Dear Mr Bassie,
I wish to travel to Europe and although I need not travel through the United Kingdom it is the quickest possible route for me to reach my destination. Will I need a visa to transit through England?
- David T.
If you are travelling to Europe via the UK, you would normally be required to obtain a visa. However, some transit travellers do not need a visa to pass on their way to another country. If you do not qualify to transit or enter the UK without a visa, then you will need a direct airside transit visa (often called a DATV). A direct airside transit visa does not entitle you to enter the UK and go past border control. If you want to enter the UK, you will need to apply for either a visitor in-transit visa or a visitor's visa.
A direct airside transit visa is necessary if you are a national or citizen of one of the countries that are not covered by the transit without visa concession. However, there are some nationals that are exempt from needing a direct airside transit visa and there are other passengers that do not qualify and will subsequently need another type of visa.
If you are transiting to the Republic of Ireland, you must pass through UK border control in order to take a flight to Ireland. If you are a visa national, or you qualify for exemption from the need to have a direct airside transit visa, you may then transit without a visa - providing you meet the conditions of the transit without visa concession and you have the correct documents for entry into Ireland. If you are a national of a country to which the transit without visa concession does not apply and you are transiting to Ireland, you will need to hold a visitor's visa for the UK. You should be aware that a direct airside transit visa or visitor in-transit visa cannot be used to travel to Ireland.
If you are a visa national and you pass through immigration control because you are stopping in the UK for more than 24 hours, you will need a visitor in-transit visa. If you intend to stay for more than 48 hours, you will need to apply for a visitor's visa for the UK.
If you are in any doubt about whether you need a visa, you should check with UK visa services before you travel.
John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises in Jamaica. He is a Supreme Court-appointed mediator and a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.