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How to Get a Free 72/144 Hours Transit Permit In China


  • Travel to China
  • Travel
  • China Tours

Our Expert



CTS Horizons is the UK's number one operator for China and beyond. We offer superb private journeys and tailor-made holidays to the world's most fascinating destinations!

Nowadays a simple Tourist or Business Visa to enter China costs around £200. No wonder many people (especially families) planning to travel abroad get discouraged by the prospect of spending a lot of time and money on a Visa, even for a short holiday. Today we suggest you a great way to save this money!

Did you know that if you're going to a third country you can have visa-free access to China for 72 hours and in some cases even up to 144?

The policy introduced on January 1st 2013 and including initially only Beijing and Shanghai, has since been expanded. As of today, for a 72 hours transit, citizens of 53 nations under the right conditions, that we're going to list can enter 18 Chinese cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Harbin, Shenyang, Dalian, Xian, Guilin, Kunming, Wuhan, Xiamen, Tianjin, Nanjing, Qingdao, Changsha and Hangzhou.

The 144 hours transit is limited to fewer cities. People from the same 53 countries are eligible for this permit only if landing in Beijing, Tianjing, Hebei, Shanghai, Hangzhou or Nanjing.


You can also download our more detailed guide from the link at the end of this article


There are some important prerequisites to be met to obtain the Visa-free transit though:

First, as mentioned this has to be just a transit, which means the tourist in order to access China has to demonstrate that the flight to a third country is already booked and show a copy of the ticket. This includes also Hong Kong and Macau that for immigration purposes are not considered part of China. Is Not possible to go back to the same country, not even in another city.

Second, when entering China from a city and a specific airport, the permit holder must leave China from the same airport in the same city where he/she landed. Is important also that the flights before and after the stay do not transit through other Chinese cities.


How is the time for these two Transit permit calculated?
The 72 hours count for the major part of the included locations starts at the midnight immediately following the arrival day in China, making the whole period potentially longer than the actual 3 days. Few exceptions are represented by Guilin, Kunming, Qingdao, Harbin and Shenyang where the stay duration is calculated on arrival and departure time schedule.

For the 144 hours stay instead, the count starts always, in all the cities included at the midnight following the arrival day in China. 


The only other major difference between the two is that while with the 72 hours permit tourists cannot leave the city or municipality they are in, with the 144 hours one, by staying within the administrative precincts of either Shanghai or Beijing, they can depart from a different airport than the one of arrival as long as it is included in the list. Hence, entering the Shanghai area, a tourist can move freely between Nanjing (or in Jiangsu Province) and Hangzhou (or Zhejiang Province) areas and leave from one of these three cities. Whereas entering from Beijing with the 144-hours permit, allows travellers to exit the city and move through Hebei Province or Tianjin as well as leaving the country from one of these regions, but not to enter the Shanghai area and vice versa. 


The procedure to obtain the permit is fairly simple. At the Check-in you must remember to declare your intention to use the 72/144 Visa-free Transit so that the Airline can communicate your request to the airport before landing. Do not forget also to have a printed copy of all the documents and flight tickets and a properly filled arrival/departure form that will be given to you on the plane (if you happen to lose it, don't panic, you will find more once in the airport). Then, at the immigration access the special counter for people requesting the 72/144 hours transit. If you already have another unused visa remind the immigration officer you are applying for the special permit in order to avoid the real visa to be invalidated. As long as you match the requirements, there is no limitation to the number of times you can apply for this transit. There are no restrictions regarding the airlines choice as well.


Finally, while in China, if not staying in a Hotel or any other commercial facility but, for example, at friends or family place, it is necessary to register at the closest police office within the first 24 hours, exactly in the same way as for normal visa holders. People who do not register on time might incur in fine, temporary detention and questioning.


CTS Horizons with this opportunity creates some interesting tailor-made itineraries including a Chinese city plus another destination in Asia for tours from 10 to 14 days. Why not take advantage of this policy to spend few days in one of these amazing cities? If you are planning your next holiday keep this in mind!


If you have any other doubt or question regarding this process do not hesitate to contact us by e-mail or telephone. We will be happy to answer all your questions!


Download our more detailed guide from here:



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