Quite often, travellers found themselves in situations requiring a transit visa to change flights from the same or nearby airport within the transiting location.
Travellers may select different airports within the transiting area or opt for delayed flight connections, which may necessitate acquiring a transit visa or a suitable tourist visa for the transiting location.
Such transit visas can enable them to travel through the transiting location and board flights to their final destination for as little as four hours or as long as a few days. For example, in the United States, foreign nationals passing through the country on their way to another must typically have a transit visa. A transit visa may be required for US citizens to connect in Russia and China, among other locations.
If you are in a country for more than a few hours, you will almost certainly require a transit visa.
What is a transit visa?
A transit visa is a document that shows a traveller has permission to move across a country but not to stay.
If you fly to a foreign country on your way to another country, you may need to acquire a transit visa. Each country decides whether or not a transit visa is required.
Most countries allow foreign nationals to stay in transit for 24 to 48 hours without obtaining a transit visa as long as they stay in the airport.
Staying longer than this amount of time or leaving the airport for whatever reason may necessitate applying for a transit visa.
Types of Transit Visas
Transit Visas can be classified into two types:
- Airport Transit Visa
- Short Stay Visa
1. Airport Transit Visa:
An airport transit visa requires a passenger to transit through an airport’s international zone without accessing the country’s jurisdiction. Please keep in mind that this rule does not apply to all international visitors. For more details, contact the embassy of your connecting country.
Example – If you are passing through Australian airports on the way to New Zealand, you will need to apply for an Australian Transit visa.
2. Short Stay Visa:
A short-term visa (usually valid for 96 hours) allows you to access the country you are transiting while continuing to your final destination in another country.
This visa is also given to travellers who wish to stay for a short time and intend to fly from one non-Schengen country to another non-Schengen country via France or another Schengen country.
The visa is valid for one or more crossings for a limited length of up to five days each.
While travellers are given information about transit visa rules, they should double-check all of the details before departing.
If you may not follow the laws, you can face extra fines or trials based on the country’s visa policies and regulations.
Tourist Visa vs Transit Visa
Applicants may get confused between these two. In some instances, tourist visas and transit visas are somewhat close.
The main distinction is that a visitor visa enables a traveller to spend more time visiting the region. In contrast, a transit visa merely allows the traveller to move through to the final destination.
The visa conditions of the host nation will indicate the visa is suitable for your travel needs.
Transit Visa Application and Other Required Documents
How to apply?
- The first step is to fill out the required visa application forms. Most countries have a single visa application form that can be used for all forms of visas. Others have a different implementation for each form. Some forms are downloaded and written, while others are available electronically. You must obey the instructions given by the country’s consular services.
- Few countries ask you to fill out a supplemental visa application to provide more specific details about your travel plans. For example, the United States mandates all male applicants between the ages of 16 and 45 and all applicants from state sponsors of terrorism, regardless of ethnicity, to complete such a form without exception.
- A current, valid passport must also be provided. Many countries mandate that your passport be valid for at least six months after your expected stay in the transit country.
- Finally, a current photograph should be submitted with the application.
Visa regulations are complicated, and they vary greatly depending on a variety of factors, including:
- Which country you are visiting,
- Which country you are a resident of,
- And how long you want to stay
For example, if the layover is less than 24 hours and the traveller never leaves the airport, some countries do not need a transit visa, while others do
A general rule of thumb is that if the country you’re transiting through does not require citizens of your country to have a visa to visit for a more extended period, you won’t need one to transit through.
However, if the country you’re passing through requires citizens of your country to have a visa to visit for a more extended period, you may or may not need a visa to pass through.
Furthermore, while some countries encourage you to acquire a visa on arrival, others require you to apply for and collect the visa before you arrive.
Few examples of transit visa requirements:
- The European Union’s Schengen Area has a generic list of countries whose residents need a transit visa, but many Schengen countries have specific changes.
- People of the United States do not need a visa to enter or transit via Schengen countries.
- Russia maintains its list of waivers for countries whose residents are exempt from the need for a transit visa.
- A visa is required for US people travelling to or transiting via Russia.
- The transit visa conditions in China vary depending not just on how long you want to stay and where you want to travel from but also on the airport in China where you want to arrive.
- A visa is required for US citizens to remain in China, but there are several exceptions for transiting and even extending transit based on the factors mentioned above.
- For example, US citizens transiting through China may be eligible for a 24-hour Transit Visa Exemption, which allows them to transit through China and leave the airport and go exploring without a visa.
- The list of countries whose residents may not need a transit visa (or any visa) is filed under the “Visa Waiver Program” in the United States.
Why do countries require transit visas for visitors?
Sometimes residents of primarily economically challenged countries pose an immigration risk to the developed world, which means immigrants from these countries enter developed countries and stay there illegally. So, many developed countries want to be keep updated if these citizens are near their borders.
Developed countries want to make sure that transiting travellers have the proper paperwork to reach their final destination.
Visa requirements keep changing very frequently, and it’s tough to stay on top of the changes.
Following are a few ways to figure out your transit visa requirements.
1. Ask your Airline
Airlines is the best source of information about Transit Visa requirements. Since they would be the ones on the receiving end if there are any problems Before booking your tickets, most airlines will notify you of the Transit Visa requirements.
It is strongly recommended that you contact your airline to confirm any visa requirements before booking your flights.
Caution: Never purchase two different plane tickets to your final destination.
Let’s say you’re flying from Mumbai to Amsterdam via Dubai. Book a single ticket from Mumbai to Amsterdam via Dubai, rather than two tickets, one from Mumbai to Dubai and Dubai to Amsterdam.
In this situation, booking two tickets would necessitate obtaining a Dubai visa (as you will have to clear immigration in Dubai).
Furthermore, if your flight to Dubai is delayed and you miss your flight to Amsterdam, you cannot keep the airline liable.
2. Check the IATA Travel Center
The IATA travel centre is a valuable tool that allows you to enter your trip and passport information and determine your visa requirements.
This tool will essentially give you the peace of mind that your paperwork is in order before you board your flight.
You will be required to show proof that you have enough money to cover your expenses while in transit. You may be required to provide proof of permanent residency in the United States.
This is usually identified by proof of family, professional, land, jobs, or other relations and commitments to the United States.
A personal interview at the embassy’s consular section can be part of the application process.
Transit Visa Fees
The cost of obtaining a transit visa varies by country. The cost for a transit visa is often the same as the fee for a visitor or business visa. However, some countries charge a separate fee for each form of visa. Depending on the country you are applying to, fees will vary from $30 to hundreds of dollars.
Staying Beyond Your Approved Stay
Transit visa holders are generally unable to apply to change their status or extend their stay.
You must leave the transit country on or before the last day you are permitted to be there.
You will be out of status if you do not quit. Staying beyond the period allowed for being out-of-status is a violation of immigration laws. It makes you ineligible for a visa in the future to return to the country for which you are out of status.
Tips for Applying for a Transit Visa
- Understand all of the conditions for the country in which you will be transiting.
- Make sure you fill out the application form correctly and include all the documentation.
- Any errors can cause your application to be delayed or even rejected.
- To prevent unnecessary changes in your travel plans, you should always apply for your transit visa well in advance of your departure date.
- Visa issuance cannot be guaranteed in advance.
- As a result, final travel arrangements or the purchasing of nonrefundable tickets should be postponed until a visa has been released.