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Landside or airside transit visa needed?

Johannesburg, South...
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Landside or airside transit visa needed?

Having tried unsuccessfully to find a definitive answer to the above question on the UK visa and Heathrow sites, I would greatly appreciate your help.

A South African citizen is flying from Cape Town to Heathrow with BA (arriving at T5), transiting straight through on the same day and flying with Virgin (from T3) to New York (i.e. she is not leaving the airport). The flights are booked on two separate tickets and she has a valid US visa.

As she is changing airlines and is not booked through on one ticket, she will need to collect her luggage after the BA flight before going to T3.

Could someone please advise whether she needs to get a landside or airside transit visa? I am aware of the DATV concession but can't establish whether or not this applies to her. Just in case it makes any difference, she is also in possession of a recently-granted UK partner visa, but will only be going into the UK when she leaves New York in December.

Many thanks for any advice.

Leeds, United...
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1. Re: Landside or airside transit visa needed?



Portland, Oregon
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2. Re: Landside or airside transit visa needed?

I believe you have to pass UK Immigration to check into your Virgin flight to JFK, but I'm not sure if a SA citizen needs a visa to enter the UK - that much must be on the UK visa site

Johannesburg, South...
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3. Re: Landside or airside transit visa needed?

Thanks for your reply - yes an SA citizen does need a UK visa, but the various distinctions between 'airside' and 'landside' visas - and the exceptions - are extremely confusing. Thanks for your help though.

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4. Re: Landside or airside transit visa needed?

I'm not sure why you find the terms confusing, airside simply means you don't pass through passport control, landside is the part of the airport after you've passed through passport control.

Your on two separate tickets meaning you'll need collect your luggage and recheck them in again, all of this means you will need to go landside.

You require a visitor in transit visa.

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5. Re: Landside or airside transit visa needed?

As far as I can make out from the website South Afircan passport holders need a Transit visa for both airside and landside transit. (My in-laws are South African and I know they always have to get one whether they are staying in the UK, on their way here, or not)


The question is should you apply for a landside visa, because collecting your bags and transferring independently from T5 to re check-in at T3 is not really an airside transfer. (although as I say I'm pretty sure South Africans need both) OR can you use your recently granted Partner Visa as you are entering and then leaving right away?

Have you contacted the British High Commissioner in SA and asked someone there? That would be my first step.

Edited: 27 October 2013, 16:46
Salisbury, United...
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6. Re: Landside or airside transit visa needed?

Louisa, you really should not be taking advise from a forum. If you take the wrong advice you may not make it out of South Africa if you have the wrong paperwork. You will may have to buy new tickets.

You need to get the correct information from the UK Embassy or High Commission.

I do hope you have left plenty of time to transfer from T5 to T3. Separate tickets can be very risky. If your incoming flight is late or cancelled you will forfeit your Virgin flight and it's return.

Good luck.

Manchester, United...
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7. Re: Landside or airside transit visa needed?

Timatic says the following :



TWOV (Transit Without Visa):

Visa required, except for Passengers who may be granted

permission by the Immigration authorities to enter the United

Kingdom, for a stay not exceeding 24 hours.

The following conditions must be complied with:

- passengers hold confirmed reservations for an onward flight

within 24 hours; and

- continue to a third country; and

- have no purpose in entering the United Kingdom other than to

pass through in transit; and

- hold all documents required for the next destination.

- ***Warning*** Nationals of South Africa may use this

administrative concession (TWOV) above if holding:

- a visa which allows entry into (or transit through)

either Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the USA; and

- holding a valid ticket for travel from a third country or

territory via the UK as part of a journey TO (or through)

Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the USA, whichever the

visa is applicable to (e.g.: DEL-LHR-JFK, DEL-CDG-LHR-JFK,



- a valid visa for entry into Australia, Canada, New

Zealand or the USA; and

- a valid airline ticket for travel via the UK as part of a

journey FROM the country in respect of which the visa is

held to another country or territory.


travelling as part of a journey FROM either Australia,

Canada, New Zealand or the USA, provided transiting the UK

less than 6 months after the date they last entered

Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the USA with a valid visa

for the respective country, even though the visa may have

expired at time of transit through the UK (e.g.:


NOTE: this DATV exemption is not applicable if holding a US

Visa Foil type "YY" or "ZZ" endorsed "Not a visa. Foil

prepared at DHS request" nor the US Adit stamp worded

"Processed for I-551" (temporary form I-551).

- ***Warning*** Nationals of South Africa may use this

administrative concession (TWOV) above if holding a valid


That indicates that a South African citizen holding a visa for the USA would be permitted into the UK for up to 24 hours.

However, this is not concrete confirmation, so BA staff in CPT may err on the extreme side of caution in these cases given that it is highly unlikely they will through check bags to Virgin on separate tickets.

If possible, it would be advisable to get a written assurance from the British High Commission (that's only if they provide such a thing) or, even better, a visa in advance (if this is practicable).

If you can manage to speak to someone at BA in South Africa to see how they handle these things in practice, that would be useful. And you need to speak to someone in the airport, NOT a call centre. This may necessitate a visit to the airport itself if you are close by.

Johannesburg, South...
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8. Re: Landside or airside transit visa needed?

Many many thanks to all of you for your kind and helpful replies. I am actually enquiring on behalf of a relative of mine, who has only recently had to change her plans and now needs to fly to the USA. Her flight to the UK was already booked when this occurred, and she cannot fly the same airline to the US, which is why two tickets are involved. However, she is planning to contact the BHC tomorrow to check what she should do - BA say they can't give visa advice. It was just that this all happened yesterday and one cannot contact the BHC over a weekend. And yes, there will be plenty of time to transit from T5 to T3 - about 7 hours, so that at least should be fine. But thank you all again for your interest and assistance.

9. Re: Landside or airside transit visa needed?

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