For the 72 hour visa free transit which is available only for certain nationalities, I found that the 72 hours starts from 00:00 the day following the entry date in almost all the airports, except Beijing Airport. For example, if an air passenger arrives in Guangzhou at 08:00 on June 2nd, then the latest time for him to leave is 23:59 on June 5. I found this information here-


Is the 24 hr period for the 24 hour visa free transit (which applies to almost all nationalities including Indian which is mine) also calculated in the same manner? The time difference between my arrival and departure at Shanghai is 24 hours 10 min. I am wondering if I need to apply for a visa to get out of the airport or whether I can get the visa free transit. Also, if I need to apply for the visa, can I get it on arrival?

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    It would logically appear so although I am no authority. I also think you're splitting hairs. It will take more than ten minutes between landing and getting to immigration Apr 22, 2017 at 21:00
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    @SheikPaul the airline might not let OP on board since the visa-free rule is for 24 hours
    – JonathanReez
    Apr 23, 2017 at 19:23
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    @JonathanReez Actually if you read the Q/A from the website, it is implied the there is significant leeway and even a couple of hours is no big deal. I am pretty sure the airlines know about this. Apr 23, 2017 at 19:49
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    travelchinaguide.com/embassy/visa/free-72hour/faq.htm I am extrapolating the 72 hour scenario to the 24 hour scenario. Apr 23, 2017 at 20:07
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    @SheikPaul I find your advice dangerous. While there may well be significant leeway, but airlines don't know sh*t about this and lean heavily on the side of caution, i.e. they would with a high chance refuse boarding. Also the 72h and 24h are completely different programs so I don't see how you could extrapolate from one to the other beyond pure speculation. Sorry if my comment seems harsh, but I am of the strong opinion that one needs to be careful in these things, especially when giving advice to others!
    – mts
    Apr 24, 2017 at 17:57

2 Answers 2


The information provided by the Guangzhou Airport authority indicates that (emphasis mine):

Most nationalities require a visa to enter China. A visa is not required, however, if you are in transit for a period not exceeding 24 hours as determined by scheduled flight arrival and departure times, and already have confirmed onward tickets. The FAQs reference the same metric for other transit-without-visas, 72- and 144-hour, i.e., scheduled flight arrival and departure.

That noted, @JonathanReez offered a key observation: you may have difficulty boarding your outbound flight, which you may have overcome before departure, as the airline observes the visa rules of the countries to which and through which you'll travel.

It is not likely that you could surmount the requirements for an emergency visa on arrival, as Chinese officials grant those to individuals whose destination is China. You would have to prove that a genuine emergency prevented you from applying in advance for a visa and have

  • an invitation letter issued by a government-approved sponsor or Chinese authorities,
  • confirmation from immigration authorities that the visa will be issued on arrival, and
  • a government-approved sponsor to meet them at the airport.

Your link to Travel China Guide has similar information, and Trip Advisor China Traveler offers an easy summary of visa-free transits.


The immigration officer at Shanghai airport told me that they calculate the 24 hr period from the next day after arrival. And after arrival on May 1 morning, I should just leave by May 3 (which strictly speaking, should have been May 2, but he said May 3).

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