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Do I Need a Visa to Transfer Flights?

Can I connect flights in China from the USA to Thailand? Do I need a transit visa? —

Hello Russ,

I apologize that I am answering this so late — I put the travel help portion of vagabond journey.com on hold while I was working on archaeology projects in Arizona — but, if you did not already do these travels yet, you will have no problem connecting flights in China.

I do not think that I have ever connected flights in China, but I have in other countries where I would otherwise need a visa.

So if you just stay in the airport and go from terminal to terminal, then you do not need a visa. China is not your destination country, so just so you have your paperwork in order for going to Thailand you will be alright. Your passport probably will not even be check in China for anything other than identification purposes.

Airports are sort of no-man’s-lands between countries and global regions that do not require visas just to traverse. An airport is sort of a buffer zone — a gray area — of a country, and, just so you don’t leave it and go walking around outside, is not really considered part of the “soil.” So just so you are just transferring through the airport you will not need to show the proper documentation for entering China.

You would only need a transit visa if you wanted to travel by land through China to another country or if you wanted to leave the airport and check out the city you are transferring flights in for a few days.

Walk Slow,


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Filed under: Air Travel, Airports, China, Travel Help, Visas

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 80 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3165 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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