Transit Visa in China

My first visit to China almost didn’t happen due to 1 BIG oversight.  I didn’t do my research enough to realize that U.S. citizens need a visa to enter.  Back then 2012 the process was to purchase multiple entry visas.   Having realized that at the last minute I was in a panic to get the visa expedited ( another costly move).  All told my 1st Chinese Visa cost roughly $250 and was a “ONE-WAY” which meant I could enter the mainland and once I exited to visit Hong Kong (no Visa required) I could not re-enter.   Confusing?  I’ll say!


Fast Forward 6 years  later, I’d be back this time with family in tow.   The process much more swifter.  Today there’s a few more options, 1 of which is free.  Yup, FREE.   I did go ahead and purchase a 10 year visa for me, but opted against for my children.  My logic was simply to choose the latest option which is the “transit visa”.   On our recently family trip to China we knew we were mainly coming to see the Great Wall and to get custom clothing made.  We figured max time in would be 4 days.  With that, being frugal I decided to navigate and “risk” a stab at the process.  Whats the worst thing that could happen… get deported?  I’m kidding.   Thankfully the process was seamless, easy and uneventful.  CAVEAT: we had an early arrival.  The process could be longer if there are several planes arriving at the same time. 



Free 144 hour chinese visa granted upon arrival

Once you deplane you simply follow the signs to the Visa counter.  You must provide the following items.

  1. Onward ticket ( meaning show you are exiting China)
  2. Accommodations ( where you’ll be staying while there)
  3. U.S. passport ( not all countries are allowed to get this type of visa)

I assume based on the agent reviewing your itinerary they decide the appropriate Visa that words for you.  In our case we all were granted the 144 visa.  The agent stamps your passport and attaches a sticker that states your arrival and exit date.  It’s really simple and painless.   There are other Visa levels that are free.  Ex. 48 hr and 96 hr, 144hr . 

Click here for more on Visa process

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