Can anyone let me know if they have experience of someone who has applied for a UK Standard Visitor visa and had EVERYTHING in their application except flight bookings? Refused or accepted - anything at all.

My boyfriend has just applied for a UK Standard Visitor visa for a two week period and has proved ties in his country, proof of employment and holiday time, proof of theatre and excursion ticket bookings in the UK, train journey tickets in the UK, proof of address, his bank statements, proof of accommodation, two letters of invitation etc; just not booked flights.

So has anyone applied like this and been accepted or refused or do you know someone who has?

I'm asking to plan for if the application is refused based on flights not being booked.

Addendum: Thank you for the response - the question is does anyone have experience of a visa application being made without any flight information and if the application was refused on basis of lack of flight information or they had everything else and it was accepted. The question is not how do I book a flight without paying for the purpose of application or what do I need to put in the application, apologies if that was unclear.

As I said, the application has already been made and I am asking to make a contingency plan if necessary and considering most realistic outcomes by trying to find out if anyone has had a similar experience.

  • Assuming you don't want to pay for the flights now, could you not just book a fully refundable ticket for him now, then cancel and rebook a non-flexible ticket later?
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 16:22
  • there is a question on that topic: Booking travel tickets for visa without paying?
    – Vince
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 16:37
  • @Gagravarr I would have loved to have done that, however I thought he had everything sorted and I didn't need to think about it. Turns out when I asked "have you got all the flight information?" the response of "yes" meant "I know when the flights are" and not that he had provided any kind of proof of even knowing about them because he thought he wasn't to book flights until he had the visa. Rookie mistake, I know. Which is why I'm starting my back-up plan research now!
    – user8385
    Commented Sep 12, 2013 at 22:55
  • @ankur_banerjee - the question has not been answered and is not a duplicate - you have scan-read it - it is NOTHING to do with booking flights without paying for them.
    – user8385
    Commented Sep 13, 2013 at 8:09
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    The thing is you're asking for a specific visa to a specific country with specific missing piece in application. How many people do you think it happened to? most likely very few, especially as the first point of visa is to travel to the targetted country. When trying to figure a backup plan, just figure what is the worst that can happen (probably rejection) and what you can do about it : will you have time to reapply? how long will it take you to gather the documents once again? ... What you can simply try is to send the flight itinerary in a separate mail with apologies, maybe that will do.
    – Vince
    Commented Sep 13, 2013 at 8:39

1 Answer 1


So has anyone applied like this and been accepted or refused or do you know someone who has?

Your question refers to the UK, so let's hit that one first...

UK Domain

I have personal experience with... It's hard to estimate, but say 250+ UK visa applications as a benchmark, ranging from transit, visitor, HSMP, WP, WHM, PBS, and spousal. ...plus some of the interesting corner cases like Artist (discontinued) and BUNAC (sort of discontinued)...

There has never been a refusal based upon the absence of flight bookings. Moreover, I don't know of any practitioner who has represented a refusal based upon the absence of flight bookings.

Flight bookings stopped being required under the first John Major government about 23 years ago. The Foreign Office ran an advisory on their site until the reorganisation in 2010, and now the advisory is on the UKVI site.

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Schengen Domain

Schengen is a bit different, there is an overriding set of rules called the "Visa Code" which has this to say about flight bookings...

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...and here opinion divides as to whether or not "any other appropriate document indicating the envisaged travel plans" other forms of evidence are permissible. This depends upon the status of the applicant. Applicants who have reached 'bona fide' status based upon their performance history will have no problems. However, I represented a Schengen application for a first time applicant and simply included an Excel spreadsheet showing what the plans were. I have not seen a validated Schengen refusal based upon the absence of flight tickets.

USA Domain

The U. S. guidance is pretty clear and generally says something along the lines of...

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...they want to see an itinerary and says nothing about bookings.

This covers 95%+ of the questions we get here on Travel.SE; if your application is for a country not covered here, you will have to identify it explicitly. Based upon what you wrote, you are experiencing "post-submission anxiety". This generally occurs after a person has submitted their application and then begins to surf the net. They read some horror stories and flip out. They then start posting panic enquiries on various forums. Lots of times their postings are not lucid or complete, and they get crap advice as a result. The internet is a very poor remedy for 'post-submission anxiety'.

Addendum: I know there are lots of tales out there where people claim to have been refused because of flight bookings, but when you read the actual refusal notice, their problems were much more fundamental.

The Arrival and Landing Stage

The policies listed above all have to do with the application stage, i.e., the point at which a visa application is submitted and decided upon. When things progress to the arrival and landing stage (i.e., the point at which you actually arrive in the destination country), you will absolutely need to have on hand confirmed, bought and paid-for tickets to your onward destination.

There is a good likelihood you will be asked to show them to the officer who lands you and there's no scope under any of those regimes for not having paid-for and definitive onward travel arrangements.

The need for onward travel arrangements at the arrival and landing stage is across-the-board. It means whether you need a visa or not, if you don't have tickets for leaving the country you will be in trouble.

Depending upon your personal impact and articulation skills, open-ended tickets might work, or they might not. Those details are within the IO's discretionary range. Otherwise, the need is for concrete, paid-for tickets (along with the credit card details used to pay for the tickets so they can cross-check it if they want, and yes, they have the credit card details in their database).

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    And copying and adding an older answer by Gayot Fow: "Is it a good idea to buy return flight?" "No, not at the application stage. If you try showing them tickets at the application stage, it's tantamount to admitting that you didn't read the guidance (a bad thing)." I hope that helps in strengthening this answer.
    – sks
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 18:45
  • 1
    It would be very unfair to require visa applicants to book flights, because non-refundable flight tickets would be wasted money if the application is refused, and refundable flight tickets are usually a lot more expensive than non-refundable.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 22:46
  • Could you also add a section about bringing flight tickets for the landing interview? Just to close things up.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 13:46
  • @JonathanReez can you try it now?
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 14:01

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