How To Provide Proof Of Onward Travel (So You Don’t Get Kicked Off Your Flight!)

Proof Of Onward Travel Tips

How To Provide Proof Of Onward Travel

Travel Tips

Planning to travel internationally on a one-way ticket? You might have a problem. Some airlines and countries require proof of onward travel. Here’s how you can get it.

“Before you can board this flight, I need to see your proof of onward travel.” What?! But I’m traveling on a one-way ticket!

I remember the first time it happened to me. I was checking in at Boston’s Logan Airport for an international flight to Bangkok, Thailand.

Excited to visit Southeast Asia for the first time, and planning to spend a few months living in Chiang Mai as a digital nomad. I was flying one-way because, you know, I wasn’t sure how long I’d stay.

One month? Three? Would I even go back to the United States? Maybe I’ll travel to a different country after Thailand… overland. I simply hadn’t planned that far ahead yet.

However due to my American privilege, and my inexperience with international travel, it never once crossed my mind that this would be a problem.

Can’t I just buy another ticket when I’m ready to leave? Nope.

Proof Of Onward Travel Tips

How To Provide Proof Of Onward Travel

What Is Proof Of Onward Travel?

Basically, some countries want to make sure you aren’t attempting to move there on a tourist visa and never leave. It happens all the time here in the United States, and other countries too.

They are trying to prevent illegal immigration.

Government officials need to see proof that you plan on flying out, respecting the rules of their tourist visa. They want proof of onward travel to another destination.

So while you can technically travel on a one-way ticket, they also need some kind of official return ticket confirmation showing that you are leaving the country eventually.

They won’t necessarily care where that ticket goes, just as long as it’s out of their country.

Ticket Confirmation

Example Ticket Confirmation from

Airline Requirements

Many countries actually pass this responsibility on to airlines, meaning that it’s the airline check-in desk who will ask to see proof of your onward travel before they let you board the flight.

Because if they don’t check, and allow you on the flight with a one-way ticket, but immigration officials refuse to let you in, the airline will be responsible for the costs of flying (deporting?) you back to your home country, along with possible fines.

Some airlines are very strict about the proof of onward travel rule.

If you can’t provide proof, you won’t be allowed to board your flight. Or they’ll ask you to buy a return ticket from them right then and there — which can often cost hundreds of dollars more than you want to spend.

Onward Travel Rules Suck!

I feel your pain. Why can’t they just make it easy and allow me travel on a one-way ticket, trusting me when I tell them I plan to leave in two months?

Some of us prefer to travel spontaneously, without plans!

Most long-term travelers are on a tight budget, trying to make their money last as long as possible. Or they aren’t exactly sure which country they want to visit next. Or they want to travel overland by bus.

Buying round trip tickets just isn’t in the cards for everyone.

Don’t take it personally though. These are their rules, and we have to respect them. We have the same laws for foreigners attempting to visit our country.

Luckily there are a few easy (and legal) ways to get around this proof-of-onward-travel requirement, so you can travel on a one-way ticket, and not be forced to pre-plan your entire trip down to the last detail.

Proof Of Onward Travel

Rent A Ticket Confirmation!

How To Get Proof Of Onward Travel

If you think you may need proof of onward travel during your adventure, there are a few legal ways to get around the rules without having to buy round trip tickets everywhere you go.

Rent A Return Ticket

My favorite option these days is to use the online service For about $10, this company will go ahead and purchase a refundable airline ticket in your name, on their dime.

The ticket will then be automatically canceled after 24 or 48 hours.

While it’s active, you’ll be able to view a REAL flight reservation under your name, and show it to the airline check-in agent or immigration officer, “proving” your onward travel. Simple, fast, and cheap.

You can see an example of what the confirmation looks like here.

Buy A Super Cheap Ticket

Extreme budget airlines around the world can have some amazing flight deals. While the airline itself might not be the best, if you don’t plan on actually using the ticket, who cares!

Find the cheapest one-way ticket to a major city in the country next door, and eat the cost. Maybe $50 or $100.

This works best in cheaper areas of the world, like Asia or Latin America. Some examples of budget airlines include EasyJet, AirAsia, Volaris, etc. Click here for a full list.

What about bus or train tickets out of the country? In my experience, sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t. I think it depends on the mood of the check-in agent.

Buy A Refundable Ticket

If you don’t mind waiting (sometimes months) to receive your refund, then buying a fully refundable, second one-way ticket is possible too.

To make it work, you’ll need to buy that second ticket before you leave for your destination.

Once you’ve entered the country, cancel your exit ticket, and wait for the refund. Just make sure to read the fine print — because some airlines charge cancelation fees, or only refund tickets using flight vouchers instead of cash.

Use Your Airline Miles

If you are a travel-hacking whiz and have accumulated a ton of points or miles on your travel rewards credit cards, you can use those points to book a one-way return flight and cancel it later.

Most of the time you’ll find that your points or miles are refunded right away, making it a no-brainer.

Forge A Ticket Confirmation

First of all, I do not recommend this method. If you get caught, it could end up badly. Especially if you try to show a fake piece of paper to actual immigration officials rather than airline employees.

Lying to immigration officials is illegal, and could land you in jail.

But if you’re too cheap to rent a real ticket for $10, you can use to create a fake onward travel confirmation. Remember, use this option at your own risk!

Which Countries Require Proof?

Many countries technically require proof of onward travel, however they don’t always enforce the rule. To reduce your chances of them asking, it’s wise to avoid dressing like a bum/hippie with no money.

Business casual works best at airports if you want to avoid questions.

A few countries definitely require documented proof of onward travel. They include New Zealand, the United Kingdom, United States, Brazil, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Peru, and the Philippines.

However depending on the airline you use, you might also get asked for proof before visiting countries like Thailand, Mexico, and Panama. Do some research on your destination country to be sure.

Don’t Get Caught Off Guard!

Even though this rule might seem ridiculous, if you are a long-term traveler who prefers to travel on one-way tickets, you will eventually get asked for proof of onward travel.

I’ve probably been asked at least 10 times over the past few years.

Luckily there are legal loopholes around it. You just need to remember to get everything sorted in advance, before you find yourself stuck arguing with the airline check-in agent, about to miss your flight. ★

Tips for how to provide proof of onward travel when flying on a one-way ticket. More at
Tips for how to provide proof of onward travel when flying on a one-way ticket. More at

Have any questions about proof of onward travel? Have you ever been asked? Drop me a message in the comments below!

Any Questions Or Comments?

Thanks for leaving a comment, I appreciate your feedback. However please use your real name only and treat everyone with respect. Lets have a meaningful conversation!


  1. Hey, when was the last time you used that Fly onward website?
    I sent a few emails, but they just dont answer :(

    1. You could, but then you’d be wasting a lot of money. For example if I’m traveling to Mexico, but not sure which date I want to leave. Mexico has a 6 month visa for Americans… maybe I want to leave after 2 months, 3 months, or 4 months? Obviously this is a bigger problem for long-term travelers than it is for people going on a week-long vacation.

      What if I decide to take a bus to Belize instead of fly back to the US?

      Buying a round trip ticket and not using the 2nd half would be a waste of money in those situations. A one way ticket to Mexico could be $250, and round trip could be $500. So I’m losing $250 by not using the 2nd half.

  2. This has never happened to me, though I’ve flown one way a couple of times.

    I had a local in Thailand suggest buying a one way ticket into the country and using a local agency to get the flight out in order to save money. He said if they gave me a hard time at immigration, I could explain that and they would probably let me go. Haven’t tried it, but I’d be afraid to find out he was wrong for sure!

    That confirmation rental service is brilliant, though. I’ll have to keep that in mind.

  3. Great Article. It’s very informative and does solve problem of buying two way tickets. This really eats our cost of travel and makes a big hole in our pocket.

    Thanks for this piece of writing.

    From now on I’m buying only one way ticket..:)

  4. I just used Fly Onward coming into Mexico. Thanks for the advice, it worked great! I’ve been visiting some of the cenotes in Mexico that you’ve recommended which have been great!!!

  5. Great article, we used fly onward to get our Thai visas in Singapore since we didn’t have the homebound flights booked at that time. It’s such a great service which makes things a little easier for us digital nomad types. On another occasion at the Thai border we desperately tried to book some cheap flights via Opodo after being refused entry. The AirAsia server was failing that day so we only managed to get an ‘attempted’ booking email which we printed out. They duly let us through without really checking the paperwork. Ironically we got a refund the following day as the booking had failed. Some kind of travel karma in operation there we think!

  6. Great advice and love the rent a return tip- never heard of it!

    I am currently constructing my own travel blog as I head out on an adventure later this year, London to Brisbane overland and then hopefully carry on. With that in mind do you have any tips or encountered any difficulties with travelling overland without proof of onward travel?

    Thanks, Ed

  7. FlyOnward sounds like a great option if you don’t know how your itinerary will play out. I was flagged before getting on a flight in Singapore headed to the Philippines because I was travelling on two one-way tickets (it was cheaper). Luckily, I was able to pull up the confirmation of my flight home on my phone at the gate and could board. Would not have been fun being detained. :\

  8. One more option I found, specific to Japan, jetstar wouldn’t let me board my flight from Oz without onward ticket. So I tried the cheap tickets option on Peach airlines to Korea.
    When I got to the pay page, I had 2 options, credit card or show-up at 7-11 within 24 hours. Picked the latter and was issued a confirmation of flight. (Never made it to 7-11 so reservation was cancelled 24 hours later)

  9. Hi Matthew… did you use lately? Their Facebook page is full of people commenting that they are not replying to any messages.

    1. Hi! I am also wondering if this service is still reliable? It looks like their FB page hasn’t been updated since early 2016. Would love to hear anyone’s feedback as its’s such a great idea. Or are there reliable alternatives out there?

  10. This has happened to me more than once… I always travel with a one-way ticket and I never remember to check which countries require an onward ticket. I’ve never heard you could rent a ticket! That’s brilliant!

  11. Thank you.
    This was the perfect time for me to read this article.
    I will be leaving the U.S. for Asia in March and I’ve bought a 1-way ticket to Japan. I eventually plan on getting another 1-way ticket from there to China where I will travel through to S.E. Asia by train or bus.
    And a part of me just knows that I might get asked for my proof of onward travel.

    Would reservations for a hostel in another country be enough proof for onward travel as well??

  12. Thank you so much for this post. Ironically, I just booked a one way flight to Thailand from Boston, haha! One question- I will be traveling for 22 hours and will be arriving in Thailand +2days with the time difference and travel time. I see that the onward ticket gives you a 48hr option, which I think would be enough, but I think it might be cutting it too close to book a ticket with a 24hr refund time, right? Thank you!

  13. We actually had a problem checking in for our flight from Tokyo to Belgrade via Istanbul. Turkish Airlines didn’t like the fact that we didn’t have on onward ticket from Belgrade. We ended up signing a waiver not holding them responsible should we have problems at Serbian immigration. Well, guess what? Easiest immigration procedure we ever went through..

    Sometimes airlines just to preoccupied protecting their own butts.

    Frank (bbqboy)

  14. It actually gets way easier than that! Sites like Expedia, Kayak and Orbitz have a 24 hour cancellation guarantee during which they put a hold on the amount payable, but the money is not actually taken out of your account until after this period. So book a trip out, get through passport control, cancel your ticket, and the hold will be dropped and your $$$ available to you within the next 3 days. Tried and tested :)

  15. You have to be kidding yourself if you are even suggesting people forge a booking or similar.

    If you’re not smart enough to realise and research the immigration laws and visa requirements of a country you deserve to be refused boarding or similar.

  16. This has happened to me twice in the past few years. The first time, flying into New Zealand, we had to just purchase an exit flight right then and there. We chose Papua New Guinea and it was interesting! The second time, we needed flights in and out of China to get a visa, so we just reserved a ticket and printed it out, but didn’t actually purchase the plane ticket.

      1. I reckon it depends on the type of visa you have, as if you have a year working visa they won’t hassle you with needing a return flight

  17. Hi Matthew,
    Great read and great tips. We had an issue flying out of Fort Lauderdale where the airline lady insisted we had a return flight to El Salvador (Uk passports). We’d done the research and found we didn’t so didn’t buy one. She still refused after we pointed this out. I eventually asked for a manager. Apparently Spirit Airlines have a pre prepared list and sure enough we didn’t need one so they let us fly. Took close to an hour of debating this fact with them till they checked their own information. Until this point it had never happened and I wasn’t aware they had written rules. I’ll always ask in future straight away.
    Thanks for the information.

  18. I’ve often found that when airlines have asked me for proof of onward travel you can ask them for a disclaimer form to sign saying the airline will not be responsible for your flight out if not allowed entry, and then they let you on. You might have to argue for it for a while but you can get it. I use this method a lot and never had any problems.

    Off course that won’t work if the actual immigration officer wants to see proof of onward travel when you arrive, but in 19 years of travel I have never been asked that from an immigration official, even in countries that require it. But then you never know…

      1. I had to use it a few times last year, such as flying Osaka to Taipei in the summer, but haven’t needed to with flight routes I’ve used in the past few months (Bishkek – Istanbul, Tbilisi – Dubai) so I hope it hasn’t changed with all airlines all of a sudden! Paying $10 for an easy service in the future if needed is not so bad I guess. But that $10 could be an awesome meal somewhere :)

  19. hi, i love the first option!! will def try that in the future! i’m traveling in asia right now and i had to show proof to board a plane to Taiwan. i knew this because i checked the visa requirements before going. also i have to do the same thing for thailand next. so i bought a round trip ticket from bangkok to india since i want to go there too and so i can break up a trip to thailand with a month trip to India. i find the proof of onward travel not so bad considering there are tourist visa requirements anyway. if i can only stay in a country for a certain amount of time then i have to have a ticket to leave anyway. except for onward travel by land of course. i can see it sucking if you buy a ticket and end up not liking a country and want to leave earlier than you planned. but i like that it’s teaching me to commit to something. if i say to myself i’m gonna spend 2 months in a country and have a ticket then i find my mindset is more positive and in the moment. making the best out of everything instead of always looking to the future. japan was open ended and i actually left earlier than i planned to simply because i could.

    1. Yeah it’s not a problem if you have a solid plan, and already have tickets ready. But if you’re thinking of sticking around longer, and applying for a visa extension, or traveling overland by bus, then it’s something to keep in mind.

    1. Yes. I’ve been asked for proof of onward travel going to Mexico before. However usually they don’t ask. You never know — a bit like a game of roulette. It just takes that one time to screw up your day.

  20. I flew to the Phillies on a one way. There is the possibility for tourists to extend their tourist visa up to 18 months without ever leaving the country so I don’t see why they would make a big deal if you come without a return flight. It’s not even possible to book that far ahead. This is the same argument I gave when I boarded my flight in Guanghzou in China to Manila.

    1. Some rules are just strange. It even works like this in the US. If you’re entering the country on a student visa you need to have a return flight. You can’t book a flight 2 years in the future, so many people just book a random flight somewhere nearby in order to enter the country.

  21. I am a TEFL teacher. Recently, I have taught in Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Chile. The only time I had an issue was when I went to Mexico on Delta airlines in 2003. They were not going to let me board because I didn’t have a return ticket. I have heard others have had similar problems with Delta. I told them I was planning to leave by bus, and after much arguing, they let me go. I had no trouble in Colombia or in Peru. I didn’t have a visa when I entered either place. I guess they argued with me a little in Peru, but they let me in. I entered Chile in a bus, so there wasn’t even a question.

    1. Delta seems to ask a lot. It’s always good to arrive at the airport plenty early if you plan to take a chance, just in case you have to spend time arguing or have to buy another flight. The stress levels get magnified if you’re running late for your flight anyway!

  22. Had this problem when I went to the US this year actually. I went to see my girlfriend in DC, flying from Spain (I am Danish but was living in Spain at that moment). Her roommates weren’t fond of the idea of me being in their apartment for several months, so we decided to give it 6 weeks and see if it would be too much, thus I didn’t buy a return ticket. I was pulled aside by airport control in Boston and they explained me the case and told me that I had to buy a ticket out of the country again, so I just bought an expensive ticket back 5-6 weeks later. I was completely unaware of this and had not been travelling that much prior to this experience, but the rule makes sense to me. In the future I will be sure to have the next ticket ready and it seems that your advices will be helpful. Thank you, Matthew!


  23. Love these ideas!!! Haven’t found myself in the situation where I need these yet but always good to keep in mind in case it’s needed in the future!! (Especially as I’m planning a 6 month trip in south east Asia without pre-determining my route ahead of time!! ?)