China as recently announced that there will be a 144 hour visa transit policy that allows people to stay in the country for a longer period of time without a visa. The period of time you can now stay in the country with the 144 hours free visa policy is 6 days. Currently, the policy applies to people travelling through the country via the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Tianjin, Hangzhou, Shenyang and Dalian.
The 144 hours free visa allows visitors into the mainland of China for 144 hours without a visa. However, this policy is only limited to citizens of certain specified countries. In addition to the 144 hour free visa policy, there is also a 15 day free visa policy in Shanghai for travelers with international travelling documents. The 144 hours and the 15 days begin the next day after entry into the China mainland.
The 144 hour visa free transit has been implemented in Beijing, Hebei and Tianjin. This particular policy allows people who are travelling using air, ships and train from fifty three countries around the world to stay for the six days without having to apply for a visa. The policy is meant to allow more people to visit China and in particular these places without having to go through the process of applying for a visa. An example is a person who is holding a UK passport entering China through the designated places. Such a person will be allowed to stay in the three outlined places without necessarily applying for a visa. This allows business people and tourists to travel freely without having to plan for a visa.
To apply for the 144 hour visa free transit one needs to start by informing the carrier before boarding that one intends to use this type of visa. After this, one is supposed to fill an arrival-departure card and then proceed to apply the stay permit. This application should be made immediately on arrival. The next step should be to leave the airport and ensure that one goes through the customs. The last step should be to ask for luggage if one was carrying luggage while entering. During the application process one is required to just present basic personal details such as names and address. One should provide truthful details including how long one intends to stay.
While holding this type of visa one gets to enjoy all the benefits that were being enjoyed by the people who used to apply for conventional visas. One can use the trains and other forms of transport to travel between the three outlined places. One can also shop with the popular tax refund policy which significantly reduces the amounts one spends. This has opened these three places significantly when it comes to business and tourism. The policy is also intended to allow people to easily watch the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022. Therefore, the 144 hour visa free transit policy has helped a lot of people who would like to visit the three outlined places.
Countries that are covered by the policy
Not all the countries in the world can enjoy this policy, only the selected few. Some of the countries that can enjoy the policy include the following;
• European citizens from the following 39 countries in Europe; Belgium ,Austria, Denmark, Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania, , Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia , Switzerland, Russia, Ireland, Cyprus, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, Belarus, and Monaco, Germany, Luxembourg, Finland, the UK, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain and Latvia.
• American citizens from the following countries; Canada, Mexico, the USA, Brazil, the Republic of Chile and Argentina.
• Oceanian citizens from the countries of New Zealand and Australia.
• Asian citizens from the countries of; Japan, Brunei, South Korea, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Documents required for the application of the visa
Once you have found out that you are eligible for the policy, there are several documents you need to have when applying for the visa. These documents are;
• Arrival and departure cards that have been completely filled in with the necessary information.
• A valid passport.
• The visa for a third region and onward visa for the same are optional but you should have them just in case they are required.
After you have all the necessary documents, you are required to follow the 5 easy steps to go about the policy.
1. Communicate with your carrier and inform them on your intentions to use the 144 hours policy. As you do this, ensure you get your onward ticket before you start travelling.
2. In the arrival and departure cards, fill in all the required details.
3. After alighting from the flight, head directly towards the desk reserved for the 144 policy. Here, hand in your details to the immigrations officer with all the necessary documents.
4. Then continue with the normal activities, claim your luggage and leave the premises, as you would have done with a visa.
5. The last step is to leave the country from one of the designated ports before 12pm of the sixth day. As you leave, ensure you and in your immigration and departure card to the 144 policy desk at the port.
The designated ports for entry and exit
Not all the ports are involved in this policy. There are some ports that have designated desks for the sole purpose of helping people with the 144 hour policy. The shortlisted ports are;
• Shanghai, Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces are the listed ports for Area 1.
• Tianjin, Hebel province and Beijing are the ports shortlisted for Area 2.
• Liaoning province is the only shortlisted port or Area 3.
• The Beijing West Railway and Shanghai Railway Stations are also shortlisted for those people who prefer travelling via rail only.
The shortlisted ports may be changed at any time and the travelers are therefore advised to confirm the ports with the authorities before starting their trips.
The conditions to enjoy the 144 hour free visa
The 144 hours begin at 00:00 hours the day after you officially get in through the ports. To enjoy the policy there are several conditions you are required to abide by.
• You have to use either of the three means of travel; plane, train or ferry.
• You have to remain in the areas you are permitted during your stay in the country.
• You have to be in transit to a third region.
• You cannot stay in the country for more than 144 hours.
• You should have with you an onward ticket leaving the China mainland before entry into China.
• There cannot be any stopovers in the mainland before your arrival into the country or after your departure from the country.
• You must be a citizen of the above listed countries and your passport should be valid for at least 12 weeks from the intended arrival date.
The 15 day visa free entry
This policy has been implemented by Shanghai to its foreign visitors by cruise. This policy has been in place since 2016. Just like the 144 hour policy, these visitors are not allowed to stay in the country for more than 15 days which start the day after they arrive into the country. The people who are eligible for this policy are those passengers that hold travelling documents that are internationally recognized. These visitors are not only allowed to travel around Shanghai but also in other destinations like Beijing, Hebei Province, Liaoning province, Shandong Province, Hainan Province, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Fujian Province, Guangdong Province, Jiangsu Province and Zhejiang Province.
The requirements to meet the criteria for this policy
Just like in the 144 hours free visa policy, this policy requires you to meet some certain minimum requirements. These requirements are;
• You must be a holder or internationally recognized documents for travelling and enter the country via a cruise ship. You are also required to leave the country in a cruise ship.
• You have to be enrolled with a tour group that has more than 2 members and which has been organized by a recognized travel agency in the China mainland.
Some of the entry ports into Shanghai for the people eligible for both of the policies are;
• Shanghai Pudong International Airport.
• Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal.
• Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal.
• Shanghai Railway Station.
• Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport.