✈ 🎫 Transit | Does my mom need more than one-way ticket?

My mom will be traveling to Taiwan from Korea. She is a US citizen. She will then head to the US after some weeks.

Does she need to buy that ticket to the US before departing Korea? Or can she just buy the one- way to Taiwan, then purchase the ticket to the US when we have a better idea of when she wants to head to the US?

Thanks to anyone willing to help out with this question.

Can’t help with your question directly however if you have headroom on your/her credit card you can book the cheapest full fare, fully refundable ticket out of Taiwan to somewhere, just cancel the ticket once she get’s into Taiwan. I’ve successfully done it for someone who was being refused check-in at departure airport due to not having on onward ticket from Taiwan, for something that last minute it’s obviously best to book with the same airline they’re travelling with on the day.

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Im always asked for proof of return airfare or to present my ARC. I didn’t they think were allowed to let you on, as they’re somehow responsible for making sure you leave the country when your time is up. From Korea to TPE, the morons at the airport asked me for my “Taipei resident card” because China apparently wants to confuse people as much as possible (i didn’t live in Taipei at the time and had no idea what they were talking about. Obviously i figured out they meant “Chinese Taipei”, which is also not what the ARC says, but they wouldn’t give me the boarding pass otherwise. )

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It’s been a long time (decades?) since I thought about this for Taiwan, but from what I recall, your mom should be able to enter without a problem. The landing visa she gets at the airport will specify that she is only supposed to stay for 30 days (renewable twice).

AIT’s website, however, says a return or ongoing ticket is necessary: “You must also possess a confirmed return or onward air ticket.” (ait.org.tw)

As an American, your mom qualifies for Visa-exempt entry. According to BOCA’s website, “2. A confirmed return air/sea ticket or air/sea ticket and a visa for the next destination, and a confirmed seat reservation for departure flight” will be necessary.

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Thank you! That saved my mom a big headache.

This is a basic requirement of virtually all visa-free and visa on arrival arrangements.

What varies is how well it’s enforced. Or if it’s enforced at all.

Airlines get fined by governments for allowing passengers to board who are refused entry (usually for lack of visa or not eligible visa free entry) into their destination. That’s the only reason airlines care.

Some countries will be lenient on the return ticket rule if you can prove more than enough funds to last the entire visa free period as well as pay for a one way ticket back to wherever you’re from.

If you watch Australian border security plenty of Americans get refused entry and deported for thinking they’re above Australia’s ETA rules. On one episode a guy had like $50 for a what he claimed was 3 week trip and no hotel, no ticket leaving oz and no family or friends, he claimed he didn’t need money to survive :joy::joy:


Can buy a ticket then change dates. or, if they dont offer flexible tickets, could always buy the cheapest budget airline ticket to anywhere and say that’s the plan, then just change the plan later and call it a $60usd loss for the flexibility.

This was prior to COVID, but I previously entered Taiwan on a visa exemption without an onward ticket loads of times and it generally wasn’t an issue. Taiwan immigration almost certainly won’t ask or care for a U.S. citizen, and if they did ask she’d just say she’s visiting you for a month or two before flying on to the U.S. and it’d be fine.

As @justintaiwan wrote, though, airlines can ask because they don’t want to be liable for deporting someone if they’re refused entry, and at that point it depends on how convincing the person is and how much the check-in agent wants to pursue it. I was rarely asked, but it did happen a couple of times and I was able to explain my way out of it without buying a ticket. I’ve read in the past of airlines allowing people to sign a waiver saying the airline isn’t financially responsible if the person is refused entry. Another option is to use one of the Southeast Asian airlines that allows you to pay within 48/72 hours at a ticket office or convenience store but e-mails you a confirmed reservation in the meantime that automatically cancels if you don’t pay (this isn’t a fully “confirmed reservation” of course, but it looks 99% like one for showing to a check-in agent – obviously should use a different airline to the one you’re flying with).

There are also services like Onward Ticket, which does essentially the same thing for a small fee (US$14 or so). I’ve never used these – personally I don’t find that paying a fee for a fictitious ticket you know you won’t be using (and can’t use) makes the fiction any more legitimate or less deceptive, but there’s apparently a market for people who do. Or the old classic of just booking something random at the airport:

I’ve never done this either, and I wouldn’t do it preemptively before being forced to do so at the airport. I’d leave it as a last resort – it’s quite easy to find a cheap flight out of Taiwan to somewhere within the 90-day exemption period (assuming you give yourself enough time at the airport of course, and are comfortable enough with technology and traveling to book plane tickets from your phone).

I’d likely wing it by hoping the check-in agent doesn’t ask while having a plausible explanation and an unpaid “confirmed reservation” e-mail on my phone to flash in case they do. In the case of @marasan’s mom though, the safest, least-stress option might be going with @SuperS54’s suggestion of booking the cheapest fully refundable ticket out of Taiwan then canceling it later. (Maybe worth looking at Onward Ticket etc. also. It’s still deceiving the airline about one’s travel plans, but if we’re deceiving airlines about our travel plans this way at least doesn’t require the cost of a full ticket.)


Or the other way around:
Buy a normal china airlines ticket to anywhere (e.g…hong Kong), which does include free cancelation!

Travel agents can make reservations for free without you paying anything. But if you admit that you’re wasting their time, they probably won’t be interested in helping. This feature is mainly used for corporate clients.- I’m an ex travel agent.


Yeah, I believe you. I was referring there to companies like the one I mentioned, which I believe do what you described - they use registered travel agents to make “real” reservations to provide to the customer for a fee so they can get around onward ticket requirements, then cancel them after a period of time. The verifiable reservation is one of their selling points, but aside from that it doesn’t seem any less deceptive to me than people who make their own fake tickets (both still involve lying to the airline about travel plans). And I’m stingy, so never wanted to pay extra for the service. :slightly_smiling_face:

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It’s true. Before I came to Taiwan and was still working at my travel agency I made myself 3 real reservations to China spread out over a year (that I didn’t pay for) so I could apply for a 1 year multiple entry tourist visa to China. Because getting a visa for China in Taiwan is a pain.

The Chinese embassy accepted the (unpaid) reservations, I just deleted the reservations when the visa was issued.

I never used the visa cos after that covid-19 started. I plan on doing the same thing again in the future. But I’ll find an ex colleague and pay them a random fee for helping me out

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I haven’t looked in the legality of any suggestions made above. Just remember, please don’t suggest ways that are breaking any laws. Thanks!

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I tried to be quite careful in my wording above, but I believe the main law here is not overstaying your visa and making sure you leave Taiwan within the permitted 90 days. Not being entirely honest with an airline check-in agent about your future travel plans is probably a violation of their internal policies and conditions of carriage at best (not really “laws”)…but this applies to any of the workarounds discussed.

If somebody feels obliged to be entirely honest with the airline check-in agent, their only real option is to book a flight ticket out of Taiwan that they actually intend to use. Even a fully paid ticket they plan to get refunded is deceiving the airline about their travel plans. :whistle:

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I always book the ticket for my mom, including a one way return ticket that I promptly cancel after she crosses immigrations, so my mom doesn’t have to tell any lies. I book with chase rewards which allows 24 hours cancellation with instant refund to points.

I’ve done it 6 times only time I was asked was flying from Cambodia, they really didn’t want to let me go!
I swung it saying was going I was doing a cycling tour around Taiwan and wasn’t certain how long it would take.
They say ok but writing a letter to Taiwan immigration, that they gave me a copy of.
Get to Taoyuan not asked anything straight through!

Was just about to write the same thing. Only time I was asked about it was returning from Fukuoka, and the airline just had me sign something that basically said I wouldn’t hold them financially responsible for getting me home if I was denied entry.