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totally confused about 144 hour visa for China

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I know I can use 144 hour Visa for cruise from Shanghai to Korea to Tokyo, but I'm not sure if adding  extra days at start will require a regular Visa rather than the 144 hour one.

My planned itinerary is:

4 days in Shanghai - including a day trip by air to see the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xian

leave China cruising to Incheon, Korea

then cruise returns to Tianjin for 3 days before cruising to Jeju  Island, Korea then on to Japan.


Because my total stay in China is 7 days am I ineligible? Or is it two separate 144 hour visas since I leave China for another country then return to China? Is the day trip to  Xian permitted? I'm not sure if its in an area that permits tourist travel on 144 hour visa.


If anyone has done a similar itinerary or knows the ins and outs of Chinese Visas I would appreciate your advice!


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It is transit WITHOUT visa. You cannot go to more than one spot in China using TWOV. So if you want Xian and Shanghai, you need a visa....


TWOV works like this - A-B-C where A is a country, B is China, and C is a country (or, for purposes of TWOV, can be Hong Kong or Macau) In most locations (BUT NOT ALL) you can have 144 hours at that spot but you cannot LEAVE that area. The Shanghai area is fairly large - you could go to a water town like Suzhou I think, and you can go to the cruise port - but you couldn't go to Beijing or Xian....


For my purposes, the Wiki at flyertalk on the topic is the most up to date and well explained resource: https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/china/708095-china-24-72-144-hour-transit-without-visa-twov-rules-master-thread.html

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Thanks Hoyaheel for the explanation.


It appears to me the following itinerary is quite straight forward & would qualify for TWOV;

Hong Kong - Shanghai (in port for 16 hours) - South Korea.


3 questions please:

1. That China part of a  cruise itinerary would qualify for TWOV ?

2. How current are the cruise lines with this system.

IE: not to have problems boarding without a visa, and also being allowed to  go off for a normal day in port ?

3. What paperwork is required to be presented for processing on arrival in Shanghai ?



Edited by Tranquility Base

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It is my belief (and this is in the FT wiki somewhere too, as well as on this board) that a cruise stop like you mention would qualify - BUT - is Hong Kong the stop IMMEDIATELY before Shanghai? And is South Korea the stop IMMEDIATELY after Shanghai? That's what is most important for Chinese immigration - they don't care about the full itinerary (this is the same for flights) they just care about the immediate past & future. 


I haven't heard of any cruiselines causing a fuss recently about this, but that might be best raised on a company specific board to check what people on recent itineraries have done? If your cruiseline tells you you must have a visa, they can deny your boarding even if your itinerary is TWOV compliant for the Chinese authorities....I also think cruiselines do a lot of scheduling in ways that make it convenient for them - so avoiding making 2000 or however many passengers need to get visas is probably easier for them 😉

Edited by Hoyaheel

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Sounds like part of your trip, is not "in transit".  My unofficial opinion, that is mine alone, is that I would get yourself a Visa for China, and enjoy your travels without any worries.  My last trip, I visited several cities, before a cruise and used a standard Visa.  I'm going back early next year, and I don't have to bother again since the Visa is good for 10 years. 


My rule of thumb for visiting Asia, is don't assume anything, research, and be comfortable with your choices.  Remembering that in China, it depends on who is looking or checking your paperwork that can determine your enjoyment, or stress.

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Also recommend checking with your airline.  American Agent in Phoenix said she had never heard of the 144 hour visa and told me that we would not be getting on a plane to China without the Visa.  We are in Shanghai now, and with the Visa we were able to move thru the airport very quickly.

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Airlines use Timatic to judge whether or not you need a visa. If you tell them you are TRANSITING WITHOUT VISA and enter Shanghai as the transit point, and you're following the Chinese immigration rules, no problem.....


Reminder - TWOV is NOT A VISA. A chinese transit visa IS something different (and I don't think it's available if you're on a US passport).


Also, the reservations line isn't going to have up to date information - whatever they tell you could or could not be agreed with at the gate. If you meet the TWOV requirements, but are still worried about flying out of the US, print out the Timatic instructions and leave yourself plenty of time at the airport....


If you want to go to more than one spot in China or if you'll be going more than once, absolutely get a visa. A 10 year multiple entry is commonly available for tourists now. But if your itinerary is TWOV compliant, and you don't want to spend $140-300 etc (depending on if you need to use a visa agent etc) then use TWOV.....

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It is my understanding that if you enter any Chinese port prior to arrival in Shanghai then you will need a multi-port Chinese visa.

So, for instance, if your cruise visits Tianjin, then goes to a Korean port, and then back to a China port, then you will need a visa.

Our cruise (Celebrity) is doing exactly that, but because we are departing when it pulls into Tianjin and not leaving that province we qualify for the TWOV.

It appears that Celebrity tried to avoid this by altering it's itinerary by not going consecutively to two Chinese ports as was the original plan when we first booked, but it turns out not to have helped because they sent out an email stating that all passengers will be required to obtain Chinese visas a couple of months later after the change.

It turns out that because we were getting off at the first Chinese port, we qualify for the TWOV and have confirmed this with Celebrity.  All the new itinerary did for us is to reduce our 14 day cruise to a 7 day one for  us.......we'll end up missing one Korea port.


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