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Do I Need A Travel Visa?

| September 28, 2015 | 23 Comments

The world is your oyster, and your passport an oyster knife. That is, until it isn’t. For many countries, a passport may be sufficient for entry. For others, though, a visa is required. If you’re a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of traveler, you’ll have to forgo your free spirit ways if you want to leave the airport during your layover in those countries. Getting a visa must be planned well in advance for many countries. Layover Guide guides you through the process of getting a travel visa.

travel visas for layoversWhat’s the difference between a passport and a visa?

A passport is issued by the holder’s country and serves as a sort of international identification. It also confirms country of citizenship and allows re-entry into that country following international travel. A visa, on the other hand, is issued by a foreign country’s government, is placed in your passport and allows entry into that country. The visa will specify how long you are allowed to stay in the country. It may be good for only one trip or for many entries into the country.

When do I need to get a visa?

Your country of citizenship determines whether you need a visa for a particular destination. Check with your country to see what your entry requirement is into your layover country – what is acceptable is all dependent on your citizenship and your layover country. Some, for example, require visas even for very short visits, while others don’t. In addition, at certain countries you can pay for the visa when you arrive, but many destinations need to be planned ahead of arrival. A transit visa may also be available for those going through a country’s border control but leaving the country within a short period of time.

Some countries require an application be filed well in advance, while others may issue visas to visitors already within its borders. Since an interview and/or medical examination are necessary in some countries before determining visa-worthiness, advance planning is critical.

For U.S. citizens, to see if the country you’re traveling to requires a visa, either click on the country in question on the map or type in the country’s name in the box here, where you can also find travel advisories and warnings. Once you reach the country’s page, scroll down to the third tab, “Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements.” Here, you can also find any messages from the embassy, currency restrictions, vaccination requirements, contact information for embassies and consulates, country-specific safety and security concerns, local laws and all sorts of helpful information. You can also call the U.S. consulate or embassy for your layover destination to ask about visa requirements in advance, or visit their Web site. You may find the application online, as well. On rare occasions, certain countries require those of particular nationalities to obtain a transit visa even if they’re not going to leave the airport.

For a quick reference, check our widget (right hand side of the website) for to see if you’d need to apply for a visa.

Do I need a passport to get a visa?

A passport is required to obtain a visa (otherwise, it has no place to go!). A country may require that you have your passport for as many as six months before issuing a visa, and other requirements may also apply. There is a fee for a visa, and you may be required to submit a self-addressed, stamped envelope for its delivery to you. Some countries require applications be hand-delivered to their consulate or embassy.

Do I really need to get a visa for a country that requires one?

Yes. Getting a visa must be planned well in advance for many countries. The punishment can be harsh for those not carrying a visa in some countries where they’re required: You could even be deported and your passport confiscated.

Enjoying your layover can be effortless if planned well in advance. Start the visa process early, and shuck that oyster!

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By Kathryn S. Taylor

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: general, travel, visa

Comments (23)

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  1. Abhigyan says:

    Hi,
    I along with my fiance will be travelling from New Delhi(DEL), India to Denpasar, Bali, with Malindo Airlines via Kuala Lumpur (KUL)with 12.5 hrs and 9.5 hrs return layover. We do not wish to step out of the airport. Do we need to have Malaysian Visa for these durations of layover? Also there was no mention of Transit Visa while I booked my tickets online. Kindly suggest.

    • Amit says:

      Hi Abhigyan,
      I am also travelling from New Delhi to Bali via Singapore and My layover is almost same. I have the same query, was the VISA required? How did you spend your time at airport?Please reply..Thanks

    • Raghu says:

      Hello Abhigyan,

      we are planning a similar trip as yours in next month. we will be travelling from bangalore to Bali, via KUL, with a layover time of 4.5 hrs and 3 hrs to/fro. we have booked our tickets with Malaysian Airlines.
      we are confused about our KUL transit. do we need to get a Malaysia visa even for a short layover? if so, can you please let me know the process ?

  2. Peter Mae Elayda says:

    Good day, I will be going back from LA to Manila via Taipe, Taiwan and will stopover for 10 hours in Taipe airport. Do I need to get a visa to stay overnight but not exiting to immigration and security area?

  3. Vrajesh shah says:

    We are traveling from Oman to USA(Newark) via Paris.We have layover of 14hrs in Paris. Do we get transit visa in paris?? we have Indian passport.

  4. HOWARD SMITH says:

    Besides its rambling, childish writing style – and the fact that you provide a question and answer service that isn’t monitored – this article fails to give an important piece of information: Whether travelers need a visa during their layovers if they don’t intend to go through immigration – i.e. they stay in the airport.

  5. REKHA JAIN says:

    I HAVE A TICKETS FROM MILAN TO STOCKHOLM AND THERE IS A LAY OVER OF 5 HOURS IN ISTAMBUL DO I REQUIRE A VISA FOR ISTAMBUL

  6. yatharth Gupta says:

    Hey,
    I’m travelling to USA n have a layover at Heathrow airport for 17 hrs. So which kind of transit visa will I require. Will that be airline transit visa or visitor transit

    • Sana says:

      Last year my mom traveled to San Francisco from New Delhi via London. She had an 18 hr layover. They stamped her passport with some kind of transit visa valid for 24 hrs. She got to explore the city during that time 🙂

      • Mukesh says:

        Are you sure?? I have a 16hrs layover in London. I won’t be allowed to stay in the Airport overnight. Do I need to get a transit Visa in advance from India only. Please tell me the details if possible about the incident with your mother, what visa was she given, the cost and other details. Please!! I am stuck in a terrible situation. I have booked a Non-refundable flight and now stuck with this visa thing.

  7. Nasir Ahmed says:

    Hi, i am travelling from Edmonon-Alberta, CANADA to Dubai, UAE and i have a layover of 8hrs to/fro at Frankfurt Airport. If i wish to look around the city do i need visa to exit the airport?

  8. Kelcie Tolan says:

    Hello I have layover to and from Vietnam from LAX in Hong Kong. Im an american and was wondering if I will be able to leave the country to visit the city there AND back. The first layover there is overnight from 7pm-5:30pm the next night, and on the way back from Vietnam I have a layover of 11 hours during the day 1:30pm-12am. Tank you for your help!

  9. Himode says:

    Dears
    I am Iraqi holding the green card I wanna to travel from Iraq to USA and my transit will be in may be Paris ,Spain .France ,UK and germany
    Do I have to get a transit visa before I travel

  10. Prathyush says:

    I’m an International Student in US from India. Can anyone help me with the procedure if I wanna go out of the Frankfurt airport to meet a friend during a sufficiently long layover. My flight would be from US to INDIA.
    Thanks in advance.

  11. FLORDELIZA p. BARCELA says:

    Hi. I have myPhilippine passport with me. I am travelling Costa Rica on October 16 to 27. I will have to change 3 planes. My first stop is at Los Angeles (LAX) International airport then lay over there for 5 hours then transfer another Plane to houston texas and lay over Houston for 12hours. Should I need a transit visa for these 2 US airport LAX and Houston airport. Please help me with my concern. I have already my back and forth Plane ticket so with the accommodation there.My travel in relation with my travel Agency business. Thank you

  12. Debbie Kinnear says:

    Our flight leaves from Florence and we have a 21 hrs layover in Dusseldorf Germany. Our destination is Los Angeles. Can we leave the airport between connecting flights and if so, do we need a visa?

    Thanks

    • Karina Savvina says:

      You obviously have a Shengen visa (Italian), seeing as you START from Florence. Therefore you can get out of any European airport

  13. Nicky davies says:

    I’m a British citizen, I have a 8hour layover in HongKong, do I need a visa to leave the airport?

  14. Nurun Naher says:

    Hi, I am a Canadian passport holder. I need to get out from the airport during my layover transit time. 13 hrs is my transit period in Brussels. Do I need to get visa for that time period? If yes, where should I apply for. Can you please send me a website link ? Which I really appreciate it. Please reply me back.
    Thanks.

  15. Keith Walave says:

    Hi, Myself and family are British citizens and we have a 7 hour layover in Tokyo on the way to Sydney. Do we need a visa to go sightseeing around the city?

  16. JENIFFER says:

    HI ME AND MY FRIEND ARE WORKING HERE IN RIYADH. WE ARE BOTH FILIPINO’S by nationality and passport holder. WE ARE PLANNING TO OBTAIN SCHENGEN VISA AND GO ON A TRIP AROUND SCHENGEN TERRITORY. HOWEVER, OUR TICKET BRITISH AIRWAYS AFTER EXITING BERLIN GERMANY IT WILL LAYOVER FOR 16 HOURS IN LONDON HEATTROW BEFORE GOING BACK TO OUR ORIGIN RIYADH. WHAT VISA WE NEED TO OBTAIN SO WE CAN LAYOVER AND TAKE PICTURE OF THE BIG BEN ONLY IN LONDON? BEFORE WE GO BACK TO THE AIRPORT? THANK YOU.

  17. susan amos says:

    Hi my son is travelling from Melbourne to England via Delhi. He has a 15 hour stop over, can he leave the airport and does he need a visa? He has an English passport. Many thanks.

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