Traveling without an onward ticket may be challenging for some destinations like the Philippines, the USA or even the United Kingdom. Today, more and more countries ask for a proof of onward travel to make sure you won’t stay longer than you’re allowed to.
But what does “onward travel” exactly means ? What document do you have to show to the authorities when you’re being asked for an onward ticket ?
What is an onward ticket used for ?
An onward ticket can be several different things :
- A return flight ticket ;
- An airline itinerary ;
- A flight reservation towards any other destination.
This document is asked by the authorities or the airline companies to prove that you won’t settle in the country and that you’ll eventually leave to continue your trip or go back home.
An onward ticket always comes with a valid PNR number under your name that can be checked by the immigration control agents at the airport or on the airline’s website.
The main use of this document is to prove you’ll leave the country after a few days / weeks / months. It shows the authorities that you have travel plans and that you don’t plan on finding a job or settling in the country. Where you go afterwards is out of their concern as long as you don’t stay there. That’s why an onward ticket doesn’t necessarily have to be a return flight ticket. For many destinations like New Zealand or Indonesia, you won’t be allowed to board the plane without an onward ticket.
Difference between onward ticket and return flight ticket
What is the difference between an onward ticket and a return flight ticket ?
- A return ticket is a flight ticket that goes from your original destination to your departure country. It’s generally booked in a round trip package and would present an itinerary like London – Bangkok – London.
- An onward ticket is a flight ticket that goes from your original destination to any other country. It’s generally used for long-term travelers and would present an itinerary like London – Bangkok – Singapore. In this itinerary, the Bangkok – Singapore ticket would be the onward ticket.
Even if there are differences between an onward ticket and a return flight ticket, it doesn’t matter whether you chose one or the other to prove your onward journey. Having a round trip ticket or an onward ticket is crucial upon entering a country.
Which countries require a proof of onward travel?
Many countries require proof of onward travel to make sure every tourist entering their territory will eventually leave.
Amongst the countries that demand an onward ticket, you can find :
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
Of course this depends on your passport country. That’s you can either do some research on your destination’s embassy website or have a look on Visalist. You should quickly find whether you’ll need an onward ticket or not.
In general, we recommend to always travel with a proof of onward travel as most destinations in the world will ask you a document proving you plan on leaving the country.
How to get one ?
If you already have a one-way ticket and don’t want to have a fixed itinerary, then you need an onward ticket to prove the immigration you’ll eventually leave. This onward ticket doesn’t have to be a return ticket as long as it shows you leave the country on time.
But do you really have to buy a random plane ticket that you know you won’t use ? No ! On OnwardTicket.com, you can get such a ticket for only $12. You simply have to enter your departing airport and your arrival airport, to select a date before the expiration date of your visa and to pay. You will then directly receive an email with a PDF file of your onward ticket. This ticket is perfectly legit and can be checked by the immigration control agent thanks to the valid PNR code that comes with it.
Is it worth it to take the risk of traveling without an onward ticket ?
We’ve heard many stories about travelers being blocked at the airport for not showing an onward ticket, like this one from Never Ending Footsteps where Lauren had to pay for a real flight ticket only a few minutes before departure. To prevent this stress and avoid being blocked at the airport, we recommend every traveler traveling on a one-way ticket to rent a ticket confirmation before they go.
The chances you’ll need to show this ticket are pretty random. Some people need it all the time, others never. It all depends on your destination, on the way you dress and on the immigration control agents you meet.
Amongst the countries that ask for proof of onward travel almost systematically, we find the USA, Brazil, Philippines, Indonesia, Peru and the United Kingdom. For the others, it’s pretty random.
What does happen if you can’t provide an onward ticket ?
The worst thing that can happen if you don’t travel with an onward ticket is you being banned from the country and blocked at the airport, waiting for a flight home. This kind of situation rarely happens but remains a possibility. Some airline companies won’t even accept you onboard if you don’t provide an onward ticket because they would have to pay your trip back home and huge fines if you were caught at arrival.
So, is it worth it to take the risk of traveling without a proof of onward travel ? The answer is clearly no, all the more when you can rent a ticket confirmation for only $12.