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 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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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