China expands its transit visa scheme to more cities

The new cities include Chongqing, Xi’an and Ningbo

China's famous terracotta warriors which were discovered on 29 March 1974
China's famous terracotta warriors which were discovered on 29 March 1974

China has expanded the number of cities and regions in its transit visa scheme to 27, opening up the country further for stopovers.

From 1 December, residents of 53 countries can enter China via 27 ports for up to 144 hours, or six days, without arranging a visa in advance.

Tourists need to be transiting through China and have proof of onward travel to a third country, which includes Hong Kong and Macau.

The new border ports include Chongqing in southwest China, a modern city with the spiciest hotpot in the country; Xi’an in northwest China, known for the terracotta warriors; and Ningbo, which lies just south of Shanghai, reports state-owned media outlet Xinhua.

The policy of visa-free transit for up to six days already applies to a number of Chinese cities including Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

The visa-free transit policy was first introduced by the government in 2013 in an effort to boost tourism, and allows travellers from 53 countries, including the UK, to stop over in the city for a set period of time without obtaining a Chinese visa.

The holiday island of Hainan, off the southern coast of China in the South China Sea, has a slightly different policy. It allows visa-free travel for Brits for up to 30 days.

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For British residents, a China visa costs £85 for one entry into the country and involves a protracted process at a visa application centre, where fingerprints will also be taken.

Almost 600,000 British travellers visited mainland China in 2017.

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