Traveling through China shouldn’t have to be a hassle, but working plans around mass migrations haven’t always made it easy. In a few weeks, millions of people will travel to and from major cities for National Day Golden Week, a season unparalleled with the exception of the lunar new years holiday.
Surveys of travelers have shown they’ve been actively avoiding transiting through Chinese cities like Shanghai and Beijing before heading to Seoul, Tokyo, or Bangkok, and the government has responded by offering longer transit visas for China: 72 hours in Beijing, and 144 hours in Shanghai and the surrounding areas.
Why should you get a transit visa to China?
Due to reciprocity, US citizens are charged $140 for tourist, working, and business visas, which require visiting a consulate or embassy prior to travel. In the case of transit visas for China, regardless of the port, the fees are waived. However, this doesn’t mean any non-Chinese national transiting through any hub qualifies for a China transit visa on arrival.
Getting a transit visa for China travel
If you’re planning on advantage of the China 24-hour transit visa, be sure you meet the requirements and have all your paperwork ready just in case something goes awry. Travelers can only use the China visa transit system if they are arriving from one country and departing to another. In Shanghai, this means you could fly in from Tokyo, stay for six days, then catch an international train to Hong Kong.
Transit visa to China in the airport
What most people don’t realize flying into China for the first time is a transit visa is required whether you plan on leaving the airport and seeing the sights for the day or have a one-hour stopover and barely have any time to grab lunch. Immediately after leaving the plane, anyone not heading to arrivals must crowd around one or two immigration officers offering transit visas necessary to pass through the gates. Proof of outgoing travel is required, and having your other boarding pass ready is always a good idea if possible.
Restrictions on 24-hour transit visa to China
Proof of onward travel is always required, and unless the city offers 72 or 144-hour transit visas, there’s very little latitude with the departure time. No roundtrip tickets are accepted on this plan, even if the ticket returns to a different city in the same country; in that case, a tourist visa is required.
Travel Visa Pro can assist with all manners of Chinese visas, but can only offer consultation when it comes to the transit visa for China. Unfortunately, there’s no preparation other than making sure your flight qualifies and you have a place to stay in China. No applications are needed. It’s a good idea to arrive at the airport early, as airline agents in the US aren’t always familiar with Chinese transit visas and may take some time to do some checking before letting you board.