How to Prove Onward Travel with a One-way Ticket

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Want to know how to prove onward travel with a one-way ticket?

Part of the appeal of travelling is the idea of boarding a plane with a one-way ticket and making your own way from one country to the next. There is a thrill to travelling when you don’t have an exact itinerary planned out, as there is no pressure to make deadlines, and much like life, travel plans can always change.

However airlines and immigration don’t appreciate this care-free style of travel for various reasons, so embarking on a journey on a one-way ticket can be a little troublesome.


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how to prove onward travel with a one way ticket


If you don’t have proof of onward travel chances are you won’t be able to board the plane, let alone enter the country. So your holiday may end at the first hurdle, the check-in desk of an airline official.

If you’d like to know how to avoid the catastrophe of your long awaited journey being cut short, than continue reading and I’ll explain how to prove onward travel with a one-way ticket.

*Please note, I’m not suggesting this as a guide for travelers who intend to overstay. This is for travelers who just haven’t booked flights ahead of time.* 


The Background As To Why You Need On-Ward Travel

The main reason you will be asked for *proof* is simply because airlines are liable for you entering the country, and in turn they will need to fly you back home if you are refused entry by immigration officials.

That means it’s in the airlines best interest for you not to be refused.

What immigration officials are checking, and airlines to some point, are that you wont be overstaying your visa or trying to work in the country illegally.

So because of the financial burden airlines carry on behalf of the government, they enforce the on-ward travel rule so as to not need to pay for your return leg of you returning back. 

For a normal passenger who purchases a return flight and is refused entry, this issue isn’t a problem as they flown back home on the return portion of their ticket. But if you have bought a one-way ticket then it is the airline who will fork out the cash for the return portion.

Having said that, the airline is a business and they won’t be happy losing money via this option. So they may try and enforce a fine, or influence you to pay in some other way.


Small Sacrifice

Buy a ticket out of the country, but not through the traditional means. Now that can be either a bus, train, boat, or anything.

Usually if you’re travelling internationally via any mode of transportation other than a plane it will be cheaper.

For instance when travelling to Mexico from Australia I needed proof of onward travel out of Mexico. I gave them proof of onward travel, and that was a water taxi from Mexico to Belize which I bought for $40 USD.

I had no intention of ever being on that boat at that time, but for the airlines purposes they saw exactly what they needed. And that was proof of onward travel.

Most developed countries have an online section for a bus or train company which commutes internationally, you’ll simply need to do some searching on the internet in order to find the best option. This method does work, and I have used it multiple times.

However I’d always just double check with the airline that it would be accepted as proof of onward travel as rules may vary.


Refundable Ticket

Not all airlines offer them, so you may need to do some searching. Concept is similar to buying a bus/train ticket, however you need to front more cash, which can make this option a little more troublesome.

The idea behind a refundable ticket is that if you cancel the ticket for any reason then you still reimbursed the money. You’ll more than likely still need to pay the credit card and processing fees, and perhaps a very small cancellation fee which could total around $80 USD.

However from a purely financial perspective which would you rather, pay $80 USD, or several hundred for a plane ticket which you were forced into buying?

However the problem with this option is that you need to have some extra cash saved in order to purchase the ticket in the first place.

Additionally there may be processing time for the ticket to be cancelled and the money transferred back into your account. In an extreme case this can take up to 3 months, though usually it’s 2 weeks.  


Buy It

The last option is the simplest, but the most expensive. If you’re that desperate to enter the country and money is no issue than simply buy a return flight, with the departure location in an area where you believe you may be at that point in time.

Otherwise you can try and alter your departure location once your already in the country, this may cost a small fee.


Options On How To Prove Onward Travel

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At the end of the day you have 4 options when trying to enter a country on a one-way ticket:

  • Risk trying to enter the country without any proof and potentially / likely be turned away.
  • Purchase a very cheap ticket out of the country. Whether that is a boat, bus, or train.
  • Refundable ticket.
  • Purchase a return ticket, but try and alter the location once your in the country.


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Written by Lexi
Lexi Forrest is an experienced luxury traveler who has a passion for scenic destinations. She's traveled to 25+ countries over the past 10 years.