Since 2013 China has wavered the visa requirement for foreign visitors from 51 countries transiting though major airports in China and instead offers them 72 hours visa-free in China. This transit visa can be used for passengers en route from a country outside of China to a final destination outside China’s borders.
Who can use the 72 hour visa in China?
-To be eligible for a 72-hour China visa you must have a passport from one of 51 countries. These include countries that are part of the Schengen Agreement, plus 13 other European countries, 6 American countries, 2 Oceania countries and 6 Asian countries. Among the eligible countries are the UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, France, Germany and Sweden.
-To be eligible for a 72-hour visa in China you must arrive in one of the designated airports (see below).
-You must have a ticket for an onward flight from the same Chinese airport to a third country or not on mainland China. Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau also count as the “third country.” So you could travel Singapore-Xian-Hong Kong and be eligible for a 72-hour visa. You must have a confirmed date of travel within 72 hours of your arrival in China. The arrival ticket and departure ticket do not need to be on the same airline. So for example you could arrive from the UK on British Airways and fly out of China within 72 hours on Singapore Airlines to Australia. Your country of origin cannot be your final destination. In other words you cannot fly from the UK to China for 72 hours and then back to the UK. The third country must not be the same as the originating country.
How to get a 72 hour visa in China?
On arrival in one of the designated airports (see below) go to the immigration counter and ask for China 72 hour visa. As with all arriving passengers you will have to pass through immigration and get your passport checked and stamped. At this point you will see a special counter for travelers requiring a 72 hour visa. The official will give you your Temporary Entry Permit stamped into your passport and specifying the time and type of visa. You will need to show the official your itinerary for your onward journey including your departure flight ticket to prove you have a booking.
Where can you travel with a 72 hour visa in China?
The 72-hour visa can be obtained if you are arriving in China at an airport in Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalian, Guangzhou, Guilin, Hanghou, Kunming, Shanghai Pudong and Hongqiao Airports, Shenyang, Wuhan, Xiamen or Xian. With the visa you can then travel within the municipal area of those cities and within the provincial area of Guangdong and Zhejiang (Hangzhou). The 72-hour visa does not allow you to travel outside these areas. If for any reason you plan to travel outside the designated area you need to make further enquiries at the PSB (exit-entry administration department) and get special permission.