Visa To China | Tips on China’s 72-Hour Visa-Free Visit

Visa To China | Tips on China's 72-Hour Visa-Free Visit


Visa to China | China 72 Hour Visa-Free Transit

Let’s face it, visas for those that don’t so-called “most valuable passports for visa-free travel” can be a costly affair. When I heard about the 72 hour China Visa Policy, I thought it was the perfect way to make use  of our layover in China while my boyfriend and I were on our way to Cambodia in December last year. I still have to get a visa while my boyfriend qualifies for the new visa policy. Great that at least we don’t have to blow £200 on visas, instead only pay for mine. I have been to China before so it was a great way to show my boyfriend around Beijing on his first visit to the country. At the moment, only 51 countries around the world can use the new visa policy. I would normally have to get my Chinese visa in London while he qualifies for the new 72 Hour Visa in China. Mine doesn’t take very long in London. They offer a one day service or one over a couple of days for about £90. When I visited Hong Kong a couple of years ago I also managed to get a Chinese Visa from there and that was sorted out within a few hours as well. Just note that if you use an actual visa processing place they charge a reasonable price compared to some hotels that may way charge you 3 times as much to process the visa. While I processed my visa in London, I used China’s 72 Hour Visa Policy to sort out my boyfriend’s visa for our visit in Beijing. Below I have tips on what to expect and what your need to arrange the Chinese visa as well as making the most on your city layover, whether that is a layover in Shanghai, Xiamen, or Guangzhou. You can also check my explorations of Guangzhou on my last visit to China.

The Cities In China Using The 72 Hour Visa Policy

At the moment, you can only utilise the new visa policy from a few of China’s main airports. Currently, you can only use this new visa policy if you are from on of the 51 countries listed below or if you are arriving through one of the 18 cities that have adopted this new 72-hour visa policy.  Also bear in mind that where you are allowed to visit also depends on your port o arrival. If you arrive in Beijing, Chongqing, Harbin, Guilin, Guilin, Xiamen, Tianjin, and Kunming, you cannot live this administrative area of your transit city. In other words, if you are transiting in Beijing, you have to stay in Beijing and exit from Beijing. So if you want to Visit two cities just ensure you double check that you can move on to another city within the province. Besides not that the 72-hour visa is enough to do that anyway. Some cities like Shanghai allow you to arrive in Shanghai and exit from another city. This also means that if you arrive in Shanghai, Zhejiang or Jiangsu, your 72-hour visa becomes 144-hour visa. Note that these visa policies only apply if entering China by air and not other means like, say if you were driving from another city or country and entering China that way.  Currently, the cities allowing use of this 72-hour visa policy are: Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Chongqing, Harbin, Shenyang, Guangzhou, Dalin, Xian, Guilin, Kunming, Wuhan, Xiamen, Tianjin, Nanjing, Qingdao, Changsha and Hangzhou

Countries That Can Use China’s New Visa Policy

As my boyfriend has dual nationality but also holds a British passport, so he qualifies for this new visa policy. We also found that we didn’t have to contact the airline and notify them of our desire to have a layover in the city. Most posts online say you have to do this, but in fact, DO NOT have to tell your airline, especially for Beijing. If traveling to other Chinese cities, feel free to mention it at check-in but it wasn’t necessary when we travelled to Beijing. If you hold a passport any of the following countries you will qualify for the 72-hour visa and therefore, do not need to get a visa before travelling to China for a layover.
Asian Counties: Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, UAE, Qatar.
American Countries: USA, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile.
Schengen Countries: Belgium, Czech Republic, Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Latvia, Italy,
Other European Countries: UK, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Russia, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania.

Documents You Need To Bring For The 72-Hour China Visa

– Your current passport. Also, make sure your passport is not expiring soon.
– Your arrival card (information required are the usual; DOB, COB, Gender, Nature of visit, passport # and any visa number if you go a visa before arriving.) – you can pick this up as you queue up to see the immigration officers.
– Your onward ticket or boarding pass for your connecting flight.
– Any hotel bookings if staying overnight on longer layovers.
– You may also be asked about any visas you require for the country you are heading to while on transit in China.

Visa To China | Procedure and How To Apply For The 72 Hour Visa

The process for applying for visa to China is the same as that for applying for a tranit visa.  For the 72-hour visa free visit to China, you are required to leave from the same airport you arrive from except for cities like Shanghai, Zhejiang and Jiangsu.  If traveling to Beijing you don’t need to let your airline know but mention it at check-in if traveling or in transit in other cities in China.
– When you arrive, proceed to the immigration counters as you would if you were exiting the airport. There are specific counters for the 72-hour visa passengers.
– If travelling with someone who had to get a visa before arriving, they would proceed in the normal immigration queue as we did when we arrived.
– Inform the immigration officer of your intention to use the 72-hour visa policy as in my case they proceeded to ask a lot of question about where I was staying and so forth. When I mentioned that I was only there for a few hours on a layover she stopped asking about the hotel bookings.
– If you are staying longer ensure you have bookings and printouts ready. Ensure you do not overstay on your 72-hour visa.
– If your flight is cancelled or delayed or you fall ill, you will need to apply for a new visa. Contact the visa offices/consulate in the city you are in.
– Once you are approved at the immigration counter, your passport is stamped with the visa and duration of stay. You are free to roam the city as you please.
Visa To China | Tips on China's 72-Hour Visa-Free Visit
Visa To China | Tips on China's 72-Hour Visa-Free Visit
Visa To China | Tips on China's 72-Hour Visa-Free Visit
Visa To China | Tips on China's 72-Hour Visa-Free Visit
Visa To China | Tips on China's 72-Hour Visa-Free Visit
Visa To China | Tips on China's 72-Hour Visa-Free Visit
Visa To China | Tips on China's 72-Hour Visa-Free Visit
Visa To China | Tips on China's 72-Hour Visa-Free Visit
Visa To China | Tips on China's 72-Hour Visa-Free Visit



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Visa To China | Tips on China's 72-Hour Visa-Free Visit


  1. April 7, 2016 / 6:58 am

    Super interesting to know, since it's a pain in the ass to get a normal tourist visa in China! Thanks for bringing this to my attention. Pinned! Also, looking fabulous!

  2. April 7, 2016 / 1:44 pm

    What a great informative posts! So many things to think about when traveling out of the country. So many rules and regulations. Hard to stay on top of it all in a constantly changing world. Love your photos!

    • April 7, 2016 / 4:22 pm

      Thank you. Tell me about it…the only time when rules cant be broken either…

  3. April 7, 2016 / 2:45 pm

    The 72-hour visa is awesome! I spent two weeks in China a few years ago and it was one of the most interesting countries I've visited. I would definitely suggest this short visa to any friends who may be traveling elsewhere in Asia, just to get a tiny taste of the country.

    • April 7, 2016 / 4:24 pm

      Exactly! You can definitely do so much with a short visit in China. Even better that you dont have to pay additional for a visa.

  4. November 29, 2017 / 2:49 pm

    Hopefully you can answer this question as I'm not an overly experienced traveller myself, but when you say one of the requirements is an onward ticket or boarding pass to a third country does that include an itinerary with your booking information for a flight out of that airport to a third country? I guess in simpler terms, do you know if me booking a flight from Seoul to Beijing, then a second flight from Beijing to London leaving 48 hours later would be accepted?? Hard to find a clear answer on the internet!

    • December 10, 2017 / 11:02 pm

      Hi Heath, all they need to know is that you will be leaving China so I dont think it matters much where you are going after that so I think your ticket leaving China to London should be fine.

  5. Katherine
    November 14, 2018 / 7:06 am

    Hi Bee, can you tell the china 72 hour visa costs? I would like to do the 72-hour visa-free transit in China so I can check out the Great Wall of China on the way to Japan but not sure what the price is.

    • November 14, 2018 / 4:26 pm

      Hi Katherine, not there would only be a cost if the visa eligibility doesn’t apply to you based on the passport you hold. Like myself, holding a Zambia passport means that I have to get a transit visa in advance to even be able to use the 72-hour visa. If you are British, American(US), Canadia, and from many of the EU countries there is no cost at all. Hope that helps.

  6. Ricki
    December 2, 2018 / 11:50 pm

    Wow, I had no idea the Chinese 72-hour visa-free visit was this easy for American and European passports. I thought I needed to get a visa beforehand for that short a visit. Thanks for such and informative post.

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