Proof of Onward Travel

If you are going to Latin America for your Spanish course or a normal backpacking trip in Central – or South America, there is always the possibility that you will be asked for showing proof of onward travel. This can be very annoying if you plan to continue traveling overland afterwards. Our students often ask us what they can do to prove that they have a return or onward ticket. In this blog, we give you more facts and our thoughts about this. We offer you different options that you can consider. We want to make sure that you are as our student as prepared as possible for your language course in Latin America. So that you can just focus on your Spanish lessons!

Introduction: What is Proof of Onward Travel & How Does it Work?

In Latin America, they normally issue a visa valid for 3 months. Immigration officials are tasked with making sure you leave the country at the end of that time. Therefore they may ask for proof of departure (flight receipt/itinerary). A flight can be to anywhere in Latin America or back to your home country. Unfortunately, bus, train or boat tickets as proof of onward travel are not recognized. Even our round trips with shuttles, the well-established ones or an itinerary of a pre-booked trip as part of some of our Spanish programs in Latin America are not recognized.

So we learned that immigration officers may ask for an outbound ticket. But in real life often airlines already ask for this ticket during check-in at the airport. This is because they are responsible for flying you back to the country of departure if the immigration officials do not allow you to enter the country. Or the airlines risk getting a very big fine. You will therefore be refused entry by airlines if you do not have an outbound flight ticket. If you do not present proof of onward travel, the airlines could make you buy an international flight ticket departing from anywhere in Central America to your home country. But trust us, you don’t want to have that stress when you still have to check in and board your flight to your next Spanish adventure in Latin America!

But how do you as a student get a return or onward ticket if you are not yet sure where you are going? Well, there are several options that you can consider, read on if you want to learn more about them!

How To Get a Proof of Onward Travel

Option 1: Buy a Real (Cheap) Ticket or Get a Refundable Ticket

Buying a real flight is the most reliable way of getting an onward ticket for your language trip to Latin America. You will have no stress and will be able to hand over a real ticket. Of course, it is advisable to look for the very cheapest ticket.

If you don’t mind waiting (sometimes months), you can also go for fully refundable airline tickets. And the moment everything has gone well with immigration, and you are enjoying your first days at one of our Spanish language schools in Latin America. Then you can cancel the outbound flight ticket. But be aware! You have to make sure that you buy a fully refundable ticket. Some airlines have small letters in their terms and conditions, and they charge cancellation fees or they will give a voucher for a new flight. It is also important not to overstay your visa time! So make sure you buy a flight that falls within this time frame. In almost all countries in Latin America, this will be within 3 months from arrival.

2: Rent A Flight Ticket Confirmation

Now we come to another option that is also very popular with our students. There are several websites where you can rent an onward ticket. This is a safe and cheap alternative to a real plane ticket. Well-known providers are, and How does it work? Easy! You will get an official ticket within hours of confirming your purchase.

3: Book an Airline Ticket with Free cancellation

This option is also what some of our students do. They buy a ticket with free cancellation. But be careful because often it is a bit tricky! Most airline providers have the condition that you can cancel your flight for free, but it needs to be done within 24 hours. So, this means you have to buy a ticket just before you fly. And almost immediately upon arrival, you have to cancel it. If you have a long layover then it already gets difficult for you. If you choose this option, we recommend you print out proof of your booking so you can show it to the airline company and immigration officials. Well-known providers are Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz and they generally have good customer service as well.

4. Buy a Bus Ticket or Create a Fake Flight Ticket

These are very extremely risky options and we do not recommend them. But some of our students are daredevils and they go for it. Sometimes a bus ticket is seen as recognized proof of onward travel, but as mentioned before, officially this is not the case. It often depends on the mood of the check-in desk clerk or the immigration officer. It’s therefore a risky option and we believe that there are better and safer options. A fake ticket is of course also a big risk. Please also note. Using these options is illegal and against the law. If you get caught you could be heavily fined or even worse prosecuted or jailed. Again, we strongly discourage these options!


Will you be our next student, and do you want to have a good start of your Spanish adventure in Latin America? Proof of onward travel is a must then! It helps you travel without worries. Why would you even want to risk that you get picked out by a grumpy immigration officer and getting in trouble for not showing proof of onward travel? A real flight is the most reliable way to prove you are leaving the country on time, but there are (cheaper) alternatives. Whichever option you choose as our student. The responsibility of obtaining proof of onward travel and being in compliance with local legislation is yours. You can only use this article as a source of information.

After reading this blog, would you like to travel and get some great inspiration for a Spanish adventure in Latin America? You could check out our popular Traveling Classrooms! These are language courses in Latin America which allow you to learn Spanish while travelling from place to place, and you will get to know the country and its culture! Not really what you are looking for? No worries, we got many more Spanish programs, and we like to tell you everything about it! Contact us today and we assist you immediately with finding a Spanish language course in Latin America! We always give 100% and free advice and we have many student benefits.

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