17

I'm going to Tokyo from London as a Norwegian citizen, it's a direct flight from Copenhagen to Tokyo. Do I need to apply for a transit visa to fly over Russia and reach Japan? Can an aeroplane company handle the visa procedure for me or do I have to apply for it myself through the embassy in London?

31

I've never heard of any situation in which you need a visa of any kind to fly over a country. You would only potentially need one if the flight was planning to land in Russia, in which case it would depend on your precise itinerary, citizenship, whether you needed to leave the transit area, etc.

Imagine the confusion if you had to apply for transit visas for every country you overflew - on a long flight there could be dozens. The international community is sensible enough not to demand that.

In theory, if your airline provided the passenger manifest to Russia before the flight, and the Russian authorities saw your name and decided they did not want you flying over their country, then they could refuse permission for the flight to enter their airspace with you on board. In that case the airline would most likely just refuse to let you board at all, so that they could fly over Russia as planned. But this is improbable; and if it did happen, having a visa wouldn't help.

If for some reason, your flight makes an unscheduled landing in Russia due to an emergency or other unexpected event, you'd either be kept on the plane, let off the plane but kept in a closed area like the airport lounge, or issued an emergency visa. You still wouldn't need to have applied for a transit visa in advance.

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    Any source regarding the passenger manifest bit? Is it specific to Russia and a few other countries (US?) or are you saying that airlines everywhere transmit the full passenger manifest to all states a plane will fly over? – Relaxed Jul 8 '15 at 16:33
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    Note that most countries do not even require any advance information regarding the passengers on flights landing in the country and that such a requirement from the US necessitated a specific agreement and a long legal battle to be reconciled with the EU data protection law. I have read about exchanges with Australia and Canada but I seriously doubt EU-based airlines routinely communicate passenger lists to many other countries or whether it would even be legal for them to do so. – Relaxed Jul 8 '15 at 16:48
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    No, I have no source. I said "if your airline provided the passenger manifest". I don't know whether they routinely do so, and it's entirely possible that they don't. That's why I wrote "in theory"; I was trying to stretch as far as possible to find a scenario resembling what the OP has in mind. – Nate Eldredge Jul 8 '15 at 16:54
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    That bit about having to have a transit visa if your layover is, say, in Moscow - is it true? Because I'm pretty sure you can just not stamp out and stay in the transit zone until your next plane departs. Have done so dozens of times in different countries (mainly Europe, though) without having any visas for those countries. – Sergio Tulentsev Jul 8 '15 at 19:59
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    @SergioTulentsev I'm not sure about Russia, but that is true for the U.S. and some other countries. For example, you need a U.S. transit visa if you're flying from Asia to South America with a layover in LA. The reason for this is that many U.S. airports don't have a 'transit area.' International departures and domestic departures are all mixed together in the same concourses, so you must clear immigration before you can enter the departures area. Transiting passengers make up a very small percentage of passengers in the U.S., so it doesn't make any sense to design airports around them here. – reirab Jul 9 '15 at 0:31
9

You do not need a visa for flying over a country. Even better, for connecting flights you can often even land at an airport and change the plane without a visa of the country the airport is in - although this does seem to depend on the airport and the terminals used by the flights in question and it's prudent to verify this with the carrier or the airport in advance on every flight. You obviously will need a visa for leaving the airport.

See Do U.S. citizens need a Russian transit visa?

2

As the other answers make clear, you do not need a visa to over-fly a country. (By the way, you'll almost certainly also pass over Mongolia, China and South Korea.)

In cases where you do need a visa, it is always your responsibility to obtain it. The airline will never do that for you.

0

If you were to land and connect to another flight a few days later you will in general need a visa, but in some cases even that is not necessary. If you land in Moscow, you can stay in the Novotel Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport Hotel without a visa:

The Novotel Sheremetyevo Airport is the only hotel available for transit passengers who do not wish to obtain a Russian visa, although they are accommodated in a separate part of the hotel and kept under constant supervision.

  • I think there are some special cases where you must have a transit visa even if you will not leave the airport transit area. For example, this page says that people traveling onward to Belarus or Kazakhstan always need transit visas. – Nate Eldredge Jul 8 '15 at 22:04
  • Or if they use different airport. There are many airports in Russia (or even in Moscow) thqn just Šeremeťjevo. – Vladimir F Jul 9 '15 at 16:25
  • I've updated the answer in response to you comments! – Count Iblis Jul 9 '15 at 16:33
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Transit visa is not necessary for Russian overflight

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    Sources? Explanations? – CMaster Jul 8 '15 at 8:39
  • A well intended and accurate answer; would you please support it with some substantive info about why you feel this way? – Gayot Fow Jul 8 '15 at 10:28
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1.transit visa is not necessary for russian overflight. 2.you do not need a transit visa unless you land

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