Asked by B+M from Belgium | Nov. 10, 2019 14:02
About:24-Hour Visa-Free Transit

24-hour visa free entry at Guangzhou airport: possible with luggage being checked through or not?

Are there any people here who have experience with getting a 24-hour visa free entry (and leaving the airport for a couple of hours during layover), while at the same time not picking up their checked luggage but simply checking it through to their final destination?

Reason I ask is the fact that I came across some stories where people are stating that in order to get a 24-hour visa free entry you are absolutely required to always pick up your checked luggage and can't have it checked through. But on the other hand it is nowhere officially stated that way and I also can't think of a logical reason why this would indeed be the case...

Answers (10)
Answered by ZUPAN | Nov. 10, 2019 23:42
Part one:

In reality, to be granted a temporary entry permit (a permit that allows you to exit the airport), there is no condition that you are supposed to pick-up your luggage at all. This is more like an urban legend, than a reality. To be granted this permit when you are flying on 24 hour visa free transit, there are more important details that are of interest for Chinese authorities like the length of your layover (the longer, the chances to be granted a permit increase) and also of having a confirmation of accommodation booking if the layover is during the night hours. So, the truth is that having a luggage or not does not change your chances.

Anyway, it is possible that the root of this confusion is in the fact that the travelers traveling on separate tickets or with more than one stop within China, simply have to collect their luggage and perform a recheck for their connecting flight. They are granted a temporary entry permit practically automatically because there is no other way how would they perform those operations without exiting from the transit zone of the airport. In other words, people who were observing the travelers collecting their luggage and being granted a temporary entry permit have wrongly concluded that you have to pick-up your luggage to be allowed to exit the airport, i.e. to be granted a temporary entry permit.
Answered by ZUPAN | Nov. 10, 2019 23:42
Part two:

Here I have one information that is not the most ideal in your case... It appears that Guangzhou airport authorities have, at least according to the relevant sources, banned the issuing of temporary entry permits to passengers traveling on 24 hour visa free transit and having international to international connections on a single (through) ticket. I cannot confirm if this is a general stance, but you are even in this case, allowed to approach 24 hour visa free transit counter and apply for a temporary entry permit. In any case, I wish you a successful application.
Answered by B+M from Belgium | Nov. 13, 2019 14:08
Thanks a lot for the extensive answer and all the information! This is really helpful!

To give you some better idea of our specific itinerary:

- We're flying with China Southern Airlines from Paris (France) to Christchurch (New Zealand), having a layover in Guangzhou (but flying on a single ticket with luggage being checked through).

- The arrival in Guangzhou is early in the morning and the departure is late in the evening / night, resulting in a total transfer time of approx. 18 hours.

- As China Southern Airlines offers free hotel accommodation to passengers with a layover of more than 8 hours, we also made a reservation for such a free hotel room through their website, in order to hopefully catch some (extra) sleep between the two flights.
Answered by B+M from Belgium | Nov. 13, 2019 14:10
So now that it seems confirmed that luggage being checked through or not shouldn't make a difference, I get the impression that we have more "pro's" than "con's" to be granted a temporary entry permit.

As positive elements our layover is quite long, we have a hotel reservation and we're flying on a national carrier that would probably not promote its 'free hotel accommodation during layover' if they knew that most temporary entry permits are denied.

On the other side a negative point may be the fact that our layover is during daytime and it's therefore less 'uncomfortable' to be stuck at the airport than during the night hours.

Let's hope now that the "pro's" will also win it from the "con's" in the eyes of the airport authorities...
Answered by ZUPAN | Nov. 13, 2019 15:20
Yes, you are flying exactly as I was thinking. It is a single (through) ticket and your luggage will be tagged all the way to your final destination. This is all just fine :)

As far as a temporary entry permit is concerned, you should definitely apply for it at 24 hour visa free transit counter upon your landing and, please, have those accommodation confirmations provided by China Southern printed out, ready to be presented to the relevant authorities. Remember, not in electronic form, but a real printout!

You are thinking in a logical way and I honestly hope that you will be granted a permit to rest for a while in a hotel room and also to explore the city if you have an interest to do that.

I would really appreciate your feedback. Have a pleasant travel and successful obtaining of the permit :)
Answered by Gregp from United Kingdom | Nov. 17, 2019 23:56
Hi B and M,

I have just today returned from a China Southern Flight via Guangzhou and as long as the stop is over 8 hours they will grant the 24 hour visa free transit (UK passport so assume same for all EU?) . The whole process was relatively painless and the hotel accommodation good with a shuttle provided to and from the hotel.

It is up to you if you send your luggage all the way through. We chose to send it all the way as this was easier for us.

Hope this helps.

Answered by ZUPAN | Nov. 18, 2019 13:06
Thank you. I'm glad you have managed to obtain a temporary entry permit and to escape from the sterile zone :)
Answered by B+M from Belgium | Jan. 13, 2020 15:11
Hi Zupan,

Just returning here to share our experiences:

On our flight to Christchurch we experienced a 24-hour delay on the Paris-Guangzhou flight. Due to this delay (and the very bad management of this situation in Paris) we arrived in Guangzhou without a further ticket to Christchurch, not knowing anything about our luggage (still in Paris?, in Guangzhou?, checked through to Christchurch?,...) and with our hotel reservation for the layover no longer valid...

However, we can only be very positive about the way we were treated in Guangzhou Airport.

On arrival at the transfer desks the personnel spoke English very well, they immediately arranged us a ticket for the next flight to Christchurch, checked for us if our luggage had arrived with us (luckily it did and was checked through to Christchurch without any issue) and helped us with the 24 hour visa application. At the customs desk there was also no problem in the fact that we didn't have a valid transit hotel reservation anymore and we were granted the 24 hour visa within minutes.

No problems what so ever.
Answered by B+M from Belgium | Jan. 13, 2020 15:23
So long story short:

Although our situation was really 'worst case' when we arrived in Guangzhou, everything ended up totally fine. The transit personnel was really great and well trained and did a perfect job.

So if anyone in the future has any doubts about the 24-hour visa free transit procedures in Guangzhou, I can only say 'no worries at all, you will be perfectly fine'.

Only requirement is:
- not being a total fool that doesn't understand how to fill in the blue arrival / departure card
- just making sure that your passport is from the right country in order to be eligible for a 24-hour visa free transit
- having a layover time somewhere between 8 and 24 hours

Luggage checked through or not. Transit hotel booked in advance or not. ... All doesn't matter.
Answered by ZUPAN | Jan. 14, 2020 12:17
B+M, I'm so glad that the situation that appeared to be a "lost case" has turned out to be relatively manageable and finally resolved in the best way possible. Your first hand experience is invaluable for all our future travelers that intend to rely on 24 hour visa free transit. Indeed, this is very efficient way of travel regardless of the fact that there are several maybe annoying formalities. Anyway, this travel with China Southern via Guangzhou and their offer of free accommodation is really something that is hard to find at other airlines. Thank you once again :)
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