I'm going on a cruise in January next year starting in the UK. I'll attached the part of my itinerary where we go into China, will the exemption be valid as we enter china twice. I've tried to contact the embassy however they are unreachable here in the UK. The cruise company keeps advising a Tourist Visa will be needed however is this just a scam for more money for the visa travel company they are recommending? Please help an explain why?

14/03/19 - Kagoshima (Japan) 0800-2000

15/03/19 - At Sea

16/03/19 - At Sea

17/03/19 - Tianjiin for Beijing (China) 0600-2200

18/03/19 - At Sea

19/03/19 - At Sea

20/03/19 - Shanghai (China) 0800-2030

21/03/19 - At Sea

22/03/19 - At Sea

23/03/19 - Hong Kong (Hong Kong) 0700-2000

  • What is your nationality? Are you planning to enter Beijing? – Traveller Oct 10 '18 at 12:39
  • I'm a British Passport holder. Well I assume I'm porting in Tianjin but am I restricted to only that area? If I book a shore excursion they include Beijing so I probably will. – Karis Oct 10 '18 at 13:01

The Shanghai General Station of Immigration Inspection has provided a Interpretation of the 144-Hour Visa-Exemption Transit Policy (in reasonably good English).

When you first arrive at Tianjin, you must satisfy all the following conditions to be eligible for the 144-hour visa exemption (emphasis mine):


An eligible passenger can transfer via any of the following ports of entry including Beijing Capital International Airport, Tianjing Binhai International Airport, Tianjin International Cruise Home Port, Shijiazhuang Zhengding International Airport and Qinhuangdao Sea Port, and stay within the administrative precincts of Beijing Municipality, Tianjin Municipality and Hebei Province for 144 hours.


An applicant for 144-hour visa-exemption transit needs to possess a valid passport or other valid international travel documents and an onward air / vessel / train ticket to a third country (region) with confirmed date and seat within 144 hours upon arrival, fill out an arrival card for temporary entry foreigners, and be interviewed by the immigration inspection authority.


Since your next destination is Shanghai, which is still within the PRC, you do not meet the second condition, and hence require a visitor visa.

This case is apparently featured in this Independent article, with the catchy title:


As an aside, suppose your cruise trip goes to only one of Tianjin or Shanghai (but not both), then you are eligible for the 144-hour visa exemption as your next destination is Hong Kong, which is treated as a third region for the purpose of immigration.


There’s a good explanation of the 144 hour exemption here http://www.sh-immigration.gov.cn/listPageEn.aspx?lx=40 This guide https://www.travelchinaguide.com/tour/visa/free-transit-144-hours.htm indicates that the exemption is limited to one of the three areas covered by the policy, meaning that to visit both Shanghai and Beijing you do need a visa.

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