Beijing Is Introducing 144-Hour Transit Without Visa

For several years China has offered a 72 hour transit without visa program, where you can transit select cities in China for up to 72 hours without requiring a visa. The catch is that you need to be in transit between two countries, meaning you need to be arriving from one country and continuing to another country (in other words, flying from the US to Shanghai and then back to the US two days later wouldn’t qualify for the transit without visa, since you’re not in transit… you’re simply flying back and forth to the same country).

Early last year China expanded the transit without visa program from 72 hours to 144 hours in Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Nanjing.

It looks like this will be expanded to other cities by the end of the year. Per ecns.cn, Beijing’s vice mayor announced this week that by the end of 2017 there will be a 144-hour transit without visa program in Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei. That’s great news for anyone who really wants to see Beijing on a layover, since three days isn’t really enough to see everything. I suspect this will be available to citizens of the same ~50 countries that are presently eligible for the transit without visa program.

Personally I really valued these transit without visa programs back when China only issued at most one year visas to US citizens. Having to renew a Chinese visa annually was frustrating, so I’d do anything I could to just pass through China enroute to a third country, rather than having to get a visa.

However, nowadays China issues 10 year visas to US citizens, so for repeat travelers there aren’t quite as many barriers to traveling to China.

Have you benefited from a transit without visa in China, or will you take advantage of the new 144 hour transit without visa?

(Tip of the hat to LoyaltyLobby)

Comments

  1. I’ve used the 72 hour visa a few times. PVG is a great route for upgrades and cheap flights too on American. 144 hours is long though.

  2. Took advantage of 144-hour transit visa 3 weeks ago when I was in Shanghai. Took about 15 minutes at immigration, not bad 🙂

    Do you know if we can fly around China during this period or do we have to stay in designated city? I want to fly to Chengdu next time I’m there.

  3. I recently used the 72hr transit visa to visit Guangzhou en route to Ho Chi Minh City was great to spend a few days there but with such vast cities to explore I’d welcome and like to see the 144hr visa in more cities and perhaps be able to move around the various provences whilst in China

  4. I’m glad I got the 10 year visa (thanks to the LAX-CSX launch fares in J). The third country thing with either real or fake ticket sounded like a pain the the butt.

  5. @Lukas, some cities you can’t leave city limits, some of the others allow you to stay within the province. You will not be able to visit Chendu. If you enter Shanghai you are limited to Shanghai, Jiangsu Province and Zhejiang Province.

  6. Couldn’t you just buy a refundable ticket to get the visa waiver and then cancel the ticket, provided you went home within 144 hours?

  7. After just suffering through getting a Russian visa, the thought of not having to.get another Chinese visa ( my 3 year visa expired) certainly has appeal. Does anyone know an easy-ish way to find out the area you can travel to from the visa free cities?

  8. I used the Shanghai transit visa last week and it worked really well. I was through passport control in 5 mins and my friend who had a normal visa had to wait for 1 hour.

  9. We’ve used the 72 hour transit without visa multiple times in Shanghai and Beijing. When Lucky wrote about a great business class deal between LAX and Changsha we bought tickets and flew to see Changsha, a new city for us.

    We were met at the plane’s door, actually they wouldn’t let anyone off before they found us and escorted us first by what we think were military, police and customs agents into the terminal. They then lined us up against a wall.

    Attached to the wall was a banner announcing we were the first visitors to use the 72 hour visa, asked us some questions and took pictures of us which appeared in the newspaper the next day. Then we were visited at our hotel by the police chief of Changsha to welcome us and to tell us our rights under their new 72 hour program and that we couldn’t travel outside of Hunan Province. More pictures.

    Because of Lucky’s tip, we had our 15 minutes of fame in China. What next Lucky? 144 hours will bring us double the pleasure while transiting China!

  10. I had problen in Xisnen were they were not so used to this transfer visas and the exactly roules. Shanghai was fine.

  11. So far, I never managed to plan the itinerary in a way to comply with the TWOV rules. Not because of the 72h limit, but rather because I didn’t manage to combine with a third country on my (duty travel) trips.

    However, obtaining a regular visa for China is very easy here in Switzerland. Unlike most other countries, not only the embassy, but also the consulates issue visas. They also allow for someone else to hand in and retrieve the passport and for an additional fee, they even issue the visa the same day. So compared to the hassle of arranging a trip in order to comply with the TWOV rules, this seemed the easier way to go.

  12. “That’s great news for anyone who really wants to see Beijing ” Make sure to bring a gas mask.

  13. It’s not about transiting to a “third country” as many comments wrongly put. It’s about transiting to a “third REGION”. The distinction is very important (to the Chinese government and people, anyway) because the Transit-Without-Visa rule applies to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, all of which are considered “third REGION” but not “third country” since they are all part of China (yes, including Taiwan, whose official name is Republic of CHINA (ROC) and whose constitution states that its sovereignty covers the entire china – both mainland and the taiwan island. It is for this very reason that the Beijing government has openly declared that if and when the Taipei government changes the official title of its country from Republic of CHINA to Taiwan, or changes its constitution to exclude sovereignty over the entire China, it would constitute a formal declaration and independence and hence war to reunite the country. It is for this reason that there is no such thing as the Taiwanese flag, but only “flag of the Republic of CHINA”. Indeed the CHINESE airline based in Taiwan is called China Airlines.)

    Most Americans understand this difference between REGION and country very well when they are talking about their own country. For example, most Americans would say they travel from Hawaii to the mainland or the continental United States. Hardly any Americans (the sane one, anyway) would declare that they have just arrived from Hawaii to the United States. Most Americans will also say that they have just flown from Alaska to the lower 48 states or the contiguous United States. Only uneducated Americans who do not know the geography of their own country would say they have flown from Alaska to the United States. But yeah, most Americans do not think what is good for their country is good for others. It’s “one nation (without god) indivisible” for them, but a china split into 3 or more parts (Tibet, Taiwan, the rest) for the Chinese. This kind of inability to put themselves in the shoes of others.. I think there is a technica word of it in psychology – the inability to have empathy, a fundamental characteristic of a functioning human being.

  14. This is quite the pronouncement from @john:

    “For example, most Americans would say they travel from Hawaii to the mainland or the continental United States. Hardly any Americans (the sane one, anyway) would declare that they have just arrived from Hawaii to the United States. Most Americans will also say that they have just flown from Alaska to the lower 48 states or the contiguous United States. Only uneducated Americans who do not know the geography of their own country would say they have flown from Alaska to the United States.”

    In Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Virgin Islands, the Americans who live in these non-contiguous territories of the United States, refer to the mainland as “the States” or the “U.S.” Sometimes “stateside,” but seldom “mainland.”

  15. It is issued for a specific area, although the specific area may be different. For example, Beijing is just for Beijing, but in Shanghai, there’s flexibility to the nearby provinces. The comments above about region is also correct.

  16. It is issued for a specific area, although the specific area may be different. For example, Beijing is just for Beijing, but in Shanghai, there’s flexibility to the nearby provinces. The comments above about region is also correct.

    I would also add, if you do obtain a visa, I have two general comments about this:-

    Visas are issued for a particular purpose, and it is illegal to use it for another purpose.

    You should check your nationality against where you wish to apply. Not all applications are accepted by every consulate or embassy and also there may be additional local requirements. For example, some specify that you need a long term type of visa for that country or some added documents.

  17. I’m confused, is travel to Beijing and then onto Hong Kong permitted under the 72 hour visa rules. I’m planning 24 hours in Beijing followed by 48hours in HK before flying onto SYD

  18. @john – beijing certainly considers Taiwan to be a part of China, but most people in Taiwan do not share this view!

  19. Could I combine the 72 hr (beijing one) with the 144hr Shanghai one? Im flying to Hong Kong with a 6 day stopover in Shanghai (which allows up to 144hrs or 6 days).. will I be able to fly to Beijing from Shanghai and stay for up to 72 hrs and then back to Shanghai (since I will be within the 6 days)? And then I plan to last 3 days in Shanghai before going to Hong Kong.. will this work?

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