The importance of Transit Visa

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I had planned an international trip with my friends to Cambodia & Thailand. Everything was planned in advance. Yet, my trip was almost missed due to the delay in Transit visa approval. Our flight was at midnight & I got my passport at 4 in the evening the same day!!

We decided to go to Cambodia first and would then return to Thailand. The flight to Phnom Penh was to be taken from Bangkok, Thailand. So, we applied for the e-Visa for both countries online which just took about 3-4 days. Now came the confusion about the Transit Visa. We searched around the internet for some information on whether a Transit visa was even required in the first place as our flight layover at Bangkok airport was for just 2 hours.

After searching a lot, we decided to go ahead and apply for it as it would save time at the airport and since we just had a 2-hour gap between the flights, we didn’t want to take a chance.

Unfortunately, there is no online process where we can apply for a transit visa. For Thailand and some countries that offer Visa on Arrival for Indian residents, VFS Global processes the applications for the transit Visa. There is an office in Pune as well so I decided to submit my application there and my friends would submit their applications in Mumbai.

Our flight was on the 4th of August Midnight and I submitted my application on the 19th of July. Usually, it takes about 7 business days to process the application, as from Pune it first goes to the VFS Global office in Mumbai and then it is sent to the Thailand Embassy in Mumbai.

A bank statement of 6 months is required to be submitted along with the application. There were some other requirements also which I came to know after a week.

After about 7 days, I got an email from VFS Global that I had to resubmit my Bank Statement of the latest date which would need to have a balance of a minimum of $700 (Approximately Rs. 60,000).

My understanding during submission was that an average would be taken as far as the balance amount in the bank was concerned. Otherwise, what is the point of taking a 6 months bank statement? Although my statement date was a week prior to the date I submitted it, the query may have come but I suspect that even the balance on the last day of your bank statement needs to be above $700. So, it is better to be safe and have these two requirements fulfilled.

In the midst of all this, my friends went to the VFS Global office in Mumbai to submit their applications. When they asked about the need for the Transit Visa, they were told that it would not be required. Hence, my friends did not apply for the Transit Visa.

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As the days kept going ahead, I became anxious and decided to visit the Thai Embassy on the 31st of August. This was a Monday and our flight was on Friday night. When I went there, they finally gave me clarity about the need for a Transit Visa.

If you are flying from one country to another country via a third country then you may or may not require a Transit Visa. It depends on the flight. If the PNR of the flight is the same (which happens especially for a connecting flight) then you don’t require a transit visa. But if your PNR number is different then you will need a Transit visa and then need to go through the immigration process, collect your checked-in baggage if any, then again check in your luggage at the counter of your airline and proceed for the security check to board the next flight.

Even after this clarification, since there was hardly any time left for my friends, we decided to go ahead without it. In my case, the consulate told me that I should receive my Passport on the 3rd of August. I kept my fingers crossed and hoped for the best.

On the 3rd afternoon, I finally got a message saying my Passport was processed. My joy knew no bounds after reading that. But the suspense wasn’t over yet. I called up VFS Global hoping to collect it the same afternoon. I had already told them to hold it with them and not to send it by courier to Pune. But in order to collect it in person, you are required to show the receipt you receive while submitting the application. Unfortunately, I was not carrying the receipt as it was kept in my hotel. Also, we can only collect the passports between 3-5 PM. So, I decided to collect the passport the next day.

Finally, after all the tension, I got my passport at 4 PM on the day of my flight. I guess all the efforts paid off because as we reached Bangkok, we came to know that a transit visa was indeed required. My friends had to request and jump the queue, and pay up to double the amount to get the Transit Visa.

In the end, all went well and we somehow managed to board the flight to Cambodia. It was a nightmare of an experience so keep in mind the importance of a Transit Visa and why one should have it. It is better to have one beforehand than risk your entire trip.

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