Everyone trying to enter the UK must provide relevant documents at border control.
Documents necessary to travel to the UK vary. Depending on their nationality and the length and purpose of their stay, foreign citizens may need to provide a valid visa, a UK visa waiver, or simply their photo ID.
While most of these documents will need to be inspected by British border control officers, others can be checked automatically. Travelers wishing to find out more can visit this page about entering and going through border control in the UK.
This article contains relevant information including what documents to obtain prior to departure in order to be granted entry to the United Kingdom. EU/EEA and non-EU citizens alike will find a practical UK document checklist to ensure a smooth arrival and a hassle-free border experience.
Documents required for EU/EEA Citizens to enter the UK
Since the next Brexit deadline to reach a deal between Britain and the European Union is October 31st, 2019 the UK is still part of the EU. That means that citizens of the EU and Economic European Area (EEA) will only need their passport or national ID in order to enter the UK. Both electronic chip passports and traditional passports are accepted.
EU countries other than the UK are:
- Republic of Cyprus
- Czech Republic
EEA countries that are not in the EU include:
Switzerland is not part of the EU nor the EEA. However, it is part of the single market — this means that Swiss citizens have the same rights to travel to and work in the UK as EEA nationals.
Documents required for non-EU citizens to enter the UK
Non-EU citizens are likely to need a travel permit as well as their passport in order to enter the UK. This may be a visa or visa waiver, depending on the traveler’s nationality and travel circumstances. The UK issues a variety of visa types including visitor visas, points-regulated work visas, student visas, and more.
Some visas require travelers to visit a UK diplomatic mission in order to apply, others can be requested online. Either way, the traveler will need to bring a printed copy of their visa with them as they approach the UK border.
Citizens of the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman can apply for an electronic visa waiver for the UK online. The application only takes minutes and once approved, will grant the applicant an electronic travel authorization that can be simply printed out and shown to the British authorities upon arrival. In order to obtain a UK electronic travel authorization, applicants will need to provide:
- A valid passport issued by an eligible country
- A debit or credit card in order to pay the application fee
Beside EU citizens, a number of nationalities are also visa-exempt thanks to diplomatic agreements. Travelers from the following countries can travel visa-free and stay on British territory for up to 6 months (or 3 months if entering from Ireland):
- Europe: All EU countries, Andorra, Monaco, Vatican City.
- North America: The US, Canada, Mexico, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Costa Rica, Dominica, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago.
- South America: Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay.
- Africa: Botswana, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles.
- Asia: South Korea, Malaysia, Israel, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Brunei, Kiribati, Macau, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau.
- Oceana: Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, East Timor, Micronesia, Nauru, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu.
As mentioned before, unless they are from a visa-exempt country, all foreign nationals entering the UK will need a visa. This means that even if you’re spending a very limited amount of time on UK soil (for example, transiting to another country) it’s important that you check whether you’ll need a visa to do so before traveling.
Entering the UK with children: what you need to bring
Once they arrive at the border, international travelers may be asked to provide evidence of their relationship with any children traveling with them. This is especially the case if the children and accompanying adult don’t share the same surname.
Documents considered as proof of relationship when traveling with children to the UK include:
- A birth or adoption certificate
- A divorce or marriage certificate if the adult and children don’t share the same surname
- A letter from the children’s parent in case the accompanying adult is not their parent. The letter must state permission for the children to travel with the accompanying adult and include the parent’s contact information