FINALLY, Singapore and China agreed to implement a joint visa exemption for 30 days. This visa-free policy will take effect from February 9 2024, just one day before the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Signed in Beijing on Tuesday, (01/25), 2024 by officials from both countries, the agreement allows Singaporean and Chinese passport holders to enter each other’s countries without a visa. They can stay up to 30 days.

Currently the visa-free policy of both countries only applies unilaterally. Singaporean passport holders can enter China for up to 15 days without a visa, while ordinary Chinese passport holders require a visa to enter Singapore. For those who have already applied for visas for visits after February 9, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority stated that there will be no refunds.

In previous visits to Beijing and Tianjin, Lawrence Wong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Singapore, highlighted the increase in citizen visits between the two countries. The frequency of flights to and from Singapore or vice versa is gradually returning to pre-pandemic levels.

“A joint 30-day visa waiver arrangement between the two countries will also support such progress, encourage more personnel exchanges and strengthen the foundation of bilateral relations,” Wong said.

In July 2023, China reinstated 15-day visa-free entry for Singaporean citizens, a privilege that had been suspended for three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Beijing expressed its desire for the agreement to be reciprocal, Reuters reported.

In Singapore, three-quarters of its 4 million citizens and permanent residents are ethnic Chinese, with the majority being Mandarin speakers. This makes tourists from mainland China feel very comfortable exploring the country.

In recent months, both countries have implemented additional initiatives to strengthen ties and restore tourism to pre-pandemic levels. The People’s Bank of China and Singapore’s central bank have also announced pilot programs allowing the use of the e-CNY digital currency for tourism spending. [ special]