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I am going to travel from Amsterdam to Peru and have two layovers in London. The first one when flying to Peru, I have five hours to go from Heathrow to Gatwick. The second layover is when I fly back from Peru to Amsterdam It is an airside transfer in the same airport (Heathrow) but I am thinking about booking an alternative flight from Gatwick a few hours later (or maybe one day later) such that I can have enough time to leave the airport and see London.

When I checked on this website I was surprised that Tunisia was not listed under the countries that need a transit visa, neither under the countries that need a non-direct transit visa.

However, on the government website it says that I would need a visa to pass through the UK in transit. But it also adds that if:

  • I arrive and depart by air

  • have a confirmed onward flight that leaves on the day I arrive or before midnight on the day after I arrive

  • have the correct documents for my destination (eg a visa for that country)

and

  • you have a common format residence permit issued by an European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland

I might be eligible for ‘transit without visa’. I am studying in Germany so I guess I have the residence permit they talk about.

Do I (Tunisian citizen living in Germany) need a visa in the case of the first layover and is having an alternative flight as described for the second layover sufficient to be able to enter the UK again for a few hours?

I am asking this because of the high costs of UK visas (25% of the total flight price, just for a transfer).

  • do you have such thing in your passport? (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_residence_permit) – Him Jan 5 '16 at 1:16
  • @Him they haven't been putting them into passports for the last five years. It'sa wallet-sized card nowadays. – phoog Jan 5 '16 at 5:29
  • @phoog actually I have the sticker (you can choose to have it if you don't want to pay the 90 Euros and pay 30 instead for a sticker). – Mehdi Jan 5 '16 at 9:44
  • @Mehdi doors the sticker count as a common format permit? It is not the same format, at least. – phoog Jan 5 '16 at 12:33
  • Well it is pink, it has a bull and three and two stars as Michael Hempton mentioned. – Mehdi Jan 5 '16 at 12:50
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You can make this connection, but I would recommend that you leave extra time to check-in with the airline when departing Peru.

You've linked to the official UK government web site, which explains that you don't need a visa to transit landside if: "you have a common format residence permit issued by an European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland".

The common format residence permit is easy to recognize: It looks like the following sample, regardless of country or language. Note the color scheme and the bull and groups of three and two stars in the upper left corner. If your card (or the sticker in your passport, for older permits) looks like this, then you are OK.

enter image description here

I suggest that you leave some extra check-in time when departing Peru, because the rules for transiting the UK are complex, and it may take some time for the airline agent to verify that you do indeed qualify for this exemption.

In particular, they will check Timatic, which explains the landside exemption, but this itinerary gives a much longer result than most, and it will take some time to parse it. You may wish to bring a copy with you. The relevant bits for you are:

Visa required, except for Passengers holding confirmed onward tickets passing through United Kingdom immigration to make a landside transit to a third country on a flight that departs before 23:59 the next day. The following conditions must be complied with:

  • passenger must arrive and depart by air; and
  • passenger must have no purpose in entering the United Kingdom other than to pass through in transit; and
  • passenger must hold all documents required for the next destination; and
  • passenger must pass through United Kingdom Immigration; and
  • passenger travels with a document listed in the following warning(s):
    • Warning Passengers may make a landside transit if holding a valid, common format residence permit issued by an EEA Member State or Switzerland. (SEE NOTE 57399)

Going outbound, airline agents in Amsterdam ought to be very familiar with this exception, so it should cause you no issues or delays checking in.

  • If I book an alternative flight one day later from London back to Germany (instead of the original booked flight from Heathrow to Amsterdam), would the " passenger only intends to transit through the United Kingdom" still apply? I could say I don't want to go back to Amsterdam but fly directly to Munich for example (which is also true in my case). That is, few more hours would give me a chance to see London. – Mehdi Jan 5 '16 at 9:42
  • And for the Peru case, I think showing them the UK Stamp on my passport that I got for the first landside transit would make things easier. – Mehdi Jan 5 '16 at 13:01
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    @Mehdi If you were to get a separate ticket for LGW-MUC on EasyJet or something then you would need to also buy this in advance, so that you could show it to the airline in Peru to prove you are transiting, rather than entering the UK. It might also look a bit funny to UK border officials, who will suspect you are trying to do something other than to transit. I would not advise doing this. – Michael Hampton Jan 5 '16 at 15:45

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