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I am currently staying in China as a student, however I only have a single entry visa (which I have already used). I will be leaving China to do some travelling in other countries.

I have a return flight to my home country scheduled from Beijing on the 18th. Will I be able to use the 24 hour direct transit visa exemption if I plan to do the following:

  1. Arrive by plane in Tianjin on the 17th
  2. Take a train from Tianjin to Beijing
  3. Fly from Beijing on the 18th (within 24 hours)?

Travel websites either differ, or are unclear on the mixing of vehicles. I haven't been able to find a direct source, eg government website :(

  • In short: no. Detailled answer will follow. – DCTLib Dec 29 '15 at 16:40
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Visa-free transfers in China are very limited. In particular, your inbound flight into China must arrive at the same airport as you are the later departing from.

So arriving in Tianjin and departing from Beijing will not be possible. The train trip in between does not make a difference.

For the 72-hour visa-free transit, you can find the rules at regulations at: http://www.travelchinaguide.com/embassy/visa/free-72hour/

For the 24-hour visa-free transit, you can find the rules here: http://www.travelchinaguide.com/embassy/visa/intro2.htm#T - but they are even more restricted, requring you to stay in the international transfer part of the airport. Since you are taking a domestic train, these rules do not apply either.

  • I know I am not eligible for the 72 hour exemption. There is a different, 24 hour one, that I'm specifically asking for. (Though, in hindsight, I might not be eligible for that either. Bummer.) – Robus Dec 29 '15 at 16:47
  • Oh, the 24 hours one is for international transfers only, which you are not doing. – DCTLib Dec 29 '15 at 16:48
  • Am I not? I arrive in Tianjin from a third country, and leave from Beijing to a different country – Robus Dec 29 '15 at 16:49
  • No, in international transfers, you do not enter the country. You are doing that in order to take your train. – DCTLib Dec 29 '15 at 16:50
  • Bummer. Follow up: Where can I find info on visa renewal/extension (adding entries!) from within China? – Robus Dec 29 '15 at 16:58
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This has changed since the question was answered in Dec '15.

At almost all international airports in China, almost all nationalities get 24 hours of transit without any type of visa. There are special restrictions for these passports:

  • United Kingdom British National (Overseas) passport (Home Return Permit or visa required in addition to holder's Hong Kong Identity Card)
  • Hong Kong Hong Kong SAR passport (Home Return Permit required)
  • Macau Macau SAR passport (Home Return Permit required)
  • Taiwan Taiwan passport (Taiwan Compatriot Permit required)
  • Syria passport (visa required)

There are also some special restrictions for specific airports (not Tianjin or Beijing).

You can leave the airport during the 24 hours of transit, and can in fact depart from a different airport in China, as long as it is within 24 hours of arriving in China. Your destination must be to a different country than you arrived from. For the purpose of the visa-free transit, the Hong Kong and Macau SARs are treated as different countries.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_policy_of_China#Visa-free_transit

This link also describes the 72-hour visa-free transit & 144-hour visa-free transit rules applicable to specific nationalities.

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