Your Questions on China's Visa-Free Travel Answered...

By Billy Jiang, January 16, 2024

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As China continues to expand its list of countries eligible for visa-free entry, many That's readers planning trips to the PRC have raised numerous queries regarding this policy. 

In response to these questions, the Chinese National Immigration Administration has provided official clarifications on various aspects. 

Here are some common questions and their respective official answers.

Q: Do those eligible for Chinese visa exemption need to make a prior declaration to Chinese embassies and consulates before traveling to China?
A: People eligible for the visa exemption policy do not need to do so.

Q: Are travel purposes to China verified by Chinese border control posts, and how? Must the individual present documents other than the passport upon entry into Chinese territory?
A: Foreigners entering China for business, tourism, family or friendly visits, or transit, and meeting the necessary conditions for visa exemption, can enter Chinese territory under the authorization of border control posts that have conducted checks in accordance with the law. 

It is advisable to bring documents justifying the purpose of travel, such as invitation letters, flight and hotel reservations, etc. 

Those traveling to China for work, study, or reporting purposes do not qualify for visa exemption.

Q: Are there specific conditions for applying the visa-free policy to minors?
A: The application conditions are the same for both adults and minors.

Q: What are the requirements for the type and validity of travel documents?
A:  Foreigners traveling to China must have an ordinary passport valid for the entire stay in China. 

Those holding documents other than ordinary passports, such as travel certificates, temporary or emergency papers, are not eligible for Chinese visa exemption.

Q: How to calculate the 15-day stay duration?
A:  Eligible individuals can stay in Chinese territory without interruption until midnight on the 15th day from the day of entry.

Q: Is it possible to depart from a country other than the country of nationality?
A:  Those eligible for visa exemption can depart from any country (or region) outside Chinese territory.

Q: Does this policy apply to modes of transportation other than flights to enter Chinese territory?
A: Visa exemption applies to all Chinese airports, land ports, and seaports open to foreigners (except cases specified in laws and regulations or special bilateral agreements). 

If the individual uses their vehicle to enter China, they must complete entry and exit procedures for their vehicle under Chinese laws and regulations.

Q: Can tourist groups benefit from the visa exemption policy?
A: Foreigners meeting the conditions of visa exemption, whether part of a tourist group or traveling individually, can all benefit from it.

Q: Is it possible to apply for a visa extension if the stay in China exceeds 15 days?
A: Foreigners wishing to stay in China for more than 15 days must apply for a corresponding visa in advance at Chinese embassies or consulates. 

Those who entered Chinese territory with visa exemption and have a legitimate reason to extend their stay can apply for a stopover or stay permit from the entry and exit control offices of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security.

Q: Is visa exemption valid for multiple entries? Are there restrictions on entry intervals, the number of entries, and the total duration of stays?
A: Visa exemption is valid for multiple entries for eligible individuals. 

So far, there are no restrictions on the number of entries and the total duration of stays. 

However, it is important to note that individuals cannot engage in activities inconsistent with the declared purpose of their entry into China to obtain visa exemption.

For more insights into traveling in China, follow our official WeChat account, ThatsGBA.

[Cover image by Billy Jiang/That's]

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