How One-Way Travelers Get Through Immigration: 3 Essential Tips
Traveling for a short holiday is easy. There’s proof of where you’re going to stay, when you’re coming back... The immigration officials have no doubts you’re going to do weird stuff, off you go! But how do these world travelers who want to leave room for improvisation prevent from getting denied access to the plane,or even worse, get deported just hours after they arrive?
1. Have proof of leaving the visiting country
Airlines will often ask for a proof of onward travel. This gives them assurance that you will not illegally immigrate and stay longer in the country than a tourist visa allows. Why do they care you wonder? Depending on the situation, the airline that brought your there will have to pay for your deportation if you get denied access after arrival.
If you don’t know when and where you want to leave your next country from because you like to travel without a fixed plan, you have to take some steps to produce that proof of onward travel.
When you do a quick search for onward travel on Google, you will stumble across fake return ticket creators. Do not use these! Lying to immigration officers can result in a big fine or end you up in a fancy bed-and-breakfast with metal bars 👮 .
My advice is to make a reservation through OneWayFly.com a few days before you plan crossing borders. It will cost you €19 and your name will be on a real flight for two weeks and you can really book your seat if you want later on. I can confirm this works because I’ve used their service 3 times and got checked every time by airline staff and even once by a though looking Thai immigration officer — yeah Slim Shady, my palms were sweaty then, lol.
A classic trick travelers going from Thailand to Malaysia use is booking a bus from Malaysia’s border city Johor Bahru to Singapore. Get creative😄 !
Another tip I can give is booking a refundable flight, but have fun reading the small print every time to make sure you get refunded 100%…
2. Make sure your visa checks out
Do your research on the type of visa you need in the country you’re traveling to. In Southeast Asia it was a mix of online applications and visa on arrivals (VOA). Never ever lie when applying for a visa. Depending on the country, you’ll get bombarded with questions about medical history, if your parents are politicians and if you’re planning on committing a crime 🤷.
Next, make sure your full name is exactly like it is on your passport, the expiry date is the same, document number is correct, your passport is valid longer than 6 months… The 30 seconds to triple check everything can save you a lot of money and time.
A hard one is the “occupation” they ask when you’re on a long trip. I learned this the hard way arriving as a tourist in the Silicon Valley of India — Bangalore — and having mentioned I have an educational background in Information Technology, which was a red flag for the immigration officer 😠.
Make sure you have a back story why you travel so you don’t come over nervous.
For visa on arrivals (VOA), have a pen handy. You don’t want to be the 546th person that day to ask an airport staff member for one. Make sure you know the name and address of the hotel/hostel/friend where you’re going to stay before you travel because this will be asked (and you won’t have access to internet to look it up).
3. Have proof of funds
Depending on the country you need to proof that you have a certain amount of money to show you’re able to survive while staying there. Don’t worry, it’s always mentioned on your visa. Sometimes it’s a specific number, sometimes it’s just a warning to be prepared to show it when asked for it. Ask your bank how to access your statements if you don’t know where to find them.
My golden tip is to make sure your bank cards allow international payments and withdrawals before you start traveling. This can be done through the app on your phone most of the time.
I’ve actually been in a group where someone got deported because (s)he forgot the visa and the ATM didn’t work when asked to pay for a visa. Double fail 😞.
Check your visa stamp after you get your passport back. Is the date correct? Is everything readable? You don’t want to find this out after a few weeks when you try to leave the same country.
Finally, take a photo of your visa stamp in case you lose your passport or when you need to show proof of your arrival date somewhere when you don’t have your passport on you.
When using these 3 tips you will feel like a pro breezing through check-in and immigration every time, making yourself a confident traveler ready for your adventure in a new country 🌏!