Shanghai Visa Requirements for US Citizens
Unfortunately, more travelers heading to Asia are opting out of stopovers in China in favor of Tokyo and Seoul. These two cities don’t require a mandatory transit visa for short layovers as visas on arrival are available and free for US citizens. In response, the Chinese government has expanded its transit visa program. Getting a Shanghai visa for transiting is one of more lucrative options if you’re hoping for a quick getaway in China, but let’s look at the advantages.
Shanghai Transit Visas
US citizens are ordinarily charged $140 for tourist, business, and work visas to China, and usually must provide extensive documentation including proof of departure and accommodation, and in some cases a letter of invitation from a Chinese national. These regulations deter many from wanting to squeeze in a few days in Shanghai or Beijing, but with the Shanghai transit visa, some travelers may soon be changing their minds.
If you’re a US citizen traveling through Shanghai, Jiangsu, or Zhejiang through any international port – train, boat, or plane – and connecting to a third country, you qualify for a Shanghai visa transiting. In previous years, foreign nationals spending even a few hours in a Chinese airport had to disembark and wait in line with their next boarding pass to apply for a transit visa and be granted entry to the international terminal. These immigration booths can often be undermanned and slow, opening up the potential for missed flights and unnecessary stress.
For Shanghai visa seekers, there are other options. Most Chinese cities offer 24- and 72- transit visas, but as of last year Shanghai started offering arrival visas valid for up to a week, known as the 144-hour transit visa. Although this Shanghai visa isn’t necessarily the best for tourism, if your travel plans meet certain criteria, it can help you avoid paying the fees for a China tourist visa and make traveling much less painful.
Getting a Shanghai Visa for Transit
To qualify for a transit visa for Shanghai, you’ll need to arrive in one of the three municipalities – Shanghai, Jiangsu, or Zhejiang – and provide proof of onward travel within 144 hours. Travelers can get up to 167 hours if the timing works out, because the transit visa clock doesn’t start until midnight the day after their arrival. Unfortunately, no roundtrip tickets can be accepted for Shanghai visas; travelers must be arriving from one country and departing to another.
Other Considerations for Visas for Shanghai
Anyone traveling to a country requiring a visa like China will have their documents checked in the airport before being allowed to check in or board. Because many airport staff aren’t always familiar with the Shanghai visa for 144-hour transit, this can lead to delays and missed flights; it’s best to arrive even earlier.
With the right itinerary and a savvy travel mind, you can avoid those tourist visa fees and enjoy up to one week in Shanghai for business or pleasure.