UK Visa Requirements: Who needs a visa to enter or transit the UK

The Home Office issued a guidance to help carriers check their passengers’ travel documents and decide whether a passenger needs a visa to enter or transit the United Kingdom. There are different UK visa rules applied for the airside and landside tansit passengers .

The lists below indicate the countries and territories of citizens who need a visa for the UK.

Airside Transit

Airside transit passengers are those who do not need to change airports and do not need to pass through the UK border. Passengers cannot transit ‘airside’ to the Republic of Ireland or anywhere within the common travel area.

Landside Transit

Landside transit passengers are those who need or wish to pass through the UK border and enter the UK (for example, to change airport, to collect baggage or arrive at airports where no airside transfer is possible).

AIRSIDE: Transit without UK visa (TWOV)

All visa nationals seeking to transit the United Kingdom ‘airside’ without a visa must:

  • arrive and depart by air
  • have a confirmed onward flight departing the same day from the same airport
  • hold the correct documents for their destination (for example, a visa for that country if required)

Nationals of the countries and territories who need a visa to enter or transit the UK listed below need a visa to transit ‘airside’ unless they hold one of the following:

  1. a valid visa for entry to Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the USA (whether or not the holder is travelling to or from these countries).
  2. a visa for entry to Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the USA as part of a reasonable journey from the country in respect of which the visa is held and it is less than 6 months since the holder last entered that country with a valid entry visa.
  3. a valid permanent residence permit issued by:
  • Australia
  • Canada, issued after 28 June 2002
  • New Zealand
  • USA issued after 21 April 1998; or a valid US Immigrant visa endorsed with a US arrival stamp (a wet-ink/ADIT stamp version will not be accepted by UK border control); or an expired I-551 Permanent Residence card provided it is accompanied by a valid I-797 letter authorising extension; or a standalone US Immigration Form 155A/155B (attached to a sealed brown envelope)

4. a valid common format residence permit issued by an EEA state or Switzerland

5. a valid common format category D visa for entry to an EEA state or Switzerland

6. a valid Irish biometric visa endorsed BC or BC BIVS (in order to transit to a destination other than the Republic of Ireland or the Common Travel Area)

7. a valid Schengen Approved Destination Scheme (ADS) group tourism visa where the holder is travelling to the country that issued it

8. a valid airline ticket from the Schengen area; provided the holder can demonstrate they entered there no more than 30 days previously on the basis of a valid Schengen ADS visa

E-visas or e-residence permits are not acceptable unless the airline is able to verify it with the issuing country.

LANDSIDE: Transit without UK visa (TWOV)

All visa nationals seeking to transit the United Kingdom ‘landside’ without a visa must:

  • arrive and depart by air
  • have a confirmed onward flight that departs before 23:59 the following day
  • hold the correct documents for their destination (for example, a visa for that country if required)

Nationals of the countries and territories who need a visa to enter or transit the UK listed below need a visa to transit ‘landside’ unless they hold one of the following:

  1. a valid visa for entry to Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the USA and a valid airline ticket via the UK as part of a reasonable journey to that country
  2. a valid visa for entry to Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the USA and a valid airline ticket via the UK as part of a reasonable journey from that country
  3. a visa for entry to Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the USA as part of a reasonable journey from the country in respect of which the visa is held and it is less than 6 months since the holder last entered that country with a valid entry visa
  4. a valid permanent residence permit issued by:
  • Australia (b)
  • Canada, issued after 28 June 2002 (c)
  • New Zealand (d)
  • USA issued after 21 April 1998; or a valid US Immigrant visa endorsed with a US arrival stamp (a wet-ink/ADIT stamp version will not be accepted by UK border control); or an expired I-551 Permanent Residence card provided it is accompanied by a valid I-797 letter authorising extension; or a standalone US Immigration Form 155A/155B (attached to a sealed brown envelope)

5. a valid common format residence permit issued by an EEA state or Switzerland

6. a valid common format category D visa for entry to an EEA state or Switzerland

7. a valid Irish biometric visa endorsed BC or BC BIVS and travelling to the Republic of Ireland

8. an Irish biometric visa endorsed BC or BC BIVS and travelling FROM the Republic of Ireland provided it is less than 3 months since the holder last entered there

E-visas or e-residence permits are not acceptable for landside transit.

The decision to allow a passenger to transit without a visa (TWOV) under the scheme is decided by an immigration officer at the UK border.

UK permanent residents

If a visa national is permanently resident in the UK they do not need a visa, as long as they return to the UK within 2 years of their last departure.

Passengers with the right of abode in the UK

If a visa national has a ‘certificate of entitlement to the right of abode’ label in their valid passport they do not need a UK visa.

Holders of non-national and refugee travel documents

  • If the passenger holds a refugee travel document issued by the UK they do not need a visa.
  • If the passenger holds any other non-national or refugee travel document they need a visa to enter the UK.
  • Whether holders of non-national and refugee travel documents require a direct airside transit visa (DATV) depends on their original nationality, and whether they qualify for one of the exemptions listed above. Persons recognised as stateless under the 1954 UN Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons are not required to hold a DATV and may transit airside without a visa.

Nationals of countries and territories who need a visa to enter or transit the UK

  • Afghanistan
  • Albania
  • Algeria
  • Angola
  • Bangladesh
  • Belarus
  • Burma (Myanmar)
  • Burundi
  • Cameroon
  • China (People’s Republic of) 1
  • Congo
  • Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire)
  • Cyprus (northern part of) 2
  • Egypt
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Guinea
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • India 3
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Ivory Coast
  • Jamaica
  • Kenya
  • Kosovo
  • Lebanon
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia
  • Libya
  • Macedonia (F.Y.R of)
  • Malawi
  • Moldova
  • Mongolia
  • Nepal
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Palestinian Territories
  • Rwanda
  • Senegal
  • Serbia
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia 2
  • South Africa 4
  • South Sudan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • Swaziland
  • Syria 5
  • Tanzania
  • Turkey 4
  • Uganda
  • Venezuela (non biometric)
  • Vietnam 3 4
  • Yemen
  • Zimbabwe

Nationals of the countries and territories who need a visa to enter or transit the UK landside

  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahrain 6
  • Benin
  • Bhutan
  • Bolivia
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Burkina Faso
  • Cape Verde
  • Central African
  • Republic of Chad
  • Colombia
  • Comoros
  • Cuba
  • Djibouti
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Fiji
  • Gabon
  • Georgia
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Indonesia 4
  • Jordan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kuwait 7
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Laos
  • Madagascar (Malagasy)
  • Malawi
  • Mauritania
  • Montenegro
  • Morocco
  • Mozambique
  • Niger
  • Oman 7
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Qatar 7
  • Russia
  • Sao Tome e Principe
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Surinam
  • Taiwan 8
  • Tajikistan
  • Thailand
  • Togo
  • Tunisia
  • Turkmenistan
  • Ukraine
  • United Arab Emirates 7
  • Uzbekistan
  • Venezuela (biometric)
  • Zambia

Seamen

A seaman travelling on duty, who is a visa national (including those in transit through the UK) does not need a UK visa if he holds a valid seaman’s book issued by one of these countries which also contains a statement that it is issued under ILO108 (or convention of 1958) or ILO185, having previously ratified ILO108 (or convention of 2003):

  • Algeria
  • Anguilla
  • Angola
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Azerbaijan
  • Barbados
  • Belarus
  • Belize
  • Bermuda
  • Brazil
  • British Virgin Isles
  • Bulgaria
  • Cameroon
  • Canada
  • Cuba
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Djibouti
  • Dominica
  • Estonia
  • Fiji
  • Finland
  • France
  • Ghana
  • Greece
  • Grenada
  • Guatemala
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Guyana
  • Honduras
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Latvia
  • Liberia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Mauritius
  • Mexico
  • Moldova (Republic of)
  • Montserrat
  • Morocco
  • Norway
  • Panama
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • The Russian Federation
  • Seychelles
  • Slovenia
  • Solomon Islands
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Sweden
  • Tajikistan
  • Tanzania
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom (including the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar)
  • Uruguay

A seaman does not need to be a national of the country that issued the document.

NOTES:

  1. Holders of diplomatic passports do not require a visa. Service passport holders may transit without a visa. Holders of a public affairs passport may not transit without a visa. Service and public affairs passport holders do not require a visa if travelling with a serving Chinese government minister on an official visit to the UK. 
  2. Passport not recognised by HM Government – the visa should be issued on a uniform format form (UFF).  2
  3. Holders of diplomatic or official passports may transit without a UK visa.  2
  4. Holders of diplomatic passports do not require a visa for official visits, tourist visits or transit.  2 3 4
  5. Holders may not use a B1/B2 USA visa to transit the UK. 
  6. Holders of diplomatic and special passports do not require a UK visa for official visits, tourist visits or transit. 
  7. Holders of diplomatic and special passports do not require a visa for official visits, tourist visits or transit. Holders of ordinary passports do not require a visa if they hold a valid electronic visa waiver (EVW) document.  2 3 4
  8. Passports that include a personal ID number on the biodata page are exempt from the visa requirement. 

UK Airports – Contact details

Area Telephone
Belfast Airport +44 28 944 84323
Birmingham Airport +44 121 606 7357/7368
Bournemouth +44 1202 579233
Bristol Airport +44 1275 472 843
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Portsmouth Docks +44 2392 952749
Robin Hood Airport +44 1302 522300
Southampton Airport +44 23 8062 7107
Southend Airport +44 1702 538574
Stansted Airport +44 1279 338809
CARRIERS LIAISON SECTION
HOME OFFICE
TEL: +44 20 3014 8282 (FAX 8221)
E-mail: CarriersLiaisonSection@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

Other updates:

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Changes to the Immigration Rules 2018

UK Visa Fees 2018 

New Fees: British Passport Applications

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How to Apply for British Passport Online 

Case Studies & Successful Cases 


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