China expands countries for visa-free entry


published on 12 March 2024 | reading time approx. 2 minutes

Nationals of six more European countries will be exempt from visa requirements when travelling to China, according to an announcement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry. The countries are Switzerland, Ireland, Hungary, Austria, Belgium and Luxembourg. This is the second round of visa relaxations after citizens of Germany, Malaysia, the Netherlands, France, Spain and Italy had their visas waived for short trips of up to 15 days in November last year.


Nationals of Switzerland, Ireland, Hungary, Austria, Belgium and Luxembourg will be exempt from the visa requirement from 14 March 2024. However, the exemption is initially limited to 30 November 2024. It remains to be seen whether the exemption will be extended beyond this date. Visa-free travel is possible for up to 15 days with an ordinary passport for business, tourism, family visits and transit purposes.


Travellers can enter China through all sea, land and airports. It is not necessary for travellers to travel directly from their home country to China, as they can also enter the country from a third country. The passport should be valid for at least the duration of the stay in China, but a longer (remaining) period of validity of at least six months is recommended. There is no need for prior registration with Chinese visa agencies or embassies.


Upon entry, immigration officers may check the purpose of the trip, i.e. whether the conditions for visa-free entry are met. It is therefore advisable to carry appropriate documentation to support the purpose of the trip and to produce this on request. Such documents could be, for example, flight and hotel bookings or private and business letters of invitation. It is always possible to be refused entry. It should also be noted that travellers entering the country must register with the local police within 24 hours. This is usually done by the hotels. However, anyone staying in private accommodation must register with the local police themselves within the deadline. Failure to do so may result in fines and increased scrutiny upon re-entry.


Under certain circumstances, it is possible to apply for an extension of more than 15 days after entry. However, the authorities will carry out a thorough investigation. The reason for the extension must have arisen after the visa-free entry. If the traveller knows in advance that his stay will exceed 15 days, he must still apply for a visa. On the other hand, there are currently no restrictions on the number of visa-free entries or the total number of days of stay, i.e. it is possible to leave China after 15 days and then re-enter as long as the requirements for visa-free entry are met. Visas are still required for study, work and other purposes.


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