Today, I am going to discuss about something that keeps all travelers intrigued till the last day of their travel – Transit Visa. I regularly come across travelers asking overwhelming questions about Transit Visa, and realized that most of them get confused about its requirements and applicability. In this post, I will try to clear the air. The rules of Transit Visa are different for Indian citizens when applying to different countries . Here, I try to discuss, what applies in general when we speak of Transit Visa.
What is a Transit Visa?
Transit Visa is a travel document applicable when you have to stay at a layover airport for a designated time period, which is minimum 6 hours or more. This is sometimes an essential requirement, based on the trade relations between the two countries. The obligations vary from one country to another, so does the names of the travel document sometimes.
When is a Transit Visa applicable or not applicable?
Depending upon the country of travel and stay duration at the layover airport, the transit visas often have myriad requirements. But essentially, the requirements will apply under the following circumstances:-
- You have an onward journey and need to stay more than 6 hours at the layover airport.
- You have to pass through the arrival gate at the layover airport for visiting the layover city.
- When you do not have direct access to the next flight service counter in the transit area and have to perforce pass through immigration to re-enter the airport.
If you have to pass through the immigration for any reason at the layover airport, you should have a Transit Visa!!
Considering the cases above, you will however not need a Transit Visa (technically) if these situations occur:-
- You have a throughfare flight ticket for the complete journey. (Not applicable in Europe, if layover is more than 6 hours).
- You have direct access to the transit area, without having to pass through immigration.
- You do not want to visit the transit city during the layover period and want to stay inside airport instead.
Apart from these basic requirements, there may or may not exist separate rules for separate countries, but most of them imply the same situations.
How to check Transit Visa applicability?
The most intriguing question that often haunts travelers, is when they have to decide whether they should have a Transit Visa in the layover country. Although, you can check the Visa rules of the transit country from VFS Global by selecting the layover country from the list, here are some more ways you can check out the same before you plan your trip through the layover country.
- Simply email the immigration office of the Transit Country and ask for the rules. They do help out.
- You can also call the concerned embassy in India to check up and guide you with the rules.
- In case you are purchasing multiple airline tickets, you should call them and ask whether they have a counter at the transit area or not, because that is where you will get your boarding passes for the next flight. If they say Yes, you can book that flight; if no, you must not buy it, as then, you will have to go out of the airport from arrivals and re-enter through immigration. Result – Transit Visa Required. (P.S – If you do not ask, the airline will not tell you.)
Recommended Reading: What you should know about a throughfare flight ticket while traveling International
Flights and Transit Visa – The Unspoken Connection
The Transit Visa requirement seriously impacts your decision of booking flights, especially, when you have to try understanding complicated Visa procedures. So next time, when you are planning flights over long layovers, you must not settle for just one combination or one layover country. Here are some things to check before you press that ‘Confirm’ button.
- The minimum duration (hrs) applicable for transit visa.
- Single flights available for all sectors of travel. Preferably, use only one airline to travel, maximum two.
- Your luggage move through various airports. When using multiple airlines, you will have to move from one luggage belt to another if you do not know what happens at the transit airport.
- What if the airline changes flight schedules? It happened with me on my trip to Bali when the airline rescheduled the onward flight from Kuala Lumpur to Bali. In such cases, usually, on a single airline, they take the responsibility of managing hiccups at the layover airport. In case of multiple airlines, you might not be as lucky with flight reschedule.
To wrap things up, this is what you should look into when planning your Transit Visa.
- As far as possible, use a single airline for all sectors of your trip.
- If single airline is not possible, try to check whether the airline from the transit airport has a counter at the transit area for collecting the boarding pass for the next trip.
- As a thumb rule, you need a Transit Visa if your layover is more than 6 hours.
- Not all countries allow you entry inside their country even after having a transit visa (Europe is an example). When that happens, you might have to accommodate yourself at the transit area instead of a hotel if your layover is more than up to 24 hours.
- For specific transit visa rules, connect directly with the embassy office in your country.
- Finally, if I have to take a Transit Visa anyway, I would take a flight with the longest layover timing that allows me to visit the transit city too. But that’s me!
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