How to Visit Beijing or Shanghai for up to 72 hours without a Chinese Visa

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One of the expenses with traveling to China as a US citizen is the cost of the visa — currently, $160. On top of that is the added cost of mailing your passport back and forth if you do not live near a Chinese Consulate. Another challenge is that in order to obtain a Chinese visa, you need to provide proof of travel. This means, you have to have a ticket to China before you can apply for a visa. The risk here is that there’s always a chance of having your visa application denied.

Chinese Visa - Double Entry. (c) 2013 The Flight Deal

Chinese Visa – Double Entry. (c) 2013 The Flight Deal

Until recently, Shanghai and Beijing had a Transit Without Visa (“TWOV”) program for US citizens, a program which turned out to be less than stellar. Prior to January 1st, 2013, you could travel without a visa in Shanghai for up to 48 hours and in Beijing for up to 24 hours. 24 hours does not offer enough time to see all the sites in Beijing and 48 hours is definitely not enough to experience all of Shanghai.

So late last year, Beijing and Shanghai introduced a 72 hour TWOV program for US citizens. With this program, if you are traveling through Beijing or Shanghai to a third country, you do not need a visa. For example, if you flew into Shanghai, stayed for 3 days and flew onward to Hong Kong, then you do not need a visa. But, if you just flew from the United States into Shanghai and plan to fly directly back to the United States, then you will need a visa, regardless of how short your stay in Shanghai may be.

So how can you take advantage of the many deals to Shanghai and Beijing?

Use Points and Visit Another Country to Avoid the Visa Fee

Since our business in China is normally short in nature, we would usually use British Airways Avios points that we transfer from American Express Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards and redeem on Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong. It takes just 7,500 Avios points each way from Shanghai to Hong Kong and 10,000 Avois points from Beijing to Hong Kong. So instead of US – Shanghai – US, our itinerary would be US – Shanghai – Hong Kong – Beijing – US.

01_china_map

This new itinerary gets us an added bonus of spending a few days in another country.

How to visit Beijing and Shanghai on the same trip?

With this 72 hour TWOV program, instead of flying US – Shanghai – Beijing – US, flying US – Shanghai (up to 3 days) – (anywhere outside of China) – Beijing (up to 72 hours) – US would save you the process of obtaining a visa and the $160 fee.

What are the caveats?

The TWOV program does not allow you to leave Beijing or Shanghai. For example, you will not be able to visit X’ian and the terracotta warriors while you are in Beijing. You must stay within the municipality of either Beijing and Shanghai.

What do you need?

Chinese immigration will require proof of an onward departure ticket. If you have an electronic ticket, bring a copy of the invoice with you. Do not have them in electronic form. When you arrive in either Shanghai or Beijing, go straight to Immigration (this is not the Transit/Transfer Desk). Tell the immigration officer that you will transiting and show them your onward departure documentation. They will tell you to wait for a few minutes while they verify your documentation and provide you with an entry stamp and a rectangular 72 hour permit stamp.

How to Deal with Uninformed Airline Check-in Staff on Visa Requirements?

The Timatic Visa Database that all airlines use to validate whether or not someone can board an international flight is your friend. Below is the text straight from the Timatic database. Have a copy of this and if it is still an issue, have them read the section on Timatic specifically regarding Transit Without Visa.

CHINA (PEOPLE'S REP.): 72-HOUR VISA-FREE TRANSIT AT BEIJING AND SHANGHAI
Effective from 1 January 2013, nationals of 45 countries
transiting through Beijing (PEK) and Shanghai (PVG and SHA) to
a third country and holding confirmed onward tickets are
permitted to enter China (People's Rep.) without a visa, for
max. 72 hours. Passengers must arrive in and depart from the
same city. This facility is available for nationals of

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei
Darussalam, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Rep.,
Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary,
Iceland, Ireland (Rep.), Italy, Japan, Korea (Rep.), Latvia,
Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New
Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russian Fed.,
Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland,
USA, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and holders of  British Citizen  passports.

 

Key Takeaways:

  • You can visit Beijing and Shanghai without a visa for up to 72 hours in each city
  • You must transit to a third country, returning back directly does NOT count
  • Use the $160 saved on delicious food!

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128 Responses to "How to Visit Beijing or Shanghai for up to 72 hours without a Chinese Visa"

  1. Michael says:

    So if I flew LAX-PVG on AA and stayed 2 days and then flew third party airline to NRT and then AA NRT-LAX, I wouldn’t have to pay the $160?

    Reply
    • TFD says:

      @Michael – yup. As long as your stay in Shanghai is less than 72 hours and you are going to a third country, you don’t need a Chinese Visa.

      Reply
  2. Sean says:

    How about a roundtrip to PVG with a nested roundtrip to a third country. Could I get the TWOV twice? Is there a minimum days limit between TWOVs?

    Reply
    • TFD says:

      @Sean, if you do doing say US -> PVG (stay 2 for days) -> Hong Kong -> PVG (2 more days) – US. You will be fine. No limit on how many times you use the TWOV as long as you go to a third country. But if you did US – PVG (stay for 2 days) – Hong Kong -> PVG (2 more days) – HKG, then it would not be okay.

      Reply
  3. John says:

    If your onward bound country is NRT, Japan and it is only for a few hours. Does it count?

    Reply
    • TFD says:

      @John: So your itinerary is like US – Shanghai/Beijing (stopover for 72 hours) – Tokyo (connection for like 5 hours) – US? No idea. Seem like you are returning to the US to us.

      Reply
  4. John says:

    Thanks! Would be interesting to find out. I’m doing a MR to PVG for a night and have a four hours connecting/layover flight in Tokyo. I’m hoping it counts as an onward 3rd country so that I can save the $160 visa application fee.

    Reply
    • TFD says:

      @John, doubt that would count. Its definitely a your mileage might vary situation. Tokyo is clearly not your destination and its a connection.

      Reply
  5. Collin says:

    does traveling to Taiwan count as “another country?”

    Reply
  6. Hunter says:

    Can I do EWR-PEK-EWR without a Visa, or does there have to be a third country involved?

    Reply
    • TFD says:

      @Hunter – You need to go to a third country. Coming back to the US does not count.

      Reply
      • Hunter says:

        What country would you recommend I use as my third country if I am using US miles to redeem EWR-PEK-???-EWR? And does a few hours of layover in the third country count, or do I have to stay for more than X days?

        Does Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau count as different countries, or are they counted as a part of China?

        Reply
        • TFD says:

          @Hunter – sounds like you are trying to do a Mileage Run? There are easier miles than flying to China and trying to avoid a Visa fee. Like the comment above that we have provided, a few hour stopover does not pass the smell test. Remember, you have three challenges:
          1. Having the checkin agent agree that going to another country on your return for a few hours is considered a transit vs flying back to the US
          2. We have witness that at boarding, the gate agents will sometimes double check paperwork. Repeat #1
          3. Assuming you get thru #1 and #2, you then have to convince Chinese immigration that you are transiting.

          The guideline for a stopover is > 24 hrs.

          As for what counts – Hong Kong, Taiwana and Macau counts as third country.

          Reply
          • Hunter says:

            Not doing mileage runs, just visiting family and friends. But thanks so much for the info!

            One more question: is there a website that will email me good fare prices between city pairs? Something like an automatic system that will email me the lowest fare from a month from the current date… or something like a system that will email me every week for the lowest fare price between a pair of cities for the next few months?

  7. D says:

    I just returned from a visa free visit to PEK. I was traveling ICN-PEK-LAX, as part of a round the world trip. I was in PEK from 11:30am on a Tuesday until 9pm on Thursday. I had a great first visit to a Chinese mainland city, and plan to do this for PVG in the future. It was imperative to have a printed copy of the flight itinerary, not only did the airline check in agent need it (and they still needed to talk to a supervisor, before I could get my boarding pass in ICN), it was crucial once I went to the “72 hour Visa Free” line at immigration @ PEK. But, in spite of the slightly longer, and slightly anxiety producing screening, I would absolutely recommend this, if you only want/need a short visit to one of the three mainland Chinese cities that permit this and/or are looking to avoid paying the $160 visa fee.

    Reply
  8. Chris says:

    If I flew to Tokyo from the U.S. and then wanted to fly to Shanghai from Tokyo and then back to Tokyo from Shanghai (before returning to the U.S.), would I be eligible for the 72 hr rule?

    Reply
  9. Chris says:

    Thanks. Quick question on this. If you are flying on Standby or Buddy tickets, does that affect your travel and the 72 hr rule b/c the ticket is not a guaranteed seat?

    Reply
    • TFD says:

      @Chris, we would never try this without a confirm reservation.

      Reply
      • TFD says:

        We forgot to add – you will need a confirmed onward ticket to use this. As standby or buddy ticket does not have that, we don’t see how you can use this visa waiver in your case.

        Reply
  10. Tony says:

    If I make us-nrt(stopover)-pvg-nrt(transit)-us, will it be ok?

    Reply
  11. David says:

    What happens if I have no plans to enter China? Say something like XXX-NRT-PEK and then nesting in PEK-BKK-PEK? Would I even need the transit visa or just proceed direct to transfer/transit lounge?

    Reply
    • TFD says:

      @David, so your itinerary is like this?

      XXX – NRT – PEK // PEK – BKK – PEK // PEK – NRT – XXX?

      It’s fine if both transits in Beijing is under 72 hours.

      Reply
  12. Richard Poppen says:

    As far as I can tell, there’s no requirement that the onward ticket be the same as the arriving ticket. Is that right? So for example suppose I have ticket #1 SFO-PVG-SFO and ticket #2 PVG-BKK-PVG. I arrive from SFO on ticket #1, stay < 72 hours, and leave for BKK on ticket #2. Then a few days later I arrive from BKK on ticket #2, stay < 72 hours, and leave for SFO on ticket #1. Is there any reason to believe this will not work?

    Reply
    • TFD says:

      @Richard – that is perfectly fine as long as both of your transits in PVG is under 72 hours which you have.

      Reply
  13. Dan says:

    I have a ticket from IAH to PEK to HKG I have a 1 entry Chinese Visa but I originally wanted to use to enter Shenzen from HK. I now have a slight change of plans and want to enter PEK and not go to HK. Will I be allowed to enter PEK although I have a ticket with HK as the destination?

    Reply
    • TFD says:

      @Dan: Chinese Visas will let you enter at any port irrespective of what you put on your application.

      We are more concerned about your new itinerary. Was your original ticket IAH-PEK-HKG-PEK-IAH? And now you don’t intend to take the PEK-HKG-PEK segments and just stay in PEK? If you do that, your return will be cancelled if you dont have it reticketed as IAH-PEK-IAH.

      Reply
  14. T B D says:

    If I did US–> France (multiday) –> Beijing (overnight stay) –> France (overnight stay) –> US, would I need a VISA?

    Reply
    • TFD says:

      @TBD: Yes. You are going from France to China to France.

      A 3rd country means going to somewhere not where you originate from. You originate in the France. So you can’t go back to France to avoid the visa fee. It needs to be anywhere but France. The fact that you are coming back to the US from France is irrelevant.

      Reply
      • T B D says:

        Got it. Whatever comes after China can’t immediately come before China. Everything else is irrelevant. Thanks.

        Reply
  15. Wayne says:

    I am flying out of Okinawa with my destination being San Francisco and I have a 18 hour layover in Shanghai. I am aware that I will be able to leave the airport because of TWOV with proof of onward flight but will I have to pick up my luggage during that time? I am flying with China Eastern.

    Reply
    • TFD says:

      @Wayne – there’s limited baggage transfer at Shanghai for any airline. So you will have to pick it up. There are luggage lockers available at the airport – it might cost a few dollars. Ask the information desk or google for more info.

      Reply
  16. Kay says:

    I am flying from US to Australia via Shanghai (but not getting out of airport because connection time is short) then from Australia back to US, stopping in Shanghai for 23 hours and planning to go out and get a hotel during this leg. Do I need a visa?

    Reply
  17. Rachael says:

    We want to buy a one way from HongKong to Seoul with a long layover in Shanghai and do the transit visa. After we will explore South Korea and Japan for 2.5 weeks. Then we want to buy a one way from Tokyo to Bangkok with a long layover in Beijing with the transit visa. Will it be possible to do this? Then we get to explore both cities for up to 72 hours 🙂 thanks in advance!

    Reply
    • TFD says:

      @Rachael – your itinerary is like this?
      1) Hong Kong to Shanghai (Stopover for 72 hours) to Seoul
      2) Seoul to Tokyo
      3) Tokyo to Beijing (stopover for 72 hours) to Bangkok?

      Yes, that will work if you have a passport from one of these countries listed above. If not, you will need to lookup your visa requirements for your citizenship.

      Reply
  18. Leslie says:

    On my return flight, I have flights from Tapei to Shanghai, with a 23 hour layover in Shanghai, and then Shanghai to Beijing, with a 23 hour layover In Beijing, onwards to London. I had assumed the 72 hour visa would cover both, but now on further reading, I’m worried that I won’t be able to use it for both places. Is it a possibility, or would I have to fork money over for a full visa?

    Reply
    • TFD says:

      @Leslie, you will need a visa. Your next destination after Shanghai cannot be Beijing for the 72 hour visa. It needs to be a 3rd country.

      Reply
  19. Will says:

    When does the 72 hours start ticking? The moment you get the stamp or midnight that day as I read from other sites? Just to confirm 2 visa is possible I’m doing lax – can, can – sin, sin – can, can – lax.

    Reply
    • TFD says:

      @Will – The 72 hr. period is determined by the ‘scheduled’ arrival time and the ‘scheduled’ departure time for most airports – however, Guangzhou seems to be different than PVG/PEK where it supposedly its 12am next day? We have not transited thru CAN, so can’t comment whether or not that’s true.

      As for the your itinerary, it is good from a visa waiver standpoint.

      Reply
  20. Michael says:

    You can definitely leave the city limits if you want to. Although against the rules, there is virtually no way they would be able to enforce it. I went out to the Great Wall while in Beijing which is technically not allowed and we had no problem. They would have to send an official with you to keep track which isn’t going to happen.

    Reply
  21. Christine says:

    If I’m coming from Japan to Beijing and leaving to the US in less than 72 hours, I don’t have to get a visa right?

    Reply
    • TFD says:

      @Christine – that is correct assuming you are a passport holder of one of the countries that are in the transit without visa program.

      Reply
  22. Linda Woodward says:

    I had United Rewards E-Ticket from ATL-TOR-BEIJING-BKK & eventually back to ATL. 1.
    I rebooked the BEI-BKK leg to stay for almost 72 hrs. The new E-Ticket does not show seat assignment for BEIJ-BKK leg. I called Air China & they gave me a seat & said it is confirmed, but could not print a confirmation. How do I prove seat assignment in BEij? 2. Also, the Chinese Embassy in Atlanta says you can inform your airline (Air Canada) of your intent. I called AC & they said they do not get involved with this, i.e. notify BEIJ in advance. So, I would just go to Immigration in BEIJ? 3. Name on E-Ticket shows a middle initial instead of full passport name. I changed traveler info card to reflect full middle name. How can I get E-Ticket to match that now? Travel not til Mar. 10. 4. Do I just give up & go ahead & get a regular visa since I have time? Thanks.

    Reply
    • TFD says:

      @Linda – lets hope we can answer all your questions:

      1) You have an United award for Air Canada Atlanta -> Toronto -> Beijing then Air China from Beijing to Bangkok? You can see your Air China segment with seating here: http://www.travelsky.com/newsky/journey_online.jsp -> It is in Chinese. Use Google Chrome to do auto-translate. On the Fly Passenger Name — it is Last/First most of the time. Try other combos if it doesn’t work initially. You will need to call United for the Air China PNR.

      2) You don’t need to inform the Chinese embassy as long as your stay in Beijing is under 72 hours. There’s a lane at the Beijing airport for transit without visa. (Copy the section on the post about Transit Without Visa from Timatic with you in case you run into issues at checkin)

      3) That is not an issue — we have travel with and without our middle names or initial. You will be fine.

      Hope that answers your questions.

      Reply
      • Linda says:

        Thanks so much for fast reply!! 1. I did the Chinese translation & am working on a name. I have the Air China PNR. What is the name format literally–i.e., Jones Mary B, Jones/MaryB, Jones/Mary B & what about Mrs.–they added that to my ticket. I get an error message in Chinese with each attempt.
        2. I have all the info on the lane for TWOV; I believe you go to Immigration. The official web site I studied is http://www.bjbj.gov.cn among others. That site states you can only bring small things for your TWOV. I hope I can bring my suitcase. I am staying at the Legindale and supposedly checking in there means I don’t have to go to a Police Station.
        3. The Atlanta Chinese Embassy page says to tell your airline so they can send a list in advance. Air Canada so far has said they don’t do that.
        4. Ok, BIG SIGH OF RELIEF re middle name spelled out or not.
        5. Last issue from above–China site says you MUST have an assigned seat. I do but it’s not printed on the eticket for that leg; I had to call & get it over the phone. How do I deal with that in Beijing? Air China & Air Canada are both in Terminal 3. I could try to get something printed as proof from Air China there. Or, Immigration could call Air China with my PNR and they will find I have a confirmed seat to BKK.

        With much gratitude & a Happy New Year!

        Reply
        • TFD says:

          @Linda –
          1) its been a while since we used the travelsky site, but Last/First worked for us previously. We have transited with itineraries with or without seat assignments.

          2) As for suitcases, you pick up check luggage after immigration at Beijing.

          3) Don’t worry about it

          5) You will be fine. The immigration officer just want to see your flights (so just have a print out of that — which you have from United). Don’t worry so much about explicitly showing your seat assignments.

          Reply
          • Linda says:

            Thanks SO much for your help! I was losing a lot of sleep over all this, but think I’ll be ok.

  23. Joe says:

    Sorry to ask this question again.

    I’m Canadian. My itinerary is Vancouver – Beijing (Stopover 1: 60-hour stay) – Singapore (two weeks stay) – Beijing (Stopover 2: 50-hour stay) – Houston. Is it correct that each of the stopovers (1 and 2) qualify for the 72-hour visa free. Thus no visa needed. Thank you.

    Reply
  24. Joey Coco says:

    Can you fly HKG? Or does that not count as 3rd country

    Reply
    • TFD says:

      @Joey – as we wrote above – “For example, if you flew into Shanghai, stayed for 3 days and flew onward to Hong Kong, then you do not need a visa.”

      Reply
  25. TF Mnl says:

    Would MNL – HKG (transit 2 hours) – PVG count as originating from MNL or HKG?

    Would either of these scenarios work?

    Scenario 1 MNL – HKG (transit 2 hours) – PVG – HKG
    Scenario 2 MNL- HKG (24 hour stop over) – PVG – MNL

    Reply
    • TFD says:

      @TF MNL – Scenario 1 would not work as Chinese immigration would see it as going from HKG to HKG. Scenario 2 would work as it is going from HKG to MNL. All of it is based on the assumption that you have a passport from one of the countries with transit without visa waivers.

      Reply
      • TF Mnl says:

        Hi many thanks for your feed back, I have two further questions:

        1) What is the minimum time that Chinese Immigration would see as stop in a country, in this case HKG?

        2) If i went on the same ticket issued by CX MNL – HKG (transit 2 – 3 hours) – PVG, and then with a separate carrier direct from PVG to MNL would that work?

        Many thanks for all of your help.

        Reply
        • TFD says:

          @TF Mnl – the duration is irrelevant. You cannot enter from the same country you exit to. Like we said, if you ticket is MNL-HKG-PVG-MNL, it would be fine. If your ticket is MNL-HKG-PVG-HKG, it would not. The first ticket to Chinese immigration is HKG-PVG-MNL. The second is HKG-PVG-HKG

          Reply
  26. Thomas Boudrot says:

    I think the rules also state you must have a visa for the country you are going to after you leave China (assuming a visa is required )

    I am flying ORD-PVG and staying for two days before heading to SGN. I will have an approval letter for a visa on arrival in Vietnam but no visa. I will have my tickets, of course, to SGN. Will that approval letter be sufficient or do I need a visa to Vietnam?

    Reply
  27. cath says:

    I am wondering if you can please give me some advise.
    I am UK passport holder and I am currently in SHA on a business visa. I have been here for 1 week.
    I have a departure flight back to UK on 6th May from Shanghai (Pudong) where I arrived.

    This weekend my company need me to visit Myanmar for 6 days. I have obtained a visa for entry to
    Myanmar while I have been in here in Shanghai. However, I have no more visa left to re-enter China to get my return flight back to UK on 6th May.

    I am hoping to apply and obtain a tourist visa from the China embassy in Yangon, however this is not guaranteed. So, if I can not get the tourist Visa. I would plan to fly back to Shanghai (Pudong) from Yangon via HK. Where I can transit free. When I arrive to SHA, I presume I can request to transit thru pudong on 72 hour free visa? I will plan to arrive on 4th and depart on the 6th.

    Would their be any reason why I would not be granted this 72 hour stay?

    I have my UK airline ticket for the 6th
    I have my hotel reservation for the 2 nights I will stay in SHA.
    I have heard that people have problem boarding flights in certain destinations due to not having official VISA in passport and airline staff not knowing all the rules about the 72 free visa transit in China.

    Any advice from anyone who has done such a route would be appreciated.

    Reply
    • TFD says:

      @Cath: you can transit without visa (TWOV) assuming you hold a passport from one of the 45 eligible countries. But the challenge as you pointed out is whether or not the airline staff will let you board.

      Our advice:
      1) Head the airport early
      2) Have a printout of the Transit without Visa section above — at checkin, if they don’t know what to do, tell them to look at Timatic (they all do) and go to the section specifically about Transit Without Visa.

      Good luck

      Reply
  28. Julie R says:

    Hi
    We are inexperienced travellers from Uk – with full passports.
    I have booked a round trip to New Zealand via Shanhai (outward) and Hong Kong back.
    We land at !0 am, Fri in Shanghai,stay in hotel for 3 nights then and leave at 2.15 Monday.
    so we wil be around about 72 hrs.
    Maybe we could wait to go through whever we get the Visa/ stamp or whatever in the airport to keep the time to below 72 hrs
    What do you think
    Do you think we will need to get visas?
    Thanks any advica appreciated

    Reply
    • TFD says:

      @Julie R – you will need a visa. It is based on scheduled departure and arrival times of your flights.

      Reply
  29. mark says:

    hi,

    I wanted some advice,I am flying to shanghai from london spending 24 hours there,then going to hong kong for 22 hours,and then flying to beijin for 48 hours then back to london,do i qualify for the 72 hour visa waiver?

    thanks

    mark

    Reply
    • TFD says:

      @mark – yes assuming you hold a passport from one of those countries above that qualifies for transit without visa

      Reply
  30. mark says:

    yes i am british,was just concerned that 22 hours in hk was not sufficient,although staying in hotel overnite.

    best

    mark

    Reply
  31. Eileen says:

    We’re a family of 3 (child is minor). We’re planning to fly from NY to Shanghai ( stay for 2 days) then fly to Beijing ( for 2.5 days) just to see the sights then head to Manila Philippines. Is this TWOV acceptable in this case? I’ve never heard of this before. Since we have a child traveling w us, I want to make sure we’re doing the proper things before travel. Otherwise, we’ll apply for a group visa.

    Reply
    • TFD says:

      @Eileen — you will need a visa. If you just did Shanghai, then no visa since its under 72 hours, but since you are also doing Beijing, visa required.

      Reply
  32. Liz says:

    If you are staying under 72 hours, do you need to bring any paperwork or notify anyone before you leave, in order to be granted the free 72 hour stay once you get there? The Chinese embassy website says that you need to notify your airline before departure so that they can “make an application to the border control authorities” but when I contacted the airline they just said to mention it at your departing airport. Thanks for your help!

    Reply
    • TFD says:

      @Liz – nope. you shld print out your itinerary and if you are flying out of a small airport that doesnt deal with many international passengers, bring the Transit Without Visa section of the post with you. If the checkin agent gives you a hard time, have them look at Timatic (they all have access) for the Transit Without Visa section.

      Reply
  33. John says:

    I will be traveling

    IAH – PEK (9 hour layover)- BKK

    then

    BKK – PEK (8 hour layover- IAH

    Will I need to obtain the 72 hours visa for both layovers?

    Reply
  34. Jack says:

    If I fly from Taipei to Shanghai, stay for 2.5 days, then fly to HK, stay for a few hours, and then fly back to taipei, can I use the visa-free 72 transit? How long would I need to stay in Hong Kong for the Chinese to see it as a stopover instead of a connection?

    Reply
    • TFD says:

      @Jack – Yes. That would work. The challenge usually is not with Chinese immigration/customs, but rather the checkin staff. Best to bring a print out of the Timatic section describing the Transit Without Visa in case you run into any issues.

      Reply
  35. Tiff says:

    I booked the following multi-city flight:
    SFO-HKG-PVG
    stay in Shanghai for 2.5 days
    PVG-HKG
    travel in Hong Kong/Japan for 2 weeks
    HND-SFO

    Would I need a visa even though I’m only connecting through HKG on my first leg?

    Reply
  36. Kirk says:

    Hi. I am a USA passport holder. I will be in Hong Kong & Macau for a few weeks in October.
    I would like to visit Shanghai for less than 72 hours. I plan to buy a separate ticket on China Eastern Airlines for Macau – Shanghai – Hong Kong. Since Hong Kong and Macau are considered third international countries, would that itinerary be eligible for the 72 hr. TWOV? I’m just a bit weary since they are both SAR’s of China.

    Reply
  37. Kirk says:

    I forget to ask, where do I get the latest timatic print out regarding the transit without visa?

    Reply
  38. Kirk says:

    Thanks again!

    Reply
  39. Vivi says:

    Hi I have a question. If I fly from LAX to PEK and then from PEK to Seoul and then from Seoul back to LAX. Do I need a Visa for PEK? I’m only staying there for 2 days.

    Also does it ALL have to be one airline or can it be multiple airlines?

    Reply
    • The Flight Deal says:

      @Vivi – you can Transit Without a Visa with your proposed itinerary as you an entering Beijing and leaving to Seoul. The number of airlines does not matter as long as you enter in from one country and leave for another country that isn’t the one you came from.

      Reply
  40. Jason says:

    Would I needed a visa if I’m traveling JFK-NRT-PEK-JFK. I originally planned 4 days but would change it to 3 in order to meet the 72 hour requirement if I qualify. Please advise. Thanks.

    Reply
    • The Flight Deal says:

      @Jason – you would not need a visa as you are entering from Japan and leaving to the US.

      Reply
      • Jason says:

        I won’t need a visa because I’m entering through Japan and leaving to the US or because it would be less than 3 days. If I stay 4, would I need a visa?

        Reply
        • The Flight Deal says:

          @Jason – yes, if you stay more than 72 hours, you will need a visa. Transit Without Visa is limited to 72 hours if you entering from one country (in your case, Japan) and leave to another (in your case, United States). As always, print out the timatic provision about Transit Without Visa in the post should you run into issues at checkin.

          Reply
  41. Richard says:

    I am a US Citizen in HK, I would like to visit my friend who is in Shanghai on a last minute trip, is the following ok: HK to Shanghai to Taipei (the flight has a layover in HK). I would like to purposefully miss the HK to Taipei leg. Since my final destination is Taipei, would this satisfy the 3rd country condition or is the layover in HK a problem? Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  42. Twyla says:

    I have a question about the 72 hour visa free transit, I will be traveling LAX, Singapore and stay for 3 days, then onto hong kong and stay 1 night, would like to fly to shanghai for 72 hours, then back to hong kong for 2 nights then back to lax. Can I do the 72 hour visa free in shanghai with this schedule?? Twyla

    Reply
    • The Flight Deal says:

      @Twyla – no. you are flying Hong Kong – Shanghai – Hong Kong. You will need a visa, everything else is irrelevant.

      Reply
  43. Carmencita Miranda says:

    I and my companion are US passport holders. We flew from US to the Philippines Feb19-Feb17.2015. I booked a trip to twin cities Shanghai -Beijing via internet Mango tours and airtickets by Phil Airlines for Jan24-29. Each city stay is a 3 days or 72hrs leaving Shanghai by bullet train to Beijing. We fly from Beijing back to the Philippines Jan.29. Sad to say, at the Manila airport we were not able to go due to no visa. We lost amounting to $2000 for the trip. Mango tours did not clearly specify we need a visa. Question: Are we allowed to enter the said cities without visa since it was 72hrs for each of the city exiting to a third country? I want to get back my refunds as I bought travelling insurance with valid reason, that the immigration people in the Manila airport were wrong and misinformed. It was a great ordeal and frustration for us having spent that much money and time
    transacting long by internet ,then unable to make the China trip.
    Will appreciate for responding and giving us a valid answer. Thank you.

    Reply
    • The Flight Deal says:

      @Carmencita – you needed a visa. in order for you to qualify for the 72 hour transit visa, you would have to LEAVE shanghai to Another country and not to Beijing. Basically, you had MSP – Shanghai – Beijing – Manila. In order for you to qualify, you would’ve had this itinerary: MSP – Shanghai – ANOTHER COUNTRY – Beijing – Manila.

      Reply
  44. Max says:

    I am a German Passport holder staying in Malaysia. I had the idea to visit Shanghai for a weekend. Do You think the following will work?

    Kuala Lumpur – HKK (staying there for short time) HKK – Shanghai – Kuala Lumpur

    (Do I need to go through the Immigration in HKK or will a stop be sufficient?)

    Furthermore I am wondering whether it is possible to come from HKK as a German Passport holder in general or does it work if I will take the following itinerary Germany – Shanghai – 3rd country, only?

    I really appreciate your Answer.
    Thank You

    Reply
  45. I.C says:

    If i fly from SFO –> HKG (hong kong) –> Shanghai –> NRT (Japan) –> HKG –> SFO, would the 72 hours work for this trip?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  46. Jessica says:

    Hello,

    If I fly from SAN to PEK (6o hour stay with a layover in Tokyo) then to ICN (4 days) then to KIX (4 days) then back to SAN from NRT. Would this work for the 72 hour TWOV? I want to make sure this would work before I book the flight to Beijing and hotel. Would immigration care that I am flying directly to Beijing with a layover in tokyo before going to Seoul? Thank you for the help!

    Reply
    • The Flight Deal says:

      @Jessica – can you provide the exact routing? Is it SAN – NRT – PEK – ICN – KIX – NRT – SAN? If it is, the TWOV would work. If it is something else, would need to see what you routing is to answer

      Reply
  47. kevin says:

    Hi,
    If I fly from LAX – NRT- SIN (destination) – PEK (72HR visa)- LAX. Would the 72hrs free visa work at PEK?
    Thanks.

    Reply
    • The Flight Deal says:

      @kevin – yes. that should work since you are leaving singapore to beijing then your stop after that is to the US nonstop.

      Reply
  48. Daniel Spisak says:

    What if I was doing SFO-DFW-HKG(24hrs)-PEK(48hrs)-DFW-SFO would the visa be required then?

    Reply
  49. Michael says:

    Hi! I am planning on traveling from SFO-PEK-TPE. Does the 72 hours start on arrival into the Beijing airport? Or does it start on the day afterwards??

    I saw this on the china tourism website: Based on the latest information, the 72 hours starts from 00:00 the day following the entry date in 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.

    Reply
  50. Marty says:

    Hello! I really need some help! My trip that’s already purchased is turning into a nightmare our fault we should have done this research before buying! 🙁 I’m a US citizen my wife is a US legal resident, we are finding that she requires a visa for Thailand and now we are finding that we both may need a visa for Shanghai as well because our flight goes from LAX to Shanghai to Bangkok and on the way back it’s Bangkok to Shanghai to LAX….. Can someone please clarify do we need Visa’s for stopping in Shanghai in arrival and departure?? Thank you…

    Reply
    • The Flight Deal says:

      @Marty – your wife must have a passport with one of these countries to qualify for the 72 hour transit without visa program:

    • Europe–Schengen countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherland, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
    • Europe–Other countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Great Britain, Ireland, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia, and Ukraine.
    • Americas: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico, and United States.
    • Oceania: Australia and New Zealand.
    • Asia: Brunei, Japan, Qatar, Singapore, South Korea, and United Arab Emirates.
    • If she does, then your itinerary of Los Angeles to Shanghai to Bangkok (assuming those are your flights and there aren’t others in between within China), then are good to good if the stay is under 72 hours both ways.

      Reply
  • Marty says:

    Yes! Indeed she does have a Mexican passport, now you bring up a great point, you mentioned that as long as our stay is less than 72 hours both ways, i.e. We leave 5/17/16 at 12:30pm arrive in Shanghai next day 5/18/16 at 5:35pm from then we are there until 9:40pm then leave for Bangkok and when we return it’s 5/25/16 leave Bangkok at 1:35pm arrive in Shanghai at 7:00pm we leave Shanghai at 9:00pm to LAX this is to give you an exact idea of our times. Will this be considered within the 72 total hour stay? Thank you so much for shedding some light here.

    Reply
    • The Flight Deal says:

      @Marty – you won’t even have time to leave the airport. You are fine.

      Reply
    • Alice says:

      Hello, would the following be considered a valid route for visa free travel? DXB – PVG – HKG – PVG – DXB. The whole trip will be 72 hours and the time in Hong Kong will be around 20 hours. Many thanks for your help

      Reply
      • The Flight Deal says:

        @alice – if you have a passport that is valid for transit without visa, your routing would be acceptable.

  • Gandara says:

    We’re family of 3 adults booking for manila flight from UK and planning to stay from march 22 , arriving Beijing on 23 rd at 1130 , to stay in hotel and flying to manila on 26 march @ 2000 , do we need a visa. We’re holding a Philippine passports but residents of UK. Thanks.

    Reply
  • miguel says:

    I was planning to go from usa to shanghai then honk kong to beijing to hong kong then usa

    Reply
  • Carol Bradley says:

    My husband and I are going to Beijing in November from Dallas, TX. We want to use the 72 hour visa free transit and will be in Beijing less than 72 hours. We will be traveling on to London, England. While we are in Beijing, can we visit the Great Wall?

    Reply
    • The Flight Deal says:

      @Carol – yes. that will work. The Great Wall is within Beijing (its about an hour out – but its consider part of Beijing)

      Reply
  • Karen says:

    Are there are fees that have to be paid in Beijing if you are taking advantage of the 72 hour visa free transit?

    Reply
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