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You Can Now Travel To Parts Of China Visa-Free, Here’s What You Need To Know

By Kelsey Marie

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China is one of the few countries U.S. citizens need to obtain a visa prior to visiting. However, if you’re planning to visit for less than six days, you may be able to enter the country visa-free. 

China has a list of 144-hour visa-free ports and has recently added Xian, Ningbo, and Chongqing. 

You can obtain a visa-free transit permit upon arriving if you’re from the U.S., Canada, and 51 other countries on their list — and the process is far easier than getting China’s 30-day tourist visa. 

Here’s how to know if you are eligible to obtain a visa-free permit:

Who Exactly Is Eligible

You have to have a passport from either the U.S., Canada or one of the 51 other allowed countries and you must be arriving on an international flight. You must have at least three months left on your passport from the date of entry as well as having documentation proving you have a flight booked to depart China. The document must state a confirmation number and your flight must land in a country outside of China. 

How To Know Which Port To Fly Into

Currently, there are 27 ports you can fly into in China to obtain a visa-free transit permit. This includes popular airports like Beijing Capital International Airport. 

For an easier way to know where you should fly into, use the Chinese government’s visa-free travel tool prior to booking your flight. You can visit these ports without a visa for up to 144 hours. 

Your Destination Matters

When you obtain your visa-free permit, you have to stay in the city, province, or region you arrived in. You will not have to show proof of where you’re staying to customs officers but officials will check your permit at hotels, train stations, and security checkpoints. 

If you want to explore the Great Wall or Forbidden City, you should fly into the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. 

Make sure to check the travel tool to see where exactly you can travel in each region. 

What To Do When Your Airline Asks For A Visa

The crew members on your originating flight will ask you to show your visa at the check-in counter. 

Josh Summers, founder of Travel China Cheaper tells CN Traveler, “If the airline is not familiar with the visa-free option, they may not let you board.”

The solution is to bring documents stating the visa-free transit permit rules in China and proof that you have travel booked to depart China in a timely manner. 

How Do I Obtain My Visa-Free Permit After Landing?

Upon arrival, there will be a visa-free customs counter in every participating port. All you have to do is show the customers officer your valid passport, an arrival/departure card and your printed documentation stating you have booked onward travel with a confirmation number. 

Once everything is valid, you will receive a permit sticker. 

Although the visa-free permit is for 144-hours, there are no restrictions on how many times you can use the visa-free transit option.

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Kelsey Marie

Kelsey-Marie is an NYC girl who currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @kelseydashmarie

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