Many cities in the People’s Republic of China are currently offering transit visas, giving those on international stopovers the chance to throw some money into the local economy and promote tourism to other travelers. While Beijing and nearly every international port of entry into China have 24-hour transit visas available for those who just need a few hours to catch their connecting flight, a few areas have gone above and beyond this simple measure and given travelers the chance to leave the airport and explore. A Shanghai visa on arrival allows international visitors to see the Chinese city for up to a week without any fees.
Getting a Visa in Shanghai on Arrival
First of all, a Shanghai visa on arrival is no substitute for a work, business, student, or tourist visa. While it can be used for tourism and business in China, there are significant restrictions. For one, anyone landing in Shanghai and receiving a transit visa is limited to traveling through the municipalities of Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang; catching a train or flight to Beijing and returning before the visa expires is not permitted. In addition, because getting a visa in Shanghai on arrival is depending on your travel itinerary, no round trip tickets will be accepted; you must be arriving from one country and departing to another.
Marketed as the 144-hour travel plan, a Shanghai visa on arrival can technically be used for up to 167 hours if your flight arrives advantageously; the clock on the visa doesn’t start ticking until midnight of the day following your arrival, i.e. landing at 2:00 AM on Tuesday means the 144 hours starts at 12:00 AM Wednesday. Other than providing your departing flight information and any accommodations you’ve booked for your brief stay in Shanghai, no other information is necessary. However, arriving at your departing airport early is essential to ensure gate agents understand you’ll be getting a Shanghai visa on arrival.
Other Shanghai Visas on Arrival
Just because the 144-hour transit visa offers the longest stay at no cost to travelers, are there other choices available. The 24-hour transit visa and the 72-hour one are available upon request, but will still require the same documentation as the 144-hour: proof of departure and accommodations. Aside from those, there are special circumstances – usually due to diplomatic, technical advisory roles, or a business involved with major trade in China – for which a business visa on arrival may be granted. For details on these, it’s best to consult with a Chinese consulate.
Do you have any questions about getting a visa on arrival in Shanghai? Leave them in the comments below.