Apart from the passport, visa application form and photographs, submitting proof of onward travel for a visa application is one of the crucial requirements. Proof of onward travel (also called as confirmed airline ticket or flight reservation) is a verifiable evidence, which shows that you will be leaving the destination country, thereby respecting the rules of the visa. Whether you return back to your home country or travel to another destination doesn’t matter, as long as you are exiting the visiting country. Some Embassies may ask you for flight reservations, while some others may ask the applicant to submit the actual flight tickets for verification purposes and to check authenticity of their travel plans. No matter where you travel, whether you obtain a visa in advance or on arrival, or stay visa-free in a country, you’ll be limited in the amount of time you can spend in that country. The visa validity can be 15 days, 30 days, 90 days, or anywhere in between, more, or less.

The proof of onward travel document is usually in the form of a round trip flight ticket, a pre-purchased train or bus ticket to another country or document verifying passage by sea. For example, if you are applying for a two (2) weeks Schengen visa at the Embassy of France in India, your arrival and departure dates on the flight ticket need to show proof of onward travel. That is, you will leave the Schengen territory at the end of the two (2) weeks, either to head back home to India or, to another onward destination that you have legal authority to visit.

Our travelers consistently ask us, if they really need to submit flight tickets for applying a visa. We can understand their concern. Who would like to lose money if the visa application is rejected? The Embassy too by no means wants you to lose your money, since submitting proof of onward travel does not guarantee you with the issuance of a visa and, so in order to be more considerate towards applicants, they at times accept a flight reservation instead of a confirmed air ticket. Many, in particular first-time applicants fail to understand the difference between a flight reservation and confirmed air ticket. A flight reservation is a temporary arrangement to save a seat in the airplane for traveling to your destination, typically for a week. The travel agent or airline can block a seat in the preferred flight under your name for a limited period. In case you do not confirm and purchase the blocked ticket within the time-frame, your reserved seat will be cancelled. On the other hand, a confirmed flight ticket is a document, which confirms you have a saved seat in an airplane for which you have paid a full price.

Proof of onward travel is required by most countries for all types of visa applications, but in general, it’s:

To decide the length of your visa

Proof of return tickets help the Visa Officers decide on the length of your visa validity. When they have your flight itinerary, they get a clear picture as to how many days you want to spend in their country, thereby, they avoid limiting you to stay for less than you need or giving you a visa that exceeds your needs.

To prove that you don’t intend to overstay in the country (illegally)

A confirmed return ticket is a document that ‘proves’ that you are not planning to overstay your visa. It is required to ensure that you will be going back to your home country upon the end of your visa validity. It shows the dates of your arrival and departure, which assures the Embassy that you have no intention to remain in their country after the expiration of your visa.

You have enough money to leave the country

The Visa Officers want to see that you have sufficient money to fund your trip, which includes, being able to afford a return ticket to your home country or next destination.

Countries requiring proof of onward travel:

Most visited popular countries such as Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Schengen, China, Turkey, South Africa require confirmed return flight tickets to process visas, whereas major countries like US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Dubai (UAE) and Sri Lanka do not have any such special requirements. Providing tentative travel dates or a flight itinerary (optional) is suffice.

Can I submit a Dummy Ticket for the Visa Application?

A dummy ticket is a fake ticket. It is a replica of the actual issued flight ticket, outlining the traveler’s personal information along with airline booking reference (PNR), flight numbers, flight codes, departure and arrival airports, routes (including stopovers if any), departure and arrival dates and time. The difference between an actual flight ticket and dummy ticket is that the traveler does not need to pay the actual ticket cost, except for a nominal fee as charged by the travel agent, for arranging a dummy ticket. This method may be one of the cheapest ‘save your buck’ options, but WE DO NOT RECOMMEND IT.

Forging or submitting a fake airline ticket is illegal and you are technically lying and breaking the law, the consequences of which can be very severe. A genuine ticket has a unique reservation number (PNR), which, together with your surname, the Embassy or anyone, can use to verify the information on the respective airline’s website. If caught, you may be fined, prosecuted, jailed or even worse, blacklisted and banned from entering their country forever. Why risk? Instead, why not book refundable flight tickets that can be cancelled and refunded in case of a visa rejection.

Information you provide for a visa application must always be truthful, genuine and accurate.

Final Thoughts:

Dealing with visas can cause a lot of headaches for a first-time flyer or even a seasoned traveler. Visa requirements are particularly difficult and stringent. What documents you’ll be required to submit varies from country to country and Embassy to Embassy.  The confirmed ticket requirement may not apply to all country visa processes and can be tricky when on a round the world trip, as often times travelers don’t have their next flight booked. Even if the requirements state that you’re supposed to submit proof of onward travel, you may not be asked if not submitted, but it’s important to take care of the tiny details and be prepared regardless. The best way to ensure that you’ll get your visa is to abide by their rules and regulations. If you know you need proof of onward travel, then maybe you should book your flights for peace of mind.

Remember, when it comes to visa applications; every detail counts!

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