I am a USA French dual national. I am travelling for my univeristy job in France to Shanghai for an event. All is paid by the Chinese sponsor (my round-trip flight Paris-Shanghai). They only offer a single-entry visa, which corresponds to the required official invitation.

I would very much like to do a side-trip to Tokyo while there. I would pay my own Shanghai-Tokyo return ticket, and (hopefully) upon return to Shanghai Airport, I would get my Shanghai-Paris flight without leaving the airport. The sponsor is willing to extend my visa for the time I would need, but not allow a second entry, since it does not correspond to the official event. So I have the time, but I'm not sure if Chinese immigration will allow me to make this side trip and return via Shanghai.

The very efficient visa center here in Paris was not totally sure about whether I could do this considering that my visa stipulates one entry. But friends and some websites suggest that since I am only transiting that it should not be a problem. Some say that it depends on the airport.

  1. If I go through the same airport, I imagine this will be easier: is it?
  2. Is Hongqiao International Airport best in this case?
  3. Is having carry-on only a good idea or necessary?

I need to quickly decide and do not want to get stuck.

My second option is to ask the Chinese sponsor to fly me to Tokyo instead of Paris, and I would pay my own return flight to Paris directly from Tokyo. This would likely be much more expensive.

I hope this is clear.

1 Answer 1


Learn about the Chinese visa-free transit program. As a French citizen, you are entitled to stay in China for at most 144 hours if you enter China via Hongqiao (SHA) or Pudong (PVG), and have a confirmed outbound ticket leaving China within 144 hours.

The only restriction is that you are not allowed to travel outside Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang; since you are just going to transit, this won't be a problem for you. Present your onward booking on entry & you should be fine.

So, unless you have breached Chinese immigration law before (or have been refused a visa), you should be fine. Even if you arrive in SHA and leave for Paris from PVG, you should still be fine. As long as you don't overstay 144 hours, you can do whatever you want (except for illegal things, of course).

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