I hold a Ghanaian passport and possess a valid Canadian visa. My travel plans involve a round trip with British Airways from Ghana to Canada, with layovers of 8 hours each at Heathrow Airport in London, both on the outbound and return journeys.

Given that my intention is solely to transit through Heathrow Airport without exiting the airport premises, I am seeking clarification on whether I require a transit visa or any other form of visa for this travel arrangement.

  • Note that "I won't leave the airport" is not really something that counts for visa requirements. What you say you will do doesn't really moves the needle either way...
    – dda
    Feb 17 at 3:05
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    @dda that's not correct. You can stay "airside" (i.e. avoid passing through passport control) for connections between two international flights at London Heathrow. There are scenarios where an airside transit without visa is permitted but a landside transit wouldn't be. Indeed in situations where a passenger can't get a landside TWOV they may be forced to stay airside.
    – RailPerson
    Feb 17 at 8:15
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    @RailPerson ‘Won’t leave the airport’ isn’t synonymous with ‘won’t pass through passport control’
    – Traveller
    Feb 17 at 8:49
  • @Traveller I'm unsure what point you're trying to make here? As far as the UK authorities are concerned, passing through passport control is equivalent to leaving the airport. They cannot prevent you from leaving the airport once they let you through. Therefore, an airside transit is subject to different rules than a transit requiring you to go landside.
    – RailPerson
    Feb 28 at 14:35
  • @RailPerson I’m saying that if you’re asking about airside transit you should state that. Saying you don’t intend to exit the premises isn’t the same.
    – Traveller
    Feb 28 at 15:45

1 Answer 1


You will be able to stay "airside" (i.e. avoid going through passport control) when you change flights at Heathrow. Therefore it's a question of whether you are permitted to make an airside transit without visa (TWOV).

The UK Government website has a helpful overview of transit visa options (including TWOV). They have a tool you can use to check whether you need a visa for your specific situation. Depending on how you are planning to enter the US, it's possible that you do not need a transit visa.

However, it's worth noting that the above only tells you (on an informal, non-binding basis) whether the UK Government considers you eligible for an airside TWOV. You also need to check whether your airline agrees with this view - if they don't agree, they will deny you boarding on your first flight and your reservation will likely be cancelled.

The easiest way you can check the airline's view is to use the same system that their staff will use to check your TWOV eligibility: this is called Timatic (it's an industry-standard system developed by IATA). You can access this on several airlines' websites, e.g. Vistara here.

Even if Timatic is wrong, ultimately this is what the airline staff will go by - so you can only conduct a TWOV if both the UK Government and Timatic agree you're eligible for TWOV.

Based on the information I can see, you will be eligible for a TWOV through Heathrow if you have a visa for the Canada, New Zealand, Australia or the USA. But I am not an immigration advisor, so you may wish to speak to your nearest British Consulate to confirm this.

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