Check If You Need A Visa For Transiting or Entering A Country

How To Check If You Need A Visa For Transiting or Entering A Country

By DAN FORTEZA

Someone once told me that ‘traveling the world is a rite of passage every human being should take’. While I firmly agree with his statement, unfortunately, the access to this privilege is predetermined by which country we are born in and the passport we were given.

I was born in the Philippines, a third world country. With the power that my weak passport holds, I accepted the fact that I can’t just easily enter and hop-in country to country.

My Philippine passport is ranked 68th on the Passport Index with 36 countries visa-free, 39 visa-on-arrival and 123 countries visa required. In comparison to European passports which ranked 2-10 on the Passport Index. You can obviously see the difference.

For us Filipinos, one of the most important deciding factors when it comes to choosing an international travel destination is visa requirements. I’m sure you agree.

Ruins in Machu Picchu Peru
One of the visa-free countries for Filipinos is Peru | Dantravels.org

HOW AIRLINES CHECK VISA REQUIREMENTS

Have you ever wondered how the airline crews determine what documentation you need upon checking in for your international flight?

The moment you give them your passport and tell them your destination, a slew of questions are directed at you. They usually raised questions like:

1 – Do you have a visa copy, sir?
2 – Do you have an onward ticket, sir?
3 – Do you have a return ticket, sir?

Did you know that you may be refused upon entry if you don’t have an onward or return ticket? It’s true and that’s why they asked. You’ll understand why in the additional information below.

But how do they know what to ask? With this question in mind, I did some research.

And it turns out, they have a software called TIMATIC. This tells them in detail the passport and visa requirements for different nationalities for entering a foreign country.

Why do they have this? Well, because if you are deported from a foreign country due to documentation issues, the airline that got you there will have to pay hefty penalties. So airlines are extra cautious about ensuring that you have everything you need to enter the country you are flying to.

Unfortunately for us, travelers, TIMATIC is not available in the public domain.  TIMATIC is proprietary software of the International Air Travel Association (IATA) and is a paid subscription service used by Airlines and Travel Agents.

But no worries. I have two of the best tools out there.

WEBSITES TO CHECK IF YOU NEED A VISA

I have started my first foreign trip in 2015 in Southeast Asia. Fast forward to 2019, I was fortunate enough to visit 30 countries (and counting) including Australia, Russia, and as far as Peru in South America.

Read also my 14-day budget travel in South America.

A lot of people are asking ‘Daniel, how do you check if you need a visa to enter this specific country?‘ ‘Do you need a transit visa during your layover or connecting flight?

True enough–if you add stuff like layovers and transit visas to the equation, your mind will probably start exploding.

That’s why IATA Travel Center and Emirate’s Before You Fly are there as my reliable website source. The sites tell me in detail what are the visa regulations applicable to Filipinos and for any other citizens in the world, actually.

1. AITA TRAVEL CENTER

The IATA travel center is a tool by IATA (the same guys who own TIMATIC) that will tell you everything you need to know about your passport and visa requirements for your international trip.

To my knowledge, this is the most accurate public database there is with respect to Visa Regulations. Many Travel Agents too use this to help their clients.

The only thing I don’t like about this tool is that it asks too much information–from the exact arrival date to the name of your airline carrier. Thus, it takes a lot of time even in filling up information.

And that’s where the second tool came in to play.

2. BEFORE YOU FLY (BY EMIRATES)

Before You Fly by Emirates is my favorite tool in checking my visa requirements. Emirates is one of the world-renowned airline carriers, so you can count on Emirate’s Before You Fly as your trusted, centralized source for the latest international travel requirements.

Not only that it is simple and easy to use, but the result information it provides is also as detailed as that of IATA Travel Center.

LET'S GET THEM BOTH TO WORK!

Let’s say I am a Philippine passport holder traveling to New Zealand (in Auckland) with a connecting flight in Australia (in Sydney.)

Refer to the ticket itinerary details below taken from Kayak.

Qantas manila to auckland flight
Ticket itinerary sample MNL - SYD - AKL | Dantravels.org
  • AITA Travel Center

1 – Go to their website and fill out your travel information accordingly.

2 – Once done, tick the ‘I agree’ box and click the next page.

3 – Add your personal information this time.

4 – Type in the Captcha code and click the next page.

5 – Then voila! You now have the result.

RESULTS:
1 – A visa is required in New Zealand
2 – A visa (transit) is also required even just connecting to Sydney, Australia

  • Before You Fly (Emirates)

1 – Go to their website and and fill out your travel information accordingly. Then click ‘Find requirements’.

This is super easy to fill out because you only need 3 information–Your country, New Zealand, and Australia (as transit.)

2 – Then there you have it. You now have the results which is the same results you had from AITA Travel Center.

RESULTS:
1 – A visa is required in New Zealand
2 – A visa (transit) is also required even just connecting to Sydney, Australia

Here is the full result.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Please make sure to NOT ignore additional notes on the results especially the “Warning” and “Visa Exemptions”.

When I was planning my trip to Georgia, I found out from Before You Fly site that having a valid US Visa exempts me from getting a Georgian eVisa.

Read also my travel itinerary in Tbilisi, Georgia.

In addition, I have also learned that I could be denied upon entry if I don’t have an onward ticket prior to checking-in to my flight to Georgia.

Here are the exact words from the Georgian visa results page:

Visa Exemptions:
Passengers with a visa issued by an EEA Member State , Bahrain, Bermuda, Canada, Cayman Isl., Falkland Isl. (Malvinas), Gibraltar, Israel, Japan, Korea (Rep.), Kuwait, New Zealand, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Turks and Caicos Isl., USA, United Arab Emirates or Virgin Isl. (British) for a maximum stay of 90 days.

Warning:
Visitors not holding return/onward tickets could be refused entry.

To me, this information is a total relief!

MY FINAL SAY

If it is your dream to travel the world but has a third world passport, don’t fret. I’m sure there are other visa-free countries out there that you haven’t visited yet. You should first prioritize them. It is also your chance to build up your travel history. This is what I did to get my US tourist visa which is known as a difficult one to get.

Read also how I survived my US visa interview questions.

And at the end of the day, we still should be grateful for what we have. Right?

I hope that I have made your travels easier by using these tips and tools on how to check if you need a visa, may they be transit or entry visa concerns. So next time you want to know visa requirements for your next trip, you can get it right from the horse’s mouth.

These tools should give you the comfort and confidence that you have taken care of all your documentation before you board the flight.

So quench your travel thirst and don’t forget to get that CHEAP plane tickets only at Kayak (see its widget below)!

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Jess

Very helpful blog article!

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