Do I need transit visa? Understanding Transit visa requirements

I have a connecting flight via ABC airport- Do I need transit visa?
This is the question several first time international travelers face, most cases after booking the ticket. Even on Quora there're lots of questions being asked again n again pertaining to transit visa.While there’s no single answer for transit visa, details provided in this post should help you to find out if your scenario warrants a transit visa.

Transit visa requirement is broadly the derivative of following 4 aspects
  1. Which country passport you hold
  2. Which is the transit airport
  3. If the ticket is single PNR or involves multiple PNRs/needs change of terminal
  4. Transit time (how long you'll be spending at the airport before catching connecting flight
1. Your Nationality
If you hold some of the most powerful passports- like US, UK, Germany etc you will be able to transit without any visa issues in most airports in the world. If your passport allows a visa free entry/on arrival visa into the country where transit airport is located, then there's absolutely no need for transit visa. If you hold a not so strong passport- like Indian, your transit visa requirement will depend on the transit airport. Refer next para.

2.Transit Airport
Most airports in the world allow free transit through them- Dubai, Frankfurt, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and so on. As long as you have an onward ticket on single PNR (You don’t have to leave the terminal transit area for new boarding pass) you can transit for free. Transit passengers are low risk (they won’t leave the airport area) and ensure lots of revenue to the airlines based in the airport- so most countries around the world do allow free transit. However some countries/airports are lot stricter-Indian passport holders will need transit visa at London Heathrow, Australia (like while flying AirAsia to Auckland via Gold Coast)

3. Single PNR or multiple?
Single PNR means your baggage will be checked in through to your final destination. You will be given both boarding passes at the origin airport (for first and final leg). This is a critical requirement even if airport you’re transiting through allows free transit. If you have two separate tickets, that means you will have to go out of transit area, clear immigration, collect your bag and check in again. This will need a visa. Also transit visa may be needed while changing terminal- example: Delhi to Kuala Lumpur on Air India (flies to KLIA1) and Kuala Lumpur to Bali on Air Asia (flies from KLIA2) or in Dubai- say Chennai- Dubai on Emirates, Dubai-Moscow on FlyDubai (T2)

If you book on airline website from origin to destination, you will get single PNR ticket. You should be careful while booking on 3rd party OTAs- they might club different airlines- at times if two airlines operate from different terminals you may need visa to go out and enter other terminal.

4. Most countries also impose a time limit- how many hours max a passenger can stay in transit area- this is usually factored while selling tickets- if the transit time is too long and more than what regulations permit, then you won’t be able to book a ticket with such long layovers. Thus as a passenger you don’t have to track/worry about transit time.

How to check if your scenario needs a transit visa?
  • Websites like MakeMyTrip often advise the need for transit visa, if the site feels your ticket needs transit visa
  • If the transit airport is a popular one, visa requirement will also be common knowledge and can be confirmed with google search or asking a friend who had been through that airport. If the transit airport is not a popular hub then you need to exercise some extra caution to be 100% sure of transit visa needs at the airport.
  • Airline helplines can be a good source, though airlines can’t be held accountable if they refuse to give visa related advise or if what they said proves to be wrong. I am aware of a case wherein AirAsia customer care said to passengers they don't need Australia transit visa while going to Auckland via Gold Coast- but such passengers were denied boarding and had to reschedule to get Australia transit visa- this was during the initial days of they Auckland flight.
  • Travel agents and Visa agents like VFS can assist you
  • You can ask your question below, I can try answer them,or you can use popular platforms like Quora to get clarity for your case.
  • If nothing works out, find the telephone number/email of the embassy of the country in which transit airport is situated, take clarification directly from them
  • If you have a single PNR ticket it is lot easier- if your ticket involves different airlines, change of terminals etc then you should be more careful.
How to apply for transit visa?
If it turns out that you need transit visa, then you’ve to apply for one. Procedure varies from country to country, but typically is similar to that of applying for a tourist visa- application form, required documents and fees may vary a little.

Australia issues transit visa free of charge but you have to pay VFS a fee for their services. Countries like UK charge for transit visa also.

In Doha, if you have Qatar airways ticket, you can apply for a transit visa on Qatar airways website. Most airlines assist their passengers with visa requirement for their home country. 

In Malaysia, if you have long transit time, you can ask for transit pass- will be issued most of the time if your destination is reputed country like Australia or Japan. If you’re changing terminals, apply for visa before leaving your country.

Transit visa needs much less paperwork compared to regular tourist visa, but still some amount of time n effort will be required.

It is highly advised to check on this transit visa requirements beforehand- airlines are not required to refund your money if your transit visa is rejected or you show up at airport without transit visa when you are required to have one.

Hope this helps... Do share your experience.
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2 comments:

  1. I don't want to get into Transit Visa thing unless I'm going out of airport.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. You're well versed with the process.. But there're many cases in which people book tickets first and then realize they may need a transit visa

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