Travelling through the Common Travel Area
The UK, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are known as the Common Travel Area.
Nationals of some countries are known as 'visa nationals', because they will normally require a visa to come to the UK. These countries are listed under 'More information' below.
If you are a visa national, or if you are recognised as 'stateless', you may need a visa to transit the UK on your way to or from a Common Travel Area destination.
Travelling to a Common Travel Area destination
If you are passing through the UK on your way to a destination in the Common Travel Area, you cannot transit airside and will need to enter the UK during your journey. You can do this without a visa if:
- you are not a visa national; or
- you hold a valid travel document issued by the UK government; or
- you are a visa national or recognised as 'stateless' and meet the 'transit without visa concession - see under 'More information' below.
If you do not meet any of these requirements, you will need a visitor visa to pass through the UK.
If you are a national of certain countries and come to the UK with a general visitor visa, you may be able to travel on to the Republic of Ireland without having to apply for an Irish visa. You can find details of the Irish visa waiver scheme on the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service website.
Travelling from a location in the Common Travel Area
If you are passing through the UK on your way from a location in the Common Travel Area, you cannot transit airside and will need to enter the UK during your journey.
The Do you need a visa to transit landside? page explains whether you will need to get a visa before you begin your journey.
Are you a visa national?
Nationals or citizens of the following countries and territorial entities are known as 'visa nationals':
- Bosnia Herzegovina
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- People's Republic of China (unless they hold a passport issued by Hong Kong Special Administrative Region or Macao Special Administrative Region)
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Dominican Republic
- Equatorial Guinea
- Guinea Bissau
- Ivory Coast
- Korea (North)
- Palestinian Territories
- Republic of South Sudan
- Republic of Sudan
- Sao Tome e Principe
- Saudi Arabia
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
- Sri Lanka
- Taiwan (unless they hold a Taiwan passport which includes the number of the identification card issued by the competent authority in Taiwan)
- United Arab Emirates
- Vatican City
- Venezuela (unless they hold a Venezuelan passport which contains biometric information held in an electronic chip)
- The territories formerly comprising the socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
'Transit without visa' concession
If you are a visa national or recognised as stateless, you may be able to transit the UK landside without a visa under the transit without a visa (TWOV) concession. The concession is operated at the border where you arrive in the UK and is at the discretion of Border Force officers. You may not be permitted to benefit from this concession and may be refused entry to the UK. If you are unsure whether you benefit from the concession, you should apply for a transit visa prior to travel.
To be considered under this concession you must be transiting and meet the following conditions:
- you must arrive and depart by air;
- your onward flight must be confirmed, and must depart within 24 hours; and
- you must have proper documentation for your destination, including a visa if required
If you are a national of a country covered by the Direct Airside Transit Visa (DATV) requirement you must normally have a visa to transit the UK even if you are remaining in the same airport and not passing through immigration control. However you may benefit from the transit without visa concession if you are transiting, meet the above conditions and you hold or a person with whom you arrive in the UK holds on your behalf one or more of the following documents
1) a valid visa for entry to Canada or the United States of America and a valid airline ticket for travel via the United Kingdom from another country or territory to the country in respect of which the visa is held; or
2) a valid visa for entry to Canada or the United States of America and a valid airline ticket for travel via the United Kingdom from the country in respect of which the visa was held to another country or territory; or
3) a valid airline ticket for travel via the UK as part of a journey from Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the USA, if you are transiting the UK no more than 6 months after the date when you last entered Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the USA with a valid entry visa for that country; or
4) a valid USA I-551 permanent resident card issued on or after 21 April 1998; or
5) an expired I-551 permanent resident card issued on or after 21 April 1998, accompanied by a valid I-797 extension letter issued by the Bureau of Citizenship; or
6) a valid Canadian permanent resident card issued on or after 28 June 2002; or
7 ) a valid common format category D visa for entry to a state in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland; or
8) a valid common format residence permit issued by an EEA state or Switzerland under Council Regulation (EC) number 1030/2002; or
9) a valid UK residence card; or
10) a valid EEA family permit issued by the UK government; or
11) a diplomatic or service passport issued by the People's Republic of China; or
12) a diplomatic or official passport issued by India; or
13) a diplomatic or official passport issued by Vietnam;
A valid US immigrant visa packet (form 155A/155B attached to a sealed brown envelope) is also a 'valid visa' for these purposes, but the following documents are not valid for the DATV exemption and do not allow the holder to transit landside under the transit without a visa concession:
- an I-512 parole letter or an I-797C (notice of action) instead of a valid US visa.
o a transportation letter instead of a valid US permanent resident card issued on or after 21 April 1998;
- a valid travel document with a US 'ADIT' stamp saying - 'Processed for I-551. TEMPORARY EVIDENCE OF LAWFUL ADMISSION FOR PERMANENT RESIDENCE VALID UNTIL [date]. EMPLOYMENT AUTHORIZED'; and
- a US visa foil endorsed, "NOT A VISA. FOIL PREPARED AT DHS REQUEST".
If you are a national of a DATV country and you hold a non-national (including refugee) travel document, you will need to get a visa to transit the UK landside unless you qualify for one of the exemptions listed above.
Nationalities requiring a DATV
- People's Republic of China
- Democratic Republic of Congo - including travel documents issued by the former Zaire
- Ivory Coast
- FYR of Macedonia
- Palestinian Authorities
- Sierra Leone
- South Africa
- Sri Lanka
- Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus - the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is not recognised by the UK government. Visas are issued on an EU uniform format 'Form for affixing the visa'
- Venezuela (except those holding a passport issued by the Republic of Venezuela which contains biometric information held in an electronic chip)
- Yugoslavia - documents issued by the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, by present Yugoslavia authorities or by the UN mission in Kosovo
A non-visa national is a national or citizen of any country that is NOT listed in Appendix 1 of the immigration rules (nationals of countries listed in Appendix 1 are visa nationals). A non-visa national does not need a visa to come to the United Kingdom for less than six months, unless it is a requirement of the immigration category under which they are entering. A non-visa national coming to the United Kingdom for more than six months will need a visa.
Passing through the United Kingdom on your way to another country without staying in the United Kingdom.
A person who is a national or citizen of certain countries and will always require a visa to come to the United Kingdom. These countries or territories are listed in Appendix 1 of the immigration rules. Some visa nationals may pass through the United Kingdom on the way to another country without a visa, but in some circumstances they will require a direct airside visa or visitor in transit visa.