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Visiting China for 72 hours without a VISA is real, but your airline may not know

Visiting China for 72 hours without a VISA is real, but your airline may not know

The Forbidden  City, Tiananmen Square, shopping and food, are only some of the attractions tourists would enjoy visting Chinese Cities like Beijing or Shanghai for three days.

What stops many want to be tourists is the time consuming procedure obtaining a tourist visa for China. There is a way around it if staying less than 72 hours and entering China from one county, leaving to another country including Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan can get nationals of more than 50 nations into China without visa. It’s a great way to increase inbound tourism to China, if Chinese tourism officials would try to effectively communicate this policy.

Here is the tricky part. Many airlines do not know about this policy and when checking in, the policy is not showing up as an option visibile to the check in agent.  It’s important to explain this is not a visa policy , but a 72 hour non visa stay for transit.

eTN Publisher Juergen T Steinmetz last week almost missed his United Airlines flight  in Honolulu, because check in agents had no idea about this Chinese visa policy and told the passenger they would be fined $24.000.00 if they allow him to board the United Airlines flight. Only after the passenger made many calls including talking to the 1K customer service agent, United Airlines allowed Mr. Steinmetz to board. When checking the Chinese consulate website there is no word about this policy. When calling the Chinese consulates it’s impossible to reach a human being.

In order to facilitate the international visitors’ short stay in China, 72-Hour Visa Free Transit policy is carried out in more and more cities. At present, eighteen cities adopt this policy. This policy allows transit passengers with passport of 51 countries to stay for up to 72 hours without a visa on direct transit.

Cities Enjoying the Policy

Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Harbin, Shenyang, Dalian, Xian, Guilin, Kunming, Wuhan, Xiamen, Tianjin, Nanjing, Qingdao, Changsha and Hangzhou

Areas Allowed to Stay

 Passengers transiting in Guangzhou, Chengdu, Qingdao, or Changsha are allowed to travel in the whole province.

 Passengers transiting in Beijing, Chongqing, Harbin, Guilin, Kunming, Wuhan, Xiamen, or Tianjin cannot leave the administrative area of the transit city.

 Passengers transiting in Shanghai, Zhejiang, or Jiangsu can move around the three places.

 Passengers stopping over in Dalian or Shenyang can travel in these two cities.

 Passengers transiting in Xian Xianyang Airport are permitted to travel in the administrative areas of Xian and Xianyang.

Citizens from the following countries are pre-approved to enter China under this program.

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
13 Other European Countries: Russia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia (FYROM), Albania

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

Conditions for Application

1. The confirmed seat onward ticket and valid visa to a third country or region (if required) are needed for entry. Based on the latest information, the 72 hours starts from 00:00 the day following the entry date in almost all the airports. For example, if an air passenger arrives in Guangzhou at 08:00 on June 2nd, then the latest time for him to leave is 23:59 on June 5. In this case, the actual stopover time is more than 72 hours. However, to play on the safe side, passengers are recommended to be more conservative and not to exceed the “strict 72 hours” which counts from the flights’ scheduled arrival time to the departure time.

2. The flights can only stop in one Chinese city, meaning passengers have to enter and exit from the same city, except in Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, and Guangdong, where the 144-hour visa-free transit has been implemented. For instance, if a flight lands in Xian via Beijing, passengers are not able to enjoy the policy. In addition, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan are regarded as a third region in terms of transit issues. If a flight passes USA – Beijing – Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan, passengers are able to enjoy.

3. Only use flights to transfer in China. Passengers using other vehicles (including using flight for single trip) are not eligible to enjoy the policy.

4. Passengers are required to leave from the same airport that they arrive, except in Shanghai, Zhejiang and Jiangsu, where they can enter or leave from any port in Shanghai, Nanjing Lukou Airport, or Hangzhou Xiaoshan Airport.

Documents for Application

 Valid passport
 Visa for a third country or region
 A full completed Arrival/Departure Card (including name, nationality, passport no., visa no. & issuance place, flight no., purpose of visit, date of birth, gender)
 An onward ticket with confirmed seat are needed

Procedure
Inform the airlines when boarding – Fill an Arrival/Departure Card on the flight – Apply for the 72-hour permit at the airport you arrive – Claim the luggage – Go through the custom – Leave airport

It is necessary to inform the airline at check-in, so that they can declare your request to the airport custom before landing. Passengers transiting via Beijing Capital International Airport can apply for this free transit permit after arrival.

2. There is a special counter/lane for the 72-hour free transit at the immigration, so passengers can go there directly by following the signs. For example, the immigration channels 2 to 4 are for 72-hour free transit passengers in Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport.

3. After the request to enjoy the 72-hour free transit is approved, the officer will stamp a stay permit on your passport. The duration of stay is written on the passport. Remember to tell the officer that one wants to use the 72-hour free transit if he/she already has a valid visa for China.

4. After leaving the airport, remember to register at local police station within 24 hours of arrival if one wants to stay over 24 hours. Those who live with family or friends need to go to register in person at the police station with relatives or friends. Those who live in hotels do not need to go, because the hotels will do it for the guests.

5. If visitors are unable to depart on time due to unavoidable reasons, such as flight cancellation or treatment of sudden disease, they need to apply for a visa from Municipal Public Security Bureau (PSB). Otherwise, tourists cannot apply for an extension of stay.

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