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So confused about transit visa

Level Contributor
17 posts
1 review
So confused about transit visa

Hello,

I've asked this before and tried doing some research and every answer left me more confused

My husband and I have a 13hr 45min layover in Guangzhou on the way back to NY from Bali. I'm a US passport holder but he isn't. I booked a free transit hotel through China Southern Airlines and want to be clear on the visas.

For the 72 hr free transit Visa do I have to apply in advance or is it on arrival? Does the airline need to put in a request beforehand and if so how do I go about this?

For the 24hr Visa free transit for my husband I've read something saying it's for staying in the airport only; others say he can leave to go to the hotel. Which is correct? Does he need to apply beforehand? How does he get this transit?

Apologies this is long, I've been spending days trying to sort it out and only confused myself :) I've contacted China Southern Airlines and they told me to contact the embassy and entry and exit administration (I can't find an email). I'd appreciate it if someone who went recently could give insight. Thank you!

7 replies to this topic
San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Guangzhou
Level Contributor
14,392 posts
63 reviews
1. Re: So confused about transit visa

Upon arrival, follow the crowd to immigration, there is a special station on the left, full up form and take care of it there. No need to worry or keep on calling airlines.

You didn’t say what passport your husband has, can’t tell.

California
Level Contributor
2,616 posts
18 reviews
2. Re: So confused about transit visa

First lets get the terminology correct: Neither the 24 hour or 72 hour programs provide a transit visa. The 24 hour is typically referred to as a "visa free transit", while the 72 hour stay is a Transit Without Visa (TWOV).

Under the 24 hour visa free transit policy, citizens of almost all nations can transit in Guangzhou without having a China visa and no prior arrangements are required other than to inform your airline at check-in that you are transiting visa free and at check-in you have a confirmed reservation on a flight out of mainland China within 24 hours of arrival. There is also a requirement to have at least 3 months validity remaining on your passport on the day of transit.

This visa free transit allows the passenger to deplane and go through international transit security to the departure area, staying in the secure air-side of the terminal for the period of the layover and without going through China Entry Immigration. These passengers are also allowed to go to the Entry Immigration area and request, by filling out a form, a stay permit that will allow them to go through Exit Immigration without a visa.

The approval of the stay permit is up to the discretion of the Immigration Officer and may or may not be approved. If not approved, the passenger would be directed to the International transit security line to go to the departure gate and spend the layover time there. If approved, you can exit to the non-secure side of the terminal and leave to spend time at a hotel (or go sightseeing) outside the airport terminal .

Similarly for the 72 hour TWOV, no prior arrangements are required other than to inform the airline at check-in you are traveling on a TWOV basis and have a confirmed reservation on a flight directly out of China in 72 hours or less, measured from 00:01 of the day following your arrival. You must be traveling on a passport from one of the 53 authorized countries, arrive in Guangzhou on a flight direct from outside mainland China (or Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan) and have a confirmed reservation for a flight departing in 72 hours or less direct out of mainland China (no other stops at all) to a country different than the one you arrived from.

Upon deplaning in Guangzhou, you'll head to Entry Immigration (same as for the 24 hour visa free transit) look for the 72 TWOV application area, fill out a form and get approval to exit to the non-secure part of the airport. While approval is still at the discretion of the individual Immigration Officer, it is much less likely than for the 24 hour visa free transit that at this point you will be refused exit, if you have met all the requirements.

Level Contributor
17 posts
1 review
3. Re: So confused about transit visa

Macjourney1 thank you for the info. My husband is a green card holder with a Jordanian passport

Level Contributor
17 posts
1 review
4. Re: So confused about transit visa

JohnP1950 thank you very much for the detailed information, this clears it up for me! No more confusion!

Is there anything we can do to increase the chances of being approved for the stay permit? I've done an 11 hour layover in the airport in Austria and it wasn't too fun so I'm hoping we can rest in the hotel.

Thank you in advance!

California
Level Contributor
2,616 posts
18 reviews
5. Re: So confused about transit visa

smtully - I haven't seen any recent reports of people who have applied to leave the airport in Guangzhou being denied so you hopefully won't have an issue. Most were passengers with 8 hour or less transits which gives the Immigration Officers concern that they might not make it back in time for their flights. With 13 hours and a hotel room you shouldn't have an issue. Just in case have a good book with you.

At check-in for the flight to Guangzhou, you might ask the airline personnel if there is anything they can do to assist when you arrive in Guangzhou. Also at check-in confirm your bags are checked through to your final destination and so have things you'll need for the hotel stay in a carry-on. You will both come under the 24 hour transit policy, but the fact you're on a passport from a 72 hour TWOV authorized country does make it more likely you'll get approved while your husband being Jordanian may be at more risk. I would make sure he gets approved to leave before you exit immigration assuming you want to stay together during the layover.

Do have your hotel reservation documentation with you as that will definitely help in their deciding to let you pass through and it can't hurt to make sure you have smiles on your face and it never hurts to say Ni Hao (Knee How - hello) with a smile when you walk up to the Official. Sometimes hard to remember if you've just got off a crowded airplane after a long flight.

Level Contributor
17 posts
1 review
6. Re: So confused about transit visa

JohnP1950 - I can't thank you enough for all of this info, you've really put us at ease. I'm all sorted now thanks to you. You should publish a guide 😊

Beijing, China
Level Contributor
12,490 posts
7. Re: So confused about transit visa

Keep this simple. When you check in with China Southern in Bali, tell them you and husband will use Transit Without Visa in Guangzhou, that you have booked a hotel with China Southern, and that you may need airline assistance at the Guangzhou arrival end to get you through TWOV queue. The Bali check-in staff do need to enter you in the passenger manifest as TWOV passengers since this information is transmitted to Chinese Immigration before the plane arrives. Now the Bali staff won't have any way to ensure the last point on the TWOV queue, but at least it will be on record. When you deplane in Guangzhou, there may be staff in the jetway collecting passengers going to TWOV queue and/or the CZ-provided hotel, so keep your eyes peeled. If no such staff member is present, go to the TWOV queue but be ready to enlist the help of CZ staff if you get a refusal. I think with the length of your layover plus the prebooked CZ-provided hotel (take a confirmation email of this hotel booking on your behalf), you won't have any trouble getting out of the airport, and if your husband is a US green card holder, he shouldn't have issues either especially traveling as a couple.

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