BA clarifies UK transit visas

Heathrow Airport Transit

British Airways has reported that there is still some confusion about transit visas for passengers travelling from South Africa via the UK and has issued a document from the UK Border Agency to clarify the situation.

The document states that South African passport holders transiting the UK en-route to the US, Canada, New Zealand or Australia may travel to the UK under the ‘Transit Without a Visa’ (TWOV) concession.

The TWOV concession applies when:

A flight to the US, Canada, New Zealand or Australia is confirmed, departs within 24 hours of the passenger entering the UK and the traveller is in possession of the correct documents to enter the next destination.

The concession allows passengers to connect to a flight either airside at the airport where they landed at or another airport, as long as the flight leaves within 24hours of entry to the UK.

However, passengers transiting to any of the 25 Schengen countries and who hold a category C Schengen visa must still obtain a UK visa.

More information on transit visas and other UK visas can be found at


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Our Readers Comments

  1. hey i have a canadian passport am travelling to lisbon via london heathrow do i need a transit visa for a long stop over on return

    • Hi Pauline,

      I’m afraid we do not specialise in visa related queries for foreign passport holders. Please contact the Embassy direct or official visa handling agency. They will be able to advise if a transit visa is required and if so what the cost would be, correct procedures to follow and what documentation will be required.

  2. Dear Nick Paul,
    We are 2 South African citizens travelling from Johannesburg Oliver Tambo International to Heathrow arriving at 5.30 am.- and then on to
    Toronto Canada.
    We have 10 hours in transit.
    With a view to visiting a close relative (ex South African of 86 years ) that resides in London whom we would dearly love to see –
    Will it be possible to leave the confines
    of the halls of Heathrow TWOV whist in transit and return timeously for our departure to Toronto at 5 30p.m.
    Or will needing a transit visa?
    Your reply will be greatly appreciated.
    Thanking you,
    MJ Gordon

    • Hi Margaret,

      Thanks for contacting us.

      I’m afraid this would not be possible. If you are wanting to visit family and leave the transit hall/pass immigration you will need to apply for a tourist visa.

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