Do you need to Transit Through the UK?
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A transit visa allows holders to pass through the UK as part of their journey to another country. There are two different types to choose from depending on the length of time the holder will be spending in the UK before travelling to their destination country, and whether or not they will be going through UK border control.
Applicants require proof that they are passing through the UK in transit from one country to another, proof of their destination, and evidence that they are only visiting the UK as a traveller in transit and will not be staying longer than is permitted. It is imperative that travellers ensure that they meet the requirements for the appropriate visa option before applying or booking any tickets as a rejection or delay may cause disruption to their travel plans.
Requirements for the UK Direct Airside Transit Visa
You will need to apply for a UK Direct Airside Transit Visa (DATV) if you are travelling through the UK without passing through border controls before catching your flight out of the country. All applicants must prove that they are allowed entry into their destination country. In order to prove this, applicants will be asked to provide the following documents upon application:
- A valid passport
- A valid visa
- A valid green card
- A residence permit
In order to provide evidence of your travel route and length of stay, you must also have access to at least one of the following:
- A flight booking email
- A ticket/boarding pass
- Proof of confirmation from a travel agent
As part of your application, you will need to make an appointment at your nearest Visa Application Centre, where you will be asked to provide evidence of your transit arrangements and your biometric information (photograph ID and fingerprints) will be taken for records. Nigerian applicants may need to travel to Lagos or Abuja to find their nearest Visa Application Centre.
UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) or your chosen Visa Application Centre will contact you within 3 weeks with a decision regarding your visa application.
Remember that you will need to bring your documents with you when you travel through the UK in case your visa requires further verification upon arrival.
Requirements for the UK Visitor in Transit Visa
You will need to apply for this type of transit visa if your stop in the UK lasts longer than 24 hours and you pass through UK border control before leaving the country. The UK Visitor in Transit visa costs £64 and lasts for 48 hours.
As with the DATV, the application process is mostly online, and you must again provide evidence that you have been granted entry into your destination country. You can do this by providing:
- A valid visa
- A valid green card
- A valid passport
- A residence permit
You will also need to provide proof of your travel route and the length of your stay. You can do this by submitting your:
- Flight booking email
- Ticket or boarding pass
- Confirmation email from a travel agent
Because your stay in the UK is longer than it would be if you were transiting airside, it is more likely that you will also be asked to provide evidence of where you will be staying before catching your flight out of the country. You can do this by submitting your accommodation booking details and confirmation email.
You will also be asked to make an appointment with your nearest Visa Application Centre (most likely in Lagos or Abuja) where you will be interviewed and asked to provide evidence of your transit plans. Your biometric information (fingerprints and photo ID) will be taken for records. You should receive a final decision concerning your visa application within 3 weeks.
If you can prove that you need to pass through the UK in transit on a regular basis, perhaps for work or family, you might find that a long-term Standard Visitor visa is a more convenient option.
This visa allows holders to stay in the UK for a maximum of 6 months per visit, and it can last for 2, 5 or 10 years. For more information about the Standard Visitor visa, check out our helpful guide on the IAS website.
Travellers from Nigeria will, in most cases, need to apply for a UK transit visa if they are passing through the UK. Nigerian visitors must factor the application, fees and processing time into their travel plans alongside the collection of any other visas and travel documents they may need for their journey.
You will be exempt from holding a UK transit visa during your onward journey if you:
- Have a valid UK Standard Visitor Visa
- Have valid status under the EU settlement scheme
- Have a valid Marriage Visitor Visa
- Have a Home Office travel document
If your visit to the UK in transit passes through UK border control, you will need a Visitor in Transit visa. You may be able to transit without a visa if:
- You arrive and leave by air
- You have a confirmed onward flight that leaves on the day you arrive or before midnight on the day after arrival
- Hold the correct documents for your destination country
However, in order for these requirements to be valid, you must also have one of the following:
- A valid USA I-551 Temporary Immigrant visa issued by the USA (not a wet-ink stamp version)
- An expired USA I-551 Permanent Residence card issued by the USA on or after 21 April 1998, with a valid I-797 letter authorising extension
- A valid US Immigration Form 155A/155B issued by the USA (attached to a sealed brown envelope)
- An Irish biometric visa (marked ‘BC’ or ‘BC BIVS’ in the ‘Remarks’ section) and an onward flight ticket to the Republic of Ireland
- A valid USA permanent residence card issued by the USA on or after 21 April 1998
- A permanent residence permit issued by Australia or New Zealand
- A common format residence permit issued by a European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland
- A permanent residence permit issued by Canada on or after 28 June 2002
- A uniform format category D visa for entry to the EEA or Switzerland
- Proof of travel to Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the USA with a valid visa for that country, or proof of valid entry with a visa in the last 6 months
If you arrive in the UK on a flight and leave on another flight without passing through UK border control, you will need to apply for a Direct Airside Transit visa unless you hold any of the above exemption notices.
Transit Through the UK: Dos and Don'ts
Visitors who are in transit in the UK are allowed to bring their “personal allowance” goods into the airport with them from their flight, but any goods that might violate regulations, such as commercial goods for sale and prohibited items, must be declared at UK border controls. You must also declare cash of £10,000 or more being carried into the UK, even if this amount is split up amongst your family.
Please refer to the UK government website for further information about what you can and can’t bring into the country with you.
Please do not try to bypass declaration rules as you may be subject to seizure, fines, or further legal action.
Managing multiple visas on a long journey can be quite a stressful experience, which is why it is important to reach out and ask for support from an expert.
Our team of immigration lawyers are on hand to provide confidential, sympathetic and time-accurate advice to any Nigerian clients who are hoping for stress-free travel through the UK. Speak to our Nigerian branch today on +23413438882 or visit our Lagos office. You can also contact our UK team on +44 (0) 3316300929 or contact us online.
Last modified on October 25th, 2023 at 1:20 pm
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Yes, you will need to apply for a DATV if you are not passing through border controls before getting your next flight, and a Visitor in Transit visa if your connecting flight requires you to pass through immigration.
No, you must have completed the application, attended your interview and received confirmation of your visitor status before you can travel to the UK.