A one-way ticket to nowhere?

Why does Carl need to provide proof of onward travel when he has a one-way ticket?

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 newsletters@yourlifechoices.com.au and we’ll do our best to answer, or find someone who can.



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    7th Sep 2018
    It’s a dumb requirement . One can buy an onward ticket to a neighboring country for cheap on line by credit card and cancel for free as soon as you complete check in or land at the other end with no cancellation charges
    8th Sep 2018
    I would be cautious about this, my wife and I had travelled to Europe from the UK we were going through immigration at Calais, when we produced our Australian passports the guy asked where our onward travel information was, I told him I had left it at my accomodation in the UK, he informed me that I needed to carry my onward travel documents with me to prove I wasn’t trying to enter or stay in the UK illegally, he said he would let me in this time but in future I was to make sure to carry my documents with me.

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