China Visa-Free Entry

New Rules in 2024

Latest Notices:

New Zealand has been added to the 15-day visa-free entry policy. Australia is in the works.

More than one protocol may apply to your circumstances. Regardless, make sure your passport validity will be a minimum of 6 months from date of arrival.

15 Day China Visa-Free Entry

Please note that China visa-free entry or transit rules may change dynamically. The information provided on this site is for the purpose of providing general information, and do not take the place of, or constitute professional or legal advice on any subject matter. It is recommended that you consult the Chinese embassy or consulate of your home country, the China National Immigration Administration and/or the airline or cruise line you will be boarding before traveling. You are responsible for deciding how to use any information you read on this site, and for seeking further professional advice as you see fit.

China Visa rules have eased considerably in 2024. Effective from March 14, 2024 and for the remainder of the year, passport holders from the following countries are able to enter China without the need of a visa for up to 15 days:

  • Germany
  • France
  • Italy
  • The Netherlands
  • Spain
  • Malaysia
  • Switzerland
  • Ireland
  • Hungary
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Luxembourg
  • New Zealand

This exemption has been extended until December 31, 2025 for citizens of all the above countries. Australia is soon to be added to the list. Check out the China National Immigration Administration site for latest news and developments.

We recently entered using this exemption and was very straight-forward and totally uncomplicated. Prior to boarding, the airline will check that you have your return ticket within the 15 days.

Upon arrival in China, you simply fill out the Arrival card provided by the airline with the usual personal and travel information, and on the section for visa, check the little "visa-free" box:

China Visa-Free Entry Arrival Card

Go through the normal immigration line, (there is no special line), the official may ask to see your return ticket, ask a few questions, purpose of visit, etc, and off you go...

China Visa-Free Entry For Countries With Bilateral Agreements

In addition to the above exemptions, citizens holding ordinary passports from countries with bilateral agreements or protocols can also visit China without the need of a visa.

  • Albania
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Armenia
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belarus
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Ecuador
  • Fiji
  • Grenada
  • Kazakhstan
  • Maldives
  • Mauritius
  • Qatar
  • San Marino
  • Serbia
  • Seychelles
  • Singapore
  • Suriname
  • Thailand
  • Tonga
  • UAE

For a visit organized by authorized travel agencies, the following countries can enter visa-free:

  • Azerbaijan
  • Georgia
  • Moldova
  • Russia
  • Turkmenistan

For the latest updates to the list you can visit the official site at

The 72-hour/144-hour Visa Free Stopover

Passengers from 54 countries are allowed to enter China visa free for 72 or 144 hours when arriving at a designated airport, port or railway station (see list below) and are "in transit" to a third destination. There are many limitations and requirements, so please pay attention and make sure you meet ALL of them.

Who does it apply to?: You must have a valid passport from one of the following 54 countries: Albania, Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belarus, Belgium, 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, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States.

For the 144-hour visa-free transit you must enter through one of these airports, ports or railway stations:

  • Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport (SHA)
  • Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG)
  • Shanghai Railway Station
  • Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal
  • Shanghai Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal
  • Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport (HGH)
  • Nanjing Lukou International Airport (NKG)
  • Beijing Capital Airport (PEK)
  • Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX)
  • Beijing West Railway Station
  • Tianjin Binhai International Airport (TSN)
  • Tianjin Tianjin International Cruise Home Port (serves Beijing)
  • Hebei Shijiazhuang Zhengding International Airport (SJW)
  • Hebei Qinhuangdao Beidaihe International Airport (BPE)
  • Guangdong Guangzhou Baiyun Airport (CAN)
  • Guangdong Shenzhen Bao'an Airport (SZX)
  • Guangdong Jieyang Chaoshan Airport (SWA)
  • Dalian Zhoushuizi International Airport (DLC)
  • Shenyang Taoxian International Airport (SHE)
  • Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport (CTU)
  • Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport (XMN)
  • Xiamen Port of Xiamen
  • Wuhan Tianhe International Airport (WUH)
  • Kunming Changshui International Airport (KMG)
  • Qingdao Jiaodong International Airport (TAO)
  • Qingdao Qingdao Cruise Port
  • Xian Xianyang International Airport (XIY)
  • Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport (CKG)
  • Ningbo Ningbo Lishe International Airport (NGB)

Entry through one of the following ports will grant you 72-hour visa-free transit:

  • Guilin Liangjiang International Airport (KWL)
  • Changsha Changsha Huanghua International Airport (CSX)
  • Harbin Harbin Taiping International Airport (HRB)

Entry with the 72 or 144-hour Visa Free entry protocol allows you to stay only within the area that visa applies to.

The latest 144-hour visa-exemption transit policy expands the scope of temporary stay to cover Shanghai Municipality, Zhejiang Province and Jiangsu Province, which are collectively known as the Yangtze River Delta area.

The allowed stay area under the Chengdu 144-Hour Transit Visa Free Policy will be expanded to Chengdu, Leshan, Yibin, Deyang and altogether 11 cities in Sichuan Province.

The area covered by the Beijing 144-hour visa exemption includes the Beijing Municipality, Tianjin Municipality and Hebei Province.

You must be on transit or stop-over, i.e. you cannot be flying on a roundtrip ticket such as Bangkok - Shanghai - Bangkok, you must be "in transit" through China on your way to a third country and must have a confirmed flight to this third country. For example Bangkok - Shanghai - Tokyo.

For this purpose, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan are considered third countries.

You may not leave the specified geographic area during your 72 or 144-hour stay but you no longer need to exit via the same entry venue you came in, i.e. cruise passengers entering through Shanghai ports can fly out of Shanghai via Pudong, Hongqiao or Xiaoshan Airports.

For entering using the 72/144-hour visa-free entry, you let your airline know of your intention to use this visa exemption and provide the onward airline, train or embarkation tickets showing you are leaving within the 72-144 hours. The procedure at the airport/port/rail station when you arrive is also straigth-forward. There are usually dedicated and well-marked inspection lanes for the 72/144-hour visa exemption.

The 72/144 hours start at 0000 (midnight) the day after landing.

For latest info and to see if you qualify for 72 or 144-visa free entry, use the Chinese government visa-free transit app, which spells out specifically which ports of entry and exit are covered, areas open to travel, 72 or 144 hours, etc.

Here's relevant info on the 72/144 hour visa-free transit by the China National Immigration Administration

China Visa-Free Entry For Cruise Passengers

From May 15, 2024, foreign travelers arriving via cruise ships are granted visa-free entry into China for stays up to 15 days. This visa-free policy applies to any tour group (any two individuals or more) traveling with an organized group handled by a Chinese travel agency and entering through the following cruise ports:

  • Tianjin
  • Dalian
  • Shanghai
  • Lianyungang
  • Wenzhou
  • Zhoushan
  • Xiamen
  • Qindao
  • Guanzhou
  • Shenzhen
  • Beihai
  • Haikou
  • Sanya

Cruisers may stay up to 15 days and must depart by the same cruise ship as scheduled.

So basically what this new regulation does is to allow visa-free entry for shore excursions organized through a Chinese travel agency. It is to be expected that most shore excursions offered by the cruise lines will comply with all rules to take advantage of this new protocol. If you are booking a private tour make sure your travel agency can meet the requirements (i.e. It's in the "approved" list)

For stays in China at the beginning or end of your cruise, the 72-144-hour visa-free stopover may apply.

Here's the official announcement by the China NIA regarding arriving cruise passengers. And as always, if you are planning to enter China using this protocol, I encourage you to contact your Cruise line and make sure it applies to you and your circumstances.

China Visa-Free Travel to the Pearl River Delta, Hainan Island, and Guilin

Foreigners holding ordinary passports of countries that have diplomatic ties with China and who are already in Hong Kong or Macao, are exempt from visa requirements if they travel in groups to the Pearl River Delta region of Guangdong: Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen, Zhaoqing and Huizhou through travel agencies legally registered in Hong Kong or Macao and stay for no more than 6 days.

Residents from 59 countries can travel visa-free to Hainan as long as their tours are booked through travel agencies. For the list of countries and requirements visit the official site at

Tourist groups (2 or more) from Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, Brunei, and the Philippines, organized by approved Guilin travel agencies, entering and exiting the country through Guilin Airport, can enter visa free for up to 6 days.

The above protocols apply to most ordinary passport holders, there is of course other ways of visa-free entry into China such as for diplomatic passports, permanent residents, APEC travel card holders, etc.

There is also 24-hour visa-free TRANSIT, with this visa you are not allowed to leave the airport. You may apply to leave but this is totally at the discretion of the immigration officer.

If you do not meet all of the requirements for any of the above protocols, then a China Visa will be needed to enter China. Here's more on applying for a China Visa.

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