UK Airside Transit and Transit without visa concession

UK Airside Transit and Transit without visa concession

What is airside transit?

You transit the UK airside if you arrive here on a flight, remain in the arrival lounge of the airport without passing through UK immigration control, and then depart on another flight from the same airport within 24 hours.

Who needs and who does not need a visa to transit the UK airside

1. Non-visa nationals do not require a visa to transit the UK airside;

2. Those who have been recognised as stateless under the 1954 UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons do not require a visa to transit the UK airside;

3. Those that hold a valid travel document issued by the UK government do not require a visa to transit the UK airside;

4. Visa nationals that are not DATv nationals (see below) do not require a visa to transit the UK airside provided that the conditions outlined above are met; i.e. you arrive here on a flight, remain in the arrival lounge of the airport without passing through UK immigration control, and then depart on another flight from the same airport within 24 hours and are assured of entry to the country of final destination.

5. Visa nationals that are DATv nationals (DATv = Direct Airside Transit visa), as well as those that have been recognised as stateless under the 1951 UN refugee convention must obtain a visa to transit the UK airside, unless they meet they criteria outlined under “visa waiver concession” below. The DATv nationalities as of August 2012 have also been listed below.

In summary, you can transit the UK airside without a visa if:

  • you are a non-visa national; or
  • you are a national of a country that is not on the DATv list below; or
  • you are recognised as stateless under the 1954 UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons;
  • You hold a valid travel document issued by the UK government
  • You are a DATV national or recognised as stateless under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and qualify for the DATV exemption under the ‘transit without visa’ concession.

Examples:

The applicant is a citizen of Cuba. Cubans are visa nationals. However, Cubans are not DATv nationals so s/he can transit the UK airside without a visa (as long as the criteria outlined above are met. I.e.you arrive here on a flight, remain in the arrival lounge of the airport without passing through UK immigration control, and then depart on another flight from the same airport within 24 hours and are assured of entry to the country of final destination.

The applicant is a citizen of India. Indians are visa nationals as well as DATv nationals. The applicant will therefore need to obtain a Direct Airside Transit visa (DATv), unless s/he qualifies for the DATv exemption outlined under the “transit without visa” concession below.

The applicant is a citizen of Jordan. Jordanians are visa nationals but not DATv nationals. As a result, citizens of Jordan can transit the UK airside without a visa (as long as the criteria outlined above apply, i.e. you arrive here on a flight, remain in the arrival lounge of the airport without passing through UK immigration control, and then depart on another flight from the same airport within 24 hours and are assured of entry to the country of final destination).

The applicant is a citizen of the People’s Republic of China. The applicant is therefore a visa national as well as a DATv national. He or she will therefore need to obtain a Direct Airside Transit visa (DATv) unless s/he qualifies for the DATv exemption outlined under the “transit without visa concession” described below.

Transit without visa concession

If you are a national of a country covered by the DATV system (see list below – but please check the UKBA website for an up to date list of “DATv countries” because this list is subject to change), you may still be able to transit the UK airside without a visa. To qualify for this exemption:

  • you must arrive and depart by air; and
  • your onward flight must be confirmed, and must depart within 24 hours from the same airport; and
  • you have proper documentation for your destination, including a visa if necessary.

Additionally, you 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 DATV to transit the UK airside 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.

List of DATv countries as at August 2012:

  • Afghanistan
  • Albania
  • Algeria
  • Angola
  • Bangladesh
  • Belarus
  • Bolivia
  • Burma
  • Burundi
  • Cameroon
  • People’s Republic of China
  • Colombia
  • Congo-Brazzaville
  • Democratic Republic of Congo – including travel documents issued by the former Zaire
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Guinea
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • India
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Ivory Coast
  • Jamaica
  • Kenya
  • Kosovo
  • Lebanon
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia
  • Libya
  • FYR of Macedonia
  • Malawi
  • Moldova
  • Mongolia
  • Montenegro
  • Nepal
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Palestinian Authorities
  • Rwanda
  • Senegal
  • Serbia
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Swaziland
  • Tanzania
  • Turkey
  • Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus – the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is not recognised by the UK government. Visas are issued on an EU uniform format ‘Form for affixing the visa’
  • Uganda
  • Venezuela (except those holding a passport issued by the Republic of Venezuela which contains biometric information held in an electronic chip)
  • Vietnam
  • Yemen
  • Yugoslavia – documents issued by the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, by present Yugoslavia authorities or by the UN mission in Kosovo
  • Zimbabwe

The above text is an adapation of the contents of the UKBA website.

Important note: since the visa waiver concession is at the discretion of the Immigration Officer, it is advisable to contact your airline before any travels to check if they will carry you without a visa. Airlines run the risk of getting a fine (currently £2000 – year 2012) if they carry a so-called inadequately documented passenger and some airlines may be reluctant to carry you without a visa even though you may well qualify for a visa waiver.

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.

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6 Responses to UK Airside Transit and Transit without visa concession

  1. Abhijit Ambegaonkar says:

    I have the same doubt. I do qualify for Transit without visa concession and when I asked the airlines, they just said that they are not authorized to provide any Visa information. So is it advisable to get the transit visa to be on safe side??

    • Hi Abhijit,
      Many thanks for visiting our blog. The decision to carry a passenger is at the discretion of the airline that you will be flying with. Unfortunately, many airlines are not fully aware of the UK transit visa waiver concession and some are reluctant to carry passengers even though they qualify for the concession. This is because they risk a fine of £2,000 if the passenger turns out to be unacceptable to the UK immigration authorities. Unfortunately, if your airline does not want to carry you without a transit visa, you will need to obtain one. You could either take a print-out of the UKBA “UK visa requirements document for carriers” (of which most airlines will have a copy anyway) with you and argue your way past the check-in counter or, to be on the safe side, obtain a transit visa. You can find the link to the UKBA document for carriers here. You will note that this document clearly advises airlines which passengers may and which passengers may not travel without a transit visa. But as I say, the final decision to carry you (with or without a visa) always rests with the airline. If you don’t want to risk it, you could get a transit visa.
      Hope this helps!
      Kind regards,
      Ukimmigrationspecialist.com

  2. abhi says:

    I found this exact same information, but no one is willing to confirm that the information is accurate, including the UK Border Agency. It makes all the sense that the concession is at the discretion of the Immigration Officer.

    • Hi Abhi,

      Thanks for stopping by. In case of airside transit visas, the problem is usually with the airlines. They may be reluctant to carry you without a visa. If the airline doesn’t have a problem and you meet the criteria under the waiver in full, you will not normally experience problems transiting the UK airside.

      Thanks again for stopping by, kind regards,

      Ukimmigrationspecialist.com

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