International visitors normally need a pre-arranged visa to enter China, but the country's newly expanded visa-free transit policies could allow some foreigners to enter China for up to six days without a visa, provided that their travel plans meet certain requirements.
The key rule here is that the visa-waiver scheme works for transits only, meaning that you're eligible only when you're entering from one country to travel through China before travelling on to another country. There are three types of transits without a visa: the conventional 24 hours, and the recent additions of the more accommodating 72 hours and 144 hours.
Also, it is now possible to visit Hainan province for up to 30 days without a visa, if you are from one of 59 eligible countries.
Of course, there are restrictions regarding nationalities and travel ranges within the country, depending on your entry and exit ports. And they can be a bit confusing.
That's why we've prepared this manual to guide you through the basics and intricacies.
If your country or entry port is not shown on the list, it means your trip is only covered by the conventional 24-hour visa-free transit policy.