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Traveling from SFO to Manila. We're making a technical stop in Wuhan and a layover in Guangzhou. I'll be in China for less than 24 hours. After that I will take a flight from Guangzhou to Manila.

Do I need a travel visa? I called the Chinese embassy, they said no I don't. Different travel agencies say no. My airline says yes.

Do I need one or not?

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As stated in Timatic, the database used by check-in staff at airports (to determine whether to let you board the flight):

Visa required, except for holders of confirmed onward air tickets in transit through Guangzhou (CAN) to a third country, for a max. transit time of 24 hours.

Transit incl. multiple stops within China (People's Rep.) is permitted at Guangzhou (CAN) only when the first transit point is Beijing (PEK). The total maximum transit time is 24 hours.

Depending on the country, even a technical stop not involving clearing immigration may count as transit, and Timatic doesn't indicate this not being the case.

The determining question here is: does the technical stop at Wuhan count as a transit point? Timatic doesn't clarify this, unfortunately.

What you need to do is call the airport, ask to speak with a supervisor of the ground handling agent responsible for China Southern and ask this specific question (the flight number is CZ 660).

If the technical stop in Wuhan does count as a transit point, you will need a transit visa: because multiple-stop visa-free transit at Guangzhou is only allowed if the first transit point is Beijing.

If the technical stop in Wuhan does not count as a transit point (in which case get it in writing from the supervisor), you do not need a visa

Once again, it is the ground handling agent responsible for China Southern at SFO that you have to contact, because their interpretation of the info in Timatic is the thing that determines whether you'll get on the flight.

  • "If the technical stop in Wuhan does count as a transit point, you will need a transit visa" --> not if the OP isn't a US citizen. – user67108 Dec 3 '17 at 7:07
  • @dda If Wuhan counts as a transit point, that makes it the first one, which disqualifies OP from using multiple-stop visa-free transit at Guangzhou (because the first transit point must be Beijing) regardless of their nationality – Crazydre Dec 3 '17 at 7:09
  • I don't understand why this answer has received multiple down votes. It presents detailed information raising questions about whether a visa is needed, which nobody has refuted. US citizenship seems like a reasonable assumption given the question. And even if a visa is not needed, the airline denying boarding is a real concern if they are referring to ambiguous information. This is not just hypothetical, since the OP says the airline told them a visa is needed. – user35890 Dec 3 '17 at 10:00
  • @dan1111 Like I said, whether OP's American is irrelevant in this case because of the rules in Guangzhou. In fact I removed the Quote about Wuhan, as it's actually redundant in this specific case – Crazydre Dec 3 '17 at 10:04
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    Since when does Timatic purport to know which visas a traveler whose nationality is unknown needs or doesn't need? – Henning Makholm Dec 3 '17 at 15:16
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You don't need a visa, if you are less than 24 hours in China from first scheduled arrival time to scheduled departure time. Source

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    According to the link you posted, "Generally speaking, the 24-hour direct transit allows aliens to have multiple stops in China as long as they leave the country within 24 hours. Nevertheless, if transiting in Weihai, Wuhan, Xian or Zhengzhou, US and Canadian citizens cannot enjoy multiple-stop transit." OP states that they are making a stop in Wuhan, so that may exclude that option (perhaps depending on whether you have to get off the plane and clear immigration at the tech stop?). – ajd Dec 2 '17 at 8:47
  • True. But I don't think the OP is American. – user67108 Dec 2 '17 at 9:02
  • Also, while this needs to be checked, I seem to remember that the Wuhan etc restriction only applies to people who actually get off the plane. – user67108 Dec 2 '17 at 9:05
  • @dda Timatic mentions no such thing – Crazydre Dec 3 '17 at 7:02
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    OP's citizenship is relevant. Wuhan exception applies only to US/Canada citizen. Furthermore, if the OP stays on the plane in Wuhan, she is (not yet) applying for the TWOV, as she won't pass through immigration... – user67108 Dec 3 '17 at 10:46

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