My flight back from China leaves on my 31th day there, just after midnight. They seem very reluctant to grand a tourist visa for more than 30 days, so I was wondering:

If I get past the airport visa officer before midnight on my 30th day, but my flight leaves on the 31th day, would I or would I not be overstaying my 30 day visa?

I called the visa center, but although they found my question amusing, they could not answer it.

(As a side question, is it reasonable to plan to 'check out of China', so to speak, before 24:00 if my flight leaves 1:40 am?)

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    I would guess that you would be OK. The per day fine for visa overstay is 500RMB. I would definitely suggest you be prepared to pay the fine. In China you will find that everything takes longer than it should and rarely according to your schedule. So I would recommend you book a different return flight. – emory Apr 8 '14 at 12:22
  • Thanks for the info! If I pay the fine, does it influence my chance to get a visa again next time? – Mark Apr 8 '14 at 18:59
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    I don't think so, but you really should pay attention to travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/china.html - especially If you intentionally or inadvertently violate the terms of your Chinese visa, including staying after your visa has expired, you may be charged a RMB 500 fine per day up to a maximum of RMB 10,000, experience departure delays, and face possible detention. I believe if you only overstay a few days you will be charged 500RMB/day, but if you overstay more than a few days, you will go to jail. You should take this seriously. – emory Apr 8 '14 at 20:38
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    Look at travelchinaguide.com/embassy/visa/extension.htm. It will probably be cheaper, easier, and less stressful to extend your visa than worry about overstaying at the airport. – emory Apr 8 '14 at 20:47

I believe that once you pass through outgoing customs and immigration you have effectively left the country and are now being held 'in bond'. That's because China has a formal exit procedure where you surrender your departure card.

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Your visa will be cancelled at that point, and an exit stamp placed in your passport, with the date on the agent's stamp at that time. So even if you had a valid visa, it's no longer valid and your passport shows that you've left the country on that day, even if the clock ticks over and you're still in the departure lounge.

enter image description here

This is not definitive, but my guess is that you're probably okay if you pass through outgoing customs and immigration before midnight.

Also, I don't know how carefully you've counted, but a 30 day visa allows you to legally stay in the country until midnight (China time) on your 31st day in country, if you count the first day as day 1, according to this.

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  • Thanks for the info; seems very reasonable! Though that last point solves the problem much more simply so I guess things got more simple :) Wish the visa center people would have just told me that. – Mark Apr 9 '14 at 7:37

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