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Rules for travelling to the USA from the UK explained: tests, vaccines and more
By Sarah James
The US eased travel restrictions for visitors from the UK in November 2021, with rules around testing eased in June 2022. Find out what all this means for your trip.
Can I travel to the USA?
Yes. Since November 2021, international travellers from the UK have been able to visit the USA. Between November 2021 and May 2023, this was on the condition that travellers were fully vaccinated. We were on the first flight out in early November 2021, so have first-hand experience of the process.
What Covid tests do I need to travel to the USA?
As of June 2022, the requirement for air travellers to show proof of a negative test to enter the USA has been dropped.
"We are able to take this step because of the tremendous progress we've made in our fight against the virus. We have made lifesaving vaccines and treatments widely available and these tools are working to prevent serious illness and death, and are effective against the prevalent variants circulating in the US and around the world," a senior official said in a statement.
Do I need to be vaccinated to go to the USA?
At the time of writing (2 May 2023), yes – most international air travellers need to show proof of being fully vaccinated to enter the USA. Any vaccine approved for use by the World Health Organisation or by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be accepted, including AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and others. The final vaccine dose must have been administered at least 14 days before travelling.
From 11 May 2023, the US will end the vaccination requirements for interntational travellers. This is when the coronavirus public health emergency ends.
Can unvaccinated people travel to the USA?
Until 11 May, to enter the USA unvaccinated you must have been granted an exception or be a US Citizen, US National, or US Lawful Permanent Resident. You can find out if you qualify as an exception to the rules by reading the list outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) .
After 11 May, you don't need to be vaccinated to travel to the USA.
Do I need to wear a face mask in the USA?
Rules on wearing masks differ in each state and in different settings, so it's important to check before you travel, however there are currently no states requiring people to wear masks in public spaces. You may be required to wear a mask in certain settings, such as healthcare facilities.
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US entry requirements: latest travel restrictions explained
Tuesday May 30 2023, 09:00am
The US has dropped its Covid vaccine requirements for travellers, meaning those who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated can finally enter the country without restrictions. You’ll still need a valid Esta or visa to enter — and if you’re travelling from anywhere other than the UK, do check whether there are other travel restrictions in place. Here’s everything you need to know about travelling to the US right now.
Main photo: Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco (Getty Images)
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Can I travel if I’m unvaccinated?
Until recently, the US required all foreign nationals who are not normally resident in the country to be fully vaccinated to enter. But this requirement was dropped on May 11, meaning that, as of May 12, travellers can enter the country regardless of their vaccine status. This applies to all travellers entering by air or through land borders.
What Covid tests do I need?
In general, the US doesn’t require Covid tests before travel. But if you’re travelling from anywhere other than the UK, do check, as restrictions may be different. For example, at the start of 2023, the US introduced a temporary testing requirement for those who travelled from or via China.
Can I travel to the US without an Esta?
All British travellers will need either a visa or a visa waiver (called an Esta) to enter. You must apply for the latter at least three days before travel, although in reality it usually comes through much faster than that. It currently costs $21 (around £17).
If you’ve been to certain countries such as Cuba , you may not be eligible for an Esta. It’s worth double checking as it can depend on when your last visit was. If you’re not eligible for an Esta, you’ll only be able to travel to the US if you have a valid visa.
What are the restrictions once there?
There are no longer any Covid-related restrictions. Masks are no longer required in public settings and you don’t need to show any proof of vaccination.
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Frequently Asked Questions: Guidance for Travelers to Enter the U.S.
Updated Date: April 21, 2022
Since January 22, 2022, DHS has required non-U.S. individuals seeking to enter the United States via land ports of entry and ferry terminals at the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borders to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and provide proof of vaccination upon request. On April 21, 2022, DHS announced that it would extend these requirements. In determining whether and when to rescind this order, DHS anticipates that it will take account of whether the vaccination requirement for non-U.S. air travelers remains in place.
These requirements apply to non-U.S. individuals who are traveling for essential or non-essential reasons. They do not apply to U.S. citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents, or U.S. nationals.
Effective November 8, 2021, new air travel requirements applied to many noncitizens who are visiting the United States temporarily. These travelers are also required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination. All air travelers, including U.S. persons, must test negative for COVID-19 prior to departure. Limited exceptions apply. See CDC guidance for more details regarding air travel requirements.
Below is more information about what to know before you go, and answers to Frequently Asked Questions about cross-border travel.
Entering the U.S. Through a Land Port of Entry or Ferry Terminal
Q. what are the requirements for travelers entering the united states through land poes.
A: Before embarking on a trip to the United States, non-U.S. travelers should be prepared for the following:
- Possess proof of an approved COVID-19 vaccination as outlined on the CDC website.
- During border inspection, verbally attest to their COVID-19 vaccination status.
- Bring a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative compliant border crossing document, such as a valid passport (and visa if required), Trusted Traveler Program card, a Department of State-issued Border Crossing Card, Enhanced Driver’s License or Enhanced Tribal Card when entering the country. Travelers (including U.S. citizens) should be prepared to present the WHTI-compliant document and any other documents requested by the CBP officer.
Q. What are the requirements to enter the United States for children under the age of 18 who can't be vaccinated?
A: Children under 18 years of age are excepted from the vaccination requirement at land and ferry POEs.
Q: Which vaccines/combination of vaccines will be accepted?
A: Per CDC guidelines, all Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved and authorized vaccines, as well as all vaccines that have an Emergency Use Listing (EUL) from the World Health Organization (WHO), will be accepted.
- More details are available in CDC guidance here .
- 2 weeks (14 days) after your dose of an accepted single-dose COVID-19 vaccine;
- 2 weeks (14 days) after your second dose of an accepted 2-dose series;
- 2 weeks (14 days) after you received the full series of an accepted COVID-19 vaccine (not placebo) in a clinical trial;
- 2 weeks (14 days) after you received 2 doses of any “mix-and-match” combination of accepted COVID-19 vaccines administered at least 17 days apart.
Q. Is the United States requiring travelers to have a booster dose to be considered fully vaccinated for border entry purposes?
A: No. The CDC guidance for “full vaccination” can be found here.
Q: Do U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents need proof of vaccination to return to the United States via land POEs and ferry terminals?
A: No. Vaccination requirements do not apply to U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs). Travelers that exhibit signs or symptoms of illness will be referred to CDC for additional medical evaluation.
Q: Is pre- or at-arrival COVID testing required to enter the United States via land POEs or ferry terminals?
A: No, there is no COVID testing requirement to enter the United States via land POE or ferry terminals. In this respect, the requirement for entering by a land POE or ferry terminal differs from arrival via air, where there is a requirement to have a negative test result before departure.
Processing Changes Announced on January 22, 2022
Q: new changes were recently announced. what changed on january 22.
A: Since January 22, 2022, non-citizens who are not U.S. nationals or Lawful Permanent Residents have been required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter the United States at land ports of entry and ferry terminals, whether for essential or nonessential purposes. Previously, DHS required that non-U.S. persons be vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter the United States for nonessential purposes. Effective January 22, all non-U.S. individuals, to include essential travelers, must be prepared to attest to vaccination status and present proof of vaccination to a CBP officer upon request. DHS announced an extension of this policy on April 21, 2022.
Q: Who is affected by the changes announced on January 22?
A: This requirement does not apply to U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents. It applies to other noncitizens, such as a citizen of Mexico, Canada, or any other country seeking to enter the United States through a land port of entry or ferry terminal.
Q: Do U.S. citizens need proof of vaccination to return to the United States via land port of entry or ferry terminals?
A: Vaccination requirements do not apply to U.S. Citizens, U.S. nationals or U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents. Travelers that exhibit signs or symptoms of illness will be referred to CDC for additional medical evaluation.
Q: What is essential travel?
A: Under the prior policy, there was an exception from temporary travel restrictions for “essential travel.” Essential travel included travel to attend educational institutions, travel to work in the United States, travel for emergency response and public health purposes, and travel for lawful cross-border trade (e.g., commercial truckers). Under current policy, there is no exception for essential travel.
Q: Will there be any exemptions?
A: While most non-U.S. individuals seeking to enter the United States will need to be vaccinated, there is a narrow list of exemptions consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Order in the air travel context.
- Certain categories of individuals on diplomatic or official foreign government travel as specified in the CDC Order
- Children under 18 years of age;
- Certain participants in certain COVID-19 vaccine trials as specified in the CDC Order;
- Individuals with medical contraindications to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine as specified in the CDC Order;
- Individuals issued a humanitarian or emergency exception by the Secretary of Homeland Security;
- Individuals with valid nonimmigrant visas (excluding B-1 [business] or B-2 [tourism] visas) who are citizens of a country with limited COVID-19 vaccine availability, as specified in the CDC Order
- Members of the U.S. Armed Forces or their spouses or children (under 18 years of age) as specified in the CDC Order; and
- Individuals whose entry would be in the U.S. national interest, as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security.
Q: What documentation will be required to show vaccination status?
A: Non-U.S. individuals are required to be prepared to attest to vaccination status and present proof of vaccination to a CBP officer upon request regardless of the purpose of travel.
The current documentation requirement remains the same and is available on the CDC website . Documentation requirements for entry at land ports of entry and ferry terminals mirror those for entry by air.
Q: What happens if someone doesn’t have proof of vaccine status?
A: If non-U.S. individuals cannot present proof of vaccination upon request, they will not be admitted into the United States and will either be subject to removal or be allowed to withdraw their application for entry.
Q: Will incoming travelers be required to present COVID-19 test results?
A: There is no COVID-19 testing requirement for travelers at land border ports of entry, including ferry terminals.
Q: What does this mean for those who can't be vaccinated, either due to age or other health considerations?
A: See CDC guidance for additional information on this topic. Note that the vaccine requirement does not apply to children under 18 years of age.
Q: Does this requirement apply to amateur and professional athletes?
A: Yes, unless they qualify for one of the narrow CDC exemptions.
Q: Are commercial truckers required to be vaccinated?
A: Yes, unless they qualify for one of the narrow CDC exemptions. These requirements also apply to bus drivers as well as rail and ferry operators.
Q. Do you expect border wait times to increase?
A: As travelers navigate these new travel requirements, wait times may increase. Travelers should account for the possibility of longer than normal wait times and lines at U.S. land border crossings when planning their trip and are kindly encouraged to exercise patience.
To help reduce wait times and long lines, travelers can take advantage of innovative technology, such as facial biometrics and the CBP OneTM mobile application, which serves as a single portal for individuals to access CBP mobile applications and services.
Q: How is Customs and Border Protection staffing the ports of entry?
A: CBP’s current staffing levels at ports of entry throughout the United States are commensurate with pre-pandemic levels. CBP has continued to hire and train new employees throughout the pandemic. CBP expects some travelers to be non-compliant with the proof of vaccination requirements, which may at times lead to an increase in border wait times. Although trade and travel facilitation remain a priority, we cannot compromise national security, which is our primary mission. CBP Office of Field Operations will continue to dedicate its finite resources to the processing of arriving traffic with emphasis on trade facilitation to ensure economic recovery.
Q: What happens if a vaccinated individual is traveling with an unvaccinated individual?
A: The unvaccinated individual (if 18 or over) would not be eligible for admission.
Q: If I am traveling for an essential reason but am not vaccinated can I still enter?
A: No, if you are a non-U.S. individual. The policy announced on January 22, 2022 applies to both essential and non-essential travel by non-U.S. individual travelers. Since January 22, DHS has required that all inbound non-U.S. individuals crossing U.S. land or ferry POEs – whether for essential or non-essential reasons – be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and provide related proof of vaccination upon request.
Q: Are sea crew members on vessels required to have a COVID vaccine to disembark?
A: Sea crew members traveling pursuant to a C-1 or D nonimmigrant visa are not excepted from COVID-19 vaccine requirements at the land border. This is a difference from the international air transportation context.
Entering the U.S. via Air Travel
Q: what are the covid vaccination requirements for air passengers to the united states .
A: According to CDC requirements [www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/noncitizens-US-air-travel.html | Link no longer valid], most noncitizens who are visiting the United States temporarily must be fully vaccinated prior to boarding a flight to the United States. These travelers are required to show proof of vaccination. A list of covered individuals is available on the CDC website.
Q: What are the COVID testing requirements for air passengers to the United States?
A: Effective Sunday, June 12 at 12:01 a.m. ET, CDC will no longer require pre-departure COVID-19 testing for U.S.-bound air travelers.
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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 .
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Pay for entry: US travelers will soon have to pay a fee to enter the United Kingdom
U.S. citizens will soon have to apply for permission before their United Kingdom trips and pay a small fee to enter as part of the country's upcoming Electronic Travel Authorization scheme.
The travel fee is meant to secure the U.K.'s borders by giving them more accurate data on who is passing through, according to a U.K. official for the British Consulate General. The move is part of the U.K.'s plan to fully digitize its borders by 2025.
"The scheme will give the U.K. more control of our borders, allowing us to block threats from entering the U.K., whilst also providing individuals, and carriers, with more assurance at an earlier point in time about their ability to travel to the U.K.," according to the U.K. government website .
The scheme is set to be fully implemented by the end of 2023, the "permission to travel" requirement will apply to travelers visiting or transiting the U.K. without a visa or special immigration status – including visa-free nationalities like the United States. However, being granted permission to travel through the authorization program is not a regular visa.
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Other countries already have an authorization scheme process in place. In 2022, the U.S. implemented the requirement for certain visitors, which costs them $21. The European Union is also looking to create an authorization scheme.
Here's what we know so far about the U.K.'s upcoming authorization scheme:
How will the process work?
The new scheme shouldn't be too much of a burden on your trip planning. The application process is expected to be quick and easy, according to officials.
The application process can be done online in a few minutes. Travelers need to make sure they finish the process "a few days before (their) departure to the U.K." To apply, people will need a valid passport, travel details, a valid email address and a credit or debit card for online payment.
The typical process time for approval will be between 48 and 72 hours. Any errors in your application could delay its processing time or result in a rejection.
Once approved, you'll be able to stay in the U.K. for business or tourism reasons for up to six months. Short-term study and medical treatment are also valid purposes.
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Who will the authorization scheme apply to?
Non-visa nationals will need to apply for the new program. The confirmed list of countries will be announced at a later time but it's expected to include:
- The European Union.
- Other European countries like Norway, Iceland, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Vatican City and Monaco.
- Visa-exempt nations like Australia, Canada and the United States.
How much will it cost?
According to officials, the fee will be small but the exact cost has yet to be announced .
How long will it be valid? Do I have to apply for each trip?
The authorization will likely be valid for two years and allow multiple trips to the U.K.
What happens if I don't apply?
Permission will be confirmed prior to travel and carriers will be checking people's forms, either a printed document or digitally. Showing up without permission to travel may result in a penalty charge.
The Nationality and Borders Bill will also make it a criminal offense if someone uses deception to try to get authorization.
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U.S. Travelers Will Soon Have to Pay to Enter the U.K.
By Sarah James
U.S. visitors—as well as visitors from Europe , Australia and Canada —will soon be required to apply for permission to enter the U.K. through a new scheme known as Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA).
The U.K. government is in the process of fully digitizing U.K. borders by the end of 2025—and the ETA scheme will play its part, allowing “individuals, and carriers, with more assurance at an earlier point in time about their ability to travel to the U.K.,” the government said.
The scheme will be in place by the end of this year (2023), and visitors will be required to fill out an online application granting them permission to travel. There will be a small fee included in the application—similar to how the U.S.'s own ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) system works for U.K. travelers.
Here's everything we know.
Will I need a visa to enter the U.K.?
This isn't technically a visa—the ETA system will grant travelers permission to enter the country. You will need to apply for an ETA prior to arrival. If you haven't received permission to travel before arrival, you may get fined.
Travelers from the U.S. will soon need to apply for permission to enter the U.K.
How long will it take to get an ETA?
Travelers will be advised to apply for an ETA at least a few days before their journey. Approval should be granted within 72 hours of application.
How long will an ETA last?
After your ETA has been approved, visitors will be granted permission to stay in the U.K. for six months, whether for business or tourism reasons.
The U.K. government is yet to confirm how often visitors will need to apply for a new ETA, but it's likely to be valid for two years—meaning there's no need to apply for a new one every time you visit within the valid time period.
Visitors with valid ETAs can stay—and travel—in U.K. for up to six months.
How much will an ETA cost?
We don't know yet—but the government has said that the cost will be small. The EU implemented a similar system in 2022, which costs €7. A U.S. ESTA, meanwhile, costs $21.
Who will need to apply for an ETA?
The full list of nations included hasn't been announced yet. We do know that U.S. citizens who don't hold a visa will need to apply for an ETA, as will other visa-exempt nations such as Canada and Australia. European countries are likely to be included, too. Those traveling from nationalities without a visa-free agreement with the UK will still need to apply for another applicable type of UK visa.
What will I need to apply for an ETA?
You'll need a valid passport , an email address to register with, and to supply the details of your travel, as well as a valid debit or credit card to pay any fees to apply.
To keep up to date with the latest information on the ETA scheme, check the official website for more details as they become available.
This article originally appeared on Condé Nast Traveller U.K.
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Everything you need to know about traveling to the U.K.
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In London , it’s not immediately obvious that the world is still dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. In the halls of Borough Market, you’ll see maskless, smiling faces of patrons and shopkeepers back to business as usual. On the Tube, few masks, if any, make an appearance. At the airport, travelers can now enter the country without testing, quarantines or proof of vaccination.
“The city is full of life. The city is full of people,” says Jim Strong, president of Strong Travel Services , who recently returned from a trip to London.
A local's guide to London
The United Kingdom lifted all remaining travel restrictions in March, after two years of complicated rules. In the wake of that change, here’s everything you need to know to get prepared for a trip to the U.K.
What to know about restrictions
Britain has removed all of its coronavirus travel restrictions. Visitors from any country are welcome, regardless of vaccination status, and no longer need to test before their trip or complete a U.K. passenger locator form before arriving.
Travelers are not required to mask on flights and public transportation, although the government does encourage doing so in crowded, enclosed spaces.
How to dine and explore
Travel experts, including Strong, say London is one of the most popular European destinations for travelers this year, so plan ahead in anticipation of competition.
“Now that the testing requirement to return to the U.S. has been removed, I think we’re going to see much more intense interest in traveling, not only to London, but to all of Europe,” Strong says.
If there are certain attractions you’d like to visit or restaurants you’d like to eat at, be sure to make reservations.
“If you are going to the London, you must — in our opinion — do everything possible to have things prearranged, such as cars and drivers, restaurant reservations, entrance into certain sites,” Strong says.
Many attractions have ended limited-entry policies, making it more convenient to visit, but some remain.
“Everything is operating as it was pre-covid, however, sometimes at a diminished level,” Strong says, noting that he has seen London hotels and restaurants not operating at full capacity or limiting reservations because of staffing issues.
Richard Cooke, general manager of the Balmoral hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland, recommends that travelers talk to the concierge at their hotel and get a few reservations on the books, whether you’re hoping to tour the Macallan Distillery in Speyside or go to a football match.
“We have a bar with over 500 single malts,” Cooke says. “It’s been busier than ever with guests trying things they’ve never tried before or seeking to understand differing nuances. It’s a thirst for knowledge.”
Where to get a coronavirus test
It is no longer required to test before returning to the United States. If you’d still like to test, you can pack a self-test or find them for purchase from U.K. shops and pharmacies. You may be able to have one arranged at your hotel, but if that’s not the case, you can make an appointment at a pharmacy near you. The U.S. Embassy in the U.K. has a list of local labs to find tests . Testing is also available at Heathrow Airport .
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United Kingdom to grant visa-free entry to 6 nations. Image: Pexels
United Kingdom lifts visa requirements for SIX countries: See here
The United Kingdom will grant visa-free entry to passport holders of several countries from February this year.
The United Kingdom will make passing through its borders easier for passport holders of select countries.
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Notably, it has added SIX nations to the list of countries eligible for its electronic travel authorisation system.
A statement released by the UK government announced the move towards an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) system for selected nations.
An ETA is an electronic travel permit for travellers who do not need a visa to visit or transit through the UK for short stays.
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In a significant shift in its visa policy, the UK aims to ease entry for nationals of Jordan and all the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
In particular, nationals of Saudi Arabia , the United Arab Emirates , Kuwait , Oman , Jordan and Bahrain will soon not need visas for entry into the UK.
Moreover, passport holders of Qatar visiting the UK have been able to enter the UK with an ETA since 15 November last year.
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ELECTRONIC TRAVEL AUTHORISATIONS
Travellers from eligible countries will only need an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) to enter the UK from 22 February this year.
Under the new arrangement, eligible travellers are required to apply for an ETA, costing £10 (R240) for travel purposes.
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SHIFT IN VISA POLICY
According to GeoNews , the visa abolition initiative aims to streamline entry procedures. It will enable smoother and more accessible travel for citizens of specific nations when visiting the United Kingdom.
Travellers from the Gulf states are important to the UK, with over 790 000 Gulf visitors spending £2 billion (R48 billion) during visits in 2022.
By reducing costs and visa requirements, the ETA scheme will enable visitors from the Gulf states to easily travel to the UK. In addition, the move aims to increase business and tourism flows between these countries.
ALSO READ: United Kingdom revokes visa-free travel agreement for THESE five countries
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- Visas and immigration
- Travelling to the UK
Entering the UK
Your identity document (for example your passport or identity card) will be checked when you arrive at a UK port or airport to make sure you’re allowed to come into the country. It should be valid for the whole of your stay.
You may also need a visa to come into or travel through the UK , depending on your nationality.
Check which documents you’ll need to come to the UK .
You do not need to take any Coronavirus (COVID-19) tests or fill in a passenger locator form. This applies whether you are fully vaccinated or not.
What you can bring with you
What you can bring with you depends on where you’re travelling from. You must declare to customs:
- anything over your duty-free allowance
- banned or restricted goods in the UK
- goods that you plan to sell
- more than €10,000 (or its equivalent) in cash, if you’re coming from outside the EU
You and your baggage may be checked for anything you must declare.
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4 replies to this topic
If travelling from UK to US, at your first point of entry, you'll clear immigration, retrieve bags and clear Customs. Most US airports will have a carousel where you'll deposit your bags after Customs. Not a 'check in' as such.
If all on one ticket on the return, you won't see your bags till final destination.
Yes, thanks Katy, I know how it works on the way into the US, my question relates to coming back with a change in a second US airport
Sorry, Edit. Just read your reply carefully, and I see you've answered my question, thanks Katy
There is no outbound passport or customs inspection when leaving the US, so bags will be routed straight through. There are only customs regulations affecting very few people who have to make some declaration (bringing out >$10k or anything subject to export control) by going into the USCBP landside office on their own.
When you leave the USA, you check your bags in at the start of your journey and they will be transferred between planes for you if you connect at another airport.
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What do US citizens need to travel to UK?
What Do US Citizens Need to Travel to the UK?
Travel Requirements for US Citizens Visiting the UK
When traveling to the UK as a US citizen, there are several requirements that need to be met. First and foremost, a valid US passport is necessary for entry into the UK. The passport should be valid for the duration of the stay in the UK. Additionally, US citizens are exempt from obtaining a visa for short visits to the UK for tourism, business meetings, or participating in sports and creative events. However, if the visit is for other purposes, such as work or study, a visa will be required. It’s important to ensure that you comply with these requirements to have a smooth and hassle-free travel experience.
FAQs about Traveling to the UK for US Citizens
1. do us citizens need a visa to visit the uk.
US citizens do not need a visa for short visits to the UK, such as tourism, business meetings, or participating in sports and creative events. However, a visa is required for other purposes, such as work or study.
2. Can US citizens use an ESTA to travel to the UK?
No, the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is not applicable for travel to the UK. US citizens must have a valid passport for entry into the UK.
3. Are there any specific vaccination requirements for US citizens traveling to the UK?
There are no mandatory vaccinations required for US citizens traveling to the UK. However, it’s always recommended to be up to date with routine vaccinations before traveling to any destination.
4. What is the maximum duration of stay for US citizens in the UK without a visa?
US citizens can stay in the UK for up to six months without a visa for tourism, business meetings, or participating in sports and creative events.
5. Can US citizens work in the UK without a visa?
No, US citizens are not allowed to work in the UK without the appropriate work visa. The visa application process should be initiated well in advance if planning to work in the UK.
6. Are there any restrictions on the type of activities US citizens can engage in while visiting the UK?
US citizens are allowed to engage in tourism, business meetings, or participate in sports and creative events while visiting the UK without a visa. However, they are not allowed to work, study, or seek employment without the relevant visas.
7. Are there any limitations on the number of visits US citizens can make to the UK within a certain period?
There are no specific limitations on the number of visits US citizens can make to the UK within a certain period. However, the duration of each visit should be within the allowed six-month period without a visa.
8. Can US citizens travel to other countries in the European Union with the same visa or entry requirements for the UK?
The entry requirements for the UK are not applicable to other countries in the European Union. US citizens should check the specific entry requirements for each country they plan to visit within the European Union.
9. Are there any additional documents required for US citizens traveling to the UK?
In addition to a valid US passport, US citizens may be required to provide evidence of sufficient funds to cover their stay in the UK and proof of onward or return travel.
10. Can US citizens bring pets when traveling to the UK?
US citizens can bring their pets to the UK, but there are specific requirements for microchipping, rabies vaccinations, and obtaining a pet passport or health certificate. It’s important to check the current regulations before traveling with pets.
11. What should US citizens do in case of emergencies while in the UK?
US citizens should familiarize themselves with the contact information for the nearest US embassy or consulate in the UK in case of emergencies. It’s also recommended to have travel insurance that includes coverage for medical emergencies and unexpected events.
12. Is it necessary for US citizens to register with the US embassy or consulate when traveling to the UK?
While not mandatory, it’s advisable for US citizens to register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) through the US embassy or consulate in the UK. This allows the embassy to assist in case of emergencies or provide important information during the visit.
In conclusion, US citizens traveling to the UK should ensure they have a valid US passport and comply with the specific requirements for their purpose of visit, whether it’s tourism, business, or other activities. Understanding the entry requirements and being prepared will contribute to a smooth and enjoyable travel experience.
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The two conditions British passports must meet to travel in the European Union
Posted: January 9, 2024 | Last updated: January 9, 2024
The democratic vote to leave the European Union has had many unexpected consequences for travellers. One of the most serious: UK passengers wrongly denied boarding by their airlines because their passports are deemed no longer valid after Brexit.
So rife is the problem that my “pinned post” on X (formerly Twitter) reminds travellers, and airlines that a UK passport must meet two conditions for travel to the European Union (and wider Schengen area):
- On day of entry to the EU, issued less than 10 years ago.
- On intended day of exit from EU, at least three months left before expiry date.
Seeking to inform the travelling public about the rules that our government signed up for has been one thing. I then last year spent several weird months explaining to our government the agreement it had made with Brussels.
The Foreign Office and Home Office initially insisted that British passports expire after nine years and nine months, a fiction briefly extended to claim that children’s UK passport were no good after four years, nine months.
Eventually, in May 2022, officials and ministers conceded that I was right and changed government advice . By then, I thought I had also persuaded the airlines about the rules, with Ryanair and easyJet last to fall into line .
Yet deep into 2023, ground staff at UK airports are still turning passengers away needlessly – causing distress to travellers and triggering hundreds of pounds in compensation.
In November, British Airways staff at London Heathrow stopped Laura Savage catching her flight to Oslo , while in December Mark Starkey was turned away from a dawn Ryanair flight from Luton airport to Alicante .
Each time cases like these appear, it has the welcome effect of informing previous victims of wrongful denials of boarding to come forward. Here is Camilla, who in February last year was refused boarding a flight for a three-day trip to Italy. Her airline claimed she needed six months remaining on my passport to travel.
“My passport was issued on 1 May 2012 and expired on 1 July 2022,” Camilla says. “Can you confirm that I was wrongly turned away? If so, what do I do about claiming compensation?”
Camilla’s passport was valid for travel to the EU until 1 April 2022; all travel would have to be completed by that date because of the “three-month rule”. So Camilla was compliant. But how much cash is she due, and how can she get it back?
Under European air passengers’ rights rules – known as EU261 – she is entitled to £220 in denied boarding compensation, plus a refund of her return airfare. It should be a simple matter to claim the stipulated cash and cost of the ticket through the airline’s online portal for claims, supplying a scan of the dates of the passport.
If the carrier has any sense it will accept the claim and pay out. The airline may try to deflect the claim on the basis that it had relied on the inaccurate travel advice the UK government was putting out.
However, I told all the major airlines (and the UK government) in the autumn of 2021 exactly what the European rules were. I provided all the contact details for the relevant officials in Brussels and invited the carriers to check my work. Choosing to follow the flawed guidance of a non-EU government rather than the precise specification of an EU body looks like a feeble defence.
Claiming sums beyond that, whether for wasted costs of travel to the airport or for pre-paid accommodation abroad, will be trickier; airlines tend to say they are not liable for “consequential losses”. In my opinion, that is not a justifiable defence, but a successful claim might involve a legal battle.
Anyone whose claim is refused can go to alternative dispute resolution (ADR). But arbitrators, in my experience, sometimes get things wrong. Fortunately, if a decision goes against you there is nothing to stop upgrading to Money Claim Online .
Write to the airline, giving two weeks’ notice of your legal action; if the carrier foolishly fails to respond, go ahead and file a claim. Mostly, be patient. It can take months or years before your just deserts arrive.
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