and you’ll receive a $5 discount.
Allied also has a helpful rundown on the visa requirements for tourists, as follows:
TOURIST REQUIREMENTS FOR CHINA 10 YEAR VISAS:
Applications must be type written. Hand written applications will not be accepted by the embassy.
- One completed China visa application (save to your desktop before typing)
- One passport type photo
- Actual passport valid six months beyond trip completion and side by side blank visa pages
- One flight itinerary with passenger name listed on reservation (it doesn’t have to be a purchased itinerary — a held itinerary works as well)
- Non-USA passport holders must provide your US Visa and I-94 or original green card
- One Allied Passport & Visa order form (save to your desktop before typing)
- Parents traveling with minors will need to supply a copy of their child’s birth certificate
The catch is that Allied is based in Washington DC, and China divides the US into several different jurisdictions:
If you live in one of the lime green states, Allied can process your visa application at their standard rates, and you’re eligible to upgrade to two-day processing. If you live in one of the other states, there is an additional $10 fee, since it’s technically outside of DC’s jurisdiction.
The process of getting visas can be annoying, though at least in the case of China, they’re valid for 10 years and for multiple entries. So it’s a painful process you only have to complete once. With visas I always recommend applying sooner rather than later, just to be on the safe side.
Who has received a Chinese visa recently? How was the process?