Gone are long the days when you could just pop out during a layover and get a free tour of the land.
If you’re thinking about these days about making a trip that includes a stop, there’s a lot to know. Travelers will not only need to fulfill the destination country’s requirements, they will need to fulfill the transiting country’s requirement for travelers passing through.1
For example, if you’re visiting Thailand—the destination country—they may not require travel insurance for its citizens but Japan—the transiting country—might require travel insurance.
Keep in mind both countries may require information about your whereabouts in the last 14 days or any other countries you have recently visited or transited through. Though certain regions are going to be stricter than others, expect full enforcement across the spectrum.
These days, consider a direct flight. It’s simply not worth the trouble with all the cancellations and uncertainty these days. It is worth the money.
To help you along, here's a chart to work (and print) through if you get confused, though you'll want to swap things out for each individual situation:
Departure COVID-19 test
Entry COVID-19 test
Print out all the documentation.
I mean, all the documentation, in case anything goes wrong.
Though not everything may be applicable, the goal is to have as much documentation possible. Things are so confusing and everything is changing so quickly it's really best to have everything, because even the authorities may not even know.
Here's what we suggest having on hard copy:
- Vaccine card and/or negative test
- Immigration form and health attestation
- Proof of prebooked COVID-19 test
- Proof of travel insurance
- Immigration policy of the destination country (from the government site)
Paperclip the transit country paperwork together, and the destination country in a separate bundle, and you'll be set.
Check the transit country.
Don't expect to leave the airport.
If you do WANT to leave the airport, be prepared for more paperwork and precautionary measures at the transiting and destination country.
In our opinion, traveling internationally is so stressful these days that it's not even worth it.
Check the destination country.
Be prepared to fulfill all the requirements listed on the government website — and be prepared to report where you have transited through.
Depending on where the layover happened, it's totally possible that you may be held to different requirements than if you didn't transit through that particular country.
Moral of the story? Buy a direct flight.
- It won't be the same as you were entering the country, be sure to pay attention to the transit rules. ↩