Visitors to the mainland of the People's Republic of China must obtain a visa from one of the Chinese diplomatic missions unless they are citizens of one of the visa-exempt countries. The residents of Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan with Chinese nationality may stay in Mainland indefinitely as long as their travel documents are valid.
This article may be too long to read and navigate comfortably. (February 2024)
Chinese visas are issued both outside China, by the Chinese diplomatic missions, and in China, by the exit and entry administrations (EEAs) of the county-level public security bureaus (PSBs). In order to enter China, however, a non-Chinese national should apply to the visa-issuing authorities outside China for a Chinese visa. Because Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan maintain their independent border control policies, ordinary Chinese visas are valid for mainland China only and are not valid for Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan, so travelers must apply for separate visas for Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan should they require one for traveling to these regions.
The government of the People's Republic of China allows holders of ordinary passports issued by some countries to travel to mainland China for business and tourist trips for up to 15, 30, 60 or 90 days without having to obtain a visa. Visitors of other nationalities, as well as residents of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, are required to obtain either a visa or a permit prior to arrival, depending on their nationality. In order to increase the numbers of tourists visiting the country, some ports of entry of China allow citizens of certain countries to visit specified regions within 72 or 144 hours if they are in transit to a third country. In 2014 the PRC government announced its intention to sign mutual visa facilitation and visa-free agreements with more countries in the future. Since then, a number of such agreements have been concluded with some countries.
All non-Chinese visitors (as well as Hong Kong and Macao permanent residents of non-Chinese nationality) who stay in mainland China for more than 24 hours must register with the local PSBs or offices. When staying in a hotel, the registration is done as a part of the check-in process. When staying in a private home, however, the visitor should physically report to the local PSB, community police service office or foreigner service stations within 24 hours of arrival for cities or 72 hours for rural areas. Furthermore, in cities like Beijing, an online accommodation registration service for foreign residents has been introduced. Foreigners staying in a private home can upload their identification documents, passport-sized photos, and housing information to complete their accommodation registration without the need to physically visit any government office. All visa-free passengers, including those in transit who stay for more than 24 hours, must adhere to the rule, as failure to comply can result in a warning, a fine or being detained by PSB for up to 15 days. Since January 2018, when persons utilizing the 144-hour visa-free transit who failed to register with the local PSBs will be banned from using visa-free transit for a period of 2 years from the day the offence was recorded.