What is the change? China will soon allow 144 hours of visa-free transit in five additional cities.

What does the change mean? Beginning Jan. 1, travelers from 53 countries who have proof of onward travel will be permitted to visit Chengdu, Kunming, Qingdao, Wuhan and Xiamen for up to 144 hours without obtaining a visa. The 144-hour visa-free policy is currently only available in four regions of China, including areas in and around Beijing and Shanghai.

  • Implementation time frame: Jan. 1.
  • Who is affected: 144-hour transit visa exemption.
  • Impact on processing times: Nationals of 53 countries transiting through Chengdu, Kunming, Qingdao, Wuhan and Xiamen to a third country.
  • Business impact: Business activities are permitted on a 144-hour visa free stay.

Background: China allows nationals of 53 countries to transit through any of 18 Chinese cities without first obtaining a visa. In most locations, visa-free transit stays are currently capped at 72 hours. Stays of up to 144 hours are permitted in four locations, with plans to extend 144-hour visa-free transit to five additional cities beginning Jan. 1.

Port Location Stay Area Effective Date
Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Guangzhou Shanghai, Zhejiang province, Jiangsu province Jan. 30, 2016
Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Jieyang Guangdong province Aug. 1, 2016
Beijing, Tianjin, Shijiazhuang, Qinhuangdao Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei province Dec. 28, 2017
Shenyang, Dalian Liaoning province Jan. 1, 2018
Chengdu Sichuan province Jan. 1, 2019
Kunming Yunnan province Jan. 1, 2019
Qingdao Shandong province Jan. 1, 2019
Wuhan Hubei province Jan. 1, 2019
Xiamen Fujian province Jan. 1, 2019

The 53 countries covered by the 144‑hour visa-free policy are as follows:

  • Europe (Schengen Area): Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
  • Europe (other): Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Macedonia, Monaco, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia, the United Kingdom and Ukraine.
  • Americas: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico and the United States.
  • Oceania: Australia and New Zealand.
  • Asia/Middle East countries: Brunei, Japan, Qatar, Singapore, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates.

Analysis & Comments: The change will double the allowable stay for travelers in transit through Chengdu, Kunming, Qingdao, Wuhan and Xiamen from 72 hours to 144 hours. Travelers should note, however, that while tourism, social visits and business activities are permitted on visa-free transit stays, productive work activities are not. Travelers should also take note of applicable geographic restrictions (e.g., travel only within select provinces during their stays).

Source: Deloitte LLP. Deloitte LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC303675 and its registered office at 1 New Street Square, London EC4A 3HQ, United Kingdom.