China Visa Guide: Do I Need A Visa to Enter China?

Written by Sally Guo Updated Jun. 25, 2024
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Until December 31, 2025, citizens of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Malaysia, Ireland, Switzerland, Hungary, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Australia, New Zealand, and Poland with ordinary passports can visit China without a visa for up to 15 days.

This visa exemption extends to various purposes, including tourism, business trips, transit, and visiting friends and relatives in China.

Usually, foreign travelers need a visa when traveling or doing business in China. This China Visa Guide will help you answer almost all the questions you need to know before applying for a China Visa.

This article includes information on China visa types, requirements, applications, costs, visa-free transit policies, and visas on arrival.

China Visa Types

The type of visa you need to apply for depends on the main purpose of your visit to China.

There are four major categories of Chinese Visa: Chinese Diplomatic Visa, Service Visa, Courtesy Visa, and Ordinary Visa.

We usually refer to the Ordinary Visa types of the Chinese Mainland when speaking of Chinese visas.

1. Ordinary Visa

2. Hong Kong Visa & Macau Visa

Hong Kong and Macau, as two Special Administrative Regions (SARs) in China, are regarded as third regions from China Mainland. They have their own visa policies, and a China Visa is NOT valid for visiting Hong Kong or Macau.

Ordinary passport holders from 170 countries are visa-exempted from entering Hong Kong. Read Hong Kong Visa for the complete list. 

Macau also provides visa exemption for passport holders from 81 countries. Read Macau Visa for the full list.

3. Visa on Arrival for Tourists – Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Xiamen, Hainan

Visa on Arrival Valid for Eligible Ports of Entry Permitted Area to Stay
Shenzhen 5 days Luohu, Huanggang, Shekou and Fuyong ports Shenzhen City
Zhuhai 3 days Gongbei, Jiuzhou and Hengqin ports Zhuhai City
Xiamen 5 days Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport Xiamen City
Hainan 30 days Haikou Meilan International Airport Chinese Mainland

Read China Visa Arrival for more details about China Port Visa or Landing Visa.

4. Tibet Travel Permit

Non-Chinese passport holders and Taiwanese have to get a Tibet Travel Permit with the help of a China-based travel agency, like China Travel, before visiting Tibet.

Foreigners are not allowed to do the application and travel in Tibet independently. You have to travel with a tour guide.

Read How to Apply for a Tibet Permit for more detailed information.

Tibet Travel Permit
Tibet Travel Permit

If you book the Tibet tour with us, we will make all necessary arrangements to obtain the Tibet Permit for you. Feel free to contact us and learn more details about Tibet travel requirements.

China Visa Requirements - How to Apply for a China Visa

When to Apply for China Visas

As ordinary visas are only valid for 90/180 days for single/double-entry visas from the issue date, you are suggested to apply for the visa one or two months before the intended travel.

Where to Apply for China Visas

Find out your visa type. Then submit your application to the visa office of the Chinese Embassy/Consulate General based in your country.

A travel agent or a visa agent can also help you deal with the visa in the embassy or consulate office.

Documents for China Visa Application

China Visa Fees

Entries U.S. Citizen Canada Citizen Non-U.S. Citizen
Single USD 140 CAD 100 USD 30
Double USD 140 CAD 100 USD 45
6 Months Multiple USD 140 CAD 100 USD 60
12 Months Multiple USD 140 CAD 100 USD 90


Read How to Apply for a China Visa to get a step-by-step guide.

China Visa-Free Policy

China Visa-Free Transit Permitted Areas
China Visa-Free Transit Permitted Areas

Visa-Free Transit Policy in China Mainland

There are three types of transit without visa (TWOV for short) policies in China's Mainland:

  24-hour TWOV 72-hour TWOV 144-hour TWOV
Eligible Countries Nearly all countries 54 countries 54 countries
Entry Ports Most Chinese cities Guilin, Beihai, Harbin, Changsha Beijing, Tianjin, Shijiazhuang, Zhengzhou, Qinhuangdao, Shanghai, Nanjing, Lianyungang, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Wenzhou, Zhoushan, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xi'an/Xianyang, Xiamen, Wuhan, Qingdao, Shenyang, Dalian, Kunming, Lijiang, Xishuangbanna, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Jieyang
Means of Transport By air, cruise, or train By air By air, cruise, or train
Areas Allowed to Stay The transiting area The transiting city The transiting city or region

30-Day Visa-Free Policy for Singapore and Thailand

Citizens from Singapore and Thailand with ordinary passports can visit China for up to 30 days without needing a visa.

With this policy, travelers can visit any mainland destination in China during this period, except for certain regions like Tibet and Xinjiang, which require special tourist permits.

15-Day Visa-Free Policy for Specific Countries

From July 26, 2023, Bruneian citizens holding ordinary passports can enjoy a 15-day visa-free policy when traveling to China.

From December 1, 2023, until December 31, 2025, ordinary passport holders of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia can benefit from a 15-day visa-free entry to China.

From March 14, 2024, until December 31, 2025, ordinary passport holders of Switzerland, Ireland, Hungary, Austria, Belgium, and Luxembourg can visit China for 15 days without a visa.

From July 1, 2024, until December 31, 2025, ordinary passport holders of Australia, New Zealand, and Poland can visit China visa-free for 15 days.

These visa-exempt policies apply to purposes such as tourism, business, transit, and visiting friends and relatives in China.

6-Day Visa-free Policy for ASEAN Groups to Guilin

From May 28, 2015, tourists from the ASEAN nations (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Brunei) traveling in groups (of 2 or more) can visit Guilin for up to six days without a visa.

The requirements are that the group needs to be arranged through a local travel agency and every group member must come in and go out via Guilin Airport.

To get this visa-free trip, you need to apply at least one week in advance and it usually takes about three days to get everything settled. If you meet all these conditions and book a Guilin tour with us, we can help make the process easier for you.

6-Day Pearl River Delta Visa Exemptions

Foreigners traveling from Hong Kong or Macau can visit the Guangdong Pearl River Delta area (Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen, Zhaoqing, and Huizhou) for up to six days without a visa.

This visa-free policy is applicable if you are part of a tour group (of 2 or more people) organized by a local travel agency in Hong Kong or Macau.

Additionally, this policy extends to tourist groups visiting Shantou, as long as you enter and exit directly from Shantou, and your activities are limited to Shantou.

Shanghai 15-Day Visa-Free Policy for Cruise Groups

Since October 1, 2016, the 15-day visa-free policy has been operating for foreign tourist groups entering China from Shanghai by cruise.

Under the 15-day visa-free policy, your group can visit and depart from any port within the designated areas as long as you remain together on the same cruise ship.

The visa-free privilege applies to specific regions, including Shanghai, Beijing, and Tianjin, and provinces such as Liaoning, Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, and Hainan.

China 15-Day Visa-Free Areas
China 15-Day Visa-Free Areas for Cruise Groups at Shanghai Ports

During the 15 days, the group is permitted to explore these areas without the need for a visa.

Read about the 15-Day Visa-Free Cruise Trip in China for more details.

Hainan 30-Day Visa-Free Stay

From May 1, 2018, ordinary passport holders from 59 countries can have visa-free entry to Hainan if they are received by Hainan-based travel agencies.

They must apply for a visa-free stay at least 72 hours before arrival and enter/exit from Sanya or Haikou by flight with a hotel booking confirmation voucher. They can stay and travel in the whole Hainan Province for up to 30 days without a Chinese visa.

The full list of the qualifying 59 countries are:

Russia, the UK, France, Germany, Norway, Ukraine, Italy, Austria, Finland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary,

Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania,

the US, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Kazakhstan, Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Monaco, and Belarus.  

Check Hainan’s official tourism website for updated visa-free info and find eligible travel agencies.

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