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72h Visa-Free Transit in China

In order to facilitate the international visitors' short stay in China, the relatively new 72-hour visa free transit policy is carried out in more and more cities, since October 2014 also in Kunming! At present, in fifteen cities this policy can be enjoyed. This policy allows transit passengers of 51 different countries (usually in need of a visa) to stay for up to 72 hours without a visa on direct transit.


Cities Enjoying the Policy (A-Z)

Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalian, Guangzhou, Guilin, Hangzhou, Harbin, Kunming, Nanjing, Shanghai, Shenyang, Tianjin, Wuhan, Xiamen, and Xian.


Qualified Countries

  • 24 Schengen Agreement Countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Demark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland

  • 13 Other European Countries: Russia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia (FYROM), Albania

  • 6 American Countries: the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile

  • 2 Oceania Countries: Australia, New Zealand

  • 6 Asian Countries: Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, United Arab Emirates, Qatar

Conditions for Application

  1. For a 72h stay, transit passangers must have a confirmed onward ticket and valid visa to a third country (i.e. not the country where the passenger is coming from, nor China) . Based on the latest information, the 72 hours starts counting from 00:00h (midnight) the day following the entry date in all the airports. For example, if an air passenger arrives in Guangzhou at 8 o'clock 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. However, to play on the safe side, passengers are recommended to be more conservative and not to exceed the "strict 72 hours" which counts from the flights' scheduled arrival time to the departure time.
  2. The flights to and from any of the sixteen cities should not stop beforehand in any other Chinese cities. Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan are regarded as a third region. For instance, if a flight lands in Xian via Beijing, passengers are not able to enjoy the policy. If a flight passes USA – Beijing – Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan, passengers are able to enjoy.
  3. Only use flights to transfer in China. Passengers using other vehicles (including using flight for single trip) are not eligible to enjoy the policy.
  4. Passengers are required to leave from the same Chinese airport that they arrive, except in Shanghai. In Shanghai, they are allowed to land and depart either at Shanghai Pudong or at Shanghai Hongqiao.

Documents for Application

  • Valid passport

  • Visa for a third country or region

  • A full completed Arrival/Departure Card (available at all airports and on respective planes, must include name, nationality, passport no., visa no. & issuance place, flight no., purpose of visit, date of birth, gender)

  • An onward ticket with confirmed seat


  1. Inform the airlines about the your transit plans when boarding
  2. Fill in an Arrival/Departure Card during the flight or at the Chinese airport
  3. Apply for the 72-hour permit at the passport controll



  1. It is necessary to inform the airline at check-in, so that they can declare your request to the airport custom before landing. Passengers transiting via Beijing Capital International Airport can apply for this free transit permit after arrival.
  2. There is a special counter/lane for the 72-hour free transit at the immigration, so passengers can go there directly by following the signs. If they are not open, just use the common ones.
  3. After the request to enjoy the 72-hour free transit is approved, the officer will stamp a stay permit on your passport. The duration of stay is written on this stamp. Remember to tell the officer that you wants to use the 72-hour free transit, especially, if you already have a valid visa for China (for other purposes).
  4. After leaving the airport, remember to get officially registered by the local police within 24 hours after your arrival if you want to stay overnight. Those who live with family or friends need to go to register in person at a local police station. Those who live in hotels do not need to go, because the hotels will take that over for its guests.
  5. Passengers are not allowed to leave the city area of the respective transit city they have landed. How this is controlled is not clear though. Only in Guangzhou and Hangzhou 72h transit passengers can also visit other places in Guangdong or Zhejiang Province respectively.
  6. If visitors are unable to depart on time due to unavoidable reasons, such as flight cancellation or illness, they need to apply for a visa from Municipal Public Security Bureau (PSB). Otherwise, tourists cannot apply for an extension of stay.

Difference between 72-hour Free Transit and Direct Transit

Direct transits within 24 hours are available for all passengers from over the world, while the 72-hour free transit is only possible for passengers from 51 countries (see above) and requires to transit at one of the respective airports.


Other Services for Free Transit

There are service centers for transit passengers in respective airport terminals, offering rest places if they do not want to leave the airport (airport transit zone). For visa-free transit passengers, the airports also provide services for currency exchange, mobile phone rental, car rental, left luggage, as well as local souvenir shops. Tour buses are available from the terminals for the convenience of tourists.