August 29, 2012

Clarification on UK transit visas for South Africans

In an effort to clarify the confusion surrounding the issue of transit visas for South African passport holders when transiting the UK, the UK Border Agency has issued a document to confirm exactly when you need a transit visa.

The document states that South African passport holders in transit through the UK en-route to the USA, Canada, New Zealand or Australia may travel under the ‘Transit Without a Visa’ (TWOV) concession, provided that:
- A flight to the USA, Canada, New Zealand or Australia is confirmed.
- The flight departs within 24 hours of the passenger entering the UK.
-  The traveller is in possession of the correct documentation for their next destination. 

Passengers may connect to a flight either at the airport where they landed or at another airport, provided that the flight leaves within 24 hours of entry to the UK.

Passengers transiting to any of the Schengen countries and who hold a category C Schengen visa must still obtain a UK visa.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: This information is subject to change at any time. Be sure to check visa requirements with your travel agent and the relevant Embassies before planning your travels.
More information on UK visas for South Africans can be found at
Email or call 0861 837 221.


Hi Jenna
Can you maybe clarify the following for me.
I am travelling to Germany via London from SA. During this part of the journey I will transit landside in the UK. On my way back I'll stop for a week in London for business. I do have a five year business visa. My question is... Do I also need a transit visa for the UK (for the landsite transit) or will my business visa exempt me from obtaining a transit visa?

Hi Jacques,

Visa details are subject to change at any given time by the applicable country but what we can clarify for you is that for travel within Europe you will need a transit visa via London. However, this may depend on your type of business visa. We would recommend that you contact a specialist UK visas company in South Africa (such as - there are contact details for them there) and the UK Border Agency for the latest information regarding transit visas. Hope this helps!


I have a secured a flight to the USA in June connecting from SAA to United in the UK. The SAA flight lands terminal 1 an United leaves Terminal 2 and the time between flights in 1.5hours. Do I need a transit visa if I have a valid visa for the USA albeit that I change terminals in London Heathrow

Hi Nandu, we would suggest that you check this with the travel agency you booked your ticket with. There are many instances where you would need a transit visa, and as you are switching terminals you might well need one, however we cannot say for sure as it depends on the ticket that has been issued.
Regarding the connecting time, that is a very tight connection time between flights, especially when you have to change terminals. The terminals in the UK are very far apart and you have a long walk from 1 to 2. However, Heathrow’s terminal 2 only reopens 2 June 2014. So it all depends when you are flying and who you booked the ticket with?
Our best advice would be to double check with your travel consultant.
Thanks and happy travels!

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