Visiting Shanghai – 15 Day Visa-Free Policy for Cruises

“The 15-day visa-free policy for cruises allows travelers who are with a registered tour company to explore Shanghai and the surrounding area without the inconvenience of filing for a visa.”


Do I qualify for the 15 day visa-free policy?

We are authorised to approve your 15-day visa-free stay, provided that you meet the following requirements:

  • You should be attending a tour hosted by this company.
  • Your tour group must have two or more travellers.
  • You must hold a valid international passport.
  • You must depart from China in the same ship which brought you to Shanghai.
  • Your stay must be for less than 15 days, not including the day of arrival.


Travel Area Restrictions

You are allowed within Shanghai Municipality, including its surrounding provinces Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Hebei, Jiangsu, Liaoning and Zhejian. You are also allowed within the Tianjin and Beijing municipalities.

Foreign tour groups using the 15 day visa-free policy should travel together as a group and should travel with their cruise ship, such that they depart from the same ship that they arrived on.


When do the 15 days begin and end?

The 15 days begin at 00:00 (midnight) of the day following your arrival, and end in exactly 360 hours.


Can I apply for the 15 day visa-free policy if I’m already on board my cruise?

As soon as we receive your application, we can send an urgent request to the Shanghai Immigration Inspection Authority to approve you. If they are able to approve your request before you arrive in Shanghai, your 15-day visa free visit can be processed as normal when you arrive. However, it is always safer to apply in advance.


Do I need to be received by a registered company?

Yes, only a legally registered Chinese travel agency can agree to receive your tour group under the visa free travel policy. The travel agency must submit a list in advance declaring the name of the tourists they intend to receive into the country, and this must be approved by the Shanghai Immigration Inspection Authority before the visa-free process can be completed.


What documents are required?

After the group name list has been approved by the Shanghai Immigration Inspection Station, your passport and travelling documents are required as proof of identity upon departing your ship. Arrival and departure cards are no longer needed and none of your documents will be stamped, because your status will be recorded electronically by the Immigration Inspection Cruise Management System as you disembark or board a ship.


May the tour group depart from a different port?

Yes. You can depart from any port within the allowed municipalities, as long as you depart on the same cruise ship you arrived on. Because your personal details have already been logged with the Shanghai Immigration Inspection Station, you only need your international travel documents and passport to verify your identity. Your 15 day visa-free policy status will be detected by the computer system based on your personal identification and you will be allowed to board the ship.


May the tour group travel to other port cities in China within one trip under the visa-free policy?

Yes, as long as you use the same cruise ship that you arrived in for transport, and you may only travel within the  following municipalities: Shanghai Municipality, including its surrounding provinces Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, Hebei, Jiangsu, Liaoning and Zhejian, Tianjin municipality and Beijing municipality. A tour group should enter the country, be transferred by port cities, and depart the country on the same ship. Your arrival and departure at each port will be logged by the Immigration Inspection Cruise Management System installed on the gangplank of the ship.


What if one of the tour group members needs to overstay the 15 day limit due to an emergency such as illness or injury?

In this case we will help you to organize the testimonial letters necessary to prove your need to stay in the country and secure a temporary stay certificate. Valid reasons for overstaying the 15 day limit include ‘forces majeure’ such as illnesses, injuries, humanitarian crises and natural disasters.


What if I need to urgently leave the country?

In this case you can leave the country by any means of transport whenever you wish by using your travel documents and the letter of proof given to you by the travel agency that received you. No special reason is required for urgently leaving the country.


How do I check in to a hotel during a visa-free visit?

If you have entered China on a cruise visa-free, you will need to bring a copy of your tour group name list, stamped by the Immigration Inspection Authority, in addition to your personal travel documents. Many cruise ship travellers are arrange to return to their ship to sleep. This is why additional security policies are in effect when checking into accommodation.


Alternatives when Departing by Other Means of Transport

If you are planning to arrive by cruise ship and depart by other means (i.e. air, train, a different ship than the one you arrived in) you may still apply for a shorter visa-free program such as the Shanghai 144 hour visa-free policy or the China transit visa (24 hours). This policy is available to travellers from 51 major countries, which are listed by continent below:

America: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Republic of Chile, the United States

Europe: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic,      Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia,       Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Montenegro, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia,   Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and Albania, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom

Oceania and Asia: Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, the United       Arab Emirates, and Qatar


How do I get a Visa to visit China?

A regular visa is time consuming and inconvenient to obtain in comparison to making use of the visa-free policy. The normal processing time is 4 business days and will cost $140 USD for a single entry by a US Citizen.



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