Many foreign travelers are unaware that they need a visa when transiting through the UK. What this means is that, depending on your nationality, if you are flying to another country and you have a layover anywhere in the United Kingdom, you may need to apply for a visa to the UK in order to be granted temporary entry into the country—even if you are not leaving the airport. Under these circumstances, the visa you need is the UK Transit visa; today’s blog will teach you how to apply for it. In addition to learning how to apply for a UK Transit visa, you will also discover whether there are different types of transit visa, transit visa exemptions, and the answer to frequently asked questions like, “how long does transit visa take to be processed?” and, “what is a transit visa fee?” Most importantly, you will discover the answer to the question “Do I need a transit visa for a UK connecting flight?”
UK Transit visas explained
- Nationals of certain countries who are flying through the UK (either England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, or Wales) in order to take a connecting flight to their final destination will need a visa—even if they are not leaving the airport.
- These certain nationals who need a visa to pass through the UK in transit will need to apply for and receive a UK Transit Visa in order to fly onward to their final destination.
- Please note that a Transit visa is not a long-term visit visa. Instead, it is a kind of visa exclusively needed to pass through the UK in transit. Critically, it will not cover travelers who are leaving the airport. If you are thinking of leaving the airport in the UK with your transit visa, you will not be allowed to do so. To exit the airport, you will need to obtain either a short term or long-term visit visa, which will allow you to spend time in the country as either a visitor or resident.
Do you need a transit visa for a UK connecting flight?
- A UK Transit visa is not required for citizens of EU countries and other Western/South American countries (such as the Australia, Brazil, Canada, the United States, and the Caribbean island nations). With some exceptions, nationals of most Asian, African, and Middle East countries require a transit visa; Japanese nationals do not need a transit visa, while Chinese and Indian nationals do.
- Many Middle Eastern countries require transit visas, including (but not limited to) the following: Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, and Libya. In contrast, nationals from Jordan, Morocco, and most Gulf countries (Bahrain, Saudi, the UAE, etc.) do not require transit visas.
- Transit visa exemptions apply to nationals who have certain visas to the UK (including the Marriage visa and Standard visitor visas), and those with refugee/stateless purpose status, and holders of the EU settlement scheme.
- To find out if you need a transit visa to the UK, please contact us here.
- Are there different types of transit visas?
- Yes. The two main types of transit visas are the following:
- Visitor in Transit visa (for travelers who will be passing through border control when they land.
- Direct Airside Transit visa (for travelers who will not be passing through border control when they land).
- The airline you are flying should reveal whether or not you will need to pass through border control (i.e. whether or not you will need a Visitor in Transit visa vs. a Direct Airside Transit visa).
- What is a transit visa fee?
- The cost for a UK Transit visa is £64 (Direct Airside Transit visas are £35).
- How long does transit visa take to be processed?
- The processing time for the UK transit visa is typically a couple of weeks, although it could be longer or shorter depending on where you are applying from, and other factors.
How to apply for a UK Transit Visa
- Provide evidence that you meet the transit visa requirements. These include the following:
- That your sole reason for entering the UK is to take a connecting flight.
- That you will be able to access your final destination country.
- That you can financially afford to proceed to your final destination (upon landing in the UK).
- Gather your required documents
- Proof of entry to your final destination (such as a visa/entry permit).
- Proof of onward travel (a flight reservation out of the UK, etc.).
- Pay your Transit visa fee
- £64 for a basic UK Transit visa.
- Have your biometric information collected
- The only in-person requirement of the UK Transit visa application is the submission of your biometric information, which includes photos and fingerprints.
- Applicants for the UK Transit visa will submit their biometrics at a visa application center located outside of the UK. For help finding the closest visa application center to you, click here.
- Apply online
- When you are ready, click here to apply online for your UK Transit visa.
If you have more questions, please contact us, where UK Transit visas are explained in greater detail.