Getting to Britain

Visiting the UK from 1 January 2021

Marcel, Le Corgi sitting on grass outside Hampton Court, London, England.

What you need to know about visiting the UK from 1 January 2021

Please ensure you check the official UK Government website for updates prior to travelling.

 

ID cards and visas

Will EU, EEA or Swiss citizens need visas to travel to the UK?

If you’re an EU, EEA and Swiss citizen, you can travel to the UK for holidays or short trips without needing a visa. You can cross the UK border using a valid passport which should be valid for the whole time you are in the UK.

 

Will EU, EEA or Swiss ID cards still be valid?

You will not be able to use an EU, EEA or Swiss national ID card to enter the UK from 1 October 2021, unless you:

 

In these cases, you can continue to use your national ID card to enter the UK until at least 31 December 2025.

In other cases, find out if you need to apply for a visa to enter the UK.

 

Can EU/EEA/Swiss citizens still enter the UK with a passport that expires in less than six months?

You must provide a valid passport or travel document. Your passport should be valid for the whole of your stay in the UK.

 

How long will EU, EEA and Swiss citizens be able to stay in the UK without a visa?

From 1 January 2021, the UK has implemented a new points-based immigration system.

Under the new system, if you’re an EU, EEA and Swiss citizen, you can continue to visit the UK without applying for a visa and in most cases, will be able to stay for up to six months. You may participate in a wide range of activities, including business-related activities such as meetings, events and conferences.

If you are travelling to the UK to carry out business activities from 1 January 2021, ​check if you need a visa​ before travel here: https://www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa.  You can also check the UK visitor rules, which list activities that you can carry out in the UK without a visa: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/immigration-rules-appendix-v-visitor.

If you are an EU, EEA and Swiss citizen travelling to the UK from 1 January to work or study, you will need to check if you are eligible and may need to apply for a visa online, before entering the UK.  Find out more about ​coming to the UK from 1 January 2021.

 

Can EU/EEA/Swiss citizens visiting the UK still use eGates?

You can use automatic eGates at some airports if you have a biometric symbol on the cover of your passport and you are 12 or over. Using the eGates is usually faster. Read the guide to faster travel through the UK border.

 

Will there be an ESTA system that travellers will have to fill in? If so, will there be any costs involved with the ESTA form?

As part of this phased programme to 2025, the Government will introduce an Electronic Travel Authorisation scheme as part of plans to ensure that all those coming to the UK have permission to do so in advance of travel. Please check for updates, as further details of these arrangements will be provided in due course.

The Government will introduce Electronic Travel Authorisations (ETAs) for visitors and passengers transiting through the UK who do not currently need a visa for short stays or who do not already have an immigration status prior to travelling.

 

Has anything changed for non-EU/EEA citizens?

Nothing has changed for non-EU/EEA visitors following the end of the transition period. Find out if you’ll need to apply for a visa to enter the UK.

 

School children visiting the UK

Will collective visas for school groups still apply?

For the latest updates on collective visas, please check government guidance for school children entering the UK as part of a school group. This explains the steps leaders of school parties must take before bringing school children to the UK as part of a school group from non-EU countries, EEA (including all EU nations as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) or Switzerland, if they would normally need a visa to enter the UK.

 

Will the “List of Travellers” still be available?

Non-EEA national school children resident in the EEA or Switzerland will continue to be able to travel to the UK under the List of Travellers scheme until 1 October 2021.

 

Will children travelling to Britain for language courses also need a passport?

Yes, children travelling to the UK for language courses (outside of the List of Travellers scheme) will also need a passport.

 

Border crossings and ferry terminals

What will the impact be at borders/ferry terminals?

Flights: Flights will continue and you should not experience any difference in security screening.

Eurostar/rail: When travelling between the UK and the EU, your rights as a rail passenger using either domestic or cross-border rail services remain unchanged.

Ferry services: The EU regulation on passengers’ rights is now UK law. It will continue to protect passengers on ferry services.

For further information on travel and passenger rights, and measures in place to minimise disruption, please see the official government information page.

 

How will border controls be managed when passengers are coming from Ireland?

The Common Travel Area (CTA) is a long-standing arrangement between the UK, the Crown Dependencies (Bailiwick of Jersey, Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Isle of Man) and Ireland that pre-dates both British and Irish membership of the EU and is not dependent on it. As a result, there will continue to be no routine immigration controls on journeys from within Ireland to the UK, with no immigration controls at all on the Northern Ireland – Ireland land border. The Government will continue to work closely with CTA partners to facilitate legitimate travel within the CTA while tackling abuse of these arrangements. You can check the common travel area guidance information page for additional details.

 

Will the Channel Islands, including Jersey and Guernsey, be exempt from passport requirements?

The Channel Islands, including Jersey and Guernsey, are part of the Common Travel Area (CTA) of the UK and therefore maintain the same changes and standard of immigration control as the UK.

 

Healthcare for EU citizens visiting the UK

Will European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs) be phased out?

If you are a visitor to the UK from an EU country and you fall ill or have a medical emergency during your temporary stay in England, you can continue to use a valid EHIC issued by your home country to access healthcare. The EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. You should also have travel or health insurance that covers the duration of your trip.

Please see the UK Government website for more information for visitors on healthcare and documents you need to bring here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/healthcare-for-visitors-to-the-uk-from-the-eu-from-1-january-2021

Please note: The way you access healthcare in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland could be different from England. Please see the links below for more information:

For Northern Ireland please see: https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/articles/european-union-overseas-and-visitors-policy

For Scotland please see: https://www.nhsinform.scot/care-support-and-rights/health-rights/access/healthcare-for-overseas-visitors

For Wales please see: https://gov.wales/preparing-wales-brexit/health-and-social-services

 

Do EU citizens need travel insurance when they visit the UK?

The UK Government advises visitors to the UK to take out travel insurance. This means that you can reclaim any healthcare costs you are required to pay from your insurer.

Check your insurance has the necessary healthcare coverage to make sure you can get the treatment you need during your visit.

For further details, please ensure you check gov.uk before you travel.

 

Must EU citizens take a Covid-19 test prior to arrival in the UK?

From 04:00 Monday 18 January, all international arrivals to Scotland and England (including UK nationals) are required to present a negative COVID-19 test taken up to 3 days prior to departure, and provide evidence of a negative result before they travel. This is to help protect against new strains of coronavirus circulating internationally.

Passengers will be subject to an immediate fine of £500 if they fail to comply with the new regulations on pre-departure testing

If you are arriving from countries not on the government’s travel corridor list, you will still be required to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of test result.

You will still be required to fill in a passenger locator form and be subject to national lockdown restrictions.

For further information please see the UK Government’s international travel update. Please note: this information is specific to Scotland and England. Please see the specific government websites for information regarding travel to Wales and Northern Ireland

 

What is the Passenger Locator Form?

In the 48 hours before you arrive in the UK from abroad you must complete a passenger locator form to give the UK Government your journey and contact details. This is part of the UK’s COVID-19 response.

Find out more about this and other documents you need to enter the UK.

 

Bringing pets to and from Great Britain

Can EU citizens still bring their pet to Great Britain?

There has been no change to the health preparations for pets entering Great Britain from the EU from 1 January 2021.

Your pet must have one of the following documents when entering Great Britain:

  • an EU pet passport (issued in the EU or in Great Britain before 1 January 2021), or a pet passport from another Part 1 listed third country
  • the animal health certificate (AHC) issued in Great Britain used to travel to the EU (which you can use to re-enter Great Britain for up to 4 months after it was issued)
  • a UK pet health certificate (for travel into Great Britain only)

 

Please see the UK Government website here for more information about bringing your pets to England, Scotland and Wales: https://www.gov.uk/bring-pet-to-uk.

You can check the rules on pet travel into Northern Ireland on the NIDirect website here. https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/articles/travelling-pets

 

Your pet will not need this documentation if it is entering Great Britain from:

 

You must travel using approved routes, so please check the routes before you travel. Your pet’s documents and microchip will be checked when entering Great Britain. 

Owners of assistance dogs entering from the EU do not have to travel on approved routes but they must notify the point of entry in advance that they are travelling with an assistance dog to ensure the appropriate checks are done.

You do not have to travel on an approved route if you travel to Great Britain from:

  • other UK countries
  • the Channel Islands
  • the Isle of Man
  • the Republic of Ireland

 

Talk to your vet about what preparations you need to make before you travel from these places.

Find out more about pet travel to Europe, including information on travel from countries not free from tapeworm.

 

Bringing goods into the UK

What can EU visitors bring into the UK?

Some rules have changed when you bring goods for your own use from the EU to the UK. Find out more about bringing goods into the UK.

 

How much cash can EU visitors bring into the UK?

If you are travelling from the EU to the UK with £10,000 or more in cash you will need to make a declaration. Find out about taking cash in and out of the UK.

 

Driving in the UK

Can visitors with a non-UK driving licence still drive in the UK?

If you have a non-UK driving licence you are able to drive in the UK. You do not need an international driving permit (IDP).

 

What will visitors whose vehicle is not insured in the UK need in order to drive?

If you have vehicle insurance issued in the EU, Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia or Switzerland, you should carry an insurance green card or other valid proof of insurance.

To be valid, other proof of insurance must be a document issued by the insurer of the vehicle, which includes the:

  • name of the insurance provider
  • number plate or other identifying particulars of the vehicle
  • period of insurance cover
  •  

Contact your vehicle insurer before you travel.

If your vehicle is insured in a country outside the EU, Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia or Switzerland, what you’ll need to do will depend on if your country is a member of the green card system.

If your country is a member, you will need to carry a green card.

If your country is not a member, your vehicle will need UK vehicle insurance.

 

Using mobile phones in the UK

Can visitors from the EU use their mobile phone in the UK?

How much you pay for calls, texts and mobile data in the UK and the EU will depend on your operator. Please check before you travel.

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