Do i need a visa if i have a layover in China

Do I need a visa if I have a layover in China? You should know that travellers passing through China do not need a visa as transit visitors. The government has a TWOV 24-hour policy that grants passengers visa-free access for a day, and this rule applies to almost all ports of entry. 

However, if you plan to stay for more than 24 hours, you may need to apply for a 72 or 144 hour Transit visa. 

Keep reading to learn more about the Chinese Transit visa policy.

Conditions For Visa-Free Layovers

Airlines, trains and ships bring passengers to China who is en route to another country. After arriving in China, they can stay for a short time before boarding another flight or train for a third country. Under Chinese laws, such passengers do not have to apply for a transit visa as their ticket already triggers the policy.  

However, you will need a Chinese visa if you wish to stay in China for more than 24 hours. This is the case for most travellers from different countries, with the exception of selected countries. There are a total of 53 countries from Asia, America and Europe whose citizens don’t require a transit visa for a brief layover. Such citizens only need to provide their passports at the port of entry to enter China and stay for 3-6 days before continuing their journey.

Examples of such countries are the US, the UK, Argentina, Brazil, Israel, Japan, Canada, Australia and all EU countries. As for those whose countries don’t make the list, they must apply for a 72 hour or 144 hour Transit visa.

What Is the 24-Hour Visa-Free Transit?

This is a visa free policy that allows travellers heading for a third country to rest for a while in China, so you can’t depart for the country you are coming from. Travellers can’t spend more than 24 hours in the country and must hold a ticket for the third country they are heading to. This policy applies to all three types of transportation: ferries, trains and planes. Furthermore, it allows the holder to stop at multiple airports or seaports as long as they are onboard the ship or plane.

Another thing to note is that travellers in transit must remain in the transit area until their ship or plane arrives in Mainland China. If they wish to leave the airport or terminal, they must apply for a temporary Stay Permit. Unfortunately, this permit is not issued to all nationals, so you may need to apply for a China transit visa instead if you are not eligible to apply for it.

Countries Eligible For A 24 Hour Visa Free Transit

Citizens of most countries are eligible for a 24-hour visa-free transit except the following countries

  • Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Nigeria, Malaysia, Kyrgyzstan, Syria, Pakistan, India, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, Yemen, Oman, Iran, Iraq and Sri Lanka,  

Ports of Entry

Travellers on the 24-hour TWOV program can enter through any of the entry ports except these.

  • Fuzhou Changle International Airport, Shenzhen Baoan International Airport, Yanji Chaoyangchuan International Airport, Mudanjiang Hailang International Airport

Required Documents

  • Valid passport

  • Onward ticket to the third region or country

  • Arrival and departure application card

  • Visa for the third country where applicable

The 24 hours is calculated from the scheduled arrival and the end of the scheduled departure time. However, delays are common if your scheduled flight doesn’t arrive on time. The scheduled time matters most, so you need not worry about being deported. In cases where the traveller cannot continue the journey due to illness or other unavoidable reasons, they can apply for a visa at the Municipal Public Bureau at the airport or station. Officials at the airport will direct them to the appropriate quarters.

When To Apply For A Transit Visa?

You will need to apply for a transit visa if you are not from a visa free country or wish to remain in China for more than 24 hours. Transit visa applications must be submitted to the embassy in your home country or your host country: the China visa must be issued to you before boarding the flight, as an application for transit visas cannot be done on Chinese soil. The only thing you can apply for is a temporary stay permit or an extension of an existing transit visa. If your request for an extension is granted, you can stay in China for as long as you are permitted.

Do I need a visa if I have a layover in China? You don’t need a visa, as all travellers are guaranteed 24-hour visa-free access. You will only need a transit visa if you are not from a visa free country and wish to stay in China for more than a day.

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