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Is there a website or some other way to find out if I need a transit visa for a short stop in the UK on my way somewhere else? Ideally this should give me the answer for all nationalities, and take into account any other visas I may have.

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All the answers are so confusing that you do not know. If UK makes such laws which is not known to any one. Then BA will loose heavily on transit passengers. –  Opvarma Jan 22 at 17:41

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up vote 21 down vote accepted

Why yes there is.

This UK government site will tell you if you need a visa to transit through the UK. You enter your nationality, desination, and any visas you already hold, and it will tell you if you need a transit visa or not. It also includes instructions for applying for one.

HOWEVER: There have been changes taking effect Dec 1 2014 to which countries' nationals require transit visas. Regardless of the link above, check this page for a revised list of which nationals need transit visas if they are passing through immigration (VIT - section 2) and which require visas if they pass through immigration or remain airside (DATV - section 1). Procedures remain the same.

Beware that the exemption conditions for visa-less landside transit are slightly different from the exceptions for Direct Airside Transit. As of this writing, the page linked above erroneously refers to a document describing the landside exemptions even from its section about DATV; refer to the The Immigration (Passenger Transit Visa) Order 2014 for the actual DATV exemptions.

As a summary (but check for exceptions):

  • You must arrive and depart by air, and your outbound flight must be booked and confirmed.
  • You don't need a transit visa if you would not need a visa for a tourist visit to the UK.
  • A transit visa comes in two forms: Direct Airside Transit Visa (DATV) which is limited to 24 hours and you must remain 'airside' (i.e. cannot pass through immigration) and a Visitor in Transit Visa, which is valid for 48 hours and allows you to change terminals or airports.
  • You must have all the necessary documentation for your final destination, including any visas.
  • You are exempt from needing a transit visa if you are travelling to the US, Canada, Australia or New Zealand and have a valid visa for this country, or are travelling from one of those countries and entered it less than six months ago with a valid visa.
  • Holders of (most) residence permits from those countries or from an EU or EEA country can also transit without visa, even if they are travelling elsewhere.

If you need more information than is provided by this website you will need to check with your airline or contact the UKVI. The Home Office's Charging Procedures - A Guide for Carriers also provides some guidance on the subtler points of the rules (it's intended for professionals, not passengers, but does explain in great details when a visa is or is not required).

Changes to the rules activating on 1 December 2014

A Statutory Instrument entitled "The Immigration (Passenger Transit Visa) Order 2014" will make large portions of the above text obsolete. Please refer to the instrument itself at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2014/2702/made until further guidance becomes available. The government's interactive page, which leads the user through a series of questions will take some time to sync up with the legislation (if ever) and should NOT be relied upon after the 2014 order takes effect.

Note on UK Border Control

In London Heathrow, if you fly from outside the UK or Ireland and leave to another country (neither UK nor Ireland), it is possible to transit without entering the UK and going through UK Border Control, you can stay airside. There is no hotel airside, so if you want to stay in a hotel for an overnight stopover, you have to go through UK Border Control. There is a detailed guide available on Heathrow airport website.

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I removed the reference to British embassies or consulates, I don't think they offer advice or respond to visa inquiry at all. You're supposed to determine yourself if you need a visa and lodge an official application. See e.g. gov.uk/government/world/organisations/… “Staff at our High Commission, Consulates and visa application centres cannot help with any visa enquiries.” –  Relaxed Jul 23 '14 at 8:39
It's done, sorry. –  Relaxed Jul 23 '14 at 13:52
It's fine. I appreciate the contributions. –  DJClayworth Jul 23 '14 at 16:02
@GayotFow I don't think they would. There was some meta discussion about answers like this, and the fact that it's community wiki would mitigate any objections. And as the original author I certainly wouldn't object. It was always intended that an answer like this would be updated where necessary. However what I would recommend for now is adding a section "New legislation to come into effect December 1st" and list what the new rules state. Then in a few months we can edit again to refer only to the new rules. –  DJClayworth Nov 21 '14 at 15:45
@GayotFow Sorry, I got taken away by something urgent. I have no ownership here. Feel free to add information. –  DJClayworth Dec 3 '14 at 4:13

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