Layover in These Countries? Your Essential Guide to Transit Visa Requirements

Planning an international trip with a layover? Understanding transit visa requirements can be confusing, especially for Indian passport holders. This guide simplifies the process by explaining what a transit visa is and providing a country-by-country breakdown of where Indian citizens typically need one.
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Planning an international trip with a layover? Understanding transit visa requirements can be confusing, especially for Indian passport holders. This guide will explain what a transit visa is and provide a breakdown of countries where Indian citizens typically need one.

What is a Transit Visa?

A transit visa is a temporary visa that allows travellers to pass through a country on their way to a third destination. It is usually required for travellers who have layovers in certain countries and may need to leave the airport or stay for a specified period.

Types of Transit Visas

Contrary to popular belief, the need for a transit visa is not solely tied to leaving the airport premises. Countries typically offer two types of transit visas:

1. Standard Transit Visa

A standard transit visa grants the holder permission to leave the airport premises during their layover. This flexibility is particularly useful for travellers who have extended layovers or want to explore the city they’re transiting through.

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2. Airport Transit Visa

In contrast, an airport transit visa restricts passengers to the designated transit area within the airport. They cannot venture beyond the airport’s international zone, even during extended layovers.

Transit Visa Requirements by Country

Here’s a breakdown of countries where Indian passport holders often require a transit visa:

Australia

Requirement: A Subclass 771 Transit Visa is required unless the traveller is eligible for an exemption. Exemptions include holding a valid visa for New Zealand or transiting under specific conditions, such as not leaving the transit area and having a confirmed onward flight within 8 hours.

Brazil

Requirement: A transit visa is needed if the layover exceeds 24 hours or if the traveller intends to leave the airport’s transit area. The transit visa allows for a short stay during the layover period.

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Canada

Requirement: A transit visa is required unless the traveller qualifies for a visa exemption, such as holding a valid visa for the USA or being eligible under the Transit Without Visa (TWOV) program. The TWOV program allows travellers to transit through Canada without a visa if they meet specific conditions.

China

Requirement: A transit visa is required unless eligible for the 24, 72, or 144-hour visa-free transit policy. This policy allows travellers to stay within designated areas for a short period without a visa, depending on their itinerary and departure from specific Chinese airports.

Egypt

Requirement: For travellers transiting through Cairo International Airport, EgyptAir, the national carrier of Egypt, offers a convenient 96-hour transit visa free of charge. This visa can be obtained upon arrival and allows passengers to leave the airport and explore Egypt’s rich cultural and historical attractions during their layover.

Japan

Requirement: A transit visa is required for most Indian travellers unless holding a valid visa or residence permit for the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or a Schengen country. This allows short stays during the transit period.

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Kenya

Requirement: A transit visa is generally required for layovers longer than 24 hours or if the traveller plans to exit the airport’s transit area during their stay. The visa allows for a temporary stay in Kenya while in transit.

Mexico

Requirement: Effective from October 22, 2023, a visitor visa is mandatory for all international travellers transiting through Mexico’s airports, regardless of layover duration. For Indian travellers, the fee for the Mexico Visitor Visa is USD 51, approximately Rs 4,217.

New Zealand

Requirement: A transit visa is necessary unless the traveller holds a valid visa for Australia, the USA, Canada, or certain other countries that permit visa-free transit. This allows for a short layover period without needing a transit visa.

Qatar

Requirement: A transit visa is required unless the traveller qualifies for a visa on arrival or holds a visa exemption under certain conditions. The visa allows for a short stay in Qatar during the layover.

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Russia

Requirement: Indian passport holders require a transit visa for any layover in Russian airports, regardless of the duration of their stay within the airport. This visa is needed to pass through Russia en route to another destination.

Saudi Arabia

Requirement: A transit visa is required for all transits unless specific exemptions apply, such as travelling with a diplomatic passport or on government business. This visa allows for a temporary stay in Saudi Arabia during the layover period.

Schengen Area

Requirement: An airport transit visa might suffice for France, Germany, Netherlands, and Switzerland if you stay within the airport’s transit area and don’t leave to catch your connecting flight. However, a Schengen Transit Visa is usually required for most Schengen countries. Exceptions may apply for those holding valid visas/residence permits for specific countries (e.g., USA, Canada).

Singapore

Requirement: Indian passport holders need a transit visa unless eligible for the Visa-Free Transit Facility (VFTF), which permits short stays under specific conditions. The VFTF allows travellers to transit through Singapore without a visa for up to 96 hours.

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South Africa

Requirement: Indian travellers need a transit visa unless they meet specific exemptions, such as staying airside for a short layover or having a direct onward ticket. This visa allows for a temporary stay in South Africa during the transit period.

South Korea

Requirement: A transit visa is needed unless the traveller holds a valid visa for the USA, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand, allowing for visa-free transit under specific conditions. This visa allows for a short layover period.

Thailand

Requirement: A transit visa is generally required for layovers longer than 12 hours or if the traveller needs to exit the airport’s transit area. This visa permits a temporary stay in Thailand during the layover.

Turkey

Requirement: Starting April 15, 2024, passengers from specific nationalities transiting Istanbul Airport en route to several South American destinations will require a new electronic airport transit visa (e-HTV). This visa is mandatory even for travellers who do not leave the airport.

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United Arab Emirates

Requirement: A transit visa is necessary for layovers exceeding 24 hours unless the traveller is eligible for a visa on arrival or holding a visa for a GCC country. This visa allows for a short stay in the UAE during the layover.

United Kingdom

Requirement: Indian travellers need a transit visa unless holding a valid visa for Canada, the USA, Australia, or New Zealand, or if meeting specific exemptions such as holding certain travel documents or direct airside transit. This visa permits transit through the UK.

United States

Requirement: A C-1 Transit Visa is mandatory unless the traveller holds a valid visa for entry into the USA or qualifies for specific exemptions such as being part of the Visa Waiver Program. This visa allows for a temporary stay in the USA during the layover.

Planning a Smooth Transit

  • Research visa requirements: Always check the official embassy or consulate website of the transit country well in advance.
  • Apply for visas in advance: Don’t wait until the last minute to apply for a transit visa, especially if it involves mailing in documents.
  • Prepare necessary documents: Ensure you have the required documents, such as a completed application form, passport photos, proof of onward travel, and travel insurance, for your transit visa application.
  • Allow ample layover time: Factor in processing times for potential security checks and immigration procedures at your transit airport.

Conclusion

Understanding transit visa requirements is essential for Indian passport holders to ensure smooth international travel. By following these tips and understanding transit visa requirements, Indian travellers can ensure a smooth and stress-free journey on their next international trip with a layover.

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Remember: This information is for general guidance only. Visa requirements can change, so it’s crucial to double-check the official embassy or consulate website of the country you’re transiting through for the latest updates. They’ll provide details on any exemptions that might apply to your situation and specific visa application procedures.


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Manish Khandelwal
Manish Khandelwal

Manish Khandelwal, a travel-tech enthusiast with over a decade of experience in the travel industry. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Travelobiz.com, he's passionate about writing.

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