Beijing Relaxes 72 Hour Visa-Free Stay Policy

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Pets and food may be held in transit

Jun. 4 – The Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development and the Beijing Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on May 29, which allows tourists traveling under the 72 hour visa-free stay policy to claim back prohibited-entry goods upon leaving the capital.

According to a spokesman for the Beijing Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau, items such as pets and food are prohibited from entering Beijing, but with the MOU in effect, travelers are now allowed to apply to retrieve such goods upon departure. However, some fresh food that cannot be easily preserved may not be returned.

From January 1, 2013, foreign visitors in China from 45 countries can enjoy a 72 hour visa-free stay in Beijing and Shanghai. Tourists entering China with visas and departing plane tickets for another country can apply for “transit without visa” at Beijing International Airport and the two international airports in Shanghai, Pudong International Airport and Hongqiao International Airport.

Since the policy took effect, Shanghai has registered 3,800 overseas passengers transiting from its Hongqiao and Pudong airports without visa, while the number for Beijing is still under calculation.

Guangzhou is expected to become the third city in China to offer a 72 hour visa-free stay to foreign travelers, with sources from the Civil Aviation Administration of China saying that such a policy has already garnered State Council approval. It has not yet been announced when this policy will take effect, but the expectation is that the policy will be implemented within this year.

Around 730,000 foreign passengers transit via China Southern Airlines at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport each year, offering a huge potential market for the local tourism industry. Although the policy has not yet taken effect, some big tourism agencies in Guangzhou have already designed a number of customized tourism products for short-term visitors.

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