A traveller who has to pass through a UK airport via a connecting flight to a different country is known as transiting or layover, and this requires a UK transit visa.
How does this work??
Transit Visa of UK
Based on the many questions we have received on this site, we find out that lot of people get confused of what transit visa of uk means. There is really nothing confusing about this.
If you’re going on a long-haul flight from one continent to the other, a lot of the times you find out that there is no direct flight leading from your country to the country you are travelling to.
Most times you would have to take a connecting flight where by the flight would stop in one or two or even three different airports in different countries, before you get to your final destination. For example someone going from Nigeria to Venezuela will have to book a connecting flight through France.
Another thing that confuses people is the name of the visa…they are not sure which is which? Many users often ask;
should I get a london transit visa, or a transit visa heathrow?
Indeed UK transit visa has been given a lot of monikers over the years, a few of which are mentioned below.
- Uk connecting flight visa
- Visitor in transit visa uk
- British airways transit visa
- Transit visa london
- Uk border transit visa
- Uk border control transit
- British airways uk transit
- Uk border agency transit visa
- Uk border agency visitor in transit
- Transit visa heathrow
- Transit visa heathrow to gatwick
- London visa on arrival: uk transit
The bottom line is that whenever you see or think of any of the above names, they all mean the same thing and I will explain further down the 2 different types transiting and UK transit visas you should be focusing on.
First of all, a little explanation in layman’s terms.
First of all, a little explanation in layman’s terms. But first the types!
Types of UK Transiting.
There are basically 2 types of transiting
Airside transiting :
This is where you do not go through immigration, but rather you can stop and wait at the airport, or even move from one airport terminal to enter a flight on another terminal, e.g enter in heathrow terminal 3 and change flight at heathrow terminal 5 as long as you do not go through the border to enter into the UK.
This is when you actually go through the border agency and they check your passport and stuff,, and you officially enter the UK for a short period of time of 48 hours and then get back out to continue your journey to your final destination. This can happen where the passenger has a significant lapse in time for your connecting flight, where you will be allowed to go sleep in a hotel, change airports or to recheck your baggage or something, but as long as you leave immediately after your sleep!
If a citizen of uk or us for switzerland or australia this may not be an issue for you because these countries have visa waiver programs whereby citizens of such countries are able to go from one country to the other without a visa. on the other hand if your from a company that does not enjoy visa waiver status you would you find out that you need to get a transit visa for each country where your flight will stop.
this article will discuss how to go about getting a transit visa for uk.
uk transit visa processing time
There is no specific processing time for the uk transit visa, depending on your country, you should atleast allow up to 2 weeks for processing. Before you embark on your journey, if you have booked a flight that will stop in a uk airport before it continues to his final destination, it is your responsibility to find out if you would require a uk transit visa that will allow you to stop and dismount in a uk airport, and allow you to stop over within the premises of the airport. you should not wait until the day of your flight to apply for a transit visa because this might be too late for you and you will not be able to travel or it could be that you might be turned back when you get to the uk. To be on the safe side, find an immigration lawyer to advise you.
Do not leave it to the last minute and do not leave it to chance
when it comes to getting any kind of uk visa a lot of people feel very worried about it cause they think they may not qualify for the uk visa. this should not be the case for you when it comes to getting a transit visa in UK. as long as you have followed all the processes and procedures getting a uk transit visa should be a breeze for you and you shall allow yourself enough time to apply for and get this visa before you embark on your journey.
HOW MUCH IS UK TRANSIT VISA
- The DATV visa cost £35
- The Visitor In Transit Visa cost £65
Note the above UK transit visa fees are in British pound or the price equivalent in your country’s currency and there could be a slight variation in cost depending on the country you are applying from.
Types Of UK Transit Visa
If you’re not from a visa waiver country there two types of transit visa that you can apply for
- The direct airside transit visa DATV
- visitor in transit visa
Direct AirSide Trasit Visa
The direct air side transit visa is a kind of visa that you must apply for if your initial flight will stop in the UK and then you enter another flight from the UK to your final destination whereby you will not need to go through immigration border control.
UK transit visa requirements for DATV
The Uk transit visa rules are pretty straight forward and should be processed in time before your date of travel. When applying for this uk transit visa you will be required;
- To Apply: Use the uk transit visa application form online Here ( North Korean citizens must use a downloaded form here)
- Get an appointment to do your biometrics taken at a visa processing center
- to provide a current international passport or any other valid travel identification document. depending on the personal circumstances you might also be required to provide additional documents such as bank statements letter of invitation but this is not always the case for everyone you will be informed if you need to provide any such documents for your application.
- You will be required to show evidence of your onward journey out of the UK. This flight must be booked and confirmed within 24 hours after you arrived in the UK for direct airside transit. You can provide an email confirmation of your flight itinerary from your travel agent or a copy of your the ticket
- You will need to also provide evidence to confirm that you will be allowed to enter the country you are going to, e.g if you have a valid green card, a visa, resident permit or national ID card ,
- If you are not a national or resident of the country you are going to, you will be asked to provide a reason why you are travelling to that country, e.g if you a going for a conference, you will be asked to provide evidence of that.
Visitor In Transit Visa
uk transit visa requirements for VITV
- Transit Visitor Evidence that your onward journey from the UK has been booked/confirmed,duration of 48 hours of arrival in the UK for Visitor in Transit such a
transit UK without visa
not everyone needs this visa.citizens of certain countries enjoy a visa waiver status which allows them to transit without visa in the uk. If you are a citizen of the european union or switzerland then you do not need to apply for this visa because you’ll be able to travel to the uk as citizens have free movement in the uk.
Also you do not need to apply for this transit visa if you have to be low types of travel documents
- Eea family permit
- standard uk visitor visa
- if you have a uk marriage visitor visa
- or if you have a home office travel documents the kind of document that is given to a refugee or a stateless person
Check the ukgov website and choose you nationality and your final destination to find out if you are exempted as you might have valid travel documents for other countries like Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, etc, that will enable you to transit without needing a visa.
WILL YOU BE ABLE TO GET THE UK TRANSIT VISA AT HEATHROW AIRPORT?
Ideally, there is no uk transit visa on arrival. You must have a valid transit visa or be eligible to benefit from the transit without visa programme.
We will not advise you to wait until you get to heathrow, because most times, depending on the airline, you will not be allowed to board the flight if you do not have your transit visa. Because each travellers circumstance is unique, you must check if YOU need a visa before you embark on your journey. If you wait until it is too late, there might be no room to expedite the process in time for your travel. Look for a good immigration lawyer in your area and work with them to advise you, as they are more up to date about visa rules
The UKGOV website says that both the Direct airside transit visa and the Visitor in transit visa need to be applied for from outside of the UK. And must be applied for online
uk transit visa exemption
Assuming you are exempted from having a DATV, You should keep an eye on your waiting time in between flights at heathrow because if your waiting time is very long e.g 19 hours. It could mean that you are arriving the UK on day 1 and departing on day 2, this means that you will need somewhere to stay as there is no provision for you to stay the night at heathrow airport hence you will require and visitor in transit visa that will enable you to go to hotel and come back to board your flight the next day.
If you don’t have any transit visa and you successfully board a flight from your outbound destination, you might have a landing interview at heathrow, glasgow, edinburgh, gatwick, where the Entry Clearance Officers (ECOs) and Border Force officers (BFOs) will quiz you on your onward flight to determine if you are a genuine transit visitor, and whether you meets the ‘transit visitor’ eligibility requirements under V7.5 of Appendix V of the Immigration Rules.
Transit Without Visa: UK Requirements For TWOV
If he is not satisfied that you are, he has the right to refuse you entry. This can prove too cumbersome as you will be expected to prove that you meet the transit without visa, TWOV requirements below.
- That you have arrived the UK by air and you intend to leave immediately by air to another country and that the only reason your feet have touched the UK soil is because your flight route stops for a connecting flight to your final destination.
- You will be required to show that you have valid visa that will allow you to enter the country you claim to be going to.
- You will be asked to show that you do not intend to gain any access to the UK taxpayers money by going for medical treatment, or work and study in the UK
- You will be required to show that you intend to leave the UK before it clocks 24 hours of your stay there. …literally 23:59 hours, and you hold a flight ticket that shows that you will be continuing your journey 23:59 hours after you first arrived.
- Go here to see more of the requirements
Proving the above is no joke as border agencies are quite strict about stuff like these. Not just UK, the schengen is really strict as well. A reader once complained of how he had a valid schengen visa to Italy and his flight was transiting through Germany, even if did not need a transit visa, and he did not intend to enter Germany, he got sent back, despite the fact that his schengen visa showed that he was a frequent traveller to the schengen area, I digress a little but I feel this story is important for you to see how strict they can be, hence you should do your due diligence and timely apply for a transit visa if the UK GOV website tells you to do so, otherwise you will remain at the mercy of the immigration agent who may just not like the look of your face on the said day!!
You will not be able to extend your TWOV because for the border agent to have granted you leave to enter under the TWOV means that they must have given you the maximum allowable time and there is no provision for extension beyond 23hours:59mins.
UK TRANSIT VISA REJECTED
There is no guarantee that you will be issued a transit visa. According to transit visa eligibility rule, the immigration officer has the right to refuse your visa on the below grounds
- Reasonable routes: if you intend to transit through the UK from country A to Country B, they could deny your application if they can show that there are other flight routes you could take without necessarily transiting the UK, they would even suggest those flight routes to you..E.G someone wanting to travel from Morocco to South Africa, it will indeed make no sense to want to transit through the UK, hence you will be denied.
- Show intention and ability to leave the UK within 48 hours. If you have provided document to support that you intend to transit, but at the same time, the details on your application form do not show that you intend to leave within 48 hours, then you will be refused a transit visa
- work/study/medical reasons, if your application shows that you intend to do one of the three, then you will be expected to apply for a different kind of visa for these purposes, hence you will be denied
- If the documents and information you have provided in your application do not show that you are assured entry into the country you claim you are going to, then you will be denied.
- Credibility: based on all the documents and information you have provided, you still will be assessed to see that if you are credible, everything will be scrutinised especially the funds available to you. E.g you cannot claim to be going to the USA from India for holiday and all the statements you have provided have a bank balance equivalent of £200. In such an instance, it will be assumed that if you apply for a visitor in transit visa, that you will overstay and abscond.
Note that once you are rejected, you have no right of appeal or administrative review, therefore you most ensure that you do the right thing to abide by the rules and meet the requirements. If you do not know how to go about your application, then look for an immigration attorney to help you.
WHAT IF YOU ALREADY HAVE A UK VISA,
If you already have a valid UK visa of any sort, you will be able to transit without further applying for a transit visa.
HOW LONG IS THE UK TRANSIT VISA VALID FOR
In general, the minimum period of validity is usually one month and the maximum been two years.If you are issued a DATV, you can use it for as many journeys you like as long as the transit visa remains valid
If you are travelling for the first time, expect to get a DATV that is valid for only 3 months
If you are a regular traveller or business traveller, you can expect to get a DATV with a maximum validity of 2 years.
A UK transit visa is usually issued as multiple entry valid for up to 6 months with a length of leave of 48 hours
It is rare for the authorities to issue a single entry transit visit that is more than 6 months.
In an instance where you have e.g a USA visa that expires in 3 months time, you may notice that the validity of 6 months on your transit visa will be reduced to 3 months because you cannot show that you will be allowed into the USA after your remaining 3 months visa expires.
If you intend to stay more than 48 hours at a stretch, then you must apply for a standard visitors visa or any other type of visa that you are eligible for to allow you to stay for longer.
DO YOU NEED A LONDON TRANSIT VISA FOR INDIAN PASSPORT HOLDERS?
Indeed a common question amongst indians is; is there a uk transit visa for indian citizens, or whether they need a London transit visa for indian passport holders who will be transiting through heathrow terminal 1,2,3,4,5.
Well for indian nationals, there really isn’t much difference whether or not they transit airside or landside. In general, most indian citizens will need a direct airside transit visa or a visitor in transit visa, except such individual is exempted as stated in the UK GOV website.
In some instances, if you are transiting to the USA or Canada, it could be that as long as you have a valid USA or Canada Visa, then you might not need to get a transit visa, so long as you have booked a ticket to take you all the way to the US and you baggage has been checked in all the way to your final destination. This is more or less the exception than the rule.
If you are going through a schengen country, check out this routing examples put together by luftanza to give you an idea
Please not that it remains your responsibility to check if you will need a London transit visa if stopping and changing flight at heathrow.
TRANSITING THROUGH UK TO IRELAND
A person travelling to Ireland cannot transit through the UK. The UK operates what is called the Common Travel Area, CTA agreement with Ireland whereby citizens of Ireland and UK can cross borders with minimum control, therefore a passenger going to Ireland but transiting through UK is treated as a visitor to the UK, hence must apply for a standard visitors visa and not a transit visa.
On the other side of the coin, if you have a valid Irish biometric visa, then you will be able to enter the UK with your Irish visa without having any UK visa. Your Irish biometric visa should be marked ‘BC’ or ‘BC BIVS’ in the ‘Remarks’ section and you will have an onward flight ticket to the Republic of Ireland.
UK transit Visa for Us Green Card Holder – ADVANCE PAROLE
If you are in the stage of getting a US green card you might have been issued an advance parole US travel document, you will need to check the specifics of your travel document to see if they meet the below which will allow you enjoy exemption as a US green card holder. If Your document matches any of the below, then you do not need to apply for a UK transit visa before you travel, to avoid any conflicts with your green card status, make sure you have an immigration lawyer look at your application, your reasons for traveling, and then advise you so that you will not have any issues at the border when you are coming back
- a valid Temporary USA I-551 Immigrant visa issued by the US government (You cannot use a wet-ink stamp version)
- a valid US permanent residence card issued on or after 21 April 1998
- an expired USA I-551 Permanent Residence card that was issued by the USA on or after 21 April 1998, with a corresponding valid I-797 letter authorising an extension
- a valid standalone US Immigration Form 155A/155B issued by the USA which you must attach to a sealed brown envelope)