The Extra Mile

I need a UK transit visa. Is it ever 'too soon' to apply?

We answer your travel questions

24 November 2019 - 00:00
Interior of departure hall Heathrow airport Terminal 5.
Interior of departure hall Heathrow airport Terminal 5.
Image: 123RF/irstone

Q. I need a Direct Airside Transit Visa as I am flying via London Heathrow to Barcelona, but only for September 2020. All my flights are already booked - can I apply now for so far in advance? - Mike Bryant

A. I have trawled through the visa-application process as outlined on the gov.uk website and can find no mention of any restrictions on starting the process too early.

The website does give a visa-processing time of "six months or less", and says "100% of applications are processed within 60 days". That said, we have heard more than a few tales of woe this year from travellers who started the process too late and were in the end refused permission to travel. Given that applying for this visa is quite a process, it would probably be best to start as soon as possible in the new year.

Remember that the process starts online, but you'll have to make an appointment to supply your "biometric information" (fingerprints and photograph) at a visa-application centre. There are five in SA: in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth. Generally, this entails a few weeks waiting time.

By starting the process in January you will also give yourself a significant buffer in case there are problems with your application.

We can help with your destination dilemmas, visa mysteries and itinerary ideas. E-mail us on travelmag@sundaytimes.co.za