Air travelers holding the passport of 53 countries can have access to the 72-hour visa in nearly twenty cities of China as long as they meet the requirements. This allows them to take a short China tour up to 72 hours without obtaining a visa in advance. As the 72-hour visa-free transit procedure is fast and totally free for visitors, it saves the money and time consumed for regular China visa application process. Nowadays, the 72-hour visa is available in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Xi'an, Chongqing, Harbin, Guilin, Kunming, Wuhan, Xiamen, Qingdao, Changsha, Tianjin, Shenyang, Dalian, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Shijiazhuang, and Qinhuangdao.
* Note that if you are transiting in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Shenyang, Dalian, Shijiazhuang, or Qinhuangdao, where the 72-hour visa-free scheme has been extended to 144-hour visa-free transit, you may end up applying for the 144-hour free entry instead of the 72-hour visa.
Confirm your eligibility for 72-hour visa before departure
Travelers must confirm their eligibility for this 72-hour visa-free transit scheme before leaving to not ruin their China trips.
American Countries: US, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile
Schengen Agreement Countries: Austria, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
Other European Countries: UK, Ireland, Russia, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, Belarus, Monaco
Asian Countries: South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, United Arab Emirates, Qatar
This is the most critical but confusing step when confirming whether you qualify for the 72-hour visa.
First, make sure that your flight route is Country A → China (B) → Country C. A and C are different countries and can also refer to Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. B is the transit city in China. Booking an onward ticket to country C with confirmed seat and date is a must.
Second, remember that you can transit only in one Chinese city, which means two stops in China would make you ineligible for this visa-free transit.
Third, calculate your flight layover in the city involved. The layover should be less than 72 hours, but it counts from 00:00 of the day following your arrival, so actually you may stay a little longer than 72 hours.
You should prepare a visa for the country you will immediately visit after the layover in China if you are supposed to get one. Of course, if you enjoy free entry to the country, it’s not needed. If you wish to get a visa on arrival at the destination country, you may need to obtain a document proving that you are able to do so.
6 steps to apply for China's 72-hour visa
1. Inform your airline when boarding
2. Fill an Arrival/Departure Card on the flight
3. Apply for the 72-hour visa at the designated counter upon arrival
4. Claim luggage
5. Go through the custom
6. Leave airport