Beijing Allows Three-Day Visa-Free Stay for Transit Passengers

Starting on January 1, 2013, travelers from 45 countries can stay in Beijing for up to 72 hours with no visa if they’re transiting through the city.

Under the new policy, recently announced by the city government of Beijing, a passenger who is making a connection in Beijing and has visa and plane ticket for his or her next destination, can stay in Beijing for up to 72 hours with no need to get a visa from China’s border control authorities. The new policy apply only to passengers who come to Beijing by flight, arriving at Beijing Capital International Airport. Those who arrive by other means (for example, train) will not get the visa-free treatment.

Visitor who make use of the new policy on visa-free stay are expected to stay in Beijing and not to leave the city during the period. Currently, air travelers who transit through Beijing must stay inside Beijing Capital International Airport.

A similar visa-free transit policy has been in place for the city of Shanghai, where the period of visa-free stay in the city is 48 hours. It is expected that before long Shanghai will update its rules to bring it up to par with the new policy to be implemented in Beijing.

In 2011, over five million foreigners visited Beijing. Some estimate that with the new visa-free transit policy, foreign travelers who visit Beijing will double in three years.

Below is the list of the 45 countries whose citizens are covered under the new visa-free transit stay policy for Beijing:

Argentina
Australia
Austria
Belgium
Brazil
Brunei
Bulgaria
Canada
Chile
Cyprus
Czech
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
Germany
Greece
Holland
Hungary
Iceland
Ireland
Italy
Japan
Korea, South
Latvia
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Malta
Mexico
New Zealand
Poland
Portugal
Qatar
Romania
Russia
Singapore
Slovak
Slovenia
Spain

The list of countries above may change, so one should double-check on China's transit visa rules before go on a trip. For example, Britian was added to the list of coutries the citizens of which can stay in Beijing and Shanghai for up to 72 hours without visa if they're trainsiting through the cities.