12 November 2014
UK eases transit visas for South Africans
As of December 1, South African nationals who hold a valid visa for Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the USA will be able to use them to transit airside via the UK to anywhere in the world without obtaining a Direct Airside Transit Visa.
Travellers who hold visas to these countries can transit the UK (airside) given that they provide an expanded list of exemption documents in place of a Direct Airside Transit Visa.
The criteria are that the traveller:
• must arrive and depart by air from the same UK airport and on the same day to another country outside the Common Travel Area1 (i.e. a travel zone that comprises the United Kingdom, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Republic of Ireland);
• is properly documented for your onward destination;
• holds a valid exemption document in accordance with one of the following:
- a residence permit or visa that allows entry to Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the United States of America, regardless of their route and final destination
- an EEA or Swiss category D visa or residence permit, regardless of their route and final destination
- an Irish biometric visa, regardless of their route and final destination.
In addition, the United Kingdom made changes recently to its transit visa policy, which is positive news for South Africans. The direct airside transit visa fee was reduced to £30 (R536,19) in October this year, and its routine validity was extended to two years.
Different rules apply to Landside Transit Visas where en route restrictions do apply to the exemption document criteria.Landside Transit refers to passengers who arrive at one airport but are catching an onward flight from another UK airport or who have to pass through UK immigration to collect and re-check baggage before their onward journey, and therefore need to enter the UK.