Do you need a visa to transit landside?
You transit landside if you arrive on a flight, pass through immigration control and then leave the UK within 48 hours (or 24 hours if you are travelling under the ‘travel without visa’ concession – see below).
Nationals of some countries are known as ‘visa nationals’, because they will normally require a visa to come to the UK. These countries are listed on the UKBA website.
You can transit the UK landside without a visa if:
- you are not a visa national (please check the UKBA website); or
- you hold a valid travel documenrissued by the UK government; or
- you are a visa national or recognised as ‘stateless’ and meet the ‘transit without visa concession – please see below.
If you do not meet any of these requirements (because you are a visa national or stateless, and you do not qualify for the transit without visa concession), you will need to apply for:
- a visitor in transit visa, if you will be staying in the UK for less than 48 hours; or
- another type of visitor visa, if you will be staying in the UK for longer than 48 hours or if you will be travelling on to the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.
Visa waiver concession – transit landside
If you are a visa national or recognised as stateless, you may be able to transit the UK landside without a visa. To qualify for this exemption:
- you must arrive and depart by air;
- your onward flight must be confirmed, and must depart within 24 hours; and
- you have proper documentation for your destination, including a visa if necessary
Additionally, if you are a national of country covered by the DATV system, you (or a person with whom you arrive in the UK) must hold:
1) a valid entry visa for Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the USA, and a valid airline ticket for travel via the UK, as part of a journey to or from one of those countries; or
2) a valid airline ticket for travel via the UK as part of a journey from Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the USA, if you are transiting the UK no more than 6 months after the date when you last entered Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the USA with a valid entry visa for that country; or
3) a valid USA I-551 permanent resident card issued on or after 21 April 1998; or
4) an expired I-551 permanent resident card issued on or after 21 April 1998, accompanied by an I-797 extension letter issued by the Bureau of Citizenship; or
5) a valid Canadian permanent resident card issued on or after 28 June 2002; or
6) a valid Australian or New Zealand residence visa; or
7) a valid uniform format category D visa for entry to a state in the European Economic Area (EEA); or
8) a valid uniform format residence permit issued by an EEA state under Council Regulation (EC) number 1030/2002; or
9) a valid UK residence card; or
10) a valid EEA family permit issued by the UK government; or
11) a diplomatic or service passport issued by the People’s Republic of China; or
12) a diplomatic or official passport issued by India; or
13) a diplomatic or official passport issued by Vietnam.
A valid US immigrant visa packet (form 155A/155B) is a ‘valid visa’ for these purposes, but the following documents are not valid for the DATV exemption:
- an I-512 parole letter or an I-797C (notice of action) instead of a valid US visa.
- a transportation letter instead of a valid US permanent resident card issued on or after 21 April 1998;
- a valid travel document with a US ‘ADIT’ stamp saying – ‘Processed for I-551. TEMPORARY EVIDENCE OF LAWFUL ADMISSION FOR PERMANENT RESIDENCE VALID UNTIL [date]. EMPLOYMENT AUTHORIZED’; and
- a US visa foil endorsed, “NOT A VISA. FOIL PREPARED AT DHS REQUEST”.
If you are a national of a DATV country and you hold a non-national (including refugee) travel document, you will need to get a visa to transit the UK landside unless you qualify for one of the exemptions listed above.
Please note that this concession is operated at the UK Border Agency’s discretion. UKBA officers may therefore prevent you from using the concession. If you are unsure whether you meet the concession’s criteria, you should get a visa before you travel. Also, we strongly advise you to contact your airline before any travels. Since the visa waiver is a concession at the discretion of the Immigration Officer on arrival, your airline may not want to carry you without a visa.
This text is an adapation of the contents of the UKBA website. Remember, immigration law is complex and subject to continuous change. The information provided here may be out of date, or just based on personal experience/knowledge. The use of these pages is therefore entirely at your own risk. Before applying for any type of visas, you should always seek information from the authorities direct via their official websites. You will find some useful website details on our Links page.