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I and my girlfriend (a mainland Chinese citizen from Heilongjiang) are planning to visit Hong Kong from Malaysia (where we both have MSC working visas), and will also be returning to Malaysia. I have been surprised at all of the restrictions placed on mainland Chinese citizens; it seems that there is a lot of bureaucracy required before a mainland Chinese citizen can enter Hong Kong.

I am trying to find out if there is some way that she can enter Hong Kong for 3-4 days with me (a British citizen) without having to go through the hassle of trying to get a visa.

After a little while reading, I found this exemption clause:

Chinese passport holders who are in transit through Hong Kong from another country, region or territory may be granted a stay of 7 days without the prior need to obtain an entry permit, with the condition of possession of valid Chinese passport and confirmed onward air tickets for the overseas journey. If Chinese passport holders will go for mainland China or Macau via Hong Kong, onward air tickets are not compulsory.

It seems that this could be used to allow her visaless entry to Hong Kong, as we only plan to go for 3-4 days.

So here are my questions based on that 7-day exemption clause:

  • Does the "onward air tickets" stipulation apply when flying from and returning to Malaysia, or would it only apply if we were flying on to another country entirely?
  • If "onwards air tickets" may not apply in that situation, does flying back to Malaysia via Macao or mainland China permit her to enter without a visa?
  • Does simply entering mainland China without flying (for example, using the Hong Kong–Shenzhen Western Corridor to drive there) also entitle her to this entry?

I have contacted the Chinese embassy in Malaysia about these questions, but they advised me that they do not know the answer to them (which I find a little surprising).

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Non expert opinion only: I'd expect that provided that she can with certainty enter mainland China from HK and leave again into HK then she should not need and ongoing air ticket. Making the actual trip into shenzhen and back again can be quick and low cost, provided that there is no risk of not being allowed back. Going by road is usually the easiest (sit in van, people look at you through window and compare wuth passport photo) but involves cost of two van rides. (Small compared to air fare). A trip by train to Shenzhen is not much slower and very low cost. You could cross the border ... – Russell McMahon Feb 21 '14 at 12:57
... and then cross back immediately BUT that could attract suspicion. A few hours in Shenzhen looking in the shops would probably be enough to legitimatise the journey. BUT all the above may be wrong. | The failure of the embassy to provide an answer would be at least a minor red flag to me (maybe a pink flag). I think the HK restrictions are mainly to limit the MLC to HK flow, but as soon as you enter the area people will examine your motives. [[FYI only: I've crossed that border numerous times but my situation is entirely different]]. – Russell McMahon Feb 21 '14 at 13:01
HK-Macau-HK by ferry is a pleasant day trip. Again, "can she get back OK" needs to be certain. – Russell McMahon Feb 21 '14 at 13:03
Thanks a lot for all of your suggestions and advice. In the end we decided this is a good chance to extend our trip to go and visit Beijing as well, which grants her a 7-day transit visa automatically. Thanks for the help! :-) – Chris Down Feb 25 '14 at 8:52
up vote 6 down vote accepted

My reading of that -- and I'm obviously not a Chinese immigration bureaucrat -- is that she's probably OK without the visa, as long as you can make the trip out to be Malaysia->China->Malaysia via Hong Kong on both legs.

  • From Malaysia to Hong Kong, as long as she claims to be going to Shenzhen or wherever, she is "in transit through Hong Kong" and "will go for mainland China", so the onward air ticket from HK should not be necessary.
  • From Hong Kong back to Malaysia, she fulfills the conditions of "possession of valid visa for the destination and confirmed onward air tickets for the overseas journey".

However, I would have at least three concerns:

  1. This scheme is meant for transiting via HK to/from mainland China, but she's not transiting, she's staying in HK. Even a day-trip over the border to (say) Shenzhen would allow her to fulfill the letter of the law and also sort out her HK immigration records.
  2. She may be asked for some sort of proof that she's actually going to China, not just Hong Kong. A hotel booking or something in Shenzhen wouldn't hurt, and if you're not joining her in China for visa reasons etc, you'll probably want to go through immigration separately so your presence doesn't raise questions.
  3. The airline has to buy into this plan as well, so I would strongly recommend calling the airline and confirming, ideally in writing, that they will let her on board without a visa.
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Is your suggestion that you don't consider Malaysia -> HK -> Malaysia to be consistent with the "onward air travel" stipulation? I'm not sure of the legal meaning of "onward" here. – Chris Down Feb 21 '14 at 11:07
@ChrisDown The main problem is that it's not consistent with the word “transit” as it looks like a regular return trip with HK as the main destination, not a stopover on the way to some other place. – Relaxed Feb 21 '14 at 12:07

According to TIMATIC (the Visa system the airline will likely use when you check-in) :

Visa required, except for Holders of a PRC Travel Document (Lu Xing Zheng) containing an entry permit for Hong Kong (SAR China).

Visa required, except for A max. stay of 7 days for: - holders of passports issued by China (People's Rep.), provided passenger is in transit (incl. overland) to/from a third country.

The specific mention of "to/from a third country" means that a return ticket to Malaysia (presuming that is where you flew from) is NOT sufficient, as is it not a third country.

Flying back via Mainland China or Macao is an interesting case, as it is not technically a third country. The text you quoted includes the fact it can be a different region or territory, however Timatic simply says country.

However even if you are allowed do this whilst in transit to Mainland China or Macao, it's fairly clear that what you are suggesting is NOT in the spirit of the exception. To both the airline and the immigration staff it's going to be very clear that you are not in Hong Kong for the purposes of transit whilst on the way to/from another country, which is the intent of this rule, but instead that Hong Kong is your actual destination.

If you were looking to spend 3 days in Hong Kong and then another 3+ in Mainland China or (say) South Korea then you would be fine - but if your sole destination is Hong Kong then I suspect that you will likely face issues either when attempting to board the flight, or at HK immigration.

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The embassy link referenced by the OP makes it quite clear than transiting via HK to mainland China is permissible and that an onward ticket is not needed in this case. The question will be whether the airline accepts this, or whether they will stick to Timatic's more narrow interpretation. – jpatokal Feb 23 '14 at 0:57
But a day trip to China still does not make the HK visit a "transit" - it's clearly the destination. – Doc Feb 23 '14 at 1:58
How so? I don't see anything in the rules specifying a minimum length of stay in China, much less any requirement to prove how long you're staying. At the end of the day, HK is concerned with mainlanders overstaying illegally -- a flight ticket out and a visa for your ultimate destination should suffice to demonstrate that you do plan to leave. – jpatokal Feb 23 '14 at 10:43
I don't see what the problem is -- the "country" is the non-China country. So from Malaysia -> Hong Kong, the OP is "transiting" HK "from a third country" (Malaysia) to Mainland China (supposedly); and from Hong Kong -> Malaysia, they are "transiting" HK from Mainland China (supposedly) "to a third country" (Malaysia). – user102008 Feb 28 '14 at 10:19

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