In March 2019 we travelled to Japan with our friend Gaby. The flight from Canada to Tokyo Japan had a 15 hour stop over in Beijing China, so we decided to try and get a transit VISA on arrival, and leave the Beijing airport to see what we could do in this time frame.
Firstly, before we left I did a lot of research about other people’s experience getting the 24 hour transit VISA on arrival in Beijing, and I found the information inconsistent and frankly, terrifying. It was too late, we had book the flight, so we had to make this work.
China offers transit VISA on arrival at many airports including: Guangdong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Dalian, Shenyang, Chengdu, Wuhan, Qingdao, Kunming and Xiamen. (Hainan is completely visa free)
They offer a 24, 72 and 144 hour VISA, but we got the 24 hour one, so I can’t advise about the longer visas. Of course you should check with the official embassy websites to make sure you are eligible for these visas. You MUST have proof of onward travel within the visa exemption window and you must be travelling somewhere other than you country of origin or China as your final destination.
Once we disembarked from our flight from Montreal to Beijing, we followed the signs that said “arrivals” and then the signs that said “transit visa”. The transit visa desk is to the left of the immigration lines, (sort of around the corner). There are forms to fill out there, but make sure to bring a pen! The line took about 30 minutes to get through, and with relative ease, we got the 24 hour visa.
Make sure to bring the copy of your onward flight information, as well as any Chinese Visas you may have had previously. I had been to China before in 2010, so I brought my old passport just in case they asked to see the VISA.
We should mention that there is no guarantee that you will get the VISA, and any authority reserves the right to not permit you to leave the airport (just like any country in the world). All you can do is ensure that you have all of your information in order, and prepare for a long airport stay if you are unable to obtain a visa.
** I also read that you should tell the airline you are flying with that you plan to obtain the transit visa so that they can notify the ground crew. We notified Air Canada that we wanted to get this transit VISA, and the staff member lectured us about how we were not eligible for the VISA and that we would be in quarantine upon our arrival in Beijing (which ended up being untrue). So I am unsure whether or not notifying your airline is a good idea***
GOOD LUCK with your journey to China, and with your application for the transit VISA. China is an amazing place to visit, and we would recommend seeing it on more than a stop over one day!
HERE is a video we made about our time in Beijing China during the 15 hour stopover we had:
If you are looking for a cheap way to book train tickets in China (or anywhere in asia) we highly recommend 12goasia. We have used this site many times and love it!!!!