What is the change? The U.K. has changed the rules for nationals requiring airside and landside transit visas.

What does the change mean? Nationals requiring a Direct Airside Transit Visa to pass through the U.K. in transit, both airside and landside, can either apply for a transit visa or use a document on the list of exempt documents. Nationals who only need a transit visa to transit landside will no longer be able to transit by showing just an onward ticket; they must apply for a transit visa or have one of the exempt documents.

  • Implementation timeframe: Dec. 1.
  • Visas/permits affected: Direct Airside Transit Visas, Non-Direct Airside Transit Visas.
  • Who is affected: Nationals of the countries requiring a DATV or non-DATV.
  • Impact on processing times: Travelers who have an exempt document can avoid having to apply for transit visas.Nationals who formerly used only an onward ticket to transit landside and who do not have an exempt document will now have to apply for a transit visa.
  • Business impact: Depending on a traveler’s nationality and exemption status, the new rules could simplify or lengthen procedures to transit through the U.K.
  • Next steps: Travelers passing through the U.K. in transit should be aware of the new rules and determine if they require a transit visa before travel.

Background: Transit visas are required of certain nationals stopping in the U.K. en route to other destinations within 24 or 48 hours.

Airside transit refers to an onward flight on the same day and departing from the same U.K. airport as arrival. Airside transit passengers do not pass through the U.K. border controls. Landside transit refers to an onward flight from a different U.K. airport or transit involving re-checking baggage and therefore passing through border controls to enter the U.K.

As of Dec. 1, nationals who require a visa to transit through the U.K. both airside and landside (“DATV nationals”) will have the option to apply for a transit visa or use an extended list of exemption documents, such as an EEA or Swiss residence permit, and pay a reduced cost of £30 for the DATV valid for two years. Chinese and Indian travelers may use the recently launched British and Irish Visa Scheme biometric visa as an exemption document for transit.

Under the new rules, nationals who require a transit visa for landside travel only (“non-DATV nationals”) can no longer transit landside with only a confirmed onward ticket; they must either apply for a transit visa or use one of the exemption documents and they must arrive and depart by air and have a confirmed onward flight leaving by 11:59 p.m. the following day. Nationals of Bolivia, Ecuador and Montenegro will no longer be required to hold a DATV or exemption document for airside travel.

BAL Analysis: Business travelers and foreign employees and assignees planning to transit through the U.K. should plan for the new rules, and non-DATV nationals should anticipate extra procedures as they can no longer just show proof of onward travel.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact

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