First off, I don't have a huge amount of experience with this, just two successful transits. Next up, I hold a US passport. Per http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/hzqz/zgqz/t84242.htm this also applies to anyone from Republic of Korea, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Austria, Greece, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, or Iceland as well, but I don't hold those passports. You must have your passport with you, it will get stamped. In my case, the stamp took up a full page of my passport. According to Timatic, it looks like it might be possible to transit any airport in mainland China in less than 24 hours, but I'm not sure of that. At the very least, you can do a transit of up to 48 hours at PVG or SHA airports and leave the airport if you wish. Both of my transits were 18 hours and I just went to a hotel to sleep in a real bed, but you could time it for just under 48 hours and get a couple days in Shanghai proper if you want. Make sure you're actually transitting from one country through Shanghai to a different country: USA->PVG->USA is not a valid transit, however USA->PVG->Japan, or USA->PVG->HKG, or Germany->PVG->USA all are valid transits. Also, USA->PVG, SHA->HKG is valid. Your flights don't all need to be on the same ticket nor the same airline. I went United from USA->PVG then Cathay Pacific from PVG->HKG the next day and that's fine. Make sure you have a copy of all your e-ticket receipts though (both inbound and outbound), as I've read elsewhere that it needs to be an e-ticket receipt, not just a printout of your itinerary. Give yourself plenty of time when checking into your flights that will deposit you at Shanghai - none of the check-in agents I dealt with were familiar with this, especially as I was using separate tickets. Most of them looked in Timatic using China(People's Republic) as the destination, and not as a stopover, and so missed the Transit Without Visa (TWOV) section. It took significantly longer to get boarding passes at all stations (20-30 minutes) and then making sure that my baggage was only checked to PVG. Note that most people will need to pick up any checked bags at PVG, go through Customs, then re-check them (the only airlines that don't need to are LH, LX, and NZ if you're connecting to or from them). You'll still need to fill out the arrival/departure for China, and I just put down 'Transit' as the purpose of my visit. At PVG, I'd say it took me about 1 hour to deplane, go through immigration, collect my checked bags, and go through customs. Checking in with bags, going through immigration and security took me probably 20 minutes at PVG (using priority check-in and security though). Nothing special needed to depart PVG. I would think a minimum of 2 hours to connect in the same terminal, maybe 2h15m if you've got to switch to the other terminal. I'd be a bit stressed by that though (especially if on separate tickets), as it seems like you can be unlucky getting some additional questioning at customs or immigration. 3h is probably pretty reasonable, and if you get through quickly, PVG has free wifi, decent lounges, places to eat, and shopping.