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Do I need a tourist visa to cruise on HAL stopping at Shanghai for 2 days?


Grigio-girl
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We are going on a 28-day cruise Jan 2024 from Singapore to Japan stopping in Hong Kong and Shanghai. I know Hong Kong is visa -free for US citizens. I've been reading about all kinds of visa-free policies for Shanghai (144-hour, 24-hour, Shanghai 15-day visa free). Can anyone advise on whether or not I need to go through the expensive process of getting a tourist visa for 2 days of touring off the ship?

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US passport holders need a visa to go ashore in China.

It is expensive. This is quid pro quo between China and the USA.

Chinese people need to buy an expensive visa to visit America, so Americans need to buy an expensive visa to visit China.

If you choose to remain onboard the ship in Chinese ports, you will not need to buy the visa.

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I called two different agents from CIBT travel and they confirmed that we can/do qualify for the 144-hour exemption if the tours we go on in Shanghai are organized by the cruise ship. I found this out today. But I wanted to hear other's experience with cruising to Shanghai recently.

 

Thank you for your feedback!

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On 11/29/2023 at 6:02 AM, BruceMuzz said:

US passport holders need a visa to go ashore in China.

It is expensive. This is quid pro quo between China and the USA.

Chinese people need to buy an expensive visa to visit America, so Americans need to buy an expensive visa to visit China.

If you choose to remain onboard the ship in Chinese ports, you will not need to buy the visa.

I’m not sure this is correct.  Holland transferred me to the cibt travel information center and we were told we do not need one.  Must be on a ship tour or another tour that is approved by China.  

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4 hours ago, Riversedge said:

I’m not sure this is correct.  Holland transferred me to the cibt travel information center and we were told we do not need one.  Must be on a ship tour or another tour that is approved by China.  

Technically - and legally - the Shanghai exemption is in place. You should not have to get a visa if you are a US Passport holder and your situation adheres to the requirements of the exemption.

But there is a small problem. It seems that the Chinese Government has not fully briefed some of the Shanghai Immigration Officers about this exemption.

There have been quite a few cases - some of them on my ship - where the Immigration Officials refused to honor the exemption. Then the Americans who were not allowed to go ashore tried to purchase a last-minute visa.

Couldn’t be done. They missed their chance to visit China.

Maybe it will work OK for you - maybe not.

China is a very unpredictable place.

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52 minutes ago, BruceMuzz said:

Technically - and legally - the Shanghai exemption is in place. You should not have to get a visa if you are a US Passport holder and your situation adheres to the requirements of the exemption.

But there is a small problem. It seems that the Chinese Government has not fully briefed some of the Shanghai Immigration Officers about this exemption.

There have been quite a few cases - some of them on my ship - where the Immigration Officials refused to honor the exemption. Then the Americans who were not allowed to go ashore tried to purchase a last-minute visa.

Couldn’t be done. They missed their chance to visit China.

Maybe it will work OK for you - maybe not.

China is a very unpredictable place.

Is this from a recent cruise?   We booked 2 tours thru HAL (which we don’t usually do) in hopes to avoid the problem.  If the worst thing that happens is that we have to stay on the ship that’s fine with me.   China has never been on my bucket list.   Thanks for the information.  

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10 hours ago, Grigio-girl said:

You are going to be on the 2nd half of our cruise picking up in Hong Kong.  So, I’ll look you up if we are all stuck on the ship instead of going to Shanghai. I’m from Northville, MI.  😊

Perfect!  Always good to meet up with another Michigan cruiser.  

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Jeesh, just when I thought we would take a chance with just booking through HAL, now it sounds like its totally up to the whim of the Chinese officials to honor the 15 day exemption!  Sounds like the only sure-fire way to get off the boat is with that dang 10 year visitors visa.  Argh.

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I'm on the same cruise and it's been discussed at length on the roll calls! Not many have been recently because China has just opened up to cruises after covid, I think ours will be the 2nd or 3rd to visit since. Anyway, consensus seems to be: if you are taking a ship tour, or a tour with an agency registered with the government, then you qualify for visa free transit. If you want to get off and do your own thing then you do need a visa. 

 

We have decided to go ahead and apply for a visa here in Melbourne. There's so much confusion and even HAL and CIBT don't seem to understand the requirements. We are not using a service like CIBT though that seem to charge a ridiculous fee on top of the cost of the visa, we are doing it ourselves at the Chinese consulate and it's not overly expensive - AUD$139 (USD$91) for a double entry visa. We want to get off and do our own thing.

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