Saturday, May 25, 2024

Singapore and China Confirm Mutual 30-Day Visa-Free Entry, Effective February 9

SINGAPORE: Singapore and China have agreed to a 30-day mutual visa-free entry for their citizens, close to two months after the proposal was first announced.

Government representatives from both sides signed the agreement on Thursday (Jan 25). The arrangement formally enters into force on Feb 9, the eve of Chinese New Year.

Under the agreement, Singaporeans and Chinese citizens holding ordinary passports can enter China or Singapore without a visa for no more than 30 days if they are travelling for business, sightseeing, visiting friends and family, or other private affairs. 

Those who plan to engage in activities that require prior approval, such as work or news reporting must still secure the relevant visa before entry.

Chinese nationals who enter Singapore without a visa and plan to stay for more than 30 days will need to apply for an extension online with the Singapore Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA). 

Responding to CNA queries on Friday, the Chinese Embassy in Singapore said Singapore citizens who plan to stay in China for more than 30 days can apply for a visa extension at a local public security authority though this does not mean it will be automatically approved.

Singaporeans holding ordinary passports can currently enter China without a visa for 15 days for purposes like sightseeing, visiting family and business. China resumed this arrangement in July last year, more than three years after it was suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chinese citizens currently require a visa to enter Singapore.

Singapore’s ICA said there will be no refund of the visa processing fee for travellers who had earlier applied for a visa.

“Under long-standing agreements, holders of diplomatic, public affairs and service passports issued by the People’s Republic of China are exempted from visa requirements for a stay of up to 30 days in Singapore,” added ICA in a press release on Thursday.

In addition, holders of all other travel documents issued by China must continue to apply for an entry visa before travelling to Singapore.

The mutual 30-day visa exemption agreement will provide “greater convenience to citizens of Singapore and China travelling to each other’s country for business and leisure”, the Singapore Embassy in Beijing wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday. 

“It will also strengthen our people-to-people ties, promote mutual understanding, and bring about greater economic opportunities for Singapore and Singaporeans.”

The embassy added that it looked forward to more business travel, tourism and exchanges between the two countries. 

Mr Peter Tan (left), Singapore’s Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, in Beijing on Jan 25, 2024. The mutual 30-day visa exemption agreement between Singapore and China will come into effect from Feb 9, 2024. (Photo: Facebook/Singapore…see more

Plans for the 30-day mutual visa exemption agreement were announced nearly two months ago, during the highest-level annual bilateral forum between Singapore and China.

The 19th Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation meeting was co-chaired by Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong and Chinese Vice Premier Ding Xuexiang for the first time.

At the time, Mr Ding said the visa-free arrangement would “provide greater convenience for people-to-people exchanges”.

The arrangement was later affirmed through an exchange of diplomatic notes between Singapore and China, said ICA. 

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