[Updated: 12 September 2018]
Travelling with a South African passport comes with its complications. This week on FAQ Friday, we discuss transit visas while travelling in Europe.
Welcome to FAQ Fridays from Travelstart with me, Nick Paul. We regularly get questions on Facebook and Twitter on a range of different topics like visa’s and so on.
We got one today from Lee-Ann Lipman on Twitter asking: “If I’m booking a flight that has a layover in Germany, would we need visas of sorts?”
To answer that we’d need to ask her for more information. Germany is one of the 26 Schengen states, that’s a state that shares a common visa agreement with 25 others. This basically means that you need one visa to visit all the different countries.
It would depend on where your final destination is; if Lee was going to another Schengen State, she would already have a visa for that country in which case she wouldn’t need an extra visa for Germany. If she was on her way to another country outside of Europe, so long as she had a visa, passport, and any documentation she needed to go to that country, she’d be ok. You’d also need to make sure that you are not transiting in a country like Germany for longer than 24 hours. Most of the major airports allow you to transit there for up to 24 hours. Those include all the ones you can fly to from South Africa: Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich and so on. The smaller ones might require you to the leave the airport overnight so you would need a special visa to be out of the airport, roaming the streets at that time of night.
Another thing to bear in mind is that once you are in Germany that you are not allowed to transfer to another Schengen state. That would require you to have a Schengen visa for that transit. The reason is because if you were travelling, for example, Cape Town – Frankfurt, Frankfurt – Paris, Paris – Mexico City…Frankfurt and Paris are both part of the Schengen area. So essentially you are making a domestic flight between the two of them and would be leaving the international transit area, in which case you would need a visa.
You really only need a visa if you are transiting more than one Schengen State and if you are spending more than 24 hours in these airports. So most cases you won’t need a visa to travel via Germany.
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