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China Offers Visa-Free Entry for Cruise Travelers Up to 15 Days

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By Abi Gibson - - 5 Mins Read
A cruise ship sailing across a port
Featured | Matt Wilson/Unsplash

China has introduced a new policy allowing travelers arriving via international cruises to explore certain provinces for up to 15 days without needing a visa.

The National Immigration Administration (NIA) announced this initiative in order to boost China's cruise and tourism industry.

To be eligible, foreign visitors must enter through one of the 13 specified coastal cruise ports, as per the NIA's guidelines.

Visitors wishing to take advantage of this visa-free transit policy must be part of a tour group with a minimum of two individuals, organized by a licensed Chinese travel agency.

The group must stay together throughout the visit and depart the country on the same cruise. Additionally, the tour itinerary may include popular destinations such as Beijing or other coastal provinces, providing travelers with a variety of exploration options.


City skyline Beijing, China
Beijing, China | ABCDstock/Shutterstock


This relaxation of China's visa application requirements for cruise travelers presents an enticing opportunity for international tourists to experience the country's rich cultural heritage and natural wonders.

The NIA emphasized the significance of the visa-free entry policy for foreign tourists embarking on cruises, highlighting its role in propelling the development of China's cruise economy and facilitating institutional opening.

China's cruise industry witnessed notable advancements this year, marked by the inauguration of its inaugural domestically-built cruise liner, the Adora Magic City, which embarked on its maiden voyage on January 1st, as reported by state-run media outlets.

This milestone reflects the country's dedication to enhancing its maritime tourism infrastructure and bolstering its position in the global cruise market.


Also read: China's Population is Falling for the First Time Since the 1960s


China has increased its visa-free transit policy by incorporating seven more cruise ports into the existing 31 eligible entry points, aiming to enhance accessibility for travelers. This strategic step seeks to simplify the entry process for tourists and strengthen China's position as a top destination for cruise travel.

Norway's addition to China's visa-free transit program in November expanded the total number of eligible countries to 54, allowing citizens to transit for up to 144 hours without a visa.

This expansion demonstrates China's dedication to openness and global engagement, promoting greater interaction between nations, as emphasized by the National Immigration Administration (NIA).

China's efforts to revive tourism post-pandemic have been evident since reopening borders and reinstating international flights last year, following stringent COVID-19 measures for three years.

In December, temporary visa exemptions for up to 15 days were granted to citizens of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia. Additionally, Beijing established a mutual visa exemption pact with Singapore valid until November this year.

Companies like Ant Group, an affiliate of Alibaba, are also contributing to further enhancing the travel experience for foreign visitors.

Through its Alipay mobile app, Ant Group lets tourists spend up to $2,000 annually in China without registering their ID with the company, facilitating seamless transactions for travelers.

According to NIA data, despite a resurgence in domestic tourism, China has struggled to restore foreign traveler numbers to pre-pandemic levels despite efforts.

The data indicates that in the first three months of this year, 13 million foreigners entered or exited China, marking a decrease of over 40% compared to the same period in 2019.