China adds more cities to visit without a visa.

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by Dozer, Jan 12, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. Dozer

    Dozer Silver Member

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    In case you guys missed it, China has been adding more and more cities to the list of places you can travel to without a visa. Starting January 1, 2014, you can travel to and visit the following cities in China without a visa for up to 72 hours (3 days):
    1. Beijing
    2. Shanghai
    3. Guangzhou
    4. Shenyang
    5. Dalian
    6. Chengdu
    7. Chongqing
    So basically, they want your money, er. . . I mean, they want to boost tourism. The problem is that the visa application process they have in place is so cumbersome and complicated that people just can’t meet all the requirements to obtain one. So instead of modifying their visa application process, they introduced this “Transit Without a Visa” (TWOV) scheme last year to boost tourism to Beijing and Shanghai. Apparently, the program was so successful, they expanded it to other provinces as well.

    Now, don’t get too excited. Visiting China without a visa isn’t as easy as it sounds. There are some caveats and restrictions that you must meet in order to qualify for the visa exemption. They are:
    1. This exemption is only available to citizens of 51 countries, including the US, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Brunei, Russia, Ukraine, Qatar and the UAE.
    2. The entire length of your stay in China can only last up to 72 hours (3 days).
    3. You must fly out of the same airport that you arrived in China. For example, if you flew into PEK – Beijing Capital International Airport, you must depart from PEK. You cannot arrive in PEK and depart from PVG – Pudong International Airport.
    4. Speaking of that, you actually cannot leave the city that you arrived in. If you fly into Beijing, you must stay in Beijing. If you fly into Shanghai, you must stay in Shanghai. There are no exceptions and you will be arrested if you do not have a valid visa to travel throughout the country.
    5. You must have a confirmed ticket departing China within the 72 hours. If that country that you are flying to requires a visa, you must have that also prior to landing in China.
    6. Your visit to China can only be a transit to a third country, not a destination. Let me explain. Your itinerary can only include China as a transit in between two other countries. Consider it more of a long layover than a destination for a vacation. For example, you can travel from Korea to China, stay up to 72 hours, and then travel on to Thailand. You cannot travel from Korea to China, stay for 72 hours, and then travel back to Korea. The two countries in which you enter China from and depart to, must be different. From the US to China and back to the US is a no go and will need a visa. From the US to Japan to China to the US is okay and would qualify for the TWOV exemption. It doesn’t matter that you are starting and ending your trip in the US. It only matters that the country before and after your arrival into China are different.
    7. You must notify your airline of your intention to visit China without a visa. They have to declare your intent to visit China prior to you landing in China. If the uninformed agent doesn’t know about this TWOV, have them refer to the TIMATIC visa database. It’s the database airlines use to verify whether or not a person can board an international flight. If you meet all these requirements, then you will receive a transit visa upon your arrival to China.
    8. You are required to register at a local police station upon your arrival into the city. Don’t worry, most hotels will do this for you upon checking in. I’m only listing it here for your reference.
    9. And lastly, this exemption only applies to arrival via airports. Trains, automobiles, boats, etc. do not qualify.
    So those are the rules. If you can make it happen, I would highly recommend you take advantage of this little deal and cross China off your bucket list. Especially now that some of the Chinese airlines have really up’ed their long haul products including Air China with their brand new Boeing 777-300ER’s and China Southern with their Airbus A380′s.

    Here’s the link to the Chinese Consulate Office in Los Angeles if you need further information on TWOV’s. It’s not updated with the new destinations yet but the rules are the same.

    Okay, so let’s say you don’t meet one of these requirements and need to get a visa for China, here’s what you need to do. Be warned, it’s a pain in the rear end.

    First off, locate the Chinese consulate office that has jurisdiction over your place of residence. A list of the consulate offices in the United States can be found here. The visas are approved by the local offices and you must apply with the consulate office in your area. Download and complete the “Visa Application Form of People’s Republic of China.” You can find the link here. If you are visiting as a tourist, you will be applying for a “L” visa. Complete and print out the visa application.

    You must have made your hotel and air reservations already. If not, you must do this prior to applying for your visa. I know. I know. It’s a gamble and you might not get approved for your visa but they do require this before approving your application. See, I told you it was a pain the rear end. Once you have your confirmed hotel and air reservations, print them out also.

    Go get a passport/visa size photo of your beautiful mug.

    And I’m already assuming you have a passport right? If not, then you definitely need that also.

    Make sure to confirm the consulate office’s hours and location. The Los Angeles office is only open from 0900 to 1400 hours, Monday through Friday. Once you have all these documents, you must apply in person to your local consulate office. Mailed applications will not be accepted. A friend, family member, travel agent or employee of a private visa application service can show up on your behalf. If you live in a state without a local consulate office, you may hire one of those visa application services. There are plenty of them out there. However, an in-person interview may be requested prior to the approval of your application. They do not take appointments. You just show up, take a number and wait in the office until your number is called. It’s like the DMV.

    When your number is called, you present your passport, photo, application and proof of confirmed travel and hotel reservation to the consulate officer. He/she will review your application and give you a receipt for your passport. Yes, you will have to leave your passport there with them and the application process takes about a week. The receipt will have the pick up date for your application. And don’t lose your receipt. You will need that to get your passport back.

    On your return to the consulate, proceed to the pickup window and pay the $140.00 fee and pick up your passport. Your visa will be a sticker on one of the blank pages. VERIFY the information on the visa and compare it to your passport before you leave. This is very important!

    And that’s it. More information from the Los Angeles consulate office can be found here if you need it.

    Here's a link to my original post with more information. http://pursuedadventures.com/visit-china-without-visa/
     
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  2. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Huh?

    I applied for and got a visa last October. Wasn't difficult at all.
     
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  3. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    It's misleading to describe this as visit without visa. It's TRANSIT without visa and your itinerary must genuinely involve a transit at the Chinese airport to a third country.
     
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  4. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    It's a pain and needlessly expensive to be forced to use a visa service agency. Chinese visas are an expensive hassle, but not as bad as Russian visas.
     
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  5. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    No one forced me to use a visa service. I chose to go to the consulate myself. Took a bit of time, but I generally have plenty of stuff to read for work. So I didn't even need to take time off.
     
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  6. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    Those of us who don't live in cities with consulates are effectively forced to use a visa service. It would be way too expensive to make at least two RTs to where the consulate is located. You cannot apply for a Chinese visa by mail, fax, FexEx, email, etc., nor will they return your passport to you by mail, FedEx, etc.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2014
  7. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Could be worse. Looks like Chinese nationals may have to visit the US consulate/embassy for an interview if I understand the US embassy pages correctly.
     
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