Providing proof of onward travel

Carl is travelling to America in October on a one-way ticket, but he’s been informed that he may need to provide proof of onward travel so he doesn’t get kicked off his flight. He wants to know if this is true and why he needs to prove his onward journey.


Q. Carl
I’m heading to the United States in October, but I’ve only bought a one-way ticket, because I’m not sure how long I’ll stay. I might want to go on a long road trip, but I’m waiting to see if my friend who lives there can get the time off work. I am meeting this same friend in the hopes that I can strike up a long-term relationship, and I’m prepared to stick around to see how it all works out. But I’ve been told that I might need to still book a return flight in order to enter the country. Is this true?

A. It is true that some countries and certain airlines require proof of onward travel. The reason for this is they are trying to prevent illegal immigration. Some tourists attempt to enter a country on a tourist visa and then never leave. So, while you can travel on a one-way ticket, government officials require proof that you will be adhering to the rules of their tourist visas and leaving the country within the time allocated on your visa.

The responsibility for checking your proof of onward travel is usually passed onto the airlines. If they allow you on a flight without checking your documentation and then immigration officials do not allow you to enter the country on arrival, the airline may incur fines and the costs of deporting you.

Countries that definitely require documented proof of onward travel include the United Kingdom, the United States of America, New Zealand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Brazil, Costa Rica and Peru. Depending on which airline you fly with you may also be required to provide proof to Mexico, Panama and Thailand.

If you do not want to purchase a round trip ticket and don’t mind waiting to receive your refund, consider purchasing a fully refundable one-way ticket for your return flight. The ticket will need to be purchased before you leave on your holiday, although we suggest reading the fine print to ensure you won’t be charged cancellation fees or refunded with flight vouchers instead of cash.

If you have a Travel SOS question, send it to and we’ll do our best to answer, or find someone who can.

Related articles:
Beware of online visa scams
Travelling without a visa
Cruising visa requirements

Written by YourLifeChoices Writers

YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.

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