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I’m a bit confused about the 24hr transit Visa in China, I’m Australian flying with Qantas from Sydney to Shanghai, arrive in Shanghai at 6pm, 9pm is an onward flight with China Airlines to Taipei (different itinerary).

Will the 24hr transit Visa cover this? I’ll need to go through immigration, collect bags, leave departure area and then go through arrivals again and check in. On this site here for the 24hr visa it says you cannot leave the transit area, what does this actually mean? As I cannot find anymore information elaborating on this and I’ve read conflicting reports of people leaving the airport on a 24hr visa.

Also when applying for the visa would I just line up normally for immigration and they’d process it there on the spot? Or do I have to go to a separate desk and apply then go through immigration? I know 3 hours is risky and I’m prepared to accept that I might miss my connecting flight but I’d also like to cut time where possible to give myself the greatest chance of making it in time.

  • Shanghai has two airports with international flights, Pudong (PVG) and Hongqiao (SHA). Which ones are your flights to/from? – jpatokal May 6 at 9:32
  • I’ll be flying into/out of Pudong(PVG) – Cameron Barber May 6 at 22:05
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As an Australian transiting through Shanghai, you're actually entitled to the 144-hour visa, which lets you go anywhere in the Shanghai area and beyond. So that part is definitely fine.

It's been a while since I was last in Pudong, but assuming it's similar to Beijing, there is clear signage on arrival for where to go for on-arrival visas. Once you've found the right place, it's like regular immigration: queue up, get stamped, you're in.

However, a 3-hour connection with separate tickets and baggage to collect is indeed very risky. Chinese airports are notorious for air traffic control delays (although incoming int'l flights do get priority), and even if you're on time, it's all too common to get stuck at immigration for an hour or two. I would advise you to push back your connecting flight if you can, or at least have a plan B ready.

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