Traveling through China shouldn’t be a hassle, but regulations haven’t always made it easy. This month saw one of largest annual mass migrations in the world – the Lunar New Year – and plenty of foreign tourists and Chinese residents found themselves stuck looking for plane tickets in and out of the country. As a major hub for train, plane, and sea travel, Shanghai is a popular transit point in Asia.
Travel Visa Pro can help with complicated Chinese work and tourist visas. Because of reciprocity, Americans are charged $140 for tourist visas, and any foreign national transiting through any transportation hub must obtain a China transit visa on arrival even if they’re just catching a connecting flight leaving the same day; often, these immigration booths are 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 January 2016, the municipalities of Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang started offering arrival visas valid for up to a week for those transiting from one country to another, 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 make traveling through China cheaper and much less painful.
1. Transportation to one of the three municipalities – Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang – whether by train, boat, or plane.
2. Proof of onward travel within 144 hours. Travelers can get up to 167 hours if they time it right, e.g. arriving at 1 AM. The clock doesn’t start until 12:00 AM the day after arrival. Equally important is having a ticket arriving from one country and departing to another; no roundtrip tickets will be accepted. In other words, you can fly in from LAX, stay in Shanghai for a few days, and continue on to Hong Kong.
In addition, your passport should be valid for at least six months; Travel Visa Pro can assist with first-time passport applicants and renewals in as little as 8 hours. Should you be planning your transit through Shanghai around a peak travel time or are concerned about overstaying the 144 hours, it’s best to apply for a Chinese tourist visa prior to arrival. With Travel Visa Pro’s team of experts, we can ensure you have the documents you need to travel with peace of mind, whether you have a few days in Beijing or are planning to spend the year working in Guangzhou.
If you do want to consider the transit visa in lieu of a tourist one, give yourself plenty of time. The first challenge is checking in for your flight to China. Some check-in agents need to be reminded about transit visas, and as this 144-hour one is relatively new, arriving early to ensure there’s no rush checking your bag and getting on your flight would be prudent. Gate agents simply need to be told you will be transiting. At Chinese immigration, because you won’t be holding a Chinese tourist visa, the process takes a little longer for those seeking to stay in Shanghai for 144 hours or more. Immigration agents will thoroughly check your proof of ongoing travel, and confirm you will depart China within the time limit.
With the right itinerary and a savvy travel mind, you can avoid those tourist visa fees and enjoy up to one week in China for business or pleasure. If you don’t qualify for this particular transit visa, be sure to visit our China page for the latest information.