China allows visa-free entry to citizens from 12 new countries

December 2023

As China seeks to revitalize its tourism industry following the COVID-19 pandemic, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning has announced a temporary visa-free access in China for citizens of twelve countries: France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Ireland, Hungary, Austria and Malaysia.

This new policy started on December 1st, 2023 and will last until November 30, 2024. Until then, passport holders from these countries will be allowed to enter China for business, tourism, family visits, or transits for up to 15 days without a visa.

China's commitment to global openness

This decision coincides with China’s attempts to improve its standing internationally and strengthen its relations with Western countries, as international relations have been strained over some issues including COVID-19. The visa exemption policy is expected to boost tourism and economic exchanges between China and the six countries involved. German Ambassador to China Patricia Flor expressed hope that the policy would be extended to all EU member states.

China has gradually been easing its travel restrictions in recent months. The country abolished all COVID-19 testing requirements for inbound travelers last August and resumed 15-day visa-free entry for citizens of Singapore and Brunei last July. International flights to and from China are gradually recovering, with passenger flights expected to reach 71% of the total four years ago. The European Chamber of Commerce in China welcomed the visa exemption, stating that it would “help boost business confidence”.

Facilitating cross-border ventures

China’s visa-free access is particularly significant for business travelers seeking to explore and engage with the Chinese market. Entrepreneurs, investors and professionals are now free to cross Chinese borders without the logistical complexities of visa applications. However, it is required to be well-informed about the practical aspects of this initiative. Travelers must ensure that their passports meets the validity requirements and that they adhere to the stipulated duration of stay.

In addition, they have to understand the specific conditions for visa free entry in China, such as the purpose of travel and the necessity for pre-authorization in some cases. Business travelers are encouraged to leverage this opportunity by planning their ventures in alignment with the policy. This may involve scheduling business meetings, conferences or market exploration activities within the stipulated timeframe, maximizing the benefits of this unique policy.

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