How to provide proof of onward travel

http://www.flipflopglobetrotters.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/manduca-easyjet-1.jpghttp://www.flipflopglobetrotters.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/manduca-easyjet-1.jpghttp://www.flipflopglobetrotters.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/manduca-easyjet-1.jpgHow to provide proof of onward travel

For those of you seasoned travelers and digital nomads, you’ve probably found yourself in this situation at least once in your traveling career. You want to visit a foreign country but in order to enter the country in the first place, you need to proof that you will eventually leave again. Since a lot of the time we travel on one-way tickets, not sure when we want to leave, or where we want to go next, this poses a problem. With our limited budget, we don’t want to pay for tickets we’re very likely not going to use. So how do we get around this requirement to provide proof of onward travel?

When on our big trip through Asia in 2015, we encountered this problem when we wanted to travel to Sri Lanka. We read on the internet that we needed to show proof of exit to enter the country. But how do you do that if you have no idea about your future plans? We really didn’t know how long we wanted to stay, so this posed a problem. After searching the internet we found a real easy solution: find an airline which will give you a 24-hour time period to pay for the booking you make with them.

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Do your research. Make sure you get to board that plane by having the right paperwork

Why do you need proof of onward travel?

Proof of onward travel, an onward ticket, proof of return travel or proof of exit, however you want to call it, means that you can show evidence that you’re leaving the country. In some countries, proof of onward travel is a visa requirement or otherwise required by immigration, but it might also be that the airline requires it and won’t allow you to board the plane without it. Airlines want to avoid having to pay for your return trip if you’re denied access to the country for whatever reason. If you can’t provide proof that you’re leaving again, they could think you’re planning to overstay your visa.

Many travelers found themselves having to buy super expensive onward tickets just so they could enter the country. Sometimes it’s enough if you can show a ticket out of another country at a later date (if you’re planning to travel there overland) or a train or bus reservation to cross the border. Please, do your research!

Finding an airline that allows reservations with delayed payment

So how do you go about finding such an airline? We used Skyscanner to check which airlines were flying from Bandaranaike International Airport (Colombo) and then we checked the payment options for each one. Cathay Pacific was the first one we checked that allows ‘book now, pay later’. They give you the possibility to pay for your ticket within 24 hours after you make your booking (they call it Pay Later). One thing to note is that this only works if the departure date and time for the ticket you want to reserve is at least 72 hours away.

Book now, pay later. How does it work?

There are more airlines out there that offer this ‘book now, pay later’ option. Just Google it and you’ll find them. When you have found the airline of your choice, go to their online booking page and find a flight for the latest date that your original visa will allow you to stay in the country. Price or other details don’t matter, you won’t be using the ticket. Proceed with making the booking, include some nice food and seat choices if you like a comfortable flight with a nice dinner (you’ll never use it, but still…).

After filling in all your details and passport number go to the payment page of your booking. Check the box that gives you the option to makes it possible to pay for your booking within 24 hours of your initial booking (don’t put any payment information, they don’t need it). Finish the rest of your booking and check your e-mail. In your inbox you’ll find a message from Cathay Pacific with your full booking information just like you would get if you already paid. Print the details out and put them with your other travel documents and you’re good to go. You can now forget about Cathay Pacific because after failing to pay for the booking within the 24 hours they will automatically cancel the booking.

FlipFlopGlobetrotters.com - Blog: how to provide proof of onward travel

Our little one loves to fly 🙂

Renting an airline ticket

We provided a free solution for your ‘onward ticket’ problem. Another option is to use a service such as FlyOnward.com or BestOnwardticket.com and rent an airline ticket. What? Rent a ticket?? Yes 🙂 An airline ticket rental service, brilliant, isn’t it? You pay them a fee and they buy a refundable airline ticket for you with their money. You use the rented ticket, and the ‘proof of onward travel’ it provides, to enter the country and after a maximum of 48 hours the ticket is canceled.

Super cheap or refundable tickets

Of course, if you don’t feel comfortable with either of the two solutions above, you can always book a super cheap ticket out of the country. Depending on which part of the world you’re traveling at the time, there are always budget airlines like AirAsia or Easyjet that offer tickets that don’t break the bank. Since you won’t be using the ticket anyway, things like flight time or departure time don’t matter. Just select the cheapest option available. Make sure to check multiple dates using Skyscanner or Kiwi to see which option is the cheapest.

Another thing you could do is buy a refundable ticket. It often happens that you have to wait a long time to get your money back though, so this is only an option if you don’t have any money issues. Also make sure to check the small print, so you know that you’ll actually be refunded in cash instead of flight coupons or such.

Using a fake ticket generator

This is something we thought of before we knew any better. Obviously, this could get you into real trouble if you have to show your ‘ticket’ to an immigrations officer. Lying at immigrations could have you end up in jail. We wouldn’t recommend this solution, but it IS an option so we thought we should include it. Services like ReturnFlights.net let you create a fake flight itinerary. Use at your own risk!

Did this post help you solve your “proof of onward travel’ problem? Or have you already found your own solution? Let us know in the comment section and help your fellow travelers.

FlipFlopGlobetrotters.com - blog: how to provide proof of onward travel

FlipFlopGlobetrotters.com - blog: how to provide proof of onward travel




Author Description

Maurice

Maurice

Maurice is a carpenter by trade but loves to travel the world and meet interesting people. He loves diving and is currently an PADI Dive Master thinking about becoming a PADI Instructor to introduce other people to the beautiful world below the surface.

There are 7 comments. Add yours

  1. 3rd May 2017 | Tom says: Reply
    Thanks Maurice this is a really smart way that we didn't know of yet.
  2. 3rd May 2017 | Anita says: Reply
    Great tips! Did you know if you "book" a more expensive ticket (like business class for example), you often have right up until the week before the flight to pay for it? Same idea but gives you a bit more of a window.
    • Lisa
      4th May 2017 | Lisa says: Reply
      That's a great tip, Anita. We always fly for the lowest price possible, so didn't know this. Thanks for sharing!
    • 13th May 2017 | Don White says: Reply
      Are you sure about this since what happens if the person cancels and the airline cannot find someone to replace them ?
      • 17th May 2017 | Anita says: Reply
        Absolutely sure. I can't answer for the airlines, but I guess it's no different for them than selling a fully refundable flight (which also tend to be on the higher fare levels).
  3. 13th May 2017 | Don White says: Reply
    Some of the suggestions are good but some are really risky and I would really not want anyone to use them just to visit a country ... not worth it in my opinion
    • Lisa
      13th May 2017 | Lisa says: Reply
      There are a few countries that absolutely require documented proof of onward travel. At the moment of writing, they are Peru, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States, Philippines, Indonesia, and Brazil. You need to check with the consulate what kind of proof they need. Could be that a bus ticket to the next country is enough. That being said, when we went to Indonesia and the Philippines they didn't check.

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