Do you need a visa to visit China?

After the COVID-19 restrictions in China was removed starting December 2022, China has improved and simplified its visa policies in order to boost tourism for China and increase people-to-people exchanges. It announced on November 24th, 2023 that holders of ordinary passports from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia, during the period from December 1, 2023, to November 30, 2024. Holders of ordinary passports from the above countries may enter China visa-free for business, tourism, visiting relatives and friends, and transit for no more than 15 days.

People waiting in line for visa to China

In addition to the 15-day visa free policy for visitors from some countries, China allows eligible travelers from certain countries to enter and stay in certain areas of China for 24, 72, and 144-hour periods without prior application for a visa when transiting to a third country. 

Following lists the aforementioned policies and countries that can be applied:

15-Day Visa-free

Citizens from the following nations have been permitted to travel to China for a period of up to 15 days without applying for a visa for the purposes of tourism, business, visiting relatives and friends, or transiting to a third country.

  Brunei, Singapore,France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia 

To note, citizens from these countries would previously also have had to apply for a visa in advance if they: 

  1. Expect to stay in China for more than 15 days; or
  2. Intend to study, work, settle down, or attend an interview in China.

24/72/144-hour China visa-free transit 

144-hour visa-free transit 

China’s 144-hour visa-free transit policies have been extended to visitors from 54 countries, with Norway being the latest addition to the list.

Visitors with such a transit visa exemption from these countries are allowed to travel or conduct business-related activities in certain areas permitted by port visa authorities

The 54 countries are: 

Europe (40): 

Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland, Russia, United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, Monaco, and Belarus.  

Americas (6): 

United States of America, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile.  

Oceania (2):

 Australia and New Zealand.  

Asia (6): South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar. 

Eligible travelers can only apply for the 144-hour visa-free transit if they enter through one of the 29 designated ports of entry in 20 mainland Chinese cities. Those 20 cities include Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou in Guangdong province, Nanjing in Jiangsu province and Chengdu in Sichuan province. In addition, travelers are only allowed to travel within a certain area on the entry permit and exit the country through designated ports as well.

Beijing Daxing International Airport

For more information on eligibility requirements, permitted ports of entry and exit, and permitted scope of travel, see our dedicated article: 144-hour Visa-Free Transit Policy for Foreigners

72-hour visa-free transit 

Travelers from the 54 countries that are eligible for the 144-hour entry permit are also eligible for the 72-hour visa-free policy. However, there are currently only three entry ports in China that offer 72-hour visa-free entry,they are Guilin Liangjiang International Airport (Guangxi Auto. Region), Harbin Taiping International Airport (Heilongjiang Province), and Changsha Huanghua International Airport (Hunan Province).

Travelers who enter through Guiling and Harbin are only allowed to travel within the scope of the cities themselves, whereas travelers who enter through Changsha are permitted to travel within the whole of Hunan Province. 

Guilin in Guangxi
Zhangjiajie, the avatar in China
Zhangjiajie in Hunan Province

All the same requirements and restrictions for the 144-hour entry permit apply to the 72-hour entry permit. 

24-hour visa-free transit 

All international travelers (except those exempted due to special circumstances) that are transiting through China are permitted to apply for a 24-hour visa-free entry permit upon arrival. As with the other two visa-free transit policies, travelers must provide a connecting ticket to a third country. They are not permitted to leave the city in which they arrived during their 24-hour stay and must leave the country within 24 hours.  


China extends visa exemption for 12 countries to promote exchanges: spokesperson

(Xinhua) 18:07, May 07, 2024

BEIJING, May 7 (Xinhua) — China has decided to extend the visa-free policy for short-term visits to China for 12 countries until the end of 2025, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said on Tuesday.

To promote exchanges between Chinese and foreign nationals, China has decided to extend the visa-free policy to Dec. 31, 2025, for citizens of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Malaysia, Switzerland, Ireland, Hungary, Austria, Belgium, and Luxembourg, Lin told a regular press briefing when answering a query related to the Chinese leader’s announcement of the visa-free policy during his visit to France.

Lin added that citizens of these countries with ordinary passports will be allowed to enter and stay in China visa-free for up to 15 days for business, tourism, visiting relatives and friends, and transit.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Xian Jiangnan)

China relaxes visa rules for foreign travelers to boost economy(Jan. 2024)

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