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FAQs About Visa-free Entry to China Under Mutual Visa Exemption Agreements

By CHANG CHEN|Jun 26,2024

An aerial drone photo taken on April 7, 2024 shows cruise ship Serenade of the Seas docking at Tianjin International Cruise Home Port in North China's Tianjin. (Photo/Xinhua)

Q1: Mutual visa exemption agreements signed between China and other countries state that those eligible for visa exemption may "stay in China for no more than 90 days within any 180-day period". How should this provision be understood and how are the periods calculated?

Answer: The provision "No more than 90 days within any 180-day period" means that the total number of days a foreign national stays in China must not exceed 90 within 180 days prior to any date. The 90-day period does not include the days spent in China under visa, residence permit and other visa documents or APEC Business Travel Card. The visa-free entry will not be granted to any foreigner whose cumulative duration of visa-free stay has reached 90 days within a 180-day period. In the case where a foreigner's cumulative duration of stay has not reached 90 days while the remaining period is less than 30 days, the visa-free stay period for the foreigner concerned for this entry shall not exceed the remaining visa-free stay period.

Q2: If a foreign national has successfully entered China under a mutual visa exemption agreement but subsequently lost his/her passport verified and stamped by a border inspection authority, can he/she leave China with an emergency travel document issued by the embassy of his/her home country in China?

Answer: The types of documents accepted are specified in the mutual visa exemption agreements between China and other relevant countries, which in most cases, are passports. Some of these agreements also permit the use of temporary travel documents and other international travel documents. If a foreign national has lost his/her international travel document required by the corresponding mutual visa exemption agreement after entering China without a visa, he/she can leave the country with a re-issued document, provided that the document is one of those specified in the agreement and that he/she has not overstayed the visa-free stay period. However, if the visa-free stay period has expired or the new travel document is not covered by the agreement, the foreign national concerned will have to obtain a stay permit from the exit/entry administration of a public security organ, and then leave China within the period specified in the permit.

Q3: After a foreign national has entered China under a mutual visa exemption agreement, what should he/she do if he/she needs to extend his/her stay in China beyond the visa-free stay period?

Answer: Any foreign national having entered China under a mutual visa exemption agreement must leave the country before his/her visa-free stay period expires. Those seeking to extend their stay in China due to emergencies or force majeure of other kinds must apply at the exit/entry administrations of public security organs before their visa-free stay periods expire.

Q4: For a foreign national who has entered China under a mutual visa exemption agreement, does he/she need to register his/her accommodation?

Answer: Article 39 of the Exit and Entry Administration Law of the People's Republic of China stipulates that, for any foreigner staying in a hotel in China, the hotel concerned shall register his/her accommodation in accordance with the regulations on the public security administration of the hotel industry, and submit the foreigner's accommodation registration information to the public security organ in the place where the hotel is located. For any foreigner who resides or stays in a domicile that is not a hotel, he/she or the person who accommodates him/her shall, within 24 hours after the foreigner's arrival, complete the registration at the public security organ in the place of residence. According to the aforementioned regulations, foreign nationals who have entered China under mutual visa exemption agreements still need to register their accommodation.

The ARRIVAL CARD, which must be completed to enter China, provides clear information regarding accommodation registration in the "Important Notes" section in both Chinese and English. Foreign nationals shall complete accommodation registration in accordance with the information on the card and the relevant laws. The immigration management authorities and public security organs in China have streamlined the registration process, and are working to further simplify the registration and declaration procedures by utilizing the Internet and other related technologies for foreign nationals visiting China and those intending to stay in the country.

Source: National Immigration Administration

This article is updated on June 26, 2024.


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