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Chinese Transit Visa

A Chinese transit visa, also called 'G visa', is issued to travellers who intend to transit through mainland China for to a another country within a short time period. The visa is usually valid three months with a maximum duration of each stay ranging from 7 to 10 days.

Coronavirus update: In line with government advice, the Chinese visa application centre will be closed until further notice.

It is still possible to apply on our website for dates in the future, but if you do, please do not send any documents to us unless we specifically request them.

If you feel this may affect your travel plans, please contact our visa team at visas@realrussia.co.uk.

Fingerprinting for Chinese Visas in the UK

All UK passport holders are eligible to apply for a Chinese transit visa, however please note that all applicants aged 14-70 (inc) will need to attend the Chinese Visa Application Centre in person to give biometric data (ie. fingerprints) when submitting an application.

Chinese Visa Application Centre address:

12 Old Jewry,
London,
United Kingdom,
EC2R 8DU

Completing your Chinese transit visa application with us

Applicants under 14 or above 70 can send their documents to us via post. We will check your Chinese transit visa application as soon as your package arrives at our office and the application will be submitted the next working day by our courier.

What documents do I need to apply for a Chinese transit visa?

  1. Passport - with at least 2 blank pages and 6 months validity remaining.
  2. Passport size photo - required so we can upload this to the official Application Centre website. The photo needs to have been taken within 6 months as well as have with a white background, no visible distortion of facial features (i.e. no glasses/ ear rings), and be a file size between 40KB – 120KB, 420 x 560 pixels.
  3. Your transit flight tickets - which include the following details: full name of traveller, check-in / check-out dates, destination and the flight number for the air ticket printed on company letterhead paper from official booking website.

Please note that you will need to provide additional information if you:

  1. Are a media professional/ NGO/ Government official.
  2. Intend to stay for longer than 30 days.
  3. An applicant born outside the country of origin.
  4. Are under 18.
  5. Are of Chinese origin.

The Embassy may also request other documents (e.g. bank statements, marriage certificate, pay slips etc).

Transit visa exemption in China

Foreign citizens do not need a transit visa for China if covered by the following visa-free transit policy and it is possible to leave the transit port to take some nearby sightseeing tours (often referred to as the layover period between transit).

Please note, however, that in all cases travellers must:

  1. Have a confirmed ticket on a connecting flight out of China.
  2. Either remain within the airport boundaries, or apply for a temporary entry permit from the border inspection agency in the airport which will require:
    a) Completing a temporary alien entry card.
    b) Having a passport valid for more than 3 months.
    c) If not staying in a hotel, registering within 24 hours with a public security agent.

The differences between 24, 72 and 144-hour transit visa exemption

  24-hour 72-hour 144-hour
Eligible countries Almost all countries 53 countries 53 countries
Eligible transit locations Available in most Chinese cities Available in major Chinese cities Guangdong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Dalian, Shenyang, Chengdu, Wuhan, Qingdao, Kunming, Xianmen
Eligible transport By air, cruise or train By air By air, cruise or train
Exemption starts from Counted from landing time Counted from 0:00 the day following the entry date (scheduled landing time in Beijing) Counted from 0:00 the day following the entry date
Number of stops Multiple stops Single stop Multiple stops

24-hour visa-free transit

Travellers that have booked seats on international airlines, ships or trains transiting through China to a third country can enjoy 24-hour visa-free transit so long as they intend to stay in China 24 hours or less. It is possible for travellers to obtain a temporary stay permit at the immigration counter in the event that they want to leave the specified transit zone. The 24-hour direct transit facility benefits almost all countries and is available in most Chinese ports.

Who is eligible for the 24-hour visa-free entry to China?

Nationals of most countries are eligible for the 24-hour visa-free transit, however there are exceptions in certain airports for some nationalities:

Afganistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Yemen passport holders transiting in Xiamen require a visa, along with Syrian citizens transiting to Guangzhou.

What are the port restrictions for 24-hour visa-free China travel?

Though most international airports in China opt into the 24-hour visa-free transit scheme, passengers transiting through the following airports will need a visa:

  • Fuzhou.
  • Huangshan.
  • Mudanjiang.
  • Yanji.
  • Changle.
  • Tunxi.
  • Hailang.
  • Chaoyangchuan.

Passengers arriving in Urumqi Diwopu International Airport are granted a maximum visa-free transit of 2 hours and cannot leave the airport. Citizens of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Thailand, Turkey and Yemen will also need to obtain a visa in advance.

If transiting in Guangzhou for less than 24 hours, you are able to apply for the 24-hour transit without visa from Guangzhou Baiyun airport instead of its railway stations or other ports of entry. This only applies to travellers entering Guangzhou by air under a qualified travel itinerary.

What are the 24-hour Chinese visa-free travel requirements?

  • A passport valid for at least 3 months from the date of entry.
  • An onward air, cruise or train ticket with a confirmed seat and date.
  • A visa for a third country or region (if needed).

Can I leave the airport during the layover period?

Passengers wishing to leave the transit area to claim luggage, take a connecting flight, or do some sightseeing in the city can apply for a 24-hour visa-free entry permit. The permit is a stamp or sticker on the passport showing the permitted stay length.

How the 24-hour visa-free permit works

  • Step 1: Fill an arrival/ departure card at the border inspection counter.
  • Step 2: Get a temporary entry permit stamp or sticker.
  • Step 3: Claim luggage (if necessary).
  • Step 4: Go through customs.

72-hour visa-free transit

Passport holders of 53 countries and regions can be granted a visa-free stay of up to 72 hours* while transiting via Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Shenyang, Dalian, Harbin, Xi'an, Guilin, Kunming, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Tianjin, Qingdao, Nanjing, Changsha, and Xiamen.

List of the 53 countries that qualify for 72-hour visa-free transit:

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

How does the 72-hour visa-free transit work?

The 72 hours starts from 00:00 the day following the entry date in almost all airports (excluding Beijing Airport). For example, if an air passenger arrives in Guangzhou at 08:00 on June 2nd, then the latest time for them to leave is 23:59 on June 5. In this case, the actual stopover time is more than 72 hours. However, in Beijing, the 72 hours count from the scheduled arrival time of the flight. As a precaution, passengers should try not to exceed the "strict 72 hours" which counts from the flights' scheduled arrival time to the departure time.

Flights can only stop in one Chinese city, meaning passengers have to enter and exit from the same city, except in cities where the 144-hour visa-free transit has been implemented. For instance, if a flight lands in Xi'an via Beijing, passengers are not able to enjoy the policy. In addition, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan are regarded as a third region in terms of transit issues so if a flight passes from USA – Beijing – Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan, passengers are still eligible.

* 72-hour visa-free transit only applies to travellers using flights to transfer in China. Passengers using other vehicles (including using flight for single trip) are not eligible to enjoy the policy.

Conditions of 72-hour visa-free transit

  • Passengers must be travelling by air and are required to leave from the same airport that they arrive, except in some of the cities with 144-hour visa-free transit scheme where they may enter or leave from land or sea ports.
  • A passport valid for at least 3 months from the date of entry.
  • A confirmed onward ticket including seat.
  • A valid visa to a third country or region needed for entry (if required).
  • A full, completed arrival / departure card (including name, nationality, passport no. etc).

144-hour visa-free transit

China's 144-hour visa-free transit policy applies to international travellers transiting in Guangdong, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Liaoning, Chengdu, Xiamen, Qingdao, Wuhan, Kunming, Tianjin, Hebei and Beijing*. It allows passengers from 53 countries or regions to transit for no more than 144 hours (6 days) without holding a visa.

*Only the West Railway Station in Beijing allows for 144h visa-free transit, therefore passengers taking international trains to / from Moscow, Ulaanbaatar, and North Korea are not eligible. Passengers taking trains to / from Hanoi and Hong Kong are still eligible.

List of countries that qualify for 144-hour visa exemption:

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

Routes eligible for 144-hour visa exemption

The international flights flying in and out of China – from A through B to C – should be non-stop, without a stopover anywhere in Mainland China.

For example:

UK – Guangzhou – Shanghai - Hong Kong.
US – Beijing – Shanghai – France.

US – Dalian - South Korea
Singapore – Shanghai – Hangzhou – Malaysia 

A   - Refers to international airlines landing in mainland China.

B   - Refers to only one of the following areas in China, and you cannot have a cross-area visa-free tour among them:

  • Guangdong.
  • Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang.
  • Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei.
  • Liaoning.
  • Chengdu.
  • Xiamen.
  • Qingdao.
  • Wuhan.
  • Kunming.

C   - Refers to international airlines departing from mainland China.

Can I apply for a 144-hour visa-free entry permit on arrival in China?

Upon arrival, you can find the 144-hour visa-free counter at the immigration inspection. Here you can apply for the entry permit, which will be stamped on your passport indicating the allowed stay time. Remember to tell the officer if you have a visa for China but don't want to use it this time. We have included a step-by-step guide on how to apply and use your entry permit:

  1. Inform the carrier when boarding that you require a visa-free entry permit.
  2. Fill an arrival / departure card.
  3. Apply for the 144-hour visa-free stay permit upon arrival.
  4. Claim the luggage.
  5. Go through Customs.
  6. Leave the airport.

What documents are required to apply for a Chinese 144-hour visa-free entry permit?

  • A passport valid for at least 3 months from the date of entry.
  • Visa for a third country / region (if applicable).
  • A full, completed arrival / departure card.
  • An onward travel ticket with confirmed seat number.

How to calculate the layover time of 144-hour visa-free permits

the 144-hour visa-free permit counts from 00:00am on the day following the passengers' arrival.

For example, if a passenger arrives at 6:00am on 1st July, the layover time counts from 00:00am of 2nd July, and the passenger should hold a ticket with the scheduled departure time before 23:59pm on 7th July.