Last Updated on August 17, 2022 by Greg Head
If you’re traveling to another country, you’re likely going to be asked for proof of onward travel.
This usually takes place at the airport but, on some occasions, can happen when crossing land borders.
As for what countries require proof of onward travel, there are quite a few.
A good number of Southeast Asian nations usually make this request, perhaps because of the many foreigners doing their regular visa runs.
What Countries Require Proof of Onward Travel
Some countries will absolutely not let you get away with not having documented proof of onward travel.
Thus, it helps to be aware in case you’re fairly new to globetrotting or happen to be traveling to any of the following countries:
- United Kingdom
- New Zealand
- Costa Rica
- The United States of America
- Indonesia (Sailing to Komodo National Park)
If you’re not too familiar with proof of onward travel or, for some reason, have never been asked to provide such verification, then it’s time for a bit of education.
It’s important to engage in the right travel practices since this helps ensure that you encounter as few problems as possible on the road.
What You Need to Know About Proof of Onward Travel
In a nutshell, proof of onward travel is documented evidence supporting your departure from the destination country.
It could take the form of a return ticket or another ticket to your home state or the next country you plan to head to.
If you’re crossing a land border, then you’ll be asked to provide a train of bus ticket back home.
In some places, however, people in charge of going over the documents will specifically ask for a flight ticket.
Purpose of Proof of Onward Travel
Why do some countries require foreign travelers to present an onward ticket before granting them entry?
There are probably several reasons, but, for the most part, these countries just want to make sure that:
- You have the money to travel back to your home country or another country.
- You intend to leave before the expiration of your visa.
- You don’t plan to stay in the country illegally.
Thinking about it, you’re probably realizing how proof of onward travel is not exactly the best way to ensure that the scenarios above take place.
At the end of the day, you need to abide by the travel rules and policies set by the destination country, regardless of what you think of them.
It’s just like making sure you engage in the proper safety practices when traveling abroad—you really have no choice in the matter if you want to have good travel experience.
Getting Proof of Onward Travel
Imagine being asked to provide proof of onward travel when you’ve just landed in a country that you didn’t know was very strict about this documentation.
Yes, you never planned to stay in the country illegally, but the airport staff doesn’t know that.
What do you do now?
Countries like Thailand, for instance, will absolutely require an onward ticket.
If you happen to be traveling to this country or other countries as uncompromising when it comes to onward travel documents, you’ll want to find a way out immediately.
The internet is usually our go-to when it comes to problem-solving.
While it may not be the most reliable way for travelers to access information, it is the fastest.
Plus, when you know where to look and how to verify information, then the pros of going online definitely outweigh the cons.
Besides, we find it hard to believe that you’re doing a bad job with research—you’re here now, aren’t you?
So, moving on, what options do you have?
Be Brave and Trust That Nothing’s Going to Go Wrong
There’s just the slightest chance that you might not be asked for proof of onward travel.
Despite this, you still need to be prepared in case airport officials end up asking you for it anyway.
Being a seasoned traveler and all that, you probably know better than most that life is full of uncertainties: the weather could be off, a tour could get delayed, or traffic could be bad.
Sometimes the day could seem perfect until the airport staff asks you to present an onward travel document that you don’t have.
You could find yourself in a situation that leaves you with no choice, other than the options below than to get an onward ticket.
Plus, if time isn’t on your side, you might still end up missing your flight.
Not to worry, though, since there are still other simpler and lower-risk alternatives to choose from.
Put Your Photoshop Skills to Work
What does Photoshop have to do with this?
Well, since you’re pressed for time and really want to make it to your flight, try editing an old email confirmation sent by another airline.
If you decide to go for this option, make sure the important details, such as the departure time and flight number, actually exist; otherwise, you could get into some trouble.
You can also start booking flights with other travel agencies and then take a screencap of the check-out page.
Then, put those creative cropping skills to work so you’ll have a legit-looking document on your phone to present at the gate.
This option can work for you or it won’t. After all, when it comes to ethics, there are lines we just don’t want to cross.
If this is something you just can’t bear to do, then don’t do it.
We’re sure you’ll find at least one or two of the other options on this list acceptable.
If you do decide to take this route, you need to be aware of the risks involved.
While details of your onward flight are unlikely to be verified at the gate, it still puts you in a position where you’re vulnerable to accusations of purposely committing forgery on official documents.
This choice leaves you with little to no options to defend yourself and completely at the mercy of airport officials.
Purchase a Ticket With a Flexible Date
If you forgot to look into what countries require proof of onward travel and ended up booking a one-way ticket to one, then fret not as there’s an effective way to skirt around this problem.
What you want to do is purchase a flexible date ticket to navigate the bumps and potholes of onward travel policies efficiently.
The problem with these tickets, though, is that they can cause a hefty sum, which is considerably higher than your regular flight ticket.
So yes, it’s expensive.
Plus, if you check out some of the local airlines offering seats at 50 percent off, then the more you’re going to be on the fence about this pricey alternative.
Ultimately, you’re going to be left to answer this question: Is it worth it?
Get a Cheap Throwaway Ticket
To be clear, this option isn’t exactly cheap.
Yes, you’re required to purchase the cheapest airline tickets available, but it’s still going to cost a considerable amount of money.
The great thing about this, though, is that it does allow you to beat the system effectively.
The most policy-abiding airline staff will tell you the same thing.
In some scenarios, you can get away with purchasing bus or train tickets to other countries, although it seems that this approach is a lot less foolproof.
In any case, this strategy will require you to well, throw away cash.
Expensive? Yes. Effective? Also, yes.
Hold on to Your Flight Ticket for an Entire Day
Airline companies in the USA, as well as a good number of travel agencies, are required to provide a 24-hour ticket “hold” period for their customers.
This method allows you to reserve a ticket for a certain price for an entire day.
The will then sent an email confirmation, which you can show to an airport official when asked for proof of onward travel.
If nothing goes wrong, then this should be a really great method for navigating around those onward travel regulations.
In some cases, though, flight reservations will be questioned.
Luck probably has a lot to do with this, but it’s difficult to say.
For the most part, you should find your way around onward travel woes relatively unscathed when you use this strategy.
If it still doesn’t work, then perhaps you can rely on the next option.
What’s awesome about our next choice is that it helps give you peace of mind, which is necessary for healthy traveling.
Rent an Onward Ticket
Ticket rentals are a thing, and they are great for beating the age-old system of onward ticket documentation.
Before, providers only offered the “holding tickets for 24 hours” service, but then gradually started improving on their service, delivering more sophisticated options for frequent flyers for a relatively small fee.
This is a highly recommended option because it now means you’ll appear on the airport systems, which is such a great thing for your peace of mind.
Proof of Onward Travel
There’s no questioning the inconvenience of being asked to provide an onward travel document.
However, as the globetrotting individual that you are, this is something you have to accept and deal with properly.
Being informed and having a plan can go a long way to keeping you from getting stuck at the airport and not being granted entry to your flight.
If you’re traveling to countries in Southeast Asia, like Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand, or places in South America, like Peru, Brazil, and Costa Rica, you need to prepare for their more stringent onward travel policies.
The same expectations should hold for destinations like the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and the United States of America.
There are a few simple options that could work for you, with some of the best and most effective being renting an onward ticket for a small fee or holding your flight ticket for 24 hours.
Last Piece of Advice
You must also prepare yourself for airport officials who could be feeling particularly overzealous that day and won’t stop asking questions.
If they ask why you’re only holding and not purchasing the ticket, tell them you forgot or are waiting to see if the price changes.
You shouldn’t find it too difficult to make up an excuse. Do Babies Need a Passport to Travel
Whatever method you decide on, you should never hesitate to flash a smile or show some friendliness to the airport staff.
If this is how you truly are as a person, then you’ll likely be on the receiving end of way fewer questions and, if you’re really lucky, a free seating upgrade.