Oct 24, 2019 08:32 PM

China Expands Visa-Free Transit Policy to Spur Tourism

China is expanding its 144-hour visa-free transit policy to three additional ports of entry starting from Dec. 1, the National Immigration Administration (NIA) said at a press conference Wednesday.

After the change, eligible foreign visitors who arrive at a total of 27 ports of entry will be able to stay in the country without a visa for up to 144 hours.

China has been gradually instituting more visa-free entry policies to make visiting the country more convenient for foreign travelers, in an effort to boost the tourism industry as economic growth slows.

The new measure extends the policy to include airports in Southwest China’s Chongqing municipality, northwestern Shaanxi province’s capital of Xi’an and the coastal city of Ningbo in East China’s Zhejiang province.

The visa-free transit policy is only good for the area around the point of entry into the country, though the latest rule change has added a greater degree of flexibility for travelers in certain regions.


Travelers who enter China at the Chengdu airport, for example, will be allowed to stay in 10 other nearby cities within Sichuan province for up to 144 hours in total without a visa, according to a press release on NIA’s website. The same flexibility rule will also be applied in the Jiangsu-Zhejiang-Shanghai region, allowing foreign visitors to enter from either one of the listed ports of entry in the region and exit from another.

After the latest expansion, 30 ports of entry in 23 cities in 18 provinces and municipalities will allow eligible foreign travelers to transit within 144 hours or 72 hours without a visa. The list of 144-hour visa-free ports of entry covers 27 cities in China, including most major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Hangzhou. The other three cities, Changsha, Guilin, and Harbin, allow 72-hours visa-free transit.

From January 2013 to September this year, more than 452,000 foreigners have entered the country through the visa-free transit policy. In 2018, foreign travelers crossed the border into and out of China 95.3 million times, up 11.6% from the year before. More than 100,000 visitors entered the country through the visa-free transit policy in 2018, a 23.9% increase from the previous year, according to a report by the state-run Xinhua News Agency.

Until now, the State Council, China’s cabinet, has approved the visa-free transit policy for travelers from 53 countries and regions, including the United States, Canada, Russia, the U.K., France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Qatar.

Contact reporter Isabelle Li (

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