Chinese Visa Needed in Beijing Airport? Please Help
Replies: 62 - Last Post: Apr 12, 2013 8:08 PM Last Post By: jiejie
Jul 8, 2012 1:56 AM
30Zex #28, sorry but I've completely lost the plot on what you are now trying to do. Can you spell out your new itinerary in more detail? I guess what's confusing in me is why you are talking about China Southern, then about PVG. China Southern hubs through CAN not PVG so something's not making sense here.
Jul 8, 2012 8:20 AM
Jul 9, 2012 3:44 AM
Jul 16, 2012 2:47 AM
Myself (American) and my partner (Australian) fly out in 1 week, Melbourne - Shanghai - Beijing - Madrid as follows:
Melbourne (MEL) Depart 10:35 Terminal 2 to Shanghai (PVG) Arrive 19:25 Terminal 2
Duration: 10hr 50mn
Shanghai (PVG) Depart 11:30 Terminal 2 to Beijing (PEK) Arrive 13:45 Terminal 3
Duration: 2hr 15mn
Beijing (PEK) Depart 00:15 Terminal 3 to Madrid (MAD) Arrive 06:35 Terminal 1
Duration: 12hr 20mn
We have an overnight layover in Shanghai and a day layover Beijing. All flights with Air China. I thought we were both ok as we fall into the 48 hours "transit permit/stamp/non- visa" and are eligible as holding US and Australian passports, but am now wondering if we do indeed need Transit Visa, as although we initially land in Shanghai, we then fly to Beijing, where the non-visa allowed time is only 24 hours.
I'm confused as to whether we have 48 hours in Shanghai and then 24 in Beijing, or 48 or 24 for the whole transit trip. I hope this is not too confusing. Can anyone help?
As we leave in 1 week, I'll be ringing the consulate in the morning.
Jul 16, 2012 5:17 AM
34No you are not OK. Having that second stop in Beijing reduces the entire total transit time down to 24 hours. You cannot add 48 at Shanghai + 24 in Beijing to give you 72. Doesn't work that way. And the 48 hour dispensation for Shanghai disappears once you add another Chinese transit point. You can certainly ring the Chinese Consulate there, and see if there's anything they can do to get you that 5 lousy extra hours, without making you get a full-blown visa or transit visa (same cost).
With departure in a week, you have few options to deal with visa situation. And as a US passport holder, this is going to cost you USD 140 equivalent, plus an visa agent fees, plus any rush fees, to resolve these few hours. I strongly suggest you immediately get with Air China and try to reschedule flights that are in compliance with 24 hours total limit. Better to do this now, before you show up, and Air China realizes there's a problem and refuses to board you.
There is a flight CA178 PVG-PEK on the 26th leaving at 20:55 arriving 23:05. This is a legal connection for the MEL-PVG-PEK part of it. But tight on the PEK end, probably not meeting Minimum Connection Time. However, Air China does have flights to MAD (one stop via FRA or MUC, codeshare with Lufthansa) which doesn't leave until after 01:00 which would give you time to make. You may have to push Air China hard to change this for no extra fee. The problem is, likely taxes will be higher on this ticket even without a change fee. But even if smaller than the Chinese visa fee, will save you hassle.
If the PEK-MAD nonstop is sacred, then it seems the other thing to try is push the MEL departure one day later to the 27th and see if the dominoes can fall into place. This is a mess, and somebody was careless not to have this calculated before the tickets were purchased.
Jul 16, 2012 6:39 AM
35Thanks for your help Jiejie. Yes, I agree it is a mess. I have spoken to Air China, but the tickets were booked with Expedia, so of course Air China can't change the tickets, but did say they are very aware of the visa limits so will only book clients within the 24 hour periods.
Expedia has said the only change tickets they have would actually extent our time in China, not reduce it! Looks like we'll be getting rush transit visas in the morning. Thanks again for your help.
Jul 17, 2012 7:06 PM
36I am an American and will be moving to Mongolia on August 4. I fly from Canada and have a layover at Beijing and would like to know if I need a transit visa. Seems like the Chinese Embassy website and all other visa websites say that I do but information here says otherwise. Here is my itinerary.
Air Canada from Winnipeg on August 4 to Vancouver
Air China from Vancouver on August 4 and arrive in Beijing at 4:15 pm on August 5.
Air China from Beijing leaving at 3:05 pm on August 6 to Ulaanbaatar.
So I have just under 23 hour layover. Do I need a transit visa? If not what do I need to confirm in Beijing that it is just a transfer? And do I have to worry about my baggage in Beijing?
Jul 17, 2012 7:13 PM
37#35 and all others: Expedia is a horrible company to deal with if you ever need to make a change in plans for any reason. I strongly suggest avoiding them for anything having to do with China, whether international or domestic tickets.
Very sorry that there seems to be no recourse for you other than rush visas.
Jul 17, 2012 7:24 PM
38#36 No, you do not need a visa of any kind. 100% positive, this schedule meets the 24 hour limit. Beijing immigration is used to seeing this sort of thing on international travelers bound for Ulaanbaatar due to the way the few flights into there are scheduled from Beijing. No worries for you, and Air China should be very aware of this and not give you hassles at Vancouver boarding.
On luggage: Normally international transit passenger luggage is autotransferred at PEK so you don't have to touch, but with an overnight layover this long, Air China may want you to pick up and recheck the next day. Ask them. If you want your luggage with you overnight (and you should get a hotel), then make sure they only check it to PEK.
Note that upon arrival in PEK, you must deplane and go to immigration. You will arrive at Terminal 3, where just before the long bank of main immigration desks, there are special separate desks for "International Transfer" passengers and that is where you should go with your passport, printout of confirmed onward itinerary to ULN, and boarding pass. If you didn't get your boarding pass for PEK-ULN (and likely you won't be able to due to timing), don't worry about it. There is an airline transfer desk just before the Immigration area that can issue that boarding pass if a staff member is there (normally Air China staff), or just go to Immy desk with itinerary and get the boarding pass later. You'll get a special hexagon stamp placed in your passport. After you pass that point, you may leave the airport.
I suggest with this sort of layover, you plan for one night at a hostel or hotel in town, see something in the evening and have a good dinner, and in the morning do a little sightseeing. If you have to pick up your checked luggage at Baggage Claim but don't really need or want to schlep it around, just stick it in Left Luggage for a small fee before you leave the airport. On the next day, for a 15:00 flight, you'll want to be back at the airport by 13:30, 13:00 if you need to get a boarding pass and recheck luggage. At this time of day, leaving central Beijing by around 12:20 or 12:30 should be fine, leaving you several hours of good useable time to have a look around.
Jul 17, 2012 7:31 PM
39Thank you jiejie. Huge help. Every visa app website I have looked at and others have told me that if I leave the airport in Beijing I need a transit visa but you are saying this is not true! I believe I will take my chances and not get a visa. Regarding my baggage. If I understand correctly you believe I will have to pick it up at PEK? It will be 2 or 3 large bags because I will be moving to Mongolia so I would like to avoid dealing with the luggage. Do you believe I will be able to check the luggage all the way through to UB from Winnipeg which is my first leg? Thanks!
Jul 17, 2012 7:44 PM
40Yes, I can confirm it is not true and you can leave the airport. The problem is that a lot of the English translation on these websites about not being able to leave the airport is OLD and has never been updated to reflect the current regulation (which of course originates in Chinese language, which governs and which definitely allows leaving the airport).
Again, ask at Winnipeg if this is all on one ticket. And check the baggage tagging carefully to see if it says PEK or ULN. If they will autotransfer, you're home free, and even with long layover for the bags, I have never heard of any theft from bags from PEK baggage handling. Do lock your bags though, and consider strapping or plastic-wrapping as well.
In the event they refuse to tag beyond PEK, what you do is get a (free) baggage cart at PEK Baggage Claim, pile it on, walk through Customs (usually foreigners are not stopped), then head for Left Luggage of which there are two as you come out into the Arrival hall: one down on the left and one down on the right. For large bags, RMB 50 per day per bag. Park them there and go on your way for the night and next day. Get back about 13:00 and retrieve them from Left Luggage (again, there will be free luggage carts around at the terminal entry). Go to Air China and check in for ULN. This would be a minor extra hassle, not a major tragedy. Just be clear on what the Excess Baggage Rules and costs are. If you are a Star Alliance Gold member (on any airline), normally transpac flight itineraries out of North America get you 3 free checked bags even if travelling economy class.
Jul 26, 2012 1:29 AM
I have an Australian passport and my wife has a Philippines passport. We have a stopover of just a few hours in Beijing on our way to ULN, but we are booked with a different flight company getting into Beijing airport than going out of Beijing airport. (ie: Cebu Pacific airlines to Beijing and then a few hours later we have a flight with Air China from the same airport but obviously we have to collect our luggage to do the transfer. So do we still need China transit visas?
Jul 27, 2012 3:51 AM
42No you don't need transit visas for a layover of over a few hours. Having to collect and recheck baggage does not change this. I'm assuming you are originating with Cebu Pacific in the Phiilippines. Make very sure that you have printouts of your full itinerary even if on two tickets, and also a printout of the Transit Without Visa Rules. I'm not sure how knowledgeable Cebu (or whatever reps check you in) is about China's TWOV rules, and particularly on two separate tickets. You may encounter some resistance so get to the check-in counter early on the day of your first flight, to allow time to resolve any troubles. It they let you on but give you a lecture about not being able to leave the airport, just nod, say OK, and don't get into debate with them.
I do not believe Cebu interlines baggage with Air China, and if on separate tickets, unlikely this would be done for you anyway since there is no alliance or partnering arrangement between those two companies. So, yes, let's assume you will have to pick up luggage and manually recheck.
You will have to change Terminals at PEK from T2 to T3. You will go through immigration--look for the desk signed "International Transit" (or transfer) which in T2 is usually at or near the end of the long row of counters. Head there with passport and itinerary printout that shows confirmed tickets. Get your hexagon transit stamp in the passport, then head downstairs to baggage claim. Pick up bags, walk through Customs (usually foreigners not stopped) and out the exit to the front nonsecure side of terminal. Look for signs for the Interterminal Shuttle Buses and get out to the curb to wait. The shuttles are free. Sorry there is not an automated way to get your bags over to T3. Once at T3, you need Air China's international counters for check-in to deal with luggage and get your boarding passes. Normally for international flights they open for check-in 2 to 3 hours ahead of departure, so if you are at that window in your timing, get checked in. Then you can go get something to eat, which I recommend in the front side of T3, better choices. Then you'll follow the signs for international departures down to the light rail, out to Concourse E, get off and go through exit immigration. Often they won't have a separate stamp for outbound. Then security then you are in the gate area.
Now the rub: the current scheduling of the Cebu Pacific flight from Manila is into PEK at midnight and the CA departure to ULN is 8-something in the morning. If this is your schedule then you may need to modify the above advice. Though you can try once you get over to T3, I'm pretty sure Air China will refuse to check you in until about 6 am. This means you have two choices: take luggage with you, understanding you can't get airside for several hours (and no point, there's nothing there in the wee hours). Or put in Left Luggage for a few hours, unencumber yourself and then find a place to hang out.
There are, at each Terminal (front/nonsecure side) transit hotels which are called "Time-Rate Lounges." They aren't particularly cheap but for some privacy, a lie-down, and a shower, work out OK. The only problem is the ones on the nonsecure side can't be reserved in advance, only as walk-up. If you don't want to go to a real hotel just for a few hours, then this might work. If you go this route, I would get out of Customs exit at T2, then with your luggage, immediately look for signs for T2's TRL (it's on the bottom floor) and see if they have anything. If they are full, have them call over to T3 to see if there is any room over there. Website: http://en.bcia.com.cn/server/service/lounge.shtml
There are a couple of nice off-premises hotels nearby and leaving the airport to get to them is no problem (they have shuttles) but they are expensive (Hilton and Langham Place). Not a bad time to use points if you have them. There are cheaper hotels but the closest ones of those are a bit scruffy and the nicer ones are farther away.
Aug 10, 2012 3:34 AM
43Thanks Jiejie for all your help. Guess my question has been answered several times over already, but having had some unpleasent experience, I would like to make absolutely sure:
We are flying from London via Zurich to Taipei via Beijing next week. There's just a 3hr stay at the airport (flying Swiss, i.e. arriving T3 and leaving T3 on AirChina). After 1.5 weeks, we fly back the same way (i.e. Taipei-Beijing), but then stay 4 days in Beijing before flying Beijing-Zurich-London. We have a single entry visa which the Visa Centre in London told us is sufficient, given we don't need a visa for the 3hr stopover in Beijing on the outbound leg. Guess this should all be fine, but just want to make sure nobody in Beijing tells us suddenly "If you already have a visa, then you have to use this and cannot get a 24hr transit instead" or so...
Can you please confirm? Many thanks!
Aug 10, 2012 9:47 PM
44Update from 42 (and for 44): there are reports from another forum that Cebu Pacific specifically is giving Philippines-originating passengers hassles and denying boarding when on itineraries transiting (legally) through China. Even non-Philippine citizens. Sounds like this airline is claiming that the TWOV regulations don't apply to passengers flying into China on Cebu. This is nonsense of course, but you can argue from a position of being right....and still be left behind in Manila while the plane leaves without you. Chinese immigration would not have been a problem.
But given Cebu's pile of crap they are shoveling out, it's just as well you got the transit visa so you're covered. Interestingly, if the Chinese were retaliating due to the political situation between the two countries right now, you'd think Philippine Airlines would also be affected same as Cebu, but I've heard no reports that they are denying TWOV passengers boarding in Manila....so it seems to be a Cebu thing.
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