UK Transit Visa – Requirements 2024 Guide

uk transit visa


Certain travellers who are passing through the UK en route to another country require a UK transit visa. Whether you need one depends on factors such as whether you will be passing through UK border control, your nationality, and the documents you hold.

The UK offers two main types of transit visas: the Direct Airside Transit Visa (DATV) and the Visitor in Transit Visa. Each is designed for specific transit circumstances.

The Direct Airside Transit Visa (DATV) is for those not passing through UK border control but changing flights in the UK. The Visitor in Transit Visa is for travellers who must pass through UK border control, such as changing airports or staying overnight.

Failure to secure an appropriate transit visa can result in denied entry or transit through the UK. You might face delays, be returned to your point of origin, or face legal consequences. It is crucial to check if you need a UK transit visa and ensure the visa you apply for aligns with your travel plans.


Section A: Understanding the UK Transit Visa


1. Do You Need a UK Transit Visa?


Not all travellers transiting through the UK will need a Transit Visa.

You will be exempt from the Transit Visa requirement if:

a. You are travelling airside and already have a valid visa or residence permit for specific countries, such as the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, an EEA state, or Switzerland. Similar exemptions exist for landside transit, with the addition of requirements like arriving and departing by air and having a confirmed onward flight.

b. You have a valid Standard Visitor visa for the UK.

c. You have valid status in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme.


To transit without a visa under certain conditions, travellers must have:

a. A confirmed onward flight that leaves the UK within a specified timeframe.

b. The correct documents for the final destination.

c. A valid visa or residence permit from specific countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, USA, EEA states, Switzerland) or a valid Irish biometric visa.


The decision to allow transit without a visa is ultimately made by the immigration officer at the border, based on whether the traveller meets the immigration rules.

If none of these exemptions apply or you are uncertain about qualifying for an exemption, you should apply for the appropriate type of Transit Visa.


2. Types of UK Transit Visa


There are two types of UK transit visas:

a. Direct Airside Transit Visa (DATV)
This is required if you’ll be changing flights in the UK without passing through UK border control. It’s suitable for those who stay within an airport’s international transit area without entering the UK.


b. Visitor in Transit Visa
This visa is needed if you’ll pass through UK border control, for example, to change airports or if your layover involves an overnight stay but leaving the UK within 48 hours. If your stay is extended or you must pass through the UK frequently, you might have to apply for a Standard Visitor visa instead.


Section B: Direct Airside Transit Visa (DATV)


This visa is for travellers who won’t pass through UK border control but need to change flights in the UK. London Heathrow, London Gatwick, and Manchester airports have airside transit facilities.

A DATV is required by nationals from certain countries, as specified by the UK Government, who are transiting airside and still need exemption documents such as a valid visa for Canada, New Zealand, Australia, the USA, or specific residence permits.

Conditions under the DATV include:

• Arriving and departing by air.
• Having a confirmed onward flight from the same airport on the same day.
• Carrying the correct documents for your destination.

Travellers might not need a DATV if they hold a valid visa for Canada, New Zealand, Australia, or the USA or a valid residence permit from these countries, the European Economic Area (EEA), or Switzerland.

Other exemption conditions include holding a valid Irish biometric visa, a valid Schengen Approved Destination Scheme (ADS) group tourism visa, or a flight ticket from the Schengen area, provided certain conditions are met.


Section C: Visitor in Transit Visa


This visa applies to those who must pass through UK border control, which might be necessary for changing airports or if a layover involves an overnight stay.

If you leave the UK within 48 hours, you must obtain a visa; otherwise, a Standard Visitor visa may be needed.

Eligibility for transiting without a visa includes holding a valid visa for Australia, Canada, New Zealand, or the USA and meeting certain criteria, such as arriving and departing by air, having a confirmed onward flight that leaves by the next day, and possessing the correct documents for the final destination .

Similar to DATV, exemptions include:

• Holding certain visas or residence permits.
• Travelling to or from certain countries with valid visas or permits.
• Meeting specific travel criteria.

Having a valid UK visa or being a member of UKVI’s invitation-only GREAT club can exempt you from needing this visa.


Section D: UK Transit Visa Application Process


1. How to Apply


To apply for a UK transit visa, start by applying online for either a Direct Airside Transit visa or a Visitor in Transit visa.

You’ll need your current passport or another valid travel document, evidence of permission to enter your destination country if you’re not a national (e.g., residence permit, green card, visa), and proof of your booked onward journey.

After applying, you must provide your biometric information at a visa application centre.


2. Application Fees


The Direct Airside Transit Visa (DATV) application fee for UK transit visas is £35, and the Visitor in Transit visa fee is £64.


3. Application Processing Times


Processing times for a UK transit visa typically take about three weeks. However, this can vary based on the application centre and any additional services offered in your country, such as fast-tracked processing, for an additional fee.

Factors affecting the duration include application volume, public holidays, or additional security checks.


Section E: Summary


Understanding and complying with UK transit visa requirements is crucial for a smooth journey. It ensures you meet all legal obligations and avoid unnecessary complications during transit.

Planning is critical – knowing the type of visa you need, the documents required, and the processing times can make all the difference.

Start your application process well in advance to ensure everything is for a stress-free transit through the UK.


Section F: UK Transit Visa FAQs


Can I leave the airport with a UK transit visa?

Only with a Visitor in Transit visa can you pass through UK border control, e.g., for changing airports or an overnight layover.


What if my layover is under 24 hours?

For layovers under 24 hours, you may require a Direct Airside Transit Visa (DATV) if you’re not passing through border control or a Visitor in Transit visa.


How can I check the status of my visa application?

To check the status, you should follow the guidance provided by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) or contact the visa application centre where you applied.


Section G: Glossary of Transit Visa Terms


UK Transit Visa: A permit required for travellers passing through the UK en route to another country.

Direct Airside Transit Visa (DATV): is for travellers not passing through UK border control.

Visitor in Transit Visa: This visa is required for those passing through UK border control, typically for airport changes or overnight stays.

Exemption Documents: Certain visas or permits can exempt a traveller from needing a UK transit visa.

Biometric Information: Fingerprints and photographs are required for the visa application.


Section H: Additional Helpful Resources


UK Visas and Immigration
Official information on visa categories, application processes, and requirements.

Apply for a UK Visa:

Use the direct link to start your visa application process.

Check if You Need a UK Visa:

This tool will help you determine if you require a visa based on your nationality, reason for visit, and other factors.



Gill Laing is a qualified Legal Researcher & Analyst with niche specialisms in Law, Tax, Human Resources, Immigration & Employment Law.

Gill is a Multiple Business Owner and the Managing Director of Prof Services - a Marketing & Content Agency for the Professional Services Sector.

Legal disclaimer


The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

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