In order to be eligible for this visa-free transit, you still need a booked international onward flight. You are not allowed to return to the country from which you just arrived from. After your transit, you need to leave China for a third country. Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan are considered to be third destinations in this situation.
Before this 144 hours agreement went into action, it was possible to stay for 72 hours in Beijing in transit. You can, however, still stay in some Chinese provinces visa-free for a couple of days without any special requirements like travelling to a third country afterwards.
The 144 hours visa-free agreement is valid for Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei, specifically for these ports of entry and departure:
– Beijing Capital International Airport, Beijing West Railway Station;
– Binhai International Airport in Tianjin, Tianjin International Cruise Home Port;
– Shijiazhuang of Hebei: Zhengding International Airport;
– Qinhuangdao of Hebei: Qinhuangdao Port.
Passengers are allowed to enter and depart from any of these airports and ports.
Travellers from 53 countries are allowed to take the advantage of this visa-free transit:
a) Schengen countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland;
b) 15 other European countries: Russia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia (FYROM), Albania, Belarus, and Monaco;
c) American countries: USA, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile;
d) Australia and New Zealand;
e) Asian countries: Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
Mandatory documents for the visa-free transit are:
1. Valid passport
It has to be valid for at least 6 months at the time of the entry.
2. Onward ticket + visa to a third country (if needed)
Passengers must have a booked onward ticket with a confirmed seat and date to a third country. They also need to have a valid visa for the said third country (if the visa is needed).
3. Filled out arrival/departure card
You need to check that your arrival and departure are in line with the decided visa-free time period. Take note that it does not matter if your flight arrives late, you do not get extra time.
In case your onward flight is rescheduled for later, you may need to apply for an additional stay permit or even a Chinese visa. Situations like these are unfortunate and they are out of your control, but you cannot stay in China without a valid documentation.
Don’t forget about the registration process once you get to China. If you are staying at a hotel/hostel, they will register all their guests that are staying longer than 24 hours at their accommodation. If you are, however, staying with your family, friends or relatives, you will need to register by yourself within 24 hours of your arrival at the local police office. You need to bring your passport and your host needs to bring their identity documents. This registration process is free of charge. You need to be registered and if you fail to go through this procedure, you may be temporarily detained and questioned by the border officials.