What is a transit visa and who needs it for travel

Transit visas are granted to visitors who are passing through a country for a short time before continuing on to their next travel destination.

Travelers go to various locations all over the world. However, some flights cannot be completed in one trip without a stop along the route. Because of this, many countries implemented transit visas.

A transit visa is a type of visa that allows travelers to pass through or stop in a country for a limited period of time while en route to another destination. It is typically used when you have a layover in a country and need to change flights, but you won't leave the airport or only stay for a short period. 

The necessity of obtaining a transit visa depends on the transit country, the traveler's nationality, and certain conditions.  

Do you need a transit visa if leaving the transit zone?

A transit zone is a special area within an international airport where you can remain if you are changing planes during a transfer. When you are in a transit zone, it is usually considered that you have not entered the country yet, and you don't have to go through immigration and customs checks.

Since the transit zone is still the territory of the airport of a specific country, the laws of that country apply there. The international zones may have different rules depending on the country. In most cases, it is not necessary to obtain a visa if you stay within the transit zone.

However, some countries issue visas specifically for transit. Nationals from certain countries (e.g., Iran, Syria, Guinea, and others) must get a transit visa regardless of whether they leave the transit area or not.

What is the difference between a transit and a transfer passenger?

To know if you need a visa, you should understand whether you are a transit or a transfer passenger. You are a transit passenger if you continue your flight on the same aircraft. Transfer passengers continue their trip in another aircraft/airline. Typically, transfer passengers must check in again at the airport. It's best to consult with your airline if you need a visa for transfer.

What is the difference between direct, connecting, and non-stop flights?

It is also worth knowing the difference between direct, connecting, and non-stop flights. A direct flight covers a route from point A to point B without changing flight numbers; still, it may stop along the way to pick up new passengers. A connecting flight consists of a route from point A to point B with a stop in point C, and you will need to get a transit visa for such a flight. A non-stop flight includes a route from point A to point B without stopping/transiting in point C. 

Transit visa requirements

The requirements for a transit visa vary based on a particular country. Normally, the necessary documents to obtain a transit visa include:

  • Visa application form
  • Passport with blank pages and at least a 6-month validity period 
  • Recent face photographs
  • Onward ticket
  • Visa for the country you are traveling to (if applicable)  
  • Travel health insurance 
  • Proof of sufficient costs for your trip 

How to obtain a transit visa?

Depending on the entry requirements of the country through which you are going to have transit and your nationality, you may be required to visit an embassy/consulate/visa application center or be eligible for an online application process and obtain a transit eVisa

Usually, in order to get a transit visa, you need to fulfill the following steps:

  1. Complete the transit visa application form. It usually requires travelers to provide their personal, passport, and travel information.
  2. Attach the mandatory documentation. You have to prepare originals and/or copies of necessary documents. You may need to have your documents translated and verify them with an apostille stamp/certify them at an official office. 
  3. Submit your application and cover the fees. You may need to make an appointment at the visa office or complete these steps electronically.

Transit visa validity

Transit visas are usually issued for one entry into the country and a 24-hour stay. When you enter the transit country with a transit visa, you won't be able to use it for the next entry. If you want to transit again, you need to obtain a new transit visa. 

Sometimes, transit visas may be issued for several days. However, you must always thoroughly check the conditions of your visa and do not overstay it. If you wish to stay in the country for more than a transit visa allows, consider applying for a tourist visa.

Transit visa exemptions

You do not need a transit visa if you meet any of the conditions below:

  • You are a diplomatic passport holder.
  • There is a bilateral agreement between your country and the transit country.
  • You won't go out of the transit zone (applies to some nationalities). 
  • Your transit will take less than 24 hours (applies to some countries). 
  • You have a valid visa for the country through which you are going to transit.


Yuliia Boiko
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