Since January 1, 2013, China’s Ministry of Public Security (PBS) has permitted immigration inspection authorities at the Beijing and Shanghai International airports to grant visa-free transit status to citizens of 45 countries.

As this policy is now underway into its third month, the convenient ability to have visa-free transit via these major international airports, and briefly visit in the arrival cities, will hopefully remain in place and expand to other regional airports.

According to a press release issued by the Chinese consular corps, holders of passports issued by the countries listed below do not require a Transit Visa if transiting through the following airports:
– Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing
– Shanghai Pudong International Airport
– Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport

Meeting the following conditions of entry:
1) Eligible passengers must be indicated on the arrival flight manifest provided to the airport immigration authorities;
2) Holding valid passports (i.e., recommended for passports to be valid for at least six months with at least two, blank visa pages);
3) Valid travel visas (if required) for the next destination country;
4) Presenting onward, valid airline tickets having a confirmed seat assignment;
5) Total stay in Beijing or Shanghai will be less than 72 hours.
Visa-free transit status is granted for the following passport holders: Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the United States.
1. This privilege does not apply to round-trip flights. The traveler’s place of departure cannot be the same as the onward destination (e.g., Auckland – Shanghai -Auckland).
2. Visa-free status applies only to air travel and does not apply to overland travel or travel by any other mode of transportation (e.g., rail, cruise ship, auto).
3. Travelers are not allowed to leave Beijing or Shanghai for other cities during the 72-hour visa-free period. Arrival and departure must occur at the same airport. For example, if arriving at the Shanghai Pudong Airport, a traveler must depart from this airport, not the Beijing Capital International Airport or from any other airport.
4. The 72 hours will be counted at the time the transit permit (stamp) is affixed in the traveler’s passport by the airport’s immigration service center. Status is not counted from the time the traveler’s flight arrives at the airport.
5. Travelers departing the airport facilities during the 72-hour period are reminded registration of stay is required with the local Police Office within 24 hours of arrival in China.

In order to register, travelers should ensure their passport is affixed with the travel permit. Travelers departing the airport will be required undergo security and immigration checks.

When accommodated in hotels, hotel registration includes local police registration. Stays with friends or in private homes will require that the traveler register in person with the local police.
6. Failure to observe all obligations of this status could result in civil and criminal penalties ranging from monetary fines to possible, temporary detainment. Repeat offenders could be banned from future travel to China.
Blog written by Glenn Faulk, Senior Manager, Knowledge Management of Pro-Link GLOBAL using reference to the Beijing International Airport PBS and Chinese consular announcements.