From 1 December 2014 the airside and landside transit visa requirements for the UK are changing. The direct airside transit visa fee has already been reduced to £30, making our transit visa cheaper than Schengen’s and its routine validity has been extended to two years. Alongside this, landside transit requirements will be tightened and clarified to prevent potential abuse, and the list of exemption documents that can be used in place of a transit visa will be increased. These changes will make transit simpler, more consistent and easier for passengers and carriers.
These changes are good news for Bangladesh nationals. They include dropping the en-route requirement for Bangladeshi holders of Australian, Canadian, New Zealand and US visas, who will now be able to use them to transit airside via the UK to anywhere in the world without requiring a UK visa.
Other important changes mean that from 1 December 2014:
The Transit Without a Visa (TWOV) concession will be abolished. TWOV allowed some visa nationals to enter the UK visa free whilst in transit if they held a confirmed onward ticket.
All visa nationals wishing to pass landside in transit will either have to hold a valid Visitor in Transit Visa or one of an expanded list of approved exemption documents for landside transit.
Australian and New Zealand resident permits will be added to the list of valid exemption documents for both airside and landside transit.
The revised requirements strengthen the UK’s border, whilst at the same time facilitating travel by genuine transit passengers.
British High Commissioner Robert W Gibson said, “The changes to the UK’s transit regime show the UK is open for business: they will help ensure that our world class airports and airlines continue to be competitive and attract international travellers and business visitors, including from Bangladesh.”
The UK is unique in allowing landside transit in recognition of the different airports that serve London. The change will require all visa nationals to hold either a transit visa for landside transit or a valid exemption document but we have balanced this by also increasing the types of exemption documents we will accept.
Transit passengers constitute a large proportion of UK airports’ passenger movements. In 2013 at London Heathrow alone the percentage of transfer passengers was 37% (or 26 million). The number of transit visa applications in comparison is small: in 2013 just over 4500 visitor in transit visas were issued and around 700 refused; nearly 5000 direct airside transit visas were issued and just over 700 refused (worldwide).
For the latest guidance on UK visa requirements, please see www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa.