The travel documents required for traveling to the UK depend on your nationality, you reason for entering, and which country you’re coming from. Generally speaking, you need a passport or national identity card (if you’re a citizen of an EU country) and a UK visa (unless you’re from a visa-exempt country).
The UK is currently an EU member but isn’t a member of the Schengen Area. This means there’s a hard border between the UK and other EU countries except for Ireland.
There’s a range of different UK visas for different purposes. The UK EVW is the quickest to apply for as the application’s completed online. At the moment, only citizens of the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman can apply but more countries will probably be added to the list.
Do I need a passport to go to the UK?
You need a valid passport to visit the UK. However, there’s a couple of exceptions:
1) When traveling within the ‘Common Travel Area’.
The UK is in the Common Travel Area with the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man. You don’t need a passport to travel to other parts of the zone but you need to show a form of ID.
2) If you have a valid national identity card from an EU country.
EU citizens can enter the UK by either presenting their national identity card or their passport. There’s a separate queue marked ‘EEA/EU‘ for EU citizens. This may change in the future after the UK leaves the EU but this is unlikely to happen before 2022.
How long should your passport be valid for when traveling to the UK?
Your passport needs to be valid for the length of your stay.
Can I travel to the UK with an ID card?
Yes, as long as it’s valid and has been issued by an EU country.
Traveling to the UK with children
You may be asked to prove the relationship between yourself and any accompanying children by presenting documentation such as a birth certificate.
What do I need to enter the UK?
Travel documents to travel to the UK: You need a passport to enter the UK (unless you fall into one of the categories outlined above) and possibly a visa. There are many nationalities who can enter for periods of up to 6 months without a visa (or up to 3 months if entering from Ireland).
Visa exempt countries
- 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.
Types of UK visas
If you’re not from one of the visa-exempt countries listed above you need to obtain a visa to enter the UK. Here are some of the most common types of visas:
You can apply for a visitor visa which allows you to visit for a range of purposes including tourism, business, and short-term private medical treatment.
The UK has a points-based system which controls the flow of workers entering the country. There are different tiers of visa depending on the type of work.
There are various categories of student visas for different purposes and for different age groups. Short-term and long-term options are possible.
The UK EVW is an electronic United Kingdom tourist visa which is currently available to citizens of the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman. The UK Electronic Visa Waiver application form only takes a few minutes to complete. Applicants need to meet the UK visa waiver requirements.
If you’re traveling to the UK for the first time and you’re not sure which visa you need, read this guide on UK visa types for more information.