Traveling to ABACE in Shanghai – Part 2: Permits, Slots, CIQ & Visas

Traveling to ABACE in Shanghai – Part 2: Permits, Slots, CIQ & Visas

This is a post by author Cynthia Zhang. Cynthia serves as Managing Director for Universal Aviation China, which has aircraft ground handling facilities in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. Cynthia can be contacted at

This business aviation blog post continues from our article last week, entitled “Traveling to ABACE in Shanghai – Part 1: Airport, Parking & Services.”

Landing and overflight permits for China are processed relatively quickly and it’s an easier process than it was even a couple of years ago, as sponsor letters are no longer required. In some cases China permit requests are processed within 24 hours. With Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (ABACE) taking place 17-19 April, the following is an overview of what you need to know:

1. Permit and slot requirements

Overflight and landing permits are needed for all operations to China. We suggest allowing at least three business days lead time for permits and associated airport slots. It’s ideal, when possible, to allow seven business days. While standard documentation is needed for landing permits, there’s no longer a requirement for operators to provide local sponsor or purpose of travel information. Note that airport slots will be issued and confirmed when your landing permit is approved.

2. Slot considerations

Due to increasing volumes of international and domestic commercial movements, along with growing fleets of locally-based business jets, airport slots have become increasingly difficult to obtain for Shanghai. Be mindful that you may not secure the exact or preferred slot times you request. Once you have confirmed slots it’s important to try to stick with approved schedules.

3. Permit restrictions

Be mindful that the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) normally limits operators to a maximum of two permit revisions. Any revision requests beyond this may be denied. Additionally, each permit approval allows a maximum of six flight legs, and up to five stops, within China. If you need to make any additional stops you’ll have to exit and reenter the country, with a new permit.

4. Parking

While parking requests for Shanghai area airports may be submitted weeks or months prior to the estimated time of arrival (ETA), we normally recommend filing trip requests no more than one week prior. The reason for this is that CAAC only allows two revisions to be made to an approved permit. If you obtain a permit too early, and attempt to make more than two revisions, your change requests will likely be denied.

5. Parking availability and cost

It’s normally possible to arrange two nights/three days parking at either Shanghai Hongqiao (ZSSS) or Shanghai Pudong (ZSPD). If you wish to stay in the Shanghai area longer you’ll need to either reposition to a different airfield or reposition to a different area on the field. It’s usually possible to move to a compact parking area for stays of up to about four days. For longer parking stays you may need to arrange for a ‘leased’ parking area, with associated additional costs.

6. CIQ

Customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) is cleared and processed in the fixed base operator (FBO) at ZSSS and this process takes about 10 minutes. At ZSPD you’ll clear in the main terminal or, with prior arrangement, at the VIP lounge. Plan on about 20 minutes to clear CIQ at ZSPD. Note that CIQ clearance is a more private experience at ZSSS, as the VIP lounge at ZSPD is also used by commercial airline passengers and certain credit card holders.

7. Visas

Most nationalities of passengers require visas for China. All visas must be obtained prior to arrival, unless you’re using a 72-hour transit visa and meet all requirements. While crew normally must have “C” type crew visas when operating to China, they’re permitted to enter ZSSS and ZSPD with standard business visas. However, if you’re continuing on to a smaller or secondary airport in China it’s important to obtain a “C” type visa. At many smaller airports local immigration officers will insist on all crewmembers having “C” visas.

8. Transit visas

Passengers and crew arriving at ZSSS, ZSPD and Beijing (ZBAA) have the option to apply for a 72-hour transit visa if they’re flying from country A to Shanghai or Beijing and continuing on the country B. Note that these transit visas are only available on qualifying itineraries and are only valid for a stay of up to 72 hours. If you wish to take advantage of a transit visa it’s important to coordinate in advance with your local handler, to ensure the process so smoothly and quickly upon arrival.

9. Additional Reading: Operating Requirements

Note: Links will be updated as articles are published.


For those who’ve operated to China in the past, permit approvals are very straight-forward and can often be obtained within 48 or even 24 hours. However, it’s important to allow the appropriate lead time and be aware of the max number of changes permitted after the permit is approved. Also, note the visa requirements when traveling to China.

Later, we will discuss security, ground support and local area information when operating to ABACE 2018.


If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to China, contact me at