I recently got this question via e-mail from a reader:
“How strict are the immigration officials and/or the airlines about the required return/onward tickets? I’ll be going travelling for a long time (open end) and am trying to decide whether to buy a RTW or single tickets and this is a crucial point for the decision.”
This is a great question. Unfortunately, this is an issue you could face anywhere when flying internationally, and the answer is not always so clear-cut. Let me explain.
The problem with one-way tickets
Here’s the reason why airlines can often throw up a fuss when you try to fly on a single ticket to another country:
Technically speaking, immigration officials can deny you entry to a country for all sorts of different reasons. If that were to happen, the airline would be liable for flying you back to your point of origin.
Airlines don’t want that!
So, even though it’s them who sold you the one-way ticket in the first place, they might have questions for you once you get to the check-in desk.
For example, they might ask you about your return ticket or proof of onward travel. They don’t want to risk having to fly you back if there’s an issue.
You can travel internationally on one-way tickets many times and not get asked anything, then one day you can be denied boarding. The reality is that a lot depends on the airline’s policies, where you are trying to fly, and if you are unlucky that day.
Quick solution: onward ticket
With Onwardticket.com you can get a legitimate temporary ticket for proof of onward travel, which expires after 48 hours.
Here’s what happened to me
Since I often visit multiple countries on one trip, I routinely fly one-way. This lets me start in one country and end my trip in another.
A few times, I’ve had difficulties in flying one-way. I’ve never had issues with immigration, always with the airlines.
One time, I was going to fly one-way from London to Mexico with Virgin Atlantic. Immediately, I was asked why I didn’t have a return. I explained I was a backpacker heading off on a long trip, with no return booked yet. I also explained I’d not be in Mexico for longer than the 90 days given by the visa-on-arrival. This was enough for the staff to drop the subject.
Another time, I nearly missed my flight. This was flying one-way from Singapore to the Philippines. Only 15 minutes before check-in closed, I was told I couldn’t board without proof of onward travel.
I still got on my flight, but not without running around the terminal like a headless chicken looking for a WiFi hotspot where I could book the cheapest possible flight out of the Philippines. I was the last passenger to make it onto the plane, sweating heavily and out of breath.
When flying from Miami to Honduras, I ran into the same issue. This time, the staff at the check-in desk kindly booked a refundable return for me. They gave me a phone number I could call as soon as I’d landed to cancel the return. That’s the only time I was offered such a service.
How to avoid problems
Of course, if you’re flying domestically, you don’t have to worry about taking one-way flights. The same goes if you’re flying within the same travel jurisdiction, like the Schengen zone in Europe.
Otherwise, you may want to reduce the risk of any issues when flying one-way in one of these ways:
- Arrive at the airport early. If they refuse to check you in, you’ll still have time to buy a (throw-away or refundable) ticket in a pinch.
- If asked, buy a refundable return ticket. If the staff doesn’t give you issues, great! If they do demand to see ‘proof of onward travel’, go online at the airport and buy a refundable return ticket. If none are available, consider getting a super cheap morning flight with no luggage. You’re not going to use this ticket, it’s only to satisfy the bureaucracy, so just get whatever is cheapest.
- Book a cheap bus or train. It’s best to have a return flight, but a cheap train or bus ride out of the destination country may work too. No guarantees, but I’ve heard a few travelers use this successfully.
- Buy a temporary onward ticket (easiest solution). The best way to avoid problems is to simply create a temporary return ticket. It will cost far less than buying any other ticket and give you valid proof of onward travel.
Keep in mind the goal is just to show you can leave the destination country. You don’t need a return ticket all the way home, it can be enough just to have a flight to a neighboring country.
Buying a temporary onward ticket
If you choose the solution of buying a temporary return ticket, I recommend using Onwardticket.com. They’re a travel agency that will book you a 100% real flight ticket that is valid for 48 hours. Instead of paying the full price for a return ticket, you only pay a $12 service fee.
This is different from other services found around the web that will create a fake ticket, just to use as ‘proof of onward travel’. Of course, the legality of this is questionable… in that it’s absolutely not! I don’t recommend such services that promote fraud, some of which are even known as scams.
To be clear, Onwardticket gives you a complete and real ticket, for a fee of $12, that they cancel after your one-way flight is completed. You can see that Onwardticket has a 4.7 rating on TrustPilot, and I know some of the people who work for Onwardticket, which is why I’m happy to recommend them instead of other providers.
Flying one-way is often necessary, especially if you travel long-term, are a digital nomad, or simply flying back from another country. It would be crazy to have to pay for a return flight you’ll never use, so using a cheap disposable ticket for your proof of onward travel is the perfect solution.
Some links may be affiliate links, meaning I may earn commission from products or services I recommend. For more, see site policies.
Leave a comment
Your email address will not be published. Comments are manually moderated.
I would like to know how can someonbody travel as a bakcpacker witout the return flight ticket. I mean if you could share more tips that would be great.
I mean airlines and border services ask for return tickets. But if you want to go from city a to b then c then d, then how is that possible?
Please do share.
Hello! I was hoping to travel indefinitely, hopping to multiple countries, and returning whenever I was ready. I plan to fly from the USA to Ireland, then UK, then either Schengen EU or Morocco/Turkey, and go from there, paying attention to all tourist visa restrictions. Will I potentially get hung up in the US, or as I try to enter each country/zone, or ? I thought about just doing a return ticket one year out, thinking I could change my ticket then if I wanted to stay overseas longer, but that is such a random date, and may still mess me up with visa limits. Can you give me any guidance? Thank you!!!
Thanks for this tip. I had problems in the past with one airline. It was a very stressful situation and we had to buy refundable tickets but it took us almost a month in Colombia to finally get it refunded! Anyway I will check that company as we will be taking one way flights in south east Asia.
Hi, I’m a Philippine born Canadian citizen. Flying back to the Philippines with one way ticket in February. I will be getting married there and not sure when I will be returning to Canada. I’m looking to fly with Korean Air, or Japan Airlines, or Philippine Airlines.
I’ve never travelled with one way ticket before.
Can someone please advise what I should do?
Thank you for your time and help!
thank you for your information and advise, may you be happy successful and in peace
Hi , I’m an immigrant here in the USA , planning on traveling to Montreal in Oct 21 by train NYC – Montreal , coming back , i plan to purchase a one way ticket Montreal – Newark on October 25, do you think its a good idea ? I just want to cut some traveling time coming back .
I tried to fly to Monereal in 1 way ticket and it didn’t work.
I used this fake ticket generator to pass:
I think the safest/cheapest option is to “rent” an airline ticket confirmation from a real-life travel agency. This is what I usually do. This is the one ways to get proof of onward travel
I’ve been using fake onward tickets (from https://fakeflighttickets.com) all the time while flying to Bali.
i bought one way ticket to the dominican republic and was thinking of staying about 2 months.how would i go about doing this? i read dominican republic stay is 30 days but if i go to the office in santo domingo i can extend it.on the departure date to the dominican republic do i order a ticket saying i am coming back in 2 months?
This is more of an immigration/visa issue. It’s specific to the Dominican Republic so I don’t know. Try using Visa to find out if you need a visa for the Dominican Republic if you want to stay for 60 days. Once you’ve done that, if you’re worried about being denied boarding on your plane, get a temporary ticket, or just book your flight out of the Dominican Republic.
i am from california.yea confused a bit.my departure from cali to dominican republic is oct30.my plan is to order ticket from dominican republic to cali the morning i wake up on oct 30.then cancel that ticket once i get to dominican republic.will that work?
Just bought a return ticket from India to Minnesota. It says this ticket is valid for 48 hours. This might sound dumb, but didn’t read that until after I got the return. I am not flying to India until Oct 27, 2019. Will this faux ticket still be good by then? Bought on Onwardflight.S3.
Hey Carol, try contacting them to have your ticket changed. It’s valid only for 48 hours so that they can still cancel and refund – it’s intended for you to book just prior to departure!
I am flying to the Dominican Republic on August 17, 2019 on a one way ticket, I plan to apply for Residency and eventually get married.
I do have an address with my girlfriend apartment.
Previously have flown ( Spirit Airlines ) to the Dominican Republic in April-May 2019, stayed for 40 days. I did buy a return ticket in early May for my return (May 25, 20129 ) to the US. At that time did not experience any problems on o/w ticket.
But this time I am flying on American Airlines, so am concerned should it arise with them that I am flying on a one way ticket.
I am flying from athens to manila with layover in singapore…with one way and I am worried.its not my first time in philippines and We are gonna get married but what can I do and how can I avoid problems??thank you
You will need onward ticket from Phillipines or you will not be allowed to board
This always happens to me when booking one-way flights on Air Canada. I had no clue about onwardticket.com Definitely using this tomorrow.
I once encountered this problem. It’s horrible!
Reservation for 12/24 hours can be made free with some airlines, for example: https://klm.com or https://aeroflot.com. But sometimes they send only a PNR number :(. I printed out on https://keyflight.io/fake for free (they sell reservation for 7 days), and of course you can print out on https://checkmytrip.com, but there is a terrible design.
Thanks for sharing !
I’ve been using Onwardticket the last weeks, they provide real booking instantly for 12$.
I bought 4 one-way tickets last year to go around the globe last year. Neither any airline staff nor any Immigration officer in any of the visited countries raised any questions. Not even onward tickets need to be provided.
So it all depends on what airline you board, what passport you hold and what destination you visit.
The only time I encountered questions from airline is on another trip. I bought a round trip ticket which return date is 10 months afterward. The airline asked me if I have residency in that country.
I experience this EVERY time I fly out of Perth, Australia to India (every year for the past 15 years !).
I immediately escalate the conversation to ‘supervisor’ level as the check-in clerks will ultimately call their supervisor anyway on this matter.
I then point out cooly and calmly that after submitting an eight page document to the Indian Embassy in Australia and paying $205 for the privilege (yes! 8 pages), they have granted me a twelve (12) month multiple entry tourist visa and are quite happy to welcome me despite not having a return ticket.
I also carry my previous (cancelled) passport so I can show the many Indian Visas I’ve accumulated and show also I return to Australia via another country weeks or even several months later.
At this stage, the supervisor who couldn’t be bothered trawling through 30 pages of visas and stamps renege, but I keep my powder dry on the fact I am retired and have (quite frankly) more money in the bank than I know what to do with and I might even return to Australia on a cruise ship . . . who knows?
Basically it’s none of their business and I’m convinced it’s just a scam to get newbie travellers purchasing return tickets (the usual upselling BS).
India will ask you for an onward ticket
“Temporary” return ticket was a new thing for me. Thanks for telling me about it. And thanks for sharing the overall tips on one way flight tickets.
I had a great experience flying one-way from Miami to Rome, Italy, just like this writer had with Spirit going from Miami to Honduras. I was told by the AA ticket agent at check-in that I had better purchase a return fully refundable ticket to the U.S. from Rome. Italian customs, he warned, especially those at Fiumicino, would give me a hard time. I had never considered this and had no idea one-way tickets on international flights could pose a problem. I had planned to spend a few months in Italy and the Balkans and buy a ticket later. The one-way fully refundable ticket from Rome to Boston (the cheapest flight) would cost me $2,750. But once through Italian customs, the agent explained, I could simply go online and cancel it. The U.S. agent, who himself was born and raised in Italy, had saved me.
Wow that wasn’t a cheap flight! Good thing it was fully refundable. 🙂
Great article! Very helpful for long-term travel novices. Thanks Marek!
Really? Flyonwards really works??
I’m going Brazil with one way ticket.. Can u help me guys what should I do? 🙁
Flyonwards is (well, was) a scam, but Best Onward Ticket has a good reputation (see https://www.trustpilot.com/review/bestonwardticket.com).
Thank you for the article ! I recommend you adding https://onewayfly.com/
They offer onward ticket as well that are valid for more than 24h but also vouchers for visa. ^^
Hey, here is what happened to me today. I am an Albanian student studying in Bulgaria and I was going to fly from Sofia(Bulgaria) to Athens (Greece) for Easters to visit some relatives and everything was going fine during the airport control process. At the very last step, before going out to the plane, a member of the crew started to go through my passport and she asked me if I had a return ticket. I said no, as I was planning to come back by bus(it’s a distance that is often done by bus),because none of the corresponding return flights that I had looked up would be fine for me. She took me back at the information desk and pressured me to buy a ticket from the same company, as they “had no guarantee that I was going to come back”. I suggested them that in order to ensure them for my return(I was just a student, for God’s sake!) I booked the bus ticket right in that moment, but the member insisted that I bought the ticket from THAT company. That for a student was quite expensive and I couldn’t afford to pay that. As a result, she didn’t let me board and I missed the flight. Do I have a right to complain here and if yes, how?
You can use http://www.keyflight.io for generate return fake ticket
Hi. I am South African and planning a trip to Cambodia. Do I need to book a return flight or can I book a one way ticket? My travel agent told me that it wont be an issue in Cambodia, but the airline in South African might decline us boarding.
Yeah that sounds right – might want to check with the airline first. There’s always the tactic of booking a flight or bus out of Cambodia that you have no intention of using (and could cancel later) just to show the airline or the authorities.
Hi. I’m planing a trip from Germany to South Korea and then possibly to Japan by ship and then ultimately to fly on toBangkok before flying back to Germany. I’m a British citizen. What are my chances of trouble if I start out with just a one-way flight to Korea?
I was questioned too on 1 way ticket going to the Phils from UK even if i am holding a British passport!
After my long logical justification that i will coming back to UK , the immigration told me that my Phil Passport saved me!
I dont see any logical reason why the immigration questioned a 1 way ticket! They know people who are overstaying … 🙁
I’m flying from New Zealand to the UK (only there for a few days, got a Kiwi passport only) and on to Europe and was wanting to fly on a one way ticket to keep my return options open…Anyway what reception am I likely to get on arrival at Heathrow? Going onto Morocco, Portugal, Spain etc after that.
My son and his friend are going to finland to stay with family for a month and then backpack through europe, will they have a problem with buying a one way ticket. Any advise would be greatly appreciated.
Here’s my recent experience. Flew from Penang to Phnom Phen via Singapore using JetStar. The Airline check-in was adamant that I couldn’t fly as I didn’t have a return ticket to Australia. I said was traveling on to Vietnam by road, and showed my detailed itinerary, but they wouldn’t budge. But then I showed them that I was booked at a Cambodian hospital for dental work, which would requite a long stay (eg Business visa, rather than Tourist) and they happily waved me through. The really weird thing was they were insistent that I show return to my home country, not just travel onwards. And they wouldn’t accept my proof of funds (eg bank statement).
I know I’m unquestionably late to the gathering, however I’ll be traveling to the Bahamas this winter and have a snappy question. I’m flying on two one-route tickets rather than a round excursion ticket, as it’s less expensive and more advantageous for all gatherings included. I’m remaining for seven days, and I simply need to show them evidence of the booked flight ticket would it be a good idea for them to ask, revise? This is my first time flying anyplace, and obviously it happens to be abroad.
Ticket costs only $7.99 and has value for 48 hours or more.
I had heard about this type of service which was necessary for me with my one way flight, and was about to book with a more popular company, then these guys popped up in my spam email, and I was skeptical at first, as it is a new business. But I took the chance as it was cheaper than the others and the ticket lasted for 48 hours, not 24. When I was checking my baggage, they asked for proof of onward travel, and even looked up the flight online, and let me through without question. These guys delivered the ticket very fast, and even communicated via email with 1 hour response times. Very happy with this company. Highly recommend.
I am to fly back to Glasgow at the first of June, 2017. I want to fly on a OWT as it is cheaper (and funds are very limited) and then buy my return flight within the 6 month allowable period I can stay. I have fallen in love with a man there and am desperate to get back. I DID have issues with immigration last time and don’t want that again. I would welcome any and all advice. Thanks, Lori
This probably won’t come through soon enough but hey, you never know!
I’m flying out to India within the next 10 days or so. As I’m heading out for 4-6 months I’d much rather not have a return ticket as I dont want to have to pay the high fees to change the return date. The multi city flight I looked at was £385, with a minimum of £150 change fee (plus any additional cost if the return leg is a higher value ticket) but a one way is only £199.
I understand that these things seem to hinge on who you get at the check in desk, with the exception of a few airlines that take a solid stance on these matters.
Hello! My name is Lauren.. I have just booked a one way ticket to Canada… I was invited by family friends to go visit some provincial parks and do some hiking! I’m worried that the border will give me troubles for this… I didn’t book a flight back because I wasn’t sure if I would be flying out of Vancouver or Seattle because I have a friend in Seattle and my grandmother lives in Washington as well. I could explain this to the border patrol and then tell them I would only be staying for a couple weeks. As well as, I would have to return for college any ways… I would have no intention of staying.
I keep reading things online.. good and bad.. it’s making me a bit anxious. Some people have even said if you have a one way you need to prove you have the money to get out of the country… but the family that invited me has told me not to worry about it.. they will support me food wise and get me a ticket when it is time to leave. Is it bad to say that the people I am staying with offered to support for the time I was there?
I obviously have money saved up- not thousands but a good amount.
I would do the same as SE Asia and just book a greyhound/bus out of Vancouver to show proof of exit and you’ll have peace of mind. This is a much cheaper option than a flight and it gives you more freedom to make a different choice if you need it.
How did everything go?
I’m in Nigeria right now and want to go to India. Getting out of Africa is a pain in the butt and very expensive,so I thought to fly from Abuja to Dubai (one ticket that is roundtrip) and then Dubai to India (another ticket that is also roundtrip). Can I do this? Would officials have issues? I know I have to pick up my check in luggage and very likely go through immigrations (would I need a visa for this). I don’t even want to exit from the airport.
I’m planning to backpack to Central/South America – starting in Mexico all the way to Columbia through Guatemala, Belize, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia, and then Bolivia/Chile/Argentina. Is there a list of countries you know of in that region where proof of onward travel is required? as many participants on this blog, I also would like to take a one way ticket and decide as I go / feel. Thanks!!
Hey Kenza. I believe Costa Rica is particularly stringent with this — they might ask for onward travel and/or proof of sufficient funds. I’ve not heard of (or experienced) issues with this in the other countries you mention when overlanding.
A great tip for rookie backpacker’s is to just book a cheap bus ticket to Laos or Cambodia when you buy your one way. Cheap proof of exit.
I’m a backpacker. I’ve been travelling around East Asia foe one year alone. By the way, I’m from South Africa. However, Last week in Thailand I was flying to TEL Aviv, in Israel the airline refused me because I didn’t have a return ticket. I explain to them that I’m doing the road trip and I will leave Israel to South Africa by road so I don’t need air ticket. Before I purchase my flight ticket I went to Israel Embassy in Bangkok and I explained to them that i’m planning to backpack in Israel, but I don’t have a return because I will travel back to my home county by road because I want to see more countries, they said It’s OK that’s not a problem. Guess what, I’m still in Thailand and stuck because they refused to return my money.Now I’m planning to buy a new fly ticket to Jordan.
Absolutely brilliant post Marek. I was just asked this by a few friends who are traveling to SE asia with me and even after explaining it in detail they were still asking questions so we found this post on google. Basically if you have no solid plans of dates or locations to travel to just get a one way and as marek said, if you are told you must have an onward flight ticket out of the country just go online and purchase the cheapest one to the next neighbouring country to show as proof. Air asia I have found very cheap onward flights from the closest airport to a neighbouring country arriving at the closest airport in the next country for less than £15. This is really not a huge issue at all and its what a lot of people need to do if they plan to travel and want to have maximum flexibility
If you are a US resident and buy a one way ticket to the UK (I’m a citizen of the UK), when do I ha to return so I don’t loose my residency?
I’m not sure, that’s more of a US residency than a travel visa issue. You should probably check the US immigration authority for the answers to that.
Hi, I’m planning a few month trip to Southeast Asia. I was wondering if i buy just a one-way ticket, wouldn’t it be hard to find cheap return flights since i would book them just weeks/days earlier and would probably be using my phone, so it’d be harder to play with dates etc.
Also, if I already book a two-way ticket, would it be risky to carry it around while backpacking in case it gets stolen or lost?
Thank you for your help, your blog is awesome! 🙂
Hey Vilma. Plane tickets are electronic these days, so there’s no risk of a physical ticket getting stolen.
You could book your return from a computer at a hostel or internet cafe (of which there are many in Southeast Asia).
This is a great post….i’ve heard a great deal of conflicting information about this issue. Here’s my situation: I’m travelling from Canada to Hong Kong on Air Canada or United for a few months to stay with family friends (i was born in HK and can prove that with a birth certificate) also planning to do a bit of travelling around se asia but so far only want to book a one-way Canada-HK as im not sure of exact dates. I’m also planning to take a train back to Europe instead of flying from Asia. I’m also a British citizen and have a British passport. Do you have any insight about those airlines or this trip? I’m considering booking a one-way HK to Thailand in case of trouble for a couple months after I arrive in HK. I can stay there for 6 months as a tourist visa-free as a British citizen. Do you think my birthright would mean anything to the airlines?
I m planning a sabbatical time(1-3 years) where I plan to travel in countries like Indo esia,Vietnam,Cambodia,Laos…
I would fly from Europe to Bali and then fly into the other countries.
Anything should I be worried about?
I checked on internet the visa requirements for some of this cpuntries and all of them want the proof of a return ticket.
What about renewing my visa if I will be there backpacking and not for work..etc?
Is it easy to renew it as I will stay more than 90 days in Indonesia at least…?
Thanks for your help.
Hey Alfredo. Last time I checked most nationalities get a free 30 day visa for Indonesia, which you can extend once, for a total of 60 days. I’m pretty sure you can’t stay longer than 90 days on a tourist visa, and I’ve heard they’re cracking down on visa runs in Indonesia (due to foreigners working illegally), so you may want to look into that carefully.
The one-way flight is unlikely to be an issue though. Just give yourself enough time at the airport, so that if there’s issues with it (unlikely, but you never know) you can just buy a very cheap ticket online from Bali to Singapore or Kuala Lumpur for example (e.g. with http://www.airasia.com).
I know I’m certainly late to the party, but I’ll be flying to the Bahamas this winter and have a quick question. I’m flying on two one-way tickets instead of a round trip ticket, as it’s cheaper and more convenient for all parties involved. I’m only staying for a week, and I just have to show them proof of the booked departure ticket should they ask, correct? This is my first time flying anywhere, and of course it happens to be abroad. Thanks for your help!
Yep, just print out (or have on a device) the booking confirmation for your one-way return flight and you will be fine. Most likely, you won’t even be asked about it though.
Cheers bro. Was stressing for nothing apparently lol. Appreciate the informative post.
Thank you for the great advice!
Awesome! This was so useful, I have been stressing about my one-way ticket to Italy in 2 weeks and this has helped me out a lot. Love the idea of printing out an imagined itinerary or booking a refundable ticket. Cheers for this!
Please Kat, how that went? I’m going to have a Eurotrip and wanted to start in Italy, please tell me !
Best solution ever. This website books you an onward ticket which is valid for upto 24-48 hours and they charge you pennies which is 10$-17$. How good is that man.
That’s a golden tip! Thanks for sharing
Is this legitimate?
I want to buy one way ticket to lima peru flying with air canada… any potential issues with airline or peru immigration?
Airline might ask for the tickets. Immigration at Peru doesn’t.
Great post, I’ve been stuck a few times! Stumbled across this site for preparing a travel itinerary (PDF format) without buying a ticket. I was asked for my itinerary at check-in when flying from Columbia to Panama. Credit card(s) help as proof of funds, and a copy of your travel insurance can’t hurt…
Planning a trip SE asia, flying into Bangkok with probabl air china on a one way from London. What are the chances do you think of me getting restricted access?
Hard to say. Thai immigration is usually pretty lenient with small stuff, but it depends on the airline. I’m guessing though you’ll probably won’t have huge issues as a fair number of people go to Thailand on a one-way – lots of backpackers do this.
Hi! Thank you for this post. I’m about leave for a longer trip to Southeast Asia and Oceania and I’ve been stressing quite a bit about my one-way ticket. This helped me answer the questions I had. Thank you and regards from Finland! 🙂
Glad to hear it’s proven useful! Have a good trip 🙂