China surprised this week with an announcement that the existing 3 Day (72 Hour) Visa Free Transit Program will be upped to 6 Days (144 Hours) for the Airports Shanghai, Hangzhou & Nanjing.
These three ports will mark the beginning of an extended version of the popular Visa Free Transit Program that resulted an increase in visitors in the participating cities.
As of right now, visitors to China who transit into a third country within 72 hours are able to stay visa free in the vicinity of the city where they entered.
Participating in this are: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Harbin, Shenyang, Dalian, Xian, Guilin, Kunming, Wuhan, Xiamen, Tianjin, Nanjing, Qingdao and Hangzhou.
The Shanghai Daily (access here) reported that the three ports of Shanghai, Hangzhou & Nanjing will increase the allowed stay to six days.
A new 144-hour, or six-day visa-free transit for foreigners from certain countries on arrival in Shanghai and neighboring Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces will be implemented soon, it was announced yesterday.
Under the new policy, foreigners can enter Shanghai, Hangzhou (Xiaoshan International Airport), Nanjing (Lukou International Airport) and avail of the 144-hour visa scheme. They can also leave China from any of these ports. Currently, foreigners from 45 countries are entitled to 72-hour or three-day visa-free transit in Shanghai.
Authorities said they will add 10 more “Foreign Affairs Service Stations” in Pudong, Changning and Xuhui for registration and visa facilities.
I really love these 72 hour visa free options and use it several times per year for my trips to Beijing. Let’s hope that it will work in the same way as last time when Shanghai was the first city to introduce the program and Beijing among other cities quickly followed suit.
Keep in mind, to be eligible you have to TRANSIT to a third country and can not go back to your point of origin. You are also NOT allowed to leave the city you arrive in. Here is an example:
Germany – Beijing – Germany
Germany – Beijing – Hong Kong – Germany
You can find more info on Travel China Guide (see here).
This regulation means that it can pay off to use stopover options when booking mileage tickets as well as looking out for tickets who allow free stopovers in Beijing, Shanghai etc (obviously mostly those of Chinese Airlines of which I find Air China and Hainan Airlines to be the best).
This is a worthwhile improvement that for sure will be very popular. 3 days is a bit short but 6 days would be exactly the right time.
While the program was designed to attract visitors (tourists) it is also used bby many business travelers who can’t get a China Visa on a short notice and those who don’t want to go through the trouble of getting one just for a brief 2-3 days stay. I recently paid 110 EUR for a double entry visa issued in Germany (good for 2x 30 days however which I will use for long stays).