Everything You Should Know About the UK Transit Visa

Travelling from South Africa via the United Kingdom and feeling a little confused about whether or not you need a transit visa? The frequent changes to visa and immigration policies have made travelling to and transiting through the UK a rather confusing affair even for the most seasoned travellers.

But this post will answer some of the frequently asked questions about the UK Transit Visa and hopefully shed some light on this widely misunderstood visa.

This information applies to South African passport holders.

london big ben

Photo credit: @arikannbusra via Instagram

Types of UK Transit Visas?

There are two types of transit visas for the United Kingdom:

A Direct Airside Transit Visa (DATV) is valid for 24 hours and does not allow you to pass through the UK Border Control (i.e. you must remain ‘airside’). This transit visa allows you to pass through the transit channels and requires that you depart from the same airport on the same day. The DATV is perfect if you are travelling to Europe and need to catch a connecting flight in the United Kingdom.

Find out more about the Direct Airside Transit Visa.

A Visitor in Transit Visa is valid for 48 hours and allows you to change terminals and pass through the UK Border Control. The Visitor in Transit visa is designed for travellers who need to re-check their luggage or catch a connecting flight at a different airport (e.g. If you land at Gatwick Airport and your onward flight departs from Heathrow Airport). You will only be allowed to stay in the UK for 48 hours.

Find out more about the Visitor in Transit Visa.

edinburgh

Photo credit: @matt_wenlock via Instagram

Who needs a UK Transit Visa?

You will need a transit visa if you have to pass through border control. You will pass through border control if:

  • you leave the airport building for any reason
  • you need to collect and re-check your luggage
  • your connecting flight departs from a different airport
  • your connecting flight departs on a different day to when you arrive
  • there is nowhere for you to stay in the airport overnight
  • you are transiting through the UK to get to Ireland

Note: You may need to re-check your luggage if you have connecting flights on different airlines.

If you want to leave the airport and visit friends or family, or just spend some time exploring the country, you can apply for a UK Visitor Visa.

brighton pier

Photo credit: @mattissima via Instagram

Who does not need a UK Transit Visa?

You do not need a transit visa if you:

  • have a valid visa for Australia, New Zealand, Canada, or the USA
  • have a valid Visitor Visa or residency permit for the UK

Note: If you have a valid visa for Australia, New Zealand, Canada, or the USA and your final destination is one of those countries, or you are simply transiting through them to get to another country, you will not need a transit visa. You will, however, need to be departing on the same day and have proof of an onward flight and all the relevant documents. This is known as “Transit Without Visa”.

london city

Photo credit: @arikannbusra via Instagram

How much is a UK Transit Visa?

Direct Airside Transit visa – about R659 (£35)

Visitor in Transit visa – about R1,205 (£64)

How long is a UK Transit Visa valid for?

Transit visas for the UK are usually valid for 6 months and allow multiple entries as long as your future trips meet the same criteria as the original transit trip (e.g. you cannot leave the airport if you were granted a Direct Airside Transit Visa). You will also be allowed to do a reverse journey with the visa (i.e. the same visa can be used on your return trip).

scotland

Photo credit: @pakhye_ via Instagram

How to apply for a UK Transit Visa?

The application process for a UK Transit Visa is the same as the UK Visitor Visa. It is done online through the GOV.UK website.

You will need to:

  • fill in the application form and answer in English
  • pay the visa fee online
  • print out your completed application form
  • book and attend your appointment at a visa application centre

Find a visa application centre

For the UK Transit Visa application, you will need:

  • A valid passport
  • A flight booking (email or copy of tickets)
  • A valid visa for the country for which you are departing the UK

Need assistance with your visa? Get a free visa quote from our expert partners at Visa Box!

canterbury kent

Photo credit: @froschgruen via Instagram

We hope this cleared up some of the confusion surrounding the UK Transit Visa. Now, all that’s left to do is book your flights and get ready to live out your travel dreams!

If you are worried about your visa being rejected and losing your money on flights, you might be interested in our Visa Denied Service. It offers a full refund of airfare and taxes if your visa is denied.

canterbury

Photo credit: @lisa_dominioni88 via Instagram

If you have any questions about the UK Transit Visa, contact your nearest visa application centre or the British Consulate.

And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter to receive more travel information like this, and get the latest flight specials sent straight to your inbox.

Featured image credit: @itsjudear via Instagram

Disclaimer

All information on this blog page was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice. Travelstart is not affiliated with immigration authorities or their application centres and will not be liable for loss or inconvenience arising from the use of this volatile information.

Our Readers Comments

  1. Hi there,

    We (south african passport holders) will be flying to Vienna with BA, stopping over at Heathrow terminal 5 and flying out to Vienna via terminal 3 within 24 hours (and same on the return trip). Would we require the Direct Airside Transit visa or the Visitor in Transit visa?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Jeanne,

      If you are flying to Europe and via the UK you will need to apply for a transit visa.

      Please contact the official visa handling agency direct. They will be able to provide you with the most up to date information on correct procedures to follow when applying, what documents are required when applying and the cost.

  2. I will be travelling from Atlanta, Georgia to Venice, Italy with my wife. I’m a US Citizen. My wife is from Kazakhstan but she has a US permanent resident (Green Card). Our flight leave from Atlanta and stops in London Heathrow and then from Heathrow on to Venice. I’ve travelled through Heathrow a few times and I remember that you need to get on a bus and then change terminals but I can’t remember if there were passport controls or not, I just remember the baggage scanners. Would my wife need a transit visa?

    • Hi Greg,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      Even if you don’t pass through passport control or don’t have to collect luggage. Some citizens of certain countries will require a transit visa if you are flying via the UK and in transit.

      Please contact the Embassy direct or official visa handling agency. They will be able to advise if a transit visa is required (while in transit) and if so what the cost would be, correct procedures to follow and what documentation will be required. They Embassy look at the passport you are travelling on.

  3. hi i am younas from pakistan. i have a barazil visa i want to stay in london for 4 days.how i can stay in london.

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      You would need to apply for a UK visa. Please contact the Embassy or official visa handling agency. They will be able to advise one what documents would be required why applying for the visa, the correct procedures to follow and the cost.

  4. Hello,
    I’am an Albanian citizen holding an Albanian passport and Canadian Visa, and have my ticket with transit in London Heathrow airport.
    My flight is with Lufthansa Tirana Franfurt London Ottawa.
    Do I need transit visa in Uk. The arrival and departure are from the same terminal.
    Thank you

    • Hi Linda,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      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 visa or transit visa is required and if so what the cost would be, correct procedures to follow and what documentation will be required.

  5. Hi there..On flights from Miami/Heathrow/Johannesburg on 4 July 2019. Layover in Heathrow 13 hours 07h00 to20h00..S A Citizen holding a USA Visa. Intend taking in some London sights during this layover. Does the “Transit without visa “apply if I wish to leave the airport terminal through immigration etc? or must I apply for a Transit Visa or Tourist visa? Time in U.K. 13 hours Thanks ..

    • Hi Alan,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      If you are wanting to leave the airport / pass immigration and later return that day, to my knowledge you would need to apply for a UK tourist visa.

      However we do recommend you contact the Embassy or official handling agency direct, they will be able to provide you with the most up to date information.

  6. If I have a valid Canadian tourist visa and am passing through the UK (i.e. I have one day in the UK) and would like to leave the airport – do I need a transit visa?

    • Hi Lauren,

      Thanks for getting in touch. If you are wanting to leave the airport to my knowledge you would then need to apply for a tourist visa.

      However please contact the Embassy or official visa handling agency direct. They will be able to provide you with the most up to date information.

  7. Hi,
    My mother-in-law is on a South African passport flying to France from Cape Town on BA via London, Heathrow return. She will have a Schengen visa for France. Her layover in London, Heathrow between flights on the return leg is 24 hours and she would like to leave the airport to sleep and return the next day to resume flight out of London, Heathrow to Cape Town. Does she qualify for a Transit Visa in this s case or does she require a tourist visa?
    Apologies if already asked,
    Thanks,
    James

    • Hi James,

      To my knowledge no she would not qualify for a transit visa. If she is flying in and out of Heathrow Airport and wants to leave the airport she would need to apply for a tourist visa, so to pass through immigration.

      However please contact the Embassy or official visa handling agency direct. And they will be able to provide you with the most up to date information.

  8. I’m a Philippine passport holder, travelling to US for a visit visa from Qatar on May 17, 2019 and I have a layover for 3 hours at Heathrow Airport, London with British Airways. I have no plan to go outside of the airport. Do I need to get transit visa for that?

    • Hi Eugene,

      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 visa or transit visa is required and if so what the cost would be, correct procedures to follow and what documentation will be required. However to my knowledge you would. Even if you are only in transit.

      However I recommend you contact the Embassy direct and they will be able to provide you with the most up to date information.

  9. Hi,
    I am a Chinese passprot holder, and i hold the long-term residence permission issued by Swedish immigration board. I am planning to travel from Gothenburg in Sweden to Hong Kong via London Heathrow, and in LHR, i am changing the airline from British Airways to Cathay Pacific, it may need me to re-check the luggage. I just wanna ask whether i need to apply for DATV if i need transit in LHR.

    • Hi Tianyi,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      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.

  10. Hi There,

    I have a South African passport and flying with BA direct Durban to Heathrow, then on the same evening 2 hours later flying Heathrow to Ireland/Dublin. Would I need to get a Visa for this? Much appreciated.

    • Hi Marc,

      Thanks for contacting us.

      Yes you will need to apply for a UK transit visa if you are flying via the UK from South Africa to Dublin on a South African passport.

  11. I am an Indian passport holder, travelling to US on a visit visa and have a stop over at Heathrow airport, London, for 6-7 hours. My brother stays in London. Can I visit him? I don’t want to opt for UK Visitor Visa as it costs very high. What other visa I can go for and how can I apply it?

    Thanks,

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      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 visa or transit visa is required and if so what the cost would be, correct procedures to follow and what documentation will be required.

  12. Hi,
    This is preethi. I have to travel from Toulouse to Dubai on march 16th 2019 through LHR(London Heathrow) with British airways. In LHR I have to change the terminal from 3 to 5 and the layover is 3.55 hrs and I have no plan to go outside of the airport. Do I need to get transit visa for that? Please clarify

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      If you are a South African passport holder travelling from France to Dubai via the UK and are in transit, you will need to apply for a transit visa.

  13. Hi Marcelle, thank you for your post. I am a Chinese passport holder and I am also an Australian permanent resident. I will fly from Australia and stay one night in London, then forward to Paris. I have two enquiries: 1. I read the http://www.gov.uk and noticed that UK doesn’t accept Australia e-visa. But Australia do not issue visa label since 2015. Do you have any idea what kind of documents UK will accept? 2. Could you confirm the max hours I can stay in UK? Same day or 24 hours or 48 hours? Thanks a lot.

    • Hi Maureen,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      I’m afraid we do not specialise in visa related queries for foreign passport holders. I would suggest to please contact the Embassy direct or official visa handling agency. They will be able to advise what visa is required and answer any other visa related queries you might have.

  14. Hi

    I have a valid US visitor Visa. I am traveling from SA with a SAn passport to USA both ways am transiting via UK, upon my return from US to SA I have a UK 15 hours layover. Do I need to get a transiting visa for UK? I would like to explore London in that 15 hours.

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for contacting us.

      If you are wanting to leave the airport you will need to apply for a tourist visa allowing you to pass through immigration.

      Please contact the UK Embassy or official visa handling agency for the most up to date information.

  15. Hello,

    Holding a d -visa (dependant visa to germany). Do I require a transit visa to uk if i travel via london to hamberg.

    pls clarify.

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      Germany falls under the Schengen state. One would need to apply for a Schengen visa when visiting Germany. I’m afraid UK does not fall under the Schengen States.

      For any further information please contact the UK Embassy or official visa handling agency for the UK and they will be able to provide you with the most up to date information.

  16. Hi, I am an Indian passport holder with valid Canadian visa, and will be traveling from Mumbai to Toronto via Heathrow. I have a layover of 19 hours at Heathrow, so in the meantime want to explore London. So do I need to apply separately for a transit visa?

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      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 visa or transit visa is required and if so what the cost would be, correct procedures to follow and what documentation will be required.

  17. Good day

    I am traveling via Heathrow en route to Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. I have a 4 hour stop over and all my flights are with British Airways. I have a South African passport and a valid US visa but this route does not pass through the USA.

    Would I need a transit visa to pass through or am I still covered by the US visa or proof of onward journey(and same airlines, same day)?

    Much appreciated

    • Hi Steph,

      I’ve heard if you have a valid US visa and not actually trying to the USA this should still cover you while travelling via the UK. However, this is not a guarantee and rules change. I would recommend you contact the Embassy direct to get the most up to date information.

  18. Hi, my (south african passport) daughter is studying in the USA on an F1 student visa. If she flies from USA to SA via Heathrow, will she need a transit visa? This will determine which airline we use…. thank you

    • Hi Michele,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      For this you would need to contact the Embassy direct to see if your daughters US student visa will cover her while in transit in the UK.

      They will be able to provide you with the correct and most up to date information.

  19. Hello
    I have a friend who is travrlling from ecuador to edinburg.She have the uk visa but the ticket is with a transit in madrid.She have ecuador passpprt and i want to know if with uk visa a person can pass as transit in europe

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      The UK is not part of the Schengen State so this visa would not cover one if they are travelling through Europe.

      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 visa or transit visa is required and if so what the cost would be, correct procedures to follow and what documentation will be required.

  20. We are travelling to the Netherlands on 22 May until 17 July. During this period we would like to visit England.
    what do we need and where can we apply for the necessary documents?
    We have valid Shengen Visas.

  21. Hi,

    I have an Indian passport and travelling from USA to India transit through LHR airport by British airways/American airlines.
    The layover is 3 hrs and I have no plan of going out of the airport.
    Can you please tell me if I need a transit Visa?

    Thanks,
    Dipu

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      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 visa or transit visa is required and if so what the cost would be, correct procedures to follow and what documentation will be required.

  22. Have applied for transit visa it’s more than 15 working days now no new or email from the Embassy from 19th nov 2018 the only mail I got from the Embassy was 26th November they are working on my visa

  23. how long does it generally take for a visitor in transit visa to arrive, i applied on the 21st of november and am supposed to leave for Ireland on the 14th of december, just hoping i get it back in time

    • Hi Jess,

      Thanks for contacting us.

      They say it usually takes 3 weeks, however it could be longer if it is over peak season (School holidays where they receive most of their applications)

      We hope you receive it soonest.

  24. Hi
    i am traveling from Nigeria through London Heathrow to Barbados.
    I know i need Direct Airside transit visa. The question is can apply for the the visa on getting to the airport?

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for contacting us.

      This depend on what passport you are travelling on.

      For this I would recommend you please contact the Embassy direct or official visa handling agency. They will be able to advise if a visa or transit visa is required and if so what the cost would be, correct procedures to follow and what documentation will be required.

  25. Hi,

    Thanks for your post. I am a Nigerian passport holder. I’m travelling to Lagos from JFK, 3hr stopover at Heathrow, same-day departure. I have a valid Canadian Visa, would I still need a UK transit visa?

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      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 visa or transit visa is required and if so what the cost would be, correct procedures to follow and what documentation will be required.

  26. Hi please guide me I m travelling from Toronto Canada to India and my halt is 21 hours at Heathrow Airport London . Do I need transit visa but I’m not going outside I m student and studying in Canada . I also have Canadian valid visa for 3 years

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      This will depend on what passport you are travelling on.

      Please contact the Embassy or official visa handling agency. Provide them with your route and passport details. They will be able to advise accordingly.

  27. Hi there,

    if you are transiting through the UK, do I need a visa going to South Africa from Ireland

    • Hi there,

      If you are travelling on a South African passport from Ireland to South Africa and transiting through the UK you will need to apply for a transit visa.

  28. Hi, we have been booked on a cruise ship in the Caribbean for 28 days from 13 December 2018. We land in Heathrow, depart at Gatwick on the same day. We have applied and payed for 2 Visa in Transits but are still awaiting our official flight schedules from cruise company as they are booking everything for us. I have supplied all other documents necessary. Should we be worried that the visa will be denied due to lack of a copy of the flight tickets? We leave in 4 weeks?

    • Hi Nico,

      When applying for a visa, what ever documents the Embassy require needs to be submitted. If some documents have been left out, this could have implications if the Embassy will grant the visa or not.

  29. Hi There–NEED HELP..
    I am a South African passport holder with an Irish work visa/permit.(non EEA document)
    I normally fly SA/Ireland and back via Paris (no visa required)
    I am currently in Ireland and want to fly to SA in December–the cheaper flights are via Heathrow–Do i need a to apply for a DATV (Direct Airside Transit Visa) ? or is my non EEA work permit sufficient documentation to get my connecting flight in Heathrow to SA?

    Many thanks!!

    • Hi Andre,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      To my knowledge you would need to apply for a UK transit visa if you are transiting through the UK. Even if you have a work visa for Ireland, you would be travelling on a South African passport.

      For the most up to date information you can contact the Embassy or official visa handling agency.

  30. Hi I booked a flight with British airways from Amsterdam to Heathrow. I will then have a 2 hour transition time and then take a flight with Virgin Atlantic to New Delhi. I am unsure if I have to pass through immigration control to go and re-check my bags for my second flight or if they will be connected to my second flight automatically. Where can I obtain this information as it depends on what type of visa I require?

    • Hi there,

      You welcome to contact the airline direct and give them your airline booking number. They will be able to advise accordingly.

      For any visa related queries please contact the Embassy or official visa handling agency direct to get the most up to date info on what visa you would need to apply for. They can advise on the correct procedures to follow when applying, what documents you need to submit and the cost.

  31. Hello,

    I am a Peruvian citizen and I have a US Green Card. I will travel to Czech Republic but i have a layover for 1 hour in London and then forward flight to Czech Republic. Do i need a transit visa?

    • Hi Claudia,

      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 visa or transit visa is required and if so what the cost would be, correct procedures to follow and what documentation will be required.

  32. we are egyptian family, we will book flight ticket to rio de janiro and will transit in london and we hold usa visa
    do we need tansit visa as usa is not our final destination

    • Hi there,

      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 visa or transit visa is required and if so what the cost would be, correct procedures to follow and what documentation needed when applying.

  33. Hi,
    I am transiting through Heathrow to Barcelona with British Airways. Bags will be booked all the way through to Barcelona. I arrive in Heathrow and depart from Heathrow on the same day. Layover approximately 2hrs. I have a change of Terminals. Will I need a UK transit VISA?

    • Hi Tracy,

      If you are a South African passport holder and transiting through the UK to Barcelona you would need to apply for a UK transit visa.

  34. We are landing in London on our way to reykvajek, I want to visit my cousin for the day. Which Visa must I apply for?

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      You will need to apply for a tourist visa.

  35. Thank you so much for your post! It is very timely for the planning of our trip!
    We’re planning to go to Paris (our Schengen visas are ready), but we’re landing at Heathrow. We don’t have visa for the UK, as it’s only easier for travel-time. Do we need a travel visa to take the chunnel to Paris?

    • Hi there,

      If you are transiting through the UK you will need to apply for a UK visa. If you are passing through immigration in the UK you will also need a UK visa.

      Please the official visa handling agency for the UK for any further information. You can provide them with your itinerary and they will advise you on what visa to apply for, the correct procedures to follow, the documents required when applying and cost involved.

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