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Shanghai visitors on 144-hour transit visas can now do arrival cards online

The new system is said to save around 20 minutes per traveller on average at customs

Photograph: Hanson Lu via Unsplash
As Shanghai seemingly continues its mission of streamlining life in its airports (starting with facial recognition at Hongqiao Airport), now travellers entering China on the 144-hour visa-exempt transit are able to fill out their arrival card online prior to landing in Shanghai – which means no more digging around the bottom of your bag for that pen that you know is in there somewhere on arrival.

The idea is that, if you're on the list of 53 countries eligible for the 144-hour visa-free transit entry to Shanghai (you can find out if you are here), you'd submit your arrival card information before you fly and print out the card by scanning an individual QR code or your passport at a self-service machine at the airport. While you'll still need to queue up to go through individual inspection, according to The Paper, the new system is said to save around 20 minutes per traveller on average at customs – while 20 minutes arguably seems generous, anyone who's suffered through the Pudong airport arrivals system will know what a difference even two minutes could make to a weary traveller.

As well as shortening wait times, the purpose of the new service is to both help travellers unsure of the arrival card process and also make sure that they are aware whether they are eligible for the visa-free transit before landing in Shanghai.

The electronic system is said to have been put in place now to help deal with the madness that will be the airports during the influx of tourism and business visits for China’s first International Import Expo, to be held here in Shanghai next week (Nov 5 and 10).

The online form is in both Chinese and English and includes the same details you have to fill in on the paper version. However, it should be noted that this new platform is only for visitors applying for 144-hour visa-exempt transit, which means anyone coming in on other visa types will still need to fill in the arrival card the old-fashioned way (just make sure you bring a pen).

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