Visit China without a Visa

Beijing Airport, China

US Citizens require a visa to visit mainland China.  The visa fees are steep, $140 per person.  If you have a large family, the costs can add up quickly.

But, did you know that there are exemptions?  If you are transiting through China by air, you can be exempted from a visa.  If your transit time is no more than 24 hours, and you can show proof of your confirmed seating on your connecting flight, you can visit mainland China without a visa, you just need to obtain a free transit permit stamp, at the airport.

So, you land in Beijing, you have 20 hours to kill, now what?  How do you get that Chinese visa free transit permit stamp to leave the airport?

  1. Exit the plane, and follow the signs to “Exit, Baggage Claim”
  2. Continue walking until you see the “24/144-hour International Transfer (Apply for Leaving Airport)” sign.  The desk is located opposite to boarding gate E11.
  3. Make the line and complete an “Arrival Card for Temporary Entry Foreigners” form.  The forms will be handled to you by personnel assisting in the line.  Be patient, the line can be long.
  4. After you obtain your stamp, pass through “China Inspection and Quarantine” area located to the left of the “24/144-hour International Transfer (Apply for Leaving Airport)” line.
  5. Pass through immigration.
  6. After you pass through immigration, take the escalator to the lower level.
  7. In the lower level, you will be standing in the monorail station.
  8. Take the monorail to terminal station T3 C.
  9. Follow the Exit signs.
  10. You can now exit the airport.

This entire process can take up to 2 hours, or more, depending on the time of your arrival.  Beijing airport can be quite overwhelming.  Do not get angry, arm yourself with a lot of patience, remember, this is free and you are saving yourself $140 per person.  The language barrier can be stressful, you will most likely only get help from other tourist in the same boat as you are.  Be prepared to be pushed, shoved, walked in front of, and totally ignored.  It is a different culture, the beauty of traveling and experiencing this first hand!

I highly recommend a layover in Beijing. Having at least 12 hours is necessary to leave the airport.  With 12 hours, you will have ample time to return and catch your connecting flight.

Sign at Beijing Airport, China

I recommend planning for tours prior to your arrival, if you have a short visit, the last thing you want is to get lost trying to catch a bus or a train somewhere.  Sometimes, it is better to spend a bit more money and get to your destination safely. If with limited time, I highly suggest a tour, instead of trying to trek your way around Beijing.  We took a tour to the Wall of China and enjoyed every bit of the experience, you can read about our layover experience HERE.

Categories China, Uncategorized

14 thoughts on “Visit China without a Visa

  1. Very interesting. I didn’t know this could be done and my colleague and I were just talking about China and visiting today. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. talamayfreelance May 21, 2019 — 12:43 am

    I would have never thought of looking into something like this. But it seems like a great way to squeeze a little more out of a trip while saving money.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a wonderful opportunity to get a little taste of a city you have never been to and a city you want to go back to.


  3. Alexandra Cook May 22, 2019 — 1:32 am

    Such a great and very detailed post. This could help me in planning a trip to China. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment Alexandra!


  4. Wow Jen. I seriously had no idea that China does offer these privileges. However, this sounds good and exciting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for visiting the page Moni


  5. Oh China is on my bucket list! I really want to go but have no idea how to go about it, this is so helpful!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lyaovers can be so amazing and allow you ro experience a place even if it’s just shortly. It’s nice that the stamp allows you to visit China without a visa. Makes work easier!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Dalene! And it’s a money saving option as well. Thanks for visiting the page.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. My sister has just visited China. Would have loved to had shared this with her before she went on her trip. This post sure wuld help her with her holiday in this beautiful country

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment. I am sure she will have a great time.


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