The Problem: Providing Proof of Onward Travel
If you’re a frequent traveler, then at some point you’re likely to visit a country with a visa requiring you to have an onward flight to validate your entry. Proof of onward travel can be a real pain if you’re not sure when or where you’re planning to go, because well, you don’t have onward travel plans! The immigration officers, unfortunately, won’t share your enthusiasm for carefree world travel. Some countries can be very strict with providing proof of an onward flight and it’s not uncommon to be asked to produce it.
You might be thinking ‘do I need onward travel plans?’… I get it. Flights are expensive. Sometimes you might get lucky and get through without being asked to produce an onward flight. But, trust me, you don’t want to get asked for onward travel plans you don’t have at the check-in desk. What ensues is a flurry of panic, scrambling around trying to Google the cheap flights or how to get out of the mess. It’s not great, and the risk of being denied boarding is simply not worth it.
What Counts as Proof of Onward Travel Plans? Do I have to buy a Return Flight Home?
Proof of onward travel is a problem if you don’t have a set itinerary and concrete onward plans, but it doesn’t mean you have to buy a return flight back to your home country. An onward ticket simply means you have to have proof that you are leaving the country within the time that your visa is valid for.
This can be especially annoying because some countries who are strict about requiring proof will – for some reason – allow you to extend your visa after you have entered the country, whilst making it really difficult to obtain a long stay visa beforehand… Why? I don’t know.
Previously, the only way around this was to either buy the cheapest possible outbound flight (i.e. go to Skyscanner and click fly everywhere > sort my cheapest). But, this isn’t really a workaround, because if you end up staying and extending your visa, you miss your onward flight, or have to pay to change it. Both options are pretty annoying and expensive.
Thankfully, there is a third (and much cheaper) workaround for booking an onward flight… Onto the onward travel hack!
How Do I Provide Proof of Onward Travel Without Booking a Flight?
Flyonward is a company offering a ‘rent a ticket’ service as [I guess a kind of fake] proof of onward travel. Enter your details on their site and they’ll book you a flight to a random onward destination. After reading some reviews that said that it worked, although I was skeptical, I figured $10 was the cheapest proof I was going to find to get out of having to book an onward flight. It was work a punt.
So I booked, and the process wassurprisinglyy smooth. I got sent an email with flight ticket as proof of onward travel. It looks like I’m virtually off to Tokyo 😉
One thing I also liked was how my onward flight plan showed up in Gmail. Some officers are really only going to have a quick glance at the email and let you through. It looked legit!
I had to show my onward ticket two times. I got straight through without any trouble when I was departing Sydney and when I was arriving in Manila, Philippines.
Tickets used for proof as onward travel through this service, (or a few other services like it) must be used within 48 hours. Their website states that they can offer quotes for tickets that need to be valid for longer than 48 hours…
Pre-planners and control freaks: don’t book too soon or you’ll waste your money and your onward flight won’t work!
The service (apparently) works by booking you a real flight. Later on, the flight is canceled and refunded. Because of this, at the time of entry, you have legitimate onward travel plans!
It worked like a charm!
This worked great for me in the Philippines, and I’ve heard good things from others using these tickets as proof of onward travel. How did it work for you? Let us know in the comments.
What Countries Require Proof of Onward Travel Plans?
You should always check whether you need onward travel plans. These are some of the top countries which enforce the requirement that you need onward travel plans. The list is not meant to be exhaustive, and you should definitely do your own research:
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- United States