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What to know before you travel: China’s 144-hour visa-free transit

Wanna explore the wonders of Shanghai and the Yangtze River Delta region? The 144-hour visa-free transit policy offers an opportunity for short stopover in China while traveling to a third country.

Passengers from 53 countries can enter China from designated ports with their valid travel documents and a connecting ticket to a third country or region, with a confirmed seat and date within 144 hours.

They can have visa-free stay within the administrative areas of Shanghai as well as Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces for up to 144 hours.

Q: Which ports does the 144-hour visa-free transit policy cover?

A: It applies to several ports, including Shanghai’s Pudong and Hongqiao airports, Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal, Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal, Shanghai Railway Station, Nanjing Lukou International Airport and Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport.

Q: Which countries are eligible for the 144-hour visa-free transit?

A: They are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, Russia, Britain, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, Belarus, the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Q: If I am a citizen of one of the 53 countries and travel by train from Hong Kong to Shanghai, will I be allowed to leave Shanghai by air after visiting Jiangsu and Zhejiang? Or if I arrive in Shanghai from a foreign country by air, would I be able to exit Shanghai by ferry?

A: Yes. As long as you have a connecting ticket to a third country or region within 144 hours, you can enjoy the visa-free transit, regardless of whether you enter China by plane, train or ferry via the airports, railway stations or cruise terminals in Shanghai, Nanjing Lukou Airport in Jiangsu or Hangzhou Xiaoshan Airport in Zhejiang. Additionally, you can exit from any of the mentioned ports to a third country or region.

Q: What is the process for the visa-free transit?

A: You should present your valid exit-entry documents and connecting ticket to a third country or region, with a confirmed seat and date within 144 hours, to the check-in staff when departing from abroad. The carrier you are traveling with will declare your transit to the border inspection station before arrival at the port in China. The border inspection station will review your documents and handle the visa-free transit.

What to know before you travel: China's 144-hour visa-free transit

Special channels have been set up for the 144-hour visa-free transit in Shanghai.

Q: Where should I go for border inspection procedures when arriving at the port of Shanghai?

A: The Shanghai Border Inspection Authority has set up special channels for the 144-hour visa-free transit at Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Hongqiao International Airport, Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal, Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal and Shanghai Railway Station. You can follow the signs to the special channels.

Q: What materials should I submit for the 144-hour visa-free transit?

A: 1. Valid exit-entry documents (must be valid for no less than 3 months).

2. A connecting ticket to a third country or region with a confirmed seat and date within 144 hours.

3. A fully completed Arrival/Departure Card.

Q: How is the duration of the 144-hour visa-free transit calculated?

A: The border inspection station will issue you a temporary entry permit, and the visa-free transit is calculated from 12am of the next day upon arrival. You can stay within the administrative areas of the Shanghai Municipality, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces without a visa for up to 144 hours.

Q: Is there a charge for the temporary entry permit under the 144-hour visa-free transit?

A: No fees are charged by the border inspection station when issuing the temporary entry permit.

Q: Will stay at a Shanghai hotel be a problem under the transit policy?

A: No. The border inspection authority will issue a temporary entry permit sticker, which will be stamped in your passport. The permit will indicate your arrival port, arrival time, permitted duration and region of stay. With this permit, you can check into a hotel or register for your stay.

Q: What should I do if I need to leave Shanghai, Jiangsu or Zhejiang for other areas in China or cannot depart within 144 hours due to special circumstances?

A: If you are under the 144-hour visa-free transit, you are required to stay within the administrative areas of the Shanghai Municipality, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, and depart within the permitted duration.

In case you have to stay beyond 144 hours or outside of the permitted areas due to special circumstances, you must apply for a stay permit with the exit-entry department of the public security bureau at the provincial or city level.

Q: If I am a citizen of Singapore who is eligible for both the 144-hour visa-free transit and visa-free entry policies, how will the border inspection procedures be handled?

A: Currently, among the 53 countries, China implements a 15-day visa-free entry policy for citizens of Singapore, Brunei and Japan who visit China for tourism, business, transit or other private purposes, as well as a mutual visa-free entry policy with Serbia, Bosnia and the UAE.

For transit passengers from these countries who are traveling to China for private purposes with ordinary passports, the border inspection authority will deal with the visa-free entry to facilitate their travel.

Q: If I have a valid Chinese visa in my passport and am eligible for the 144-hour visa-free transit, but I would like to save the visa for my next trip to China, will the border inspection station use my Chinese visa for entry this time?

A: No. For passengers who are eligible for the 144-hour visa-free transit and hold a valid Chinese visa, the border inspection station will give priority to the 144-hour visa-free transit. However, if you require to stay in China for more than 144 hours, the border inspection station will handle the formalities with your Chinese visa according to your request.

Q: If I am a citizen of Australia and plan to book a Sydney-Shanghai-Melbourne ticket, will I be eligible for the 144-hour visa-free transit?

A: The policy applies to passengers from certain countries who have a connecting ticket to a third country or region with a confirmed seat and date within 144 hours. To ensure eligibility, you are recommended to book an onward ticket from Shanghai to Hong Kong, Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, and then depart for Melbourne.

Q: Will I be punished if I overstay upon exiting the border?

A: You will be liable for punishment according to the relevant regulations of the Exit and Entry Administration Law of the People’s Republic of China if you are found to have overstayed the permitted duration.

Q: In addition to the Jiangsu-Zhejiang-Shanghai region, are there any other regions in China that implement the 144-hour visa-free transit policy?

A: The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region in north China also offers the 144-hour visa-free transit. Foreign passengers with valid international travel documents and a connecting ticket to a third country or region with a confirmed seat and date within 144 hours can enter China via Beijing Capital International Airport, Beijing West Railway Station, Tianjin Binhai International Airport, Tianjin International Cruise Home Port or Shijiazhuang Zhengding International Airport.

You can have visa-free stay within the administrative areas of the Beijing Municipality, Tianjin Municipality and Hebei Province. In addition, you can enter China via Shenyang Taoxian International Airport or Dalian Zhoushuizi International Airport, and you are allowed to stay in the administrative precincts of northeast Liaoning Province without a visa.

Q: Where can I find more information about the 144-hour visa-free transit policy?

A: You can follow the official website, WeChat or Weibo account of the “上海边检” (Shanghai Border Inspection) to find out about the exit-entry policies.

You can also call +86-021-51105100 to consult with the Shanghai Exit-Entry Border Inspection General Station. For English-language service, call +86-12367.

Source: SHINE   Editor: Liu Qi

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