The UK Transit visa process is a rather complicated one. In an attempt to detangle this for you, here are a few pointers you need to brace yourself with.
1. What is a UK Transit Visa?
A UK Transit visa is a permit to travel to another country via the United Kingdom. For example, if you are an Indian citizen traveling from Mumbai to New York, with a stop over in London, you may require a transit visa.
2. What are the types of UK transit visas?
The transit visas are classified into two main categories. Before we get to that, let’s take a few seconds to comprehend these terms –
Airside: Airside is that domain of the airport where your flight arrives, which doesn’t involve you going through Border Control or immigration procedures. If you arrive at London Heathrow, and your onward flight is from the same airport, without you having to leave the premises, you are on the airside.
Landside: It is that territory which is beyond the airport premises, that involves the passenger to cross Border Control and undergo the immigration procedures in order to board their connecting flight. After arriving at London Heathrow, if your onward flight to New York is via London Gatwick, you will be required to leave one airport and go to the other, thereby having to check-in your baggage again and go through border control norms.
- Direct Airside Transit Visa (DATV): This type of visa comes into play when you land in UK, stopover for a few hours and then take an onward flight to your destination from the same airport. This is strictly for airside transit passengers. DATVs are valid for 24 hours.
- Visitor in Transit Visa: This is for the landside transit passengers who are required to change their airport or leave the airport premises and go through the immigration process again. Holders of this visa are permitted to stay within the UK territory for only 48 hours. Visitor visa are also issued for long term periods for frequent travelers.
- In case your stopover in UK is for more than 48 hours, you will need a Standard Visitor Visa.
3. What are the visa fees?
Visa fees differ depending on the exchange rate. Since there are multiple types of visas, it is recommended that you get a clear picture of which visa is suited for your travel.
The DATV costs £32, which is approximately INR 2800.
The Visitor in Transit Visa costs £59, which comes up to INR 5200.
4. How can I fill my UK transit visa application?
In case of both categories of transit visas, the application must be made online. Additionally, you will need a certain set of documents, recent photographs and will have to go through a biometric test at a Visa Application Centre (VAC), as a part of the entire application process.
You may fill in your online application on: www.gov.uk/apply-uk-visa
5. Are there any exceptions to the UK Transit Visa?
Based on certain strict criteria, specific passengers may be exempted from acquiring a transit visa. Since the UK visa process is complex, it is recommended that you do your homework thoroughly.
Exemptions are offered to passengers who are:
- Holders of a valid US, Canadian, Australian or New Zealand visa
- Holders of a valid US, Canadian, Australian or New Zealand permanent residence card or residence visa.
- Holders of a valid residence permit that has been issued by a European Economic Area (EEA)
- Holders of a valid Irish biometric visa
- Holders of a diplomatic or official passport.
To gain further clarity on the visa requirements and exemptions, you may visit: www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/527411/UK_Visa_requirements_3_June_2016.pdf
Although the nitty-gritties of acquiring a UK transit visa seem intricate, the system is very methodical. You need to identify the right visa that has to be issued to you, and you’re good to go. In case of any doubts, befriend www.gov.uk.