Have you booked a connecting flight and wondering, if you need a visa?
The good news is – in most cases you don’t need a visa for connection. But there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Read on to find out more. And, anyway, it’s a good idea to always check the entry and visa requirements for the country you are transiting through, just before booking a connecting flight.
Even if you have an airline-protected connecting flight.
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1. Do You Need a Visa for Connecting Flight?
Do you need a visa for connecting flight?
No – in most cases you don’t need a visa.
Do you need a transit visa for connecting flight?
Mostly no, mostly you don’t need a transit visa.
However, it depends on:
- the type of your connecting flight;
- country you are transiting through.
Let’s discuss connecting flight types first.
There are two types of connecting flights. First are airline-protected connecting flights, second — so-called self-transfer flights. Airline-protected connecting flights are booked as a single journey, whereas self-transfer flights are booked separately, as separate flights. Sometimes connecting flights are with different airlines, other times — with one airline.
Mostly you don’t need a visa for connecting flight.
1.1 Visa for an Airline-Protected Connecting Flight
If you have an airline-protected connecting flight that has been booked as a single journey, there’s a chance you won’t need any visas for connecting flight. Traveling is more effortless with an airline-protected connecting flight. This is the main reason so many people choose to book an airline-protected connecting flight, even if there are cheaper, self-transfer options.
However, there are a few exceptions. For example, the United States of America, Canada and Australia. While you may not need an actual transit visa for US, Canada and Australia, you need to get an electronic authorisation before you travel. You need to apply for it in advance. And if you don’t have it, you will be denied boarding. You will be asked to show confirmation upon boarding or at check-in counter.
While you may not need an actual transit visa for US, Canada and Australia, you need to get an electronic authorisation before you travel.
But most often than not, you will not need a visa when traveling on a connecting flight. During your layover, you will be staying at the transit area, and not leaving the airport. Since you are not leaving the airport, you don’t need to go through passport control. You don’t need to get a visa for transit area.
However, if you have a self-transfer flight, you may need a visa.
Read on to find out.
1.2 Visa for Self-Transfer Flights
What about self-transfer flights?
As you might already know, a self transfer is two or more flights booked separately. After each flight you need to go through passport control. You may need a visa for this, as you are entering the country (even if you don’t plan to leave the airport). Mostly you can’t stay in the transit area if you have a self-transfer flight.
If you are traveling on a self-transfer flight, you may need a visa for your connection. It depends on a country you are transiting through.
Always check entry requirements when you are booking a self-transfer flight. It is always best to refer to official information before relying on Facebook groups and internet forums.
If you have a self-transfer connecting flight, it’s much more likely that you need a visa for transfer.
Bottom line: If you are traveling on a connecting flight, chances are that you don’t have to get a visa for connecting flight. Mostly you don’t need it. But if you have a self-transfer connecting flight, you may be required to have a visa for your flight. In the latter case, it’s much more likely that you need a visa.
In both cases, it depends from the transit country.
1.3 Countries Requiring Transit Visas
Some countries require transit visas for connections.
While most countries allow passengers transit without a visa as long as they do not leave the airport, there are exceptions and you should know that. Make sure to check the entry requirements that apply to your nationality — these rules differ from one nationality to another.
2. Transit Visas
When is transit visa required?
Which countries require transit visa?
Do you need a visa to transit through USA? How to get a transit visa?
These are the most common questions that travelers ask about connecting flights and visas. And today we’ll try to answer them. Don’t forget that the exact answer regarding transit rules often depends on your nationality — while some have it easier, others have to go through a lot to enter or to just have a layover in some country (all because of their passport).
Here’s a list of the world’s most powerful passports in 2022.
2.1 What Does Transit Mean?
With connecting flights, it’s traveling itself through somewhere.
When you’re stopping in some country in between, this country is the transit country. You don’t call all the countries you’re flying across transit countries, but only the ones you’re stopping at.
2.2 What Is a Transit Visa?
It’s a visa you need for transit (traveling through or across some country).
Transit visa meaning also a permit for this travel through or across some country. Some countries require a visa also just to have a layover in an airport. Hence, it’s sometimes referred to as an airport visa.
2.3 When Is Transit Visa Required?
In short — if the country you’re traveling through requires it.
As we already talked about it earlier, on airline-protected connecting flights mostly you don’t need it. However, there are exceptions, like the U.S., Canada and Australia. When you’re flying through the U.S., Canada or Australia you need to get an electronic authorisation or a transit visa. So, it’s always a good idea to check if you can transit without a visa.
If you have booked a self transfer, the odds are significantly higher. If you have a self transfer, you are entering every country you’re traveling through. You may need a visa for that. However, it depends on the country you are transiting through, and on your citizenship. If you are a EU citizen, and you are transiting through a EU member country, of course, you won’t need a visa.
2.4 How to Get a Transit Visa?
Well, first of all, you need to find out if there’s such a thing as transit visa. You see, not all countries have it. Some countries that require a visa for transit, do not offer a transit visa, as there’s only one type of visitor’s visa. So, you just get a “normal tourist visa”. On many occasions, you can get a visa on arrival. There are countries that offer to buy a visa on the border (Egypt, Cambodia, Nepal, etc.).
Some countries offer a visa free entry for citizens of certain countries. This is called “visa exemption”. There are a few countries which offer a visa free entry for tourists if they get electronic authorisation before travel. This electronic authorisation may be required even for a connecting flight.
If there is a transit visa, you may apply for it at the embassy or even online. Sometimes it can be done on arrival at the transit airport. If it’s the latter and it isn’t for free, better bring cash in USD or EUR for this transaction. You can find all the information about visas on official government websites. Many travel agencies offer help in obtaining visas.
Actually, it’s not. Read on to learn more about entry requirements of some of the most popular transit tourist hubs.
3. Transit Visa Schemes
What are the countries that require transit visa?
Some countries require a visa or authorisation for transit passengers.
Here is a list of some of the most popular transit countries.
US Visa for Transit
Is there a US transit visa?
Do you need a visa for a connecting flight in the USA?
No and yes. Mostly you don’t need a U.S. transit visa, but you are required to have an ESTA. ESTA is an electronic application. It’s kind of an e-visa, that allows you to travel to the United States. Citizens of many countries don’t require a tourist visa to travel to the U.S., as long as they have an approved ESTA (confirmation).
Two top questions about ESTA. Do I need ESTA for connecting flight? Do I need a ESTA for USA or visa? Yes, you need something. If it’s ESTA or C1 transit visa, this depends from your nationality.
If you don’t have ESTA, you will be denied boarding.
It is recommended to apply for ESTA at least a few days prior to travel. But if you have forgotten about ESTA, you may apply for it one day prior to travel. Most ESTA applications take only a few hours to process. In most cases, you will receive your confirmation after a few hours. But still, it’s not advisable to leave it to the last minute.
If you are not eligible for a visa waiver (ESTA), you’ll need to apply to C 1 visa before transiting through the U.S. Keep in mind that transit C1 visa is for transiting passengers only. It’s basically a layover visa for US.
Apply for ESTA on the Official ESTA Application Website.
Canada Transit Visa
What about Canadian transit visa?
Just like with the U.S., Canada transit visa is an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). You need to get it prior to travel. Otherwise, you will be denied boarding.
Once you have the eTA, you can transit in Canada.
Apply for eTA on the Official eTA Application Website.
China Transit Visa
Is there a transit visa for China?
How can you get Chinese transit visa?
Now it is not clear now when it will restart, but before the COVID pandemic China offered free transit visas that were issued on arrival. You could get your Chinese transit visa even if you had a self-transfer flight. I have applied for it twice myself. Here we talk about one of these experiences, about a 24-hour layover in Guangzhou.
How does Chinese Transit Visa scheme work?
You can get a transit visa on arrival as long as you can provide an onward ticket within a certain period of time. Each city in China have its own rules regarding the transit visa. For example, passengers transiting through Beijing and Shanghai can get a 6-day free transit visa. Travelers transiting through Guangzhou, can get a 72-hour transit visa on arrival.
The only requirement – a valid onward ticket out of China.
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Schengen Transit Visa
If you come from visa waiver countries, you don’t need it.
If you are a citizen of any of such countries.
How to apply for Schengen transit visa? (if you need it)
Find out what are the required documents, fill out the application and schedule an interview appointment at the embassy or the consulate of the country you are transiting through.
The Schengen Area is an area in Europe without internal border controls. These are 26 European countries that have officially abolished all passport and all other types of border control at their mutual borders. Once you arrive in one Schengen country, you can freely go to any other Schengen country.
Read more: Airport Transit Schengen Visa
Dubai Transit Visa
Dubai is a city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Citizens of many countries can enter the United Arab Emirates without a visa. If you come from a visa exempt country, you don’t need a transit visa for the UAE. If not, it may be possible for you to obtain a transit visa at the airport.
Citizens of many countries can enter the United Arab Emirates without a visa. However, if you need a visa, you have to apply for it in advance.
There are two types of UAE transit visas – 48 hours, 96 hours.
48-hour UAE visa is for free, 96-hour UAE visa costs AED 50.
Transit visas are not extendable, so choose wisely.
Apply for visa in advance.
Read more: UAE Transit Visa
UK Transit Visa
Many don’t need a UK visa for transit.
Citizens of many countries are visa-exempt for a stay or transit in the UK. If you aren’t sure, you can easily check. Just visit this page to check if you need a UK visa. If you have already booked a flight, contact your airline to ask about that. They most likely will be able to tell you, if you’ll have to go through border control in the United Kingdom or not.
Read more: Visa to Pass Through the UK in Transit
Turkey Transit Visa
Most don’t need a visa for transit through Turkey.
If it’s an airline-protected connecting flight (a proper connecting flight), most likely you don’t need a transit visa for Turkey — because you will be staying in the transit zone. Again, you can clarify this with your airline. On a self transfer and / or when changing airports, you may need a transit visa for Turkey (Türkiye).
Scroll to the top, to learn about different types of connecting flights.
Read more: Frequently Asked Questions About Transit
Russia Transit Visa
Most don’t need a visa for transit through Russia.
Same like with most countries, if it’s an airline-protected connecting flight (a set of connecting flights booked as a single journey), most likely you don’t need a transit visa for Russia — because you will be staying in the transit zone.
If you change airports or venture out into the city, you will need a Russian transit visa. You can obtain it at the Russian consulate or embassy.
Australia Transit Visa
Rules are similar like with the US and Canada.
While citizens of many countries don’t need an actual transit visa for Australia, they may need to get electronic authorisation before traveling (ETA). You need to apply for ETA in advance. If you don’t have ETA, you will be denied boarding.
ETA duration: up to 72 hours
Apply for ETA on the Official Government Website.
3. Other Things to Note
You can add your questions in the comments.
We will publish and answer the most popular questions.
Is ESTA for Free?
No, ESTA isn’t for free.
Since summer of 2022, ESTA costs USD 21.
Can I Still Be Denied Entry Into Country?
Although not very common, but it may happen.
Because having an approved travel authorization like ESTA or even a transit visa doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be allowed to enter the country. If there are problems with your travel documents, or if you’re missing something, like a vaccination certificate required by transit or destination country, you may also be denied boarding.
If you need to change airports, you may need a transit visa.
Because it’s clearly a self transfer. It’s also one of the easiest ways to tell if it’s a self-transfer flight. In this case, before leaving the airport, you’ll need to go through passport control. If you are transiting through a country where you require a visa, you will definitely need to have a transit visa to change the airport.
If the country doesn’t offer transit visas, you’ll have to get a regular tourist visa instead. Sometimes it’s just a free stamp they put in your passport, other times you can buy it on arrival at the airport or apply in advance online, and then there are also times when you have to obtain it from an embassy before the trip.
Do You Need to Check In Again for Connecting Flight?
If you have an airline-protected connecting flight, you don’t need to.
Unless notified otherwise.
Because the purpose of check in is to get boarding passes and to check in baggage, if you have any. You don’t have to check in hand baggage. But:
- You already have all boarding passes for all flights;
- You have checked in baggage until final destination.
The latter is done automatically. When in doubts, ask airline staff at check in, if your baggage will be sent to your final destination. There are only a few exceptions, few countries, that require everyone to collect and recheck baggage. Airline staff knows about these rules.
Do You Have to Collect and Recheck Baggage?
In most cases, no.
However, it’s best to ask at the check-in counter if your bags are tagged to your final destination. Mostly, on airline-protected connecting flights, they are. And it’s done automatically. If, however, you are transiting through the U.S., you’ll need to collect and recheck your luggage.
On self-transfer flights you have to recheck baggage.
Do You Have to Go Through Security Again for Connecting Flight?
Yes, you might have to do that.
It depends on the airport, how different parts of it are connected, and your flight. If you are booking a self-transfer flight, two or more separate flights with one or different airlines, take that into account and always leave at least a few hours between flights. If you have checked baggage, we recommend a minimum of 3-4 hours between flights.
It is less important with airline-protected connecting flights. If you miss your connection because of the delay/cancellation of your first flight, your airline will take care of that.
Do you have any questions about connecting flights and visas? Have you ever applied for a transit visa? In what country was it? What was your experience?