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- Visas and immigration
- Visit the UK
Visit the UK as a Standard Visitor
You can visit the UK as a Standard Visitor for tourism, business, study (courses up to 6 months) and other permitted activities.
You can usually stay in the UK for up to 6 months. You might be able to apply to stay for longer in certain circumstances, for example to get medical treatment.
What you need to do
Check if what you plan to do in the UK is allowed as a Standard Visitor.
Check you meet the eligibility requirements.
Check if you need to apply for a visa to visit the UK.
Apply for a Standard Visitor visa online - if you need one.
What you can and cannot do (‘permitted activities’)
You can visit the UK as a Standard Visitor:
- for tourism, for example on a holiday or vacation
- to see your family or friends
- to volunteer for up to 30 days with a registered charity
- to pass through the UK to another country (‘in transit’)
- for certain business activities , for example attending a meeting or interview
- to take part in a school exchange programme
- to do a recreational course of up to 30 days, for example a dance course
- to study, do a placement or take an exam
- as an academic, senior doctor or dentist
- for medical reasons
- do paid or unpaid work for a UK company or as a self-employed person
- claim public funds (benefits)
- live in the UK for long periods of time through frequent or successive visits
- marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership - you’ll need to apply for a Marriage Visitor visa
Check you meet the eligibility requirements
You must have a passport or travel document to enter the UK. It should be valid for the whole of your stay.
You must be able to show that:
- you’ll leave the UK at the end of your visit
- you’re able to support yourself and your dependants during your trip (or have funding from someone else to support you)
- you’re able to pay for your return or onward journey (or have funding from someone else to pay for the journey)
- you’ll not live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits, or make the UK your main home
You may need to meet extra eligibility requirements if you’re visiting the UK:
The rules on what you’ll need to enter the UK may be different if you’re travelling from Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man .
Check if you need a visa to visit the UK
Depending on your nationality, you’ll either:
- have to apply for a Standard Visitor visa before you travel to the UK
- be able to visit the UK for up to 6 months without needing a visa
You can check if you need a visa before you apply.
If you do not need a visa, you must still meet the Standard Visitor eligibility requirements to visit the UK. You may be asked questions at the UK border about your eligibility and the activities you plan to do.
If you’ve previously been refused entry to the UK or have a criminal record, you may want to apply for a Standard Visitor visa (even if you do not need one).
If you have to apply for a Standard Visitor visa
You must apply for a Standard Visitor visa online before you travel to the UK.
A Standard Visitor visa costs £115 for up to 6 months. The earliest you can apply is 3 months before you travel.
If you visit the UK regularly, you can choose to apply for a long-term Standard Visitor visa instead.
You can pass through the UK to another country on a Standard Visitor visa. If transiting is your only reason for coming to the UK, you can apply for a Visitor in Transit visa instead for £64.
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What are you looking for, visa and immigration information.
What documents will I need?
Planning a visit to Britain but not sure what documents you’ll need? Find key information on passport requirements, visas and Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) below. Detailed guidance can also be found on the official government website .
EU, EEA and Swiss nationals
Some entry requirements changed for EU, EEA and Swiss nationals, post Brexit.
Most travellers from the EU, EEA and Switzerland will require a passport to enter Britain and Northern Ireland. Your passport will need to be valid for your entire stay here.
Some, but not all visitors can use an EU, EEA or Swiss national ID to enter Britain and Northern Ireland until at least 31 December 2025. Check gov.uk website for who is eligible.
Common Travel Areas
For those in the Common Travel Areas (known as Britain and Northern Ireland, the rest of Ireland and Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. See here for those different document requirements .
The rest of the world
You must have a valid passport to enter Britain and Northern Ireland, and it should be valid for the whole duration of your stay.
Most people coming to visit Britain and Northern Ireland will need a visa. To discover whether you need one or not depends on why you’re visiting and your nationality.
You’ll have to either:
Apply for a standard Visitor Visa. There is a cost for this, and it must be applied for three months before travel.
Be able to visit Britain and Northern Ireland for six months without needing a visa.
You can check which applies to you .
More information on short-stay visas can be found on the official government website.
Electronic Travel Authorisation
By the end of 2024, Electronic Travel Authorisation will be a requirement worldwide for visitors who do not currently need a visa for short stays. More information on the ETA scheme can be found on the official government website.
Until the introduction of the ETA, most travellers from the EU, EEA and Switzerland won’t require a visa but will still need their passport to enter Britain and Northern Ireland. Your passport will need to be valid for your entire stay.
If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, you can find the most up-to-date information on visiting Britain and Northern Ireland on the official government website .
American, Canadian and Australian tourists, and citizens of certain Commonwealth countries, can travel visa-free throughout Britain and Northern Ireland, providing you have a valid passport and your reason for visiting meets the immigration rules .
Tourists from Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia or the UAE will need to apply for an electronic visa waiver instead of a visa. You can find further details at https://www.gov.uk/get-electronic-visa-waiver .
The Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) scheme will start to replace the electronic visa waiver from late 2023:
- From 15 November 2023, nationals of Qatar will require an ETA to travel to the UK.
- From 22 February 2024, nationals of Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will require an ETA to travel to the UK.
- More countries will be added to the scheme at a later date.
An ETA will cost £10 per application when the scheme opens, will permit multiple journeys and be valid for two years or until the holder’s passport expires - whichever is sooner.
More information on the new ETA scheme can be found via the official government website.
For nationals of all other countries, you can check if you need a UK visa here.
Please note that www.GOV.UK is the only official UK immigration website and provides all of the information necessary to successfully complete an application.
We have received reports of customers using non-GOV.UK websites to support their UK immigration applications. If you have made use of these websites, please be aware of the following:
- Some non-GOV.UK websites deliberately attempt to deceive customers by making it appear as though they are an official part of the application process.
- These websites can pose a risk to a customer’s security and data.
- They will often charge applicants extra, unnecessary fees in addition to any fees related to the official immigration application.
- The information included on these websites is not moderated by the Home Office and may be inaccurate or misleading.
If you think you may have been a victim of a non-GOV.UK website seeking your data and/or money, please report this to Reporting fraud and cyber crime | Action Fraud .
Getting a visitor visa for family and friends
This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland , See advice for Scotland , See advice for Wales
Your friend or family member can apply for a visitor visa so they can visit you in the UK. Visitor visas are usually for up to 6 months.
Bringing your partner to the UK to get married or register a civil partnership
Your partner can’t use a standard visitor visa to come to the UK to get married or register a civil partnership.
If you and your partner want to live in the UK after you get married or register a civil partnership, check if they can apply for a partner visa .
If you and your partner don’t want to stay in the UK together, your partner can come to the UK on a marriage visitor visa. This means they’ll have to leave the UK within 6 months. Check how to get a marriage visitor visa on GOV.UK .
Check if your visitor needs a visa
You’ll need to check if they need a visitor visa on GOV.UK if you don’t already know - it depends on their nationality.
If they don’t need a visitor visa, they might be able to scan their own passport at an ‘eGate’ instead of speaking to an immigration officer. Check who can use the eGates on GOV.UK .
If they can't use an eGate, they should still be prepared to explain why they’re visiting when they get to the border. If the Border Force thinks they might try to stay longer, they can refuse them entry
If you’re helping your visitor apply for a visitor visa
They’ll have to apply online .
Make sure your visitor puts their information in where it asks for the applicant’s details .
After you fill in the form, the visitor will need to have their fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre. Check where their nearest visa application centre is before you apply, because it might be in a different country.
The online form asks you some questions to get to the visa you need.
If you need more support with your application
You should consider getting specialist advice if you’re unsure about the application. It might cost you money but it can save you time and hassle. Your local Citizens Advice can either help you or let you know where to get expert advice.
Documents you’ll need to include
You’ll need to include documents that support their application when you send it off. The online form will give you guidance on what to include, but here are some things to keep in mind.
If your documents aren’t in English or Welsh, you’ll need to provide certified English translations of your documents with the originals. Each translation has to include:
confirmation from the translator that it’s an accurate translation of the original
the date of the translation
the translator's full name and signature
the translator's contact details
Prove they’ll be returning to their country after their visit
You could show proof your visitor has a job or studies to go back to in their home country. You can also show they have family who depend on them in their home country.
Prove there’s enough money for the trip
You’ll have to provide evidence to show that the visitor’s trip can be afforded, whether it’s being paid for by them or by you.
If the visitor is paying for themselves, they’ll have to include documents proving that they can afford it, for example bank statements or payslips.
If you’re paying for their visit (eg for their flights and accommodation), you’ll need to prove that you can afford the visitor’s trip as well as your own costs - for example your rent, mortgage and general expenses.
an estimate of how much the trip will cost - this needs to be as accurate as possible
proof of your income and where you work, for example payslips or an employment contract
proof that you have enough money to pay for the visitor’s stay, for example recent bank statements
proof that you’re in the UK legally, for example a copy of your passport or visa
Prove you have a genuine relationship
You’ll have to show how you’re connected to the person visiting you.
If the person visiting you is a friend, boyfriend or girlfriend, you might need to give stronger proof they’ll be returning to their country after their visit.
If your visa is refused
You can read the government’s guidance on reasons for refusing visas on GOV.UK, if you're concerned the visa you're applying for might be refused.
You can’t usually appeal if the visitor visa is refused. It's quicker and easier to apply again. Make sure you deal with the reasons your first application was refused.
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Page last reviewed on 13 May 2019
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UK Visitor Visa
If you are a foreign national and you wish to spend some time in the UK as a tourist or to visit your family and your friends, you can apply for a Visitor Visa.
Call us on 0333 305 3612 for immediate help & assistance with your situation. We’re here to help you in person, via the phone or online.
Request a call back from our immigration experts
- UK Visitor Visa Overview
- Documentation Required For Your Application
- Tourist Visa Application Process
- Staying In The UK For More Than Six Months
- Visitor Visa UK Application Fees
Appealing UK Visitor Visa refusal
- Immigration Status Covered By A Visitor Visa
- IAS’ UK Visitor Visa Services
Frequently Asked Questions
- How Can I Get Help From The IAS
Visitor Visa UK
If you’re looking to make a short term stay in the UK, then the standard visitor visa (UK) is likely the visa you’ll need to apply for. Visitor visas in the UK allow you to travel for short term stays of up to six months and can be used for leisure and business, among other reasons.
The visitor visa can act as a short term business visa, a tourist visa for UK holidays, an academic visit visa, a marriage visitor visa to get married or enter into civil partnership, and much more. If you’re coming to the UK for travel, tourism, leisure, short term business needs, or private medical treatment, then the standard visit visa (UK) will give you permission to come to the UK to do so.
If you need support with your visitor visa, you can contact our offices in London , Manchester , or Birmingham , or use our office finder to find your closest branch.
What Is The UK Standard Visitor Visa And Who Is It For?
- Leisure – Are you a non-EEA national looking for a holiday visa? UK visas for international travellers can sometimes become confusing, but the standard visiting visa to UK territories will cover you for up to six months for any leisure purposes. Whether coming for a family visit, sightseeing, or general travel, your needs fall under the standard visa because it functions as a UK general visitor visa and UK tourist visa. To UK holidayers from non-EEA regions, the standard visitor visa is the path to take.
- Business – If you need to enter the UK for short term business requirements such as conferences, events or business appointments, then the general visitor visa UK will allow you to travel to the UK to conduct your business here for a period of up to six months.
- Other reason – The standard visitor visa can also allow you to travel to the UK if you are receiving private medical treatment, for instance.
If you’re not a citizen of either an EEA country or Switzerland, you may well need to go through the online application form process on the gov.uk website in order to get a standard visa . UK visa eligibility can be confusing , however, and there are exceptions.
If you’re not sure whether you need the visitor visa for UK travel, we always recommend using the Home Office website to check.
What Documentation Do I Need To Prove My Eligibility For The Visitor Visa?
To prove your eligibility for the UK visitor visa, it’s important to provide the Home Office with evidence of the general requirements for eligibility as part of your UK visit visa requirements and application. As a non-EEA visa national, you’ll need to prove that:
- You have full intention to leave the UK at the end of your visit and do not plan to stay for longer than six months.
- You have evidence of any activities you intend to perform while in the UK, including business and other activities.
- You can afford your inward and outward journey including flights.
- You have access to sufficient funds in order to support and house yourself and any dependents throughout your stay without accessing public funds.
It’s one thing knowing what you need to prove, but it’s another thing understanding how to do so. Immigration rules are strict and the Home Office refuses a lot of visas on the basis of a lack of supporting evidence. Here at IAS, it’s our job to support you in understanding what you need to do to submit a successful application and how to go about it. Visit visa requirements for UK travel can be confusing, but we’re always on hand to provide guidance and assistance when you need it.
To have your visa approved, you’ll need to give details about your current and previous passport numbers or an alternative valid travel identification . Remember, however, that any documentation needs to be accompanied with a certified translation if it isn’t in English or Welsh. Additional documents you might need to provide includes:
- Travel documents that detail the dates on which you plan to travel.
- An immigration record and history of international travel. Visa UK laws require a lot of information to be provided.
- An estimate for the cost of your visit as well proof of sufficient funds such as bank statements.
- Your overseas contact details and address.
- Details of any overseas employer company for which you are travelling to the UK.
The list continues, and the truth is that there’s no limit to the amount of supporting evidence that can help prove your eligibility and support your case. If you feel a little overwhelmed and want some support in putting your application together, get in touch with the team here at IAS . Our immigration lawyers are well-experienced and fully-qualified – no one is better placed to help guide you to visa approval.
How Long Should I Expect The Visa Processing Time To Take?
When planning a trip, it’s important to know what kind of timeframe you can work from. Whether you’re travelling to the UK for business or tourism from somewhere like North America, Asia, Australia, the Middle East or Africa, you want to know that your plans aren’t going to be held up while you wait for permission to travel.
You can submit your visa application to the Home Office between three months and 48 hours before you plan to travel.
However, the visa processing time can take often take up to three weeks for applicants outside the EEA and Switzerland. You can take steps to track the application processing period and view your UK visa processing status as it changes. It can be a huge relief to be able to frequently check your visa status . UK processing times are generally quick, but it’s good to keep on top of the ways things progress.
Whether you’re applying from a local visa centre or embassy, or applying via the online forms, you might find yourself in a situation where you need to have your visa approved as soon as possible.
If you’re travelling to the UK for an urgent appointment that you can’t afford to miss, you might want to choose one of the Home Office’s priority services: the Priority Service and the Super Priority Service . These ensure that your application is processed within five working days and 24 hours respectively.
These services come at an extra cost but are fantastic for making sure you get your visa decision delivered within a shorter timeframe. Not all countries offer these services, however, so it’s worth checking at a local visa application centre first.
If you need to visit the UK for business or tourism as soon as possible and you’re struggling to put together your business or tourist visa UK application, the team here at IAS are on to help out.
Our qualified immigration lawyers can offer you a fantastic fast track application package with which they will make sure that your application gets submitted and processed as soon as possible with the best chance of success. This includes booking a Home Office Same-Day Premium slot for you, checking your required documentation, writing a Letter of Representation to the Home Office, and more. Just get in touch with us today to find out more about how we can help.
Can I Stay In The UK For Longer Than Six Months?
As a general rule, all Standard UK visitor visas are short term visas limiting the holder to a maximum stay of six months. Immigration rules also prevent you from bypassing this restriction by using the visitor visa or frequent or successive visits, but you are free to enter and leave the UK at will during the time that your visa is valid.
For visitors from the United States, China, Pakistan, India, and other non-EEA countries can, however, apply for a long-term visit visa for UK travel. These are available at an extra cost and can be held for a duration of two years, five years or ten years.
Beware that these visas still restrict you to a maximum single visit of six months or less. However, you can enter and leave the UK multiple times within the allotted time period. A long term visitor visa UK is a great route to take if you know that you’ll need to return to the UK multiple times within a certain period of time.
Non-EEA academic visitors and those receiving private medical treatment in the UK do have access to another solution for a longer-term stay. This is called the Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) . This will mean having to submit biometric information about yourself such as your personal details, fingerprints, a photo, your immigration status and more, but will allow you to stay in the UK for longer than six months. This process is known as biometric enrolment and still requires you to prove evidence of sufficient financial support for your stay.
How Much Does A Visitors Visa UK Cost?
Before beginning a visa application, you want to know how much it’s going to cost for your visitor visa. To UK travellers from non-EEA countries, visa fees can vary. But the standard UK visitor visa costs are the same – £100. However, if you’re planning on staying for longer than 6 months, it might be that you’re applying for a long-term standard visa, in which case there are different costs involved:
- 2-Year Visa – £376
- 5-Year Visa – £670
- 10-Year Visa – £837
International travelling can be costly as it is – you don’t want to overlook planning for the correct visa fees and finding yourself caught out when it comes time to submit your application.
Here at the Immigration Advice Service, we often see applicants frustrated by visa costs – if you’re visiting the UK for a family wedding, holiday, or other short term stays, then costs can begin to pile up.
The gov.uk website has a fantastic tool with which you can check the correct visa fees for your journey before applying, and we always recommend that applicants make use of this.
There are a number of available options when it comes to a Visitor Visa refusal. These options are outlined in detail below:
- Re-apply for your visa with a new application
- Submit a request for an appeal (only possible on human rights grounds)
- Apply for a judicial review
The advantages of each option is explained in this table:
Every immigration case is different, and it is recommended that you work with an immigration adviser to ensure that your case is given the appropriate attention, and all your circumstances considered.
For expert support and advice with your UK Visitor Visa refusal case, contact our specialist advisers today.
The Standard Visitor Visa Category Covers A Range Of Other Visas
The visitor visa allows foreign nationals subject to UK immigration laws to enter the country for a short period for a range of different reasons. This is because the standard UK visit visa covers a range of other types of visas for UK travel and various sub-categories of visas, including:
- Family Visit Visa – For non-EEA nationals wanting to travel to the UK for a family visit, it’s necessary to apply for the UK family visitor visa category. As standard, this visa allows you to stay in the UK for up to six months to see family. When visiting the UK under the family visit visa , you aren’t permitted to work or claim public funds while here. You also can’t bring dependents with you, meaning that if you’re planning on travelling with other family members, you’ll need to make sure that each travelling family member has a valid family visit visa UK.
It’s also the case that UK family visit visas are difficult to obtain compared to other types of UK visa. For foreign nationals subject to UK immigration laws, family visas have very strict requirements and a challenging application process. You’ll need to prove that you have sufficient funds to support yourself throughout the duration of your stay, as well as provide proof that you fully intend on returning home at the end of your maximum six months stay. The family visitor visa (UK) requirements are difficult to meet, but our OISC-regulated immigration lawyers can help you to make sense of the process.
- Child Visitor Visa – Any non-EEA national under the age of 18 needs to apply for a child visitor visa before travelling to the UK . This is another visa that falls under the standard visitor visa category and is required for any under-18 with UK travel plans. Whether travelling to visit family or friends, as part of an exchange programme, or for education, the child visitor visa covers you for up to six months of UK travel. Visa applications for child visas need to be thorough.
Whether the application is being made by the child or the parent, it’s necessary to prove that the under-18 will have the necessary suitable accommodation and care during their stay. This might include proving they have sufficient funds and travel plans as part of the application. You also need to prove that the minor has a recognised parent or guardian who is responsible for their care in their home country.
- Business Visitor Visa – It’s important not to confuse the business visitor visa with other UK work and business visas such as the investor visa , the skilled worker visa , or the tier 1 entrepreneur visa , for instance. If you don’t understand the differences between these visas, you could find yourself caught out with a valid visa that doesn’t actually allow you to do what you want when travelling to the UK. Visa visitors can often find themselves applying for the wrong visa. For example, the business visitor visa is quite limiting in that it only allows you to visit the UK on a short term basis – up to six months – and there’s a limited list of specific business activities you can perform while here.
For example, with a business visitor visa, you can attend conferences and training, complete academic work, participate in some sporting events, negotiate and sign deals and contracts, and carry out inspections, among other functions . However, you can’t do any paid work or access public funds while in the UK. You’re eligible for the business visitor visa regardless of whether you are working for an employer or self-employed.
- Student Visitor Visa – If you’re a visiting UK visa national hoping to study on a short term basis, you’ll need to apply for the student visitor visa. Also known as the short-term study visa , this is a type of UK visa that allows you to travel to the UK to study for no longer than six months.
This isn’t to be confused with the student visa , which allows foreign nationals to study in the UK for periods of more than six months but is instead measured on a points-based system.
Essentially, if you or the applicant plans to travel and study at a UK institution for an undergraduate degree or other long term course, the student visitor visa won’t cover your needs.
If, however, you’re an international student planning on studying for a maximum period of six months for a short term qualification, then this is the visa you need to apply for.
- Visitor In Transit Visa – If you’re travelling to the UK as part of a ‘stopover flight’, we recommend checking your visa requirements by visiting the website of the UK Home Office. Visitor visas for travellers in transit work a little differently.
If you’re stopping in the UK for up to 48 hours before flying somewhere else, you’ll need to prove to immigration authorities both your right to stay in the UK for this time and your intention to leave. For this type of visa, UK immigration laws require you to provide travel documents and proof of your journey plans.
This kind of travel is known as ‘transiting land-side’, and falls under the UK transit visa category of the standard visitor visa. You’ll need this visa if you’re planning on passing through immigration control before leaving the UK within 48 hours.
When it comes to transit visas, UK immigration laws take into account a range of different factors.
Depending on your nationality, your airline, and the nature of your stay (whether airside or landside transit), your UK visa requirements can vary.
If you arrive in the UK for transit without permission, you risk being denied entry by an immigration officer.
Get in touch with our team of UK immigration specialists to find out how we can help you and your family. Contact Us
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Our uk visitor visa services, advice package.
Need some help to decide how to proceed with your visa application? UK’s immigration control is strict, and understanding which visa is right for you and how to apply can be a confusing process. Here at Immigration Advice Service, our qualified and experienced immigration lawyers can provide you with the information and advice you need to add clarity to your decision. We’ll support you in making an informed decision about your visa and help you to better understand your immigration status.
When you choose our advice package, you’ll be invited for a one-on-one Advice Session. This can take place either via Skype, phone or in person – we have immigration law offices across the nation. Our immigration lawyers are fully qualified and OISC-regulated , so you can rest assured that you’re in good hands when you choose IAS. During your Advice Session, your assigned immigration lawyer will listen in detail to all the different aspects of your situation. They’ll ask plenty of questions until they have a comprehensive picture of your immigration matter. Then, they’ll be in a position to offer you the advice you need.
Our immigration lawyers will help you to understand the various specific visa categories and can provide you with a path of further steps to take in your visa application. It may be that for your UK visitor visa application to be successful, you need to provide supporting documents such as travel documents, birth certificates, employment contracts, and even bank statements. Applications are often about being able to prove your intent and ability to abide by UK immigration laws. Our lawyers will advise you on which additional documents can help increase your application’s chances of success.
You’ll benefit from an untimed Advice Session that addresses all of your visa needs. Want a chance to talk in detail about your case and receive detailed information in return about how to proceed? Our advice package is the service for you:
- Discuss your case in detail with a qualified professional who will explore the different paths and opportunities to fulfil your visa requirements.
- Get a clear picture of which specific visa categories are applicable to you , your eligibility requirements, and what requirements you need to meet for a successful visitor visa application.
- Receive comprehensive advice about the right supplementary evidence and other supporting documents you’ll need to give your application an improved chance of approval.
- Find out what kind of time frame you can expect moving forward.
- Benefit from support that lasts beyond the session itself. For a week after your consultation, your immigration lawyer will be free to answer any follow-up questions you might have. We’re here to support you – that’s why we offer this at no extra cost to you.
Having a visa successfully approved is rarely as easy as just filling in a short online application form or even visiting a local visa application centre. Applying to the UK Home Office can be a long and complicated process. You don’t want to spend a lot of time putting together an application, only to find that you’ve been unsuccessful – especially if it could have been easily avoided. That’s why so many people end up having to seek professional advice and help when attempting to travel to the UK from a non-EEA nation.
If you want to relieve some of the burden of the extensive process that a UK visitor visa application entails, we offer a package that’s specially tailored to offer you the assistance you need. We can help you to complete and strengthen your application by making sure that you’ve got all the supporting documents and evidence that you might need. For foreign nationality citizens travelling to the UK for tourism and business, it can be easy to overlook something and find yourself refused entry.
When you choose our application package, you’ll benefit from comprehensive assistance in completing your visitor visa application . We’ll assign you a dedicated caseworker for advice and assistance throughout the process.
You’ll benefit from a thorough consultation and further guidance regarding visa application fees, eligibility requirements, evidence collation, and more. Your caseworker will then assist you in preparing and submitting your application. They’ll support you throughout the entire process, monitoring and keeping you informed as things progress.
Our expert immigration lawyers will help to:
- Evaluate your individual case and eligibility before proceeding with the visa application. There are a lot of categories of the standard visitor visa – you don’t want to waste your time applying for a visa that doesn’t apply to you.
- Put together a plan of action for a successful application . Our immigration lawyers are fully-qualified and experienced professionals – no-one is better placed to accurately identify everything you’ll need to qualify for your visa.
- Assist you in compiling a comprehensive portfolio of supporting documents and evidence that proves your intent and eligibility. The vast majority of unsuccessful visa applications are at fault for a lack of evidence. We’ll make your case as watertight as possible.
- Support your application with a Letter of Representation to the Home Office. Your dedicated caseworker will write a thorough letter that emphasises your eligibility and strengthens your application
- Complete the paperwork . Visa applications can be complicated to put together. Fortunately, your dedicated caseworker has done all this before. They know exactly what needs to be done and will help you finish and submit all the necessary forms to the Home Office.
Fast Track Package
You might be applying for a UK visitor visa for a number of different reasons. You may be travelling to the UK to attend a family wedding, a graduation ceremony, an important business conference, a private medical appointment, or something else that you can’t afford to miss. The fact is that visa applications can sometimes take a long time to put together and submit, only for you to have to wait even longer for a decision after the visa processing time . Here at the Immigration Advice Service, we understand that you might not have that time to spare.
That’s why our immigration lawyers are here to help you get your application submitted and approved as quickly as possible. If you can’t afford to spend months waiting for your visa because of a deadline or important fixed appointment in the UK, you might be understandably anxious about getting things done as quickly as possible. That’s what our premium fast track application package service is for – we’ll work tirelessly to make sure urgent applications get over the line so that you can have one less thing to worry about. We’re here to help you meet your deadline.
Using our fast track application package means you can rest easy knowing that your visa application is at the top of our immigration lawyers’ priorities. We have a fantastic track record of processing and pushing through applications – sometimes in as little as 24 hours when people use the service. Visa processing time can be lengthy, but we’ll make sure that you get fast and effective service. We’ll get any general visitor visa UK applications submitted in as few working days as possible.
When you choose our fast track package, we’ll work to get things moving for you as quickly as possible. One of our expert immigration lawyers will get in touch and arrange a one-on-one untimed advice session as soon as is convenient to you. We’ll also help to:
- Put together your application as fast as possible . We’ll make sure that your application is as thorough and complete as it can be before being submitted. All of your supporting documents will be checked and compiled quickly and efficiently.
- Book one of the Home Office’s Same-Day Premium Service slots . Our fast track package means that we’ll go above and beyond to get your application submitted and checked. Booking a Same-Day Premium slot with the Home Office ensures that you’ll get a decision on your visa in fewer working days than normal.
- Assist you in the completion of your visa application . Doing things quickly doesn’t mean we’re going to compromise on quality. The fact is that it doesn’t matter how fast you put together and submit your UK visitor visa application if it’s not going to get approved. If you’re applying for a UK visitor visa because you need to travel to the UK from a non-EEA country for something important and time-sensitive, the last thing you need is for your visa to be denied. We’ll make sure your application meets the highest standards.
- Write a Letter of Representation to support your case and boost your application’s chances of success. Our immigration lawyers are experts with plenty of experience under their belt. They know exactly how to write a supporting letter that emphasises the merits of urgent applications to the Home Office.
As frustrating as it may be, the fact is that rejections for UK general visitor visas are very common. UK immigration laws are strict and getting stricter, and the Home Office will often deny travel to the UK for weak applications that lack the right supporting documents and evidence. UK visitor visa applications require a lot of evidence , and it’s easy to slip up and leave important information either absent or incorrect. However, if you’re intending on travelling to the UK either for business, leisure, or anything else, the Immigration Advice Service team can help you to appeal a visa rejection.
The key to successfully appealing a denied visitor visa application is to act quickly. When the Home Office sends you your refusal letter, it will state your eligibility for appeal and advise you on the required timeframe. If you subsequently choose to appeal and want the best chance of success possible, you’ll need to work in this timeframe and be able to comprehensively amend your application to meet the standards necessary. Fortunately, our immigration lawyers are well experienced in dealing with appeals.
When you choose to appeal your rejected visa application with the Immigration Advice Service, our dedicated experts can draw from a wealth of experience, insight, and knowledge to assess what may have been the reason for your denial of an entry visa. Then, they’ll set about resolving any issues, help you to strengthen your case and assist with your appeal . Our appeal package allows you to benefit from the support of our experts in UK immigration laws. There’s the possibility that may have to go to a hearing or tribunal – we know that this can be intimidating and overwhelming, which is why our lawyers will offer to represent you and your case if necessary.
Receiving a visa refusal letter from the Home Office doesn’t necessarily mean the end of your hopes for travel to the UK. Visa appeals are commonplace and our immigration lawyers have a fantastic track record of successfully reversing visa decisions – they’ll offer you thorough guidance throughout the appeal process. With our appeal package, we’ll help to:
- Investigate and assess your visit UK visa refusal . In most cases, visa applications for short term stay in the UK are denied because of a lack of supporting documents or mistakes in the paperwork. Our immigration lawyers will go through the reasons for your refusal and evaluate the potential for appeal.
- Support and improve your case . When going to appeal, it’s important that you’ve got all possible supporting evidence ready and available alongside you. We can help boost your chances of appeal success by assisting you in putting together a supporting portfolio.
- Complete your appeal application . When going for a visa rejection appeal, you need to make sure that you avoid any careless mistakes. The IAS lawyers have a lot of experience with appeals and they’ll help you to put together everything you need to submit your appeal.
- Maintain communication with the Home Office . Visa appeals need to run to a strict time frame so it’s important to keep on top of things. We’ll liaise with the Home Office from the moment your appeal begins until it ends. No stone will be left unturned and no opportunities will be missed.
- Represent you in person whenever necessary . Sometimes, visa appeals can go the distance. If you need to attend a hearing or a tribunal over your appeal, our expert immigration lawyers will be there to represent you should you wish it. We understand that these events can be a lot to take on – that’s why we’re happy to take on this burden for you.
Last modified on August 11th, 2023 at 10:14 am
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The Advice Package
With our Advice Package, you can book a one-to-one session with one of our legal team and receive bespoke advice tailored for your situation. We will review your case and give you expert advice on how best to proceed with your immigration matter. Reach out to a member of our team and book your session today.
The Application Package
Our Application Package is designed to help relieve the stress of immigration applications. One of our legal caseworkers will help you throughout the entire process, including establishing your eligibility for your chosen route, completing your application form to the highest standards and organising your documents. We will then submit it and monitor its status on your behalf.
The Fast Track Package
Our premium Fast Track Package is ideal if you need to submit an application quickly, such as if you need to meet a tight deadline. Our lawyers will work closely with you to see that your application is completed to the highest standards and ensure you get your application in on time, helping to take the stress and pressure off you.
The Appeal Package
Visa appeals can be a stressful process, especially if you’re relying on a specific visa to be approved. Our legal team can help you navigate the whole process and maximise your chances of a successful appeal, working alongside you to reach a favourable result. We can also represent you in immigration-related hearings and tribunals.
We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at all of our UK offices, or via the phone. Learn more
Related pages for your continued reading.
Business visitor visa, student visitor visa, child visitor visa, uk transit visa, fast track application, i'm studying in the uk - who can visit me with a standard uk visitor visa.
For international students choosing to study abroad in the UK, the question of who can travel under a visit visa to UK areas often comes up. Whether it’s for parents attending a graduation, friends and family members visiting for a short holiday, or something else, it’s important to understand who can visit you and which visa rules apply.
Study visa rules can vary so it’s a good idea to get a handle on how your own current visa affects the situation. If you’ve travelled from outside the European Union and the EEA, there’s a good chance that your visitor will have to apply for the standard UK visitor visa . International students from the United States, South America, Asia, Australia, Africa, and other non-EEA regions may have individual circumstances when trying to set up visiting arrangements, so we always recommend using professional advice if you’re unsure about the application. However, there are a few important distinctions you can make straight away:
If You’re: Travelling On A Student Visitor Visa
If you have chosen to study abroad in the UK on a student visa, falling under the standard visitor visa category , you may be wondering who can and cannot visit you while you’re studying for the six-month period of your stay. Both family and friends can, in fact, visit you during your undergraduate degree or postgraduate qualification. However, they are likely to require a visa and will need to submit a visa application.
If You’re: Travelling On A Student Visa
If you’re studying abroad in the UK on a student visa for a period over six months , you’re able to bring a partner or child with you to the UK during your stay. This visa allows you to stay for the duration of your degree or qualification, and this extends to your child or partner. However, other family and friends will still have to apply for a UK visitor visa to travel to the UK.
If you are an international student in the UK and you’re not sure whether your family and friends will need a visa to visit you, the gov.uk website has an interactive tool that you can use to check eligibility .
If one of your visitors is under the age of 18, you will need to submit a more specific visa application. The child visitor visa is needed for any under-18 non-EEA national visiting the UK.
Your visitor will essentially be applying for a UK tourism visa and will, therefore, need to be able to prove several things in order to qualify for the visitor visa while you’re studying in the UK:
- Your visitor will need to prove that they intend to return to their home country.
- Your visitor will need to prove that they won’t stay in the UK for longer than 6 months.
- They can’t have obtained a visitor visa in the last 12 months.
- They have to prove adequate funds for living expenses and living costs during their stay.
- They aren’t allowed to work, conduct any business, or study during their stay in the UK.
When putting together a visa application for a visitor, y ou’ll need to supply several letters with your application . It’s important for the applicant to provide as much information as possible, part of which includes:
- A letter from you – In order for someone to visit you in the UK while studying abroad, they need to be able to show that you have officially invited them. An invitation letter from you provides proof of the reason for their visit and will make you their official ‘sponsor’ throughout their stay. An invitation to visit UK-based students is important in proving eligibility in your application for a sponsored visitor visa.
- A letter from the applicant – The letter from your visitor needs to be comprehensive, detailing and explaining as much as possible. It should cover who they are, the reason for their visit, what their relationship to you is, your current UK status, what they’ll be doing while in the UK, and more.
- A status letter from your university – You’ll also need to acquire an enrolment status letter to add to your visitor’s visa application. This letter will be provided by your university and will confirm your education status and the details of your course and study.
Which Countries Need A Visa To Visit UK Territories?
If you’re planning on travelling to the UK and you aren’t a British citizen or an EU or EEA citizen, the likelihood is that you will need a visitor visa. UK law means that you’ll need to acquire one before travelling here , and immigration laws are quite tough in the UK so it’s important to make sure that you’ve got all the necessary travel documents. Otherwise, you might be denied entry by the immigration authorities when you get here. We always recommend using the Home Office website to check whether you need a visa to visit the UK.
The gov.uk website has a fantastic online interactive tool that you can use to check your visa requirements before travelling . The tool asks you a number of questions, including where you’re travelling from, and then offers a number of potential solutions.
European Single Market Visitors
Members of the European single market do not currently require permission to enter the UK for tourism, work or travel. This includes the 28 countries of the European Union (EU), and additional European Economic Area (EEA) members such as Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein . Switzerland, while neither an EU or EEA member, is still part of the European single market and therefore benefits from the same right to live and work in the UK as other single market members.
Foreign nationals from EU nations, EEA nationals and Switzerland can visit the UK for a short term stay such as holidays and business events without needing to apply for the UK visitor visa.
The Visa Waiver Programme
Most foreign nationals visiting the UK from a non-EEA country will need to apply for a visa before travelling, but there are exceptions to this. One of these is the visa waiver scheme. Rather than apply for permission to enter the UK, nationals from the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait can instead opt to get an electronic visa waiver (EVW) , which allows you a short term stay in the UK (no longer than six months) so long as you are travelling for tourism, business, medical reasons or for study.
The visa waiver programme allows nationals from these four countries to opt-out of visa applications in favour of paying a premium and receiving permission to enter the UK. To apply, you’ll need:
- Your current passport number and details.
- Information about your resident status in the UK, including details such as the UK address and postal code you’ll be staying at and contact details while you’re here.
- Detailed travel plans and travel documents such as flight information, including departure and arrival dates and times.
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UK Visitor Visa
UK visitor visa is also known as a UK tourist visa, which allows foreign nationals to visit the UK for a short period of up to 6 months.
Contact our immigration lawyers for a free telephone consultation on 020 3744 2797 or complete our enquiry form to discuss your UK spouse visa.
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The UK visitor visa, also known as a standard visitor visa or UK tourist visa, allows foreign nationals to visit the UK as a tourist, for business, for study, and for other permitted activities for a short period of up to 6 months.
Before applying, we recommend checking if you require a visiting visa to the UK; this can be done on the Home Office website . Depending on your nationality, you may be able to come to the UK for up to 6 months without a visa.
To secure a UK Visit visa, you must meet certain eligibility requirements, for example, you must genuinely intend to leave the UK at the end of your stay, and you have enough money to cover the duration of your visit.
There are several types of UK Visit Visa catering for a range of purposes, including the Business Visitor Visa, Family Visitor Visa, Marriage Visitor Visa , General Visitor Visa, Permitted Paid Engagement Visa, and the Chinese Tour Group Visa.
What can and cannot do with a visitor visa
As a Visitor Visa holder, you are permitted to carry out the following activities for up to 6 months in the UK:
- Tourism (e.g., holiday or vacation)
- Get married (assuming you intend to live in another country once you are married)
- Visit family or friends
- Volunteer for a registered charity in the UK for up to a maximum of 30 days
- Transit through the UK to another country
- Carry out certain business activities (e.g., a meeting or interview)
- A school exchange program
- Recreational courses of up to a maximum of 30 days
- Study (courses should not exceed 6 months)
- Complete a placement
- Take an exam
- In your role as an academic, senior doctor, or dentist
- Receive medical treatment
As a holder of a Visitor Visa UK, you will not be able to:
- Do paid or unpaid work
- Access public funds (e.g., benefits)
- Live here by making frequent successive visits
- Get married or enter into a civil partnership, give notice of marriage, or a civil partnership (you must have a Marriage Visitor visa in any of these cases).
UK visitor visa requirements
To make a successful UK Visitor Visa application, applicants must meet the following general eligibility requirements 1 :
- You must genuinely intend to depart the UK at the end of your visit
- You must have sufficient funds to support yourself while in the UK
- You can fund your onward journey, and
- You will not live in the UK by making successive visits using a Visitor Visa.
You may also need to meet other eligibility requirements if you are coming to the UK to study, complete a placement or take an exam, or as an academic, senior doctor or dentist, or for medical treatment. You can contact our immigration lawyers for a free consultation if you want to apply for a UK visitor visa.
Genuine intention to leave the UK
The Home Office will assess your genuine intentions to visit, including your reasons for coming, your prior immigration history, the number and duration of previous visits, your personal and economic ties to your home country, and other factors.
Sufficient support funds
The Home Office does not specify a set amount of money you must have as a visitor to the UK. They will assess the likely cost of your stay (e.g., accommodation, food, travel) and compare this to the amount of funds you have available. They will also consider your existing financial commitments to determine if you are likely to have sufficient funds for your stay here.
Intention not to live in the UK
The Home Office will want to be assured that you are not using the Visitor Visa route as a way of living in the UK by making successive visits. They will check your travel history, the reason for your visit, the length of your intended stay, the number of visits to the UK over the past 12 months (including the length of stay on each occasion), and the time since your last visit, and whether you have spent more time in the UK than in your home country.
Documents required for UK visitor visa
The required documents will depend on the reasons for coming to the UK. You might be asked to provide the below documents:
- Your travel dates to and from the UK
- Your address while in the UK
- A breakdown of the estimated cost of your visit
- Your home address
- How live you have lived at your current address
- The name and dates of birth of your parents
- Your annual income
- Details of any criminal, civil, or immigration offenses
- Your travel history for the past 10 years
- Your employer’s address and telephone number
- Your partner’s name, date of birth, and passport number
- The details of family members you have in the UK
- Tuberculosis (TB) test certificate if you’re visiting for more than 6 months (depending on the country you are traveling from).
How to apply for a visitor visa for UK
To apply for a UK Visitor Visa, you will need to complete the following key steps:
- Check if you need a Visitor visa before proceeding
- Complete and submit a visitor visa application UK online (note: If you are coming to the UK with your family members, each family member will need to submit their own application and pay the required fee)
- Pay the application fee
- Book an appointment at a local Visa Application Centre (VAC)
- Attend your VAC appointment to provide any documents required by the Home Office and have your photo taken and fingerprints scanned (biometrics)
In most cases, you can expect to receive a decision on your Visitor Visa application within 3 weeks.
Can you extend your visitor visa?
The UK Visitor visa is only intended to allow a short stay, however, it may be possible to extend your Visitor visa if it was issued for less than 6 months up to the maximum of 6 months. It will only be possible to extend your Visitor visa beyond 6 months if you are here for medical reasons, as an academic, or if you are a graduate who needs to retake a Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test or complete a clinical attachment. The fee to extend a Visitor visa is currently £1,000.
If your visitor visa is refused
Visitor visas may be refused for many reasons, including if the Home Office believes:
- You are using the Visitor Visa scheme to live in the UK
- You pose a threat to national security
- You have breached the immigration rules in the past
- You have unspent criminal convictions
- You don’t appear to be a genuine visitor
- You don’t have sufficient funds to support yourself in the UK
You will not normally have the right to appeal a refusal of a Visitor Visa. In most cases, we recommend preparing a fresh application that addresses the reason for your refusal. Our immigration lawyers can assist with your new application and ensure it meets the criteria for a successful outcome.
1 GOV.UK: Visit the UK as a Standard Visitor
Frequently Asked Questions
How do i sponsor a visitor to the uk, can i switch from a visitor visa to another visa in the uk, can i get married in the uk on a visitor/tourist visa, reiss edwards awards.
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Travel Advisory July 26, 2023
United kingdom - level 2: exercise increased caution.
Reissued with obsolete COVID-19 page links removed.
Exercise increased caution in the United Kingdom due to terrorism.
Country Summary: Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in the United Kingdom. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, local government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, and other public areas.
There is also a risk of isolated violence by dissident groups in Northern Ireland, focused primarily on police and military targets.
Read the country information page for additional information on travel to the United Kingdom.
If you decide to travel to the United Kingdom:
- Be aware of your surroundings when traveling to tourist locations and crowded public venues.
- Follow the instructions of local authorities.
- Monitor local media for breaking events and adjust your plans based on new information.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program ( STEP ) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.com/Travelgov
- Review the Country Security Report for the United Kingdom.
- Visit the CDC page for the latest Travel Health Information related to your travel and return to the United States.
- Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist .
View Alerts and Messages Archive
Must be valid for the duration of your stay in the United Kingdom (If you have onward travel to countries outside the United Kingdom, you should check the passport validity requirements for each additional country on their respective information pages.)
Must have at least one page
Not required for stays less than six months.
Embassies and Consulates
U.s. embassy london.
33 Nine Elms Lane London, SW11 7US United Kingdom Telephone: +(44)(20) 7499-9000 Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(44)(20) 7499-9000 Fax: +(44) (20) 7891-3845 Email: [email protected]
U.S. Consulate General Edinburgh, Scotland 3 Regent Terrace, Edinburgh EH7 5BW Scotland Telephone: 013-1556-8315 / from the United States: 011 (44)(13) 1556-8315 Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 020-7499-9000 / from the United States: 011 (44)(20) 7499-9000 Fax: 0131-557-6023 /from the United States: 011 (44) 131-557-6023 Email: [email protected]
U.S. Consulate General Belfast, Northern Ireland Danesfort House, 223 Stranmillis Road, Belfast BT9 5GR Northern Ireland, United Kingdom Telephone: 028-9038-6100 / from the United States: 011 (44)(28) 9038-6100 Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 01253-501106 / from the United States: 011 (44) 1253-501106 Fax: 028-9068-1301 / from the United States: 011 (44)(28) 9068-1301 Email: [email protected]
Learn about the U.S. relationship to countries around the world.
Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements
- To enter the United Kingdom, your passport must be valid for the entire duration of your planned stay.
- Starting June 2019, U.S. passport holders will be able to use the ePassport Gates upon arrival in the United Kingdom. U.S. citizens who had previously registered for the UK’s Registered Traveller Service (RTS) should now also use the ePassport Gates on arrival in the UK.
- If you are planning onward travel after departing the UK, note that many other countries require at least six months’ remaining validity on your passport to enter. If you are bound for Continental Europe, please see our U.S. travelers in Europe page for additional details.
- Visas for specific categories of visitors must be obtained prior to travel. Visit the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) website to determine if you need a visa to enter the United Kingdom. We cannot intervene on your behalf when you apply for a UK visa, nor can we advocate for your admission into the UK if you are denied entry.
- Students and prospective students should visit the UKVI website to determine if they need a visa.
- For some U.S. travelers, especially students, an entry stamp is required. Please consult this website for more information.
- Unpaid and paid workers, interns, volunteers, charity workers, and temporary workers can find information about obtaining a visa on the UKVI website .
- Visitors traveling to the United Kingdom to get married, even if they do not plan to reside there, must obtain a visa in advance. See the UKVI website for visa information.
- Surcharges apply to certain categories of visas, generally those involving work, study, or residency for more than six months. More information is available on the UKVI website and in our Health section below.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of the United Kingdom.
Find information on dual nationality , prevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.
Safety and Security
Terrorist groups continue plotting possible near-term attacks in Europe. The UK Security Service publishes specific reasons for any changes in the threat level and recommended actions for the public via its UK threat levels website .
There is the potential for isolated violence related to the political situation in Northern Ireland. The Police Service of Northern Ireland assesses there is a continued threat of violence from dissident groups in Northern Ireland, focused primarily on police and military targets, and may involve the use of firearms and explosives . Tensions may be heightened during the summer marching season (April to August), particularly on and around the July 12 public holiday.
Avoid areas of demonstrations if possible, and be careful within the vicinity of demonstrations. Demonstrations occur frequently in and around city centers and areas where tourists frequent. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate to violence.
The phone number for police/fire/ambulance emergency services is 999 in the United Kingdom and 112 in Gibraltar. You should also use these numbers to report security threats or suspicious packages. Also see information for contacting police from abroad .
- Be cautious and aware of your surroundings.
- Be vigilant, as pickpocketing , mugging, and “snatch and grab” theft of mobile phones, watches and jewelry can occur.
- Do not leave bags unattended in restaurants, pubs, hotel lobbies, and parked cars.
- Be alert to other criminal schemes, such as impostors posing as undercover police officers and “fining” tourists for bogus minor offenses. A legitimate Metropolitan Police Services officer will never demand an immediate cash payment.
- Use only licensed Black Cabs or pre-ordered car services (minicabs) . Unlicensed taxis or private cars posing as taxis may offer low fares, but in some instances, travelers have been robbed or sexually assaulted while using these cars. See Transport for London for additional information on cabs and car services .
- Avoid using ATMs that look temporary in structure or location or are located in isolated areas – they may not be legitimate. Use ATMs located inside a bank branch.
Scams : Before sending any money to individuals you have never met in person, visit the Embassy London website for more information about internet financial scams and how to protect yourself.
See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.
Victims of Crime : Report crimes to the local police at 999 (United Kingdom) or 112 (Gibraltar) and contact the U.S. Embassy at +(44) (20) 7499-9000.
- Local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas .
- help you find appropriate medical care
- assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
- provide a list of local attorneys
- provide our information on victim compensation programs in the United States
- The Victim Support website is maintained by an independent UK charity to help people cope with the effects of crime
- A Northern Ireland-based independent charity maintains a similar victim support website
- In Scotland, victims of crime should contact Victim Support Scotland
- provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support if you are destitute
- help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- replace a stolen or lost passport
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
Tourism: The tourism industry is generally regulated and rules are regularly enforced. Hazardous areas/activities are identified with appropriate signage and professional staff is typically on hand in support of organized activities. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is widely available throughout the country. Outside of a major metropolitan center, it may take more time for first responders and medical professionals to stabilize a patient and provide life-saving assistance. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage .
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.
- You will be arrested if you bring pocket knives, blades, mace or pepper spray canisters, or any part of a gun into the United Kingdom . Please refer to the UK government publication Travelling to the UK , which details the items visitors are prohibited from bringing into the United Kingdom.
- Penalties against alcohol-related and other in-flight crimes committed aboard aircraft to and from the United Kingdom are stiff and are enforced with prison sentences . Please also see our information on U.S. customs regulations covering your return to the United States.
- Controlled Substances: UK law prohibits possession and trafficking of controlled substances and narcotics, including some substances that may be legal to possess under the law of certain U.S. states. More information on controlled substances is available here . Individuals who violate UK drug laws may face penalties including fines or prison sentences.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained in the United Kingdom, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
- The legal drinking age in the United Kingdom is 18. Parents and organizers of school trips should read our Students Abroad website to help plan a safe and enjoyable experience.
- Scotland’s “drink drive limit” law was amended to a lower level (roughly .05 BAC) and is stricter than the rest of the United Kingdom (roughly .08 BAC). This means that driving after even one drink can result in a charge of driving under the influence.
- The United Kingdom has very strict gun control laws, and importing firearms is extremely complicated. Information on applying for a firearm and/or shotgun certificate can be found on the London Metropolitan Police Firearms licensing webpage . Licenses from England or Wales may not be valid in Scotland; please check with the appropriate authorities. For firearms certificates for Scotland, please check with Police Scotland .
Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:
- International Religious Freedom Report – see country reports
- Human Rights Report – see country reports
- Hajj Fact Sheet for Travelers
- Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad
LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in the United Kingdom.
See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance:
- UK law requires that all public service providers (except in the transportation sector) make “reasonable adjustments” to ensure their services are available to persons with disabilities. Nevertheless, code exemptions permit many older buildings to have steps up from the street.
- Getting around in cities may be difficult at times because sidewalks can be narrow and uneven.
- Most London Underground and UK National Rail System stations are not readily accessible for people with disabilities. Many stations do not have elevators, and have stairways and long corridors for changing trains or exiting to the street. Many UK buses are equipped with lowering platforms for limited-mobility or sight- or hearing-disabled travelers.
- Many taxis have swivel-entry seats or retractable ramps to ease entry.
- Disabled parking permits (known as “blue badges”) are issued by local government councils throughout the country. Visit the UK government website for contact information. Some councils may not offer permits to temporary visitors.
The Transport for London and National Rail websites provide information for passengers with disabilities.
Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips .
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for women travelers .
While medical services are widely available, free medical care under the National Health System (NHS) is allowed only for UK residents, certain EU nationals, and some visa holders.
An NHS surcharge is assessed on certain visa applicants at the time of application. Tourists and short-term visitors will not be assessed the surcharge, but will be charged 150 percent of the cost of any medical treatment they receive from the NHS. Unpaid balances of £1,000 or more can result in being barred from return to the United Kingdom.
- The U.S. government does not pay medical bills, and U.S. Medicare is not valid overseas.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas . Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments . See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage .
- We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Carry prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Traveling with sufficient supplies to last the duration of your trip is recommended. Mailing prescriptions is prohibitive and may be delayed or rejected by British customs.
Certain prescriptions available in the United States are classified as a "controlled drug" in the United Kingdom and cannot be brought into the country without applying for and obtaining a prior license. This includes prescriptions for medical marijuana or products containing CBD and THC. Please visit the https://www.gov.uk/travelling-controlled-drugs for additional information.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended for international travel by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
- World Health Organization
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Travel and Transportation
Road Conditions and Safety: Road conditions in the United Kingdom can differ significantly from those in the United States.
- In contrast to the United States, UK traffic drives on the left. Read the Highway Code before driving.
- Emergency call boxes (orange telephone booths with “SOS” printed on them) are found at half-mile intervals along motorways. White and blue poles point in the direction of the nearest call box. Call boxes dial directly to a motorway center. Use these phones rather than a personal cell phone, because motorway center personnel will immediately know your exact location.
- Generally, pedestrians do not have the right of way and should not expect vehicles to stop for them.
Many U.S. citizen pedestrians are injured, some fatally, every year in the United Kingdom, because they forget that oncoming traffic approaches from the opposite direction than in the United States. Exercise extra care when crossing streets; remain alert and look both ways before stepping into the street.
- UK penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs are strict and often result in prison sentences .
- Using a hand-held cell phone or similar device while driving is illegal in the United Kingdom. Only hands-free phones may be used. You will be fined , or in the case of an accident, arrested and serve time in prison .
- The speed limit on highways/motorways in the United Kingdom is 70 mph, or lower when posted.
- You will be detained and arrested if you cannot provide a UK address to receive a subpoena or are about to depart the United Kingdom and have to be brought to court quickly for a motoring offense.
- In Central London, a congestion charge is levied on all drivers who pass through the congestion zone. You will be fined or arrested if you do not pay the charge. See Transport for London for more information about driving in London.
Public Transportation: Public transport in the United Kingdom is extensive.
- Information on disruptions to London transportation services can be found on the Transport for London website.
- Information about the status of National Rail Services can be found on the National Rail Enquiries website.
- Bus and train service information in Northern Ireland can be found on the Translink website.
- Bus and train service information in Scotland can be found on the Traveline Scotland website.
See our Road Safety page for more information. For specific information concerning UK driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance, refer to the UK Department for Transport website or the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency website.
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of the United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of United Kingdom’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page .
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to the United Kingdom should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts at www.marad.dot.gov/msci . Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website and the NGA broadcast warnings website (select “broadcast warnings”).
For additional travel information
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Call us in Washington, D.C. at 1-888-407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1-202-501-4444 (from all other countries) from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
- See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution and Travel Advisories .
- Follow us on Twitter and Facebook .
- See traveling safely abroad for useful travel tips.
Review information about International Parental Child Abduction in the United Kingdom . For additional IPCA-related information, please see the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act ( ICAPRA ) report.
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