IMPACT – MEDIUM
What is the change? Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province will soon offer six-day visa-free stays for nationals of 53 countries transiting through China, according to officials.
What does the change mean? The policy would be similar to a visa-free policy that was implemented in Shanghai and neighboring cities in 2016 and would give travelers greater flexibility to visit Beijing, Tianjin or Hebei Province without having to obtain visas. Travelers would likely be required to have proof of onward travel. Business activities would not be allowed during visa-free transit.
- Implementation time frame: The policy is expected to be implemented by the end of 2017, but no exact date has been announced yet.
- Visas/permits affected: Visa-free transit.
- Who is affected: Foreign nationals of 53 designated countries, including Australia, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, the United States and most European countries.
- Impact on processing times: Eligible foreign nationals will not have to obtain a visa for transit stays of up to six days.
Background: Many cities in China already allow foreign travelers from designated countries to stay for up to three days without a visa if they have proof of a visa for their destination country and an onward ticket. Shanghai, Hangzhou and Nanjing implemented six-day visa-free transit periods in 2016.
Nationals of the following countries are eligible for the visa-free transit programs: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Beijing was expected to follow Shanghai and its neighboring cities in implementing six-day visa-free transit periods, and the city’s vice mayor recently said that the policy would likely be implemented by the end of the year.
BAL Analysis: The policy would double the allowable stay for travelers in transit from 72 hours to 144 hours, but business travelers are reminded that visa-free transit is only for tourism and social visits.