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U.S. Travelers Will Soon Have to Pay to Enter the U.K.

By Sarah James

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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.

West London UK

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.

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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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United Kingdom

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
  • 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 .

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Quick Facts

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

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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]

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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 . 

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.

Special Circumstances:

  • 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 coverage overseas.

  • 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 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.

Traffic Laws: 

  • 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 . 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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Uk to us visa & entry advice.

  • June 27, 2021

From the UK to US: travel & entry advice

To travel from the UK to the US as a British passport holder, you should first establish the type of permission you’ll need to secure before you can enter the country. Your options will be determined by factors such as purpose of travel, length of stay, your employment status and previous immigration history.

You must also ensure you understand and comply with any travel restrictions in force at the time you plan to travel. Under current regulations, travelers from the UK are subject to a US travel ban, unless the individual is exempt or qualifies for a National Interest Exemption waiver . This is in addition to holding the relevant permission to travel, either visa-free or with a valid visa.

We look at some of the more commonly used entry routes potentially available to British citizens looking to travel from the UK to the US.

Do you need a visa to travel from the UK to the US?

The UK is one of 38 countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The VWP allows approved nationals of Visa Waiver Countries such as the UK to travel to the US without the requirement to apply for a US visa.

Eligibility requirements for travelling from the UK to the US via the VWP include the following:

  • You are a citizen or national of a Visa Waiver country (British citizens meet this requirement).
  • You hold an e-passport that is valid for a minimum of 6 months after the end of your visit to the US.
  • Your visit must be of a temporary nature and for the purpose of business-related activity, tourism or medical treatment, or for travelling through the US in transit to another country.
  • You have been approved through ESTA before leaving the UK.

The Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) is a security pre-screen mandatory for travel under the VWP. Each individual looking to travel under the VWP will need to apply separately for ESTA, this includes children.

It is an online application process and you will not need to attend an interview at your local US embassy or consulate.

You should expect to receive a decision immediately but if more information is required, the response may take up to 72 hours.

As such, you should try where possible to make your ESTA application no later than 72 hours before your departure to account for any processing delays.

If your application is successful, you will receive a confirmation email.

Where you are not eligible for ESTA, perhaps due to a prior criminal conviction or where your purpose of travel is not permitted under VWP, it will be necessary for you to apply for the relevant US visa.

UK to US visa options

Determining your visa options will be the length of your stay and the reason for travel.

Length of stay

US visas comprise of non-immigrant visas for temporary visits to the US and immigrant visas for persons who wish to stay in the US on a permanent basis.

Non-immigrant visas require a visa to be granted through your local US embassy or consulate. This will involve making an online application and attending an interview.

By comparison, the application process for an immigrant visa can be much more complicated and costly, requiring sponsorship from a US employer, US citizen or a family member who has permanent residence in the US. Immigrant visas fall into the following categories:

  • family-based, where your close family member is a US citizen or has lawful permanent residence in the US
  • intercountry adoption
  • employment-based
  • special immigrant
  • diversity visa

Reason for travel

Generally, visits to the US are covered by the following categories:

Tourism or short-term medical treatment 

B-2 visitor visa

Business or employment

B-1 visitor visa

E-1 Treaty Trader visa

E-2 Treaty Investor visa

H-1B person in speciality occupation visa

L-1 intracompany transferee visa

O-1 individual with extraordinary ability or achievement visa

Study and Exchange

F and M student visas

J exchange visitor visa

Permanent immigration

Family based visas

Intercountry adoption visas

Employment visas

Investor visas

Special immigrant visas

Diversity visas

Security screening for travel from the UK to the US

Regardless of whether you travel to the US under the Visa Waiver Program or a US visa, your personal background information will be examined (‘screened’) prior to you being granted entry to the USA.

You will be asked to supply information on:

  • your identity, including your biometrics (fingerprints, photograph and signature)
  • your family
  • any previous visits to the US
  • whether you belong to a clan or tribe
  • whether you have travelled to other countries during the last 5 years
  • membership of or connection with professional, social or charitable organisations
  • military service
  • membership of or connection with a paramilitary unit, vigilante unit, rebel group, guerrilla group or insurgent organisation
  • criminal history
  • involvement in terrorism, war crimes or genocide
  • previous immigration violations
  • involvement in espionage, sabotage, or export control violations

It is always advised to adhere to full disclosure in your responses. Misrepresentation amounts to visa fraud and can impact your current US immigration status and future USCIS applications.

Are your visiting the US for employment purposes?

US immigration rules distinguish between paid for employment and business-related activities. Business-related activities include visiting the US to attend a business conference or meeting with a business client. Employment, by comparison, requires an employment contract and a salary.Unless you are a US permanent resident or US citizen, you may only work in the US on a temporary basis through a non-immigrant visa.

To take up permanent paid employment in the US, you must hold a Green Card and have the right to permanent residence in the US.

Employment visas are split into 4 main areas:

Petition based temporary employment

These visas require sponsorship from an approved US employer and include the following visas:

  • H1B, person in speciality occupation
  • H2A, temporary agricultural worker
  • H2B, temporary non agricultural worker
  • H3, trainee or special education visitor
  • L, intracompany transferee
  • O, individual with extraordinary ability or achievement
  • P1, P2 and P3, artists, performers and athletes
  • Q1, participant in international cultural exchange programme

Exchange visitor

For participants on approved exchange programmes, such as teachers, professors or certain summer workers, the J visa is suitable.

Members of the foreign press and media

The I visa covers representatives of the foreign media, such as journalists, travelling to the US to work on a short-term basis. Their work in the US, however, must be linked to educational or informational media activities carried out on behalf of a foreign media organisation.

Treaty Trader or Treaty Investor

Where a country has a treaty of commerce and navigation with the US, their citizens may be eligible to apply for an E1 (Treaty Trader) or E2 (Treaty Investor) visa. The UK has such a treaty with the US.

The Treaty Trader visa is for the purpose of carrying out substantial trade between the US and, in this instance, the UK.

The Treaty Investor visa allows for the establishment or purchase of an enterprise in the US.

Such visas may also be used for employees of a Treaty Investor or Treaty Trader, or the related company.

Other considerations


Whether you are travelling under the VWP or a visa, you will need to prove that you satisfy the grounds for admissibility. This includes meeting the good character requirement. This will raise issues for individuals with a criminal record. Take advice on your circumstances to understand how and if any criminal convictions could impact your eligibility and ability to enter the US. You may for example need to make an application for a waiver of admissibility .

Border control

While you may be granted a visa, you will still be required to pass border control. Even with a valid visa or ESTA, entry into the US is at the discretion of the US immigration authorities who have the right to turn you away.

Passport validity

Should you wish to visit the US, whether through ESTA or a visa, you are required to hold a current passport that is valid for the period of your visit.

In the case of an ESTA application, this must be an e-passport that is valid for 6 months after your date of departure from the US.

Global entry

Global entry grants faster entry though border control for approved applicants at certain US airports.

As a UK citizen, you may be eligible for the Global Entry programme when travelling from the UK to the US, regardless of whether you travel by US visa or through the Visa Waiver Program.

Processing times

The processing time for your visa can vary between different US embassies or consulates, the type of visa you apply for and adjudicators’ caseload. Processing times , depending on their individual application process and their specific caseload. It is always advised to visit the embassy or consulate website for news on processing times.

This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.

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Nita Upadhye

Founder & Principal Attorney Nita Nicole Upadhye is a recognized leader in the field of US business immigration law ( AILA ) and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with both US and UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

Nita successfully acts for corporations and professionals, entrepreneurs, artists, actors, and athletes from across the globe, providing expert guidance on all aspects of US visa and nationality applications, and talent mobility to the USA.

Nita is an active public speaker, thought leader , immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

  • Nita Upadhye Obtaining a Work Visa USA in 2024
  • Nita Upadhye E2 Visa: An Ultimate Guide
  • Nita Upadhye The I-129S Form: A Complete Guide
  • Nita Upadhye L1 Visa Extension Guide 2024
  • Last updated June 27, 2021

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Visa from UK to USA: Do you need one?

British citizens are under an American visa waiver program . If you have a British passport, you don’t need a US Visa; instead, you can apply for a US ESTA .

The ESTA permits qualifying nationalities to enter the US for tourism or business. Any traveler eligible for the ESTA can enter the US by air or sea. Plus, this document is very easy to get if you apply online with us!

Fill me in

What is an ESTA, and what other documents do I need to visit the USA?

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is an electronic system that helps to determine eligibility to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). This program allows travelers to visit the US without obtaining a visa. This document is for Multiple Entry purposes and allows travelers to stay in the US for 90 days Per Entry , and it remains valid for 2 years after issued .

You need the following items to apply for the ESTA online:

  • A passport valid for at least 6 months after your planned departure from the United States.
  • An active email address.
  • Your debit/credit card for payments.

What can I do with a US ESTA?

You might be asking yourself what you can and can't do if traveling to the USA with the ESTA as a UK citizen.

The following travel purposes do meet the requirements of the ESTA:

  • Tourism (on vacation to the USA)
  • Visiting friends or family who currently live there
  • Visiting clients or suppliers for business purposes
  • Undergoing medical treatment
  • Attending business meetings, negotiations, or conferences

The following travel purposes do not meet the requirements of the ESTA:

  • Entering into employment service with an American employer
  • Studying in the United States
  • Investing in or starting a company
  • Performing journalism-related activities

Working in the USA with an ESTA is allowed , provided the traveler does not enter into direct employment with an American company and works for a foreign entity. The traveler can be paid for their work performed in the USA, as long as the paying party is located outside of the USA. This way, it qualifies as a business trip and meets the requirements of the ESTA. A good example of this would be someone who is working remotely during their trip or is on a business trip supported by a UK employer.

How to apply for a US ESTA as a UK Citizen

To apply for an ESTA, you will need your applicant photo and a scan of the passport personal details section .

The form we provide is broken down into three easy steps and won't take you longer than 10 minutes to complete.

Follow these steps to apply:

Step 1. Complete your application form online.

Step 2. Fill in all the required information and upload your additional documents (if required). Our visa experts will be available to guide you in making the process for your ESTA as simple as possible.

Step 3 . Once we have your personal details, passport information, contact details, and security information, we will process your ESTA. You just have to choose the processing time that best suits your needs and pay for the service with your credit or debit card. See fees and processing options below.

Once you complete all three steps, just submit your application and wait for it to arrive via email. Your ESTA can be ready in as fast as 2 hours when you choose our services, perfect for anyone in a rush.

UK To USA visa fees

If you order an ESTA with us, the price of your Electronic System for Travel Authorization will depend on the processing time you choose and your budget. The ESTA isn’t free, but it’s inexpensive. Check the options below:

ESTA - 2 Years, multiple entry

Standard Processing , ready in 24 hours and costs USD $39.99 - The most economic option available and most accessible to everyone if you are planning your trip in advance.

Rush Processing , a quicker option available with a waiting time of just 12 hours for USD $57.99

Super Rush Processing , available in 4 hours for USD $77.99 - The fastest option available for anyone in a bit of a rush to obtain the ESTA.

The ESTA comes with a Government fee of USD $21.00 and all of our processing fees include both the government fee and our service charges.

Where do I find more information?

Feel free to contact our customer service team or chat with us via WhatsApp if you still have questions about obtaining your ESTA, or you can always check our US visa page for more detailed information.

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Travel From USA to UK – Complete Guide


Any UK citizen considering traveling abroad should start by familiarizing themselves with all of the laws and customs that apply. Here are some of the most common questions asked about traveling from the US to the UK, including the rules when it comes to planes, visas, documentation , and even the weather!

Apply Online

In this article…

UK Entry Requirements for U.S. Citizens

U.S. citizens wishing to enter the United Kingdom must meet certain entry requirements in order to be admitted. The requirements vary depending on the type of visa required and the length of stay.

Visas: U.S. citizens entering the UK must obtain a visa prior to arrival.

Visas are divided into two categories: Standard Visitor visas and Tier 4 Student visas. Standard Visitor visas are valid for up to six months and are available for tourism, business, and medical reasons.

Tier 4 Student visas are for those who intend to study in the UK for more than six months.

Documentation: U.S. citizens must provide proof of identity and nationality, including a valid passport and proof of residency in the U.S.

Additionally, those seeking to stay in the UK for more than six months must provide evidence of sufficient funds to cover their stay and living expenses.

Health Insurance: U.S. citizens are also required to have health insurance coverage while in the UK.

This can be provided through an employer or purchased independently.

Criminal Record Checks: U.S. citizens must provide a criminal record check from their home country upon entry to the UK.

This is to ensure that they do not pose a risk to public safety.

The UK government has the right to refuse entry to any individual who does not meet the entry requirements.

It is important to make sure all documents are in order before attempting to enter the UK.

💡 Tip: Buy travel health insurance before your trip.

Check out popular travel insurance plans and choose one that suits you.

Most plans only cost less than $20 a day.

Can U.S. Citizens Travel To UK Right Now?

Traveling to the United Kingdom right now is possible for U.S. citizens, with no restrictions due to Covid-19.

According to a travel advisory issued by the UK government on October 4, 2022 , there are no Covid-related restrictions on international travel to the UK. Additionally, arrivals no longer need to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before entering the country.

Therefore, as a U.S. citizen, you can enter the territory of the United Kingdom for a period of up to 6 (six) months with no need to apply for a visa.

Although there are no restrictions on international travel to the UK from the US, travelers should be aware of the possibility of terrorist attacks.

The travel advisory mentions that terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, local government facilities, etc.

Therefore, it is important for travelers to take precautionary measures and stay alert when visiting the UK.

In addition to potential terrorist attacks, travelers should also be mindful of the local laws and customs in the UK.

There are certain behaviors and practices that are considered illegal in the UK, and those who violate these laws may face severe penalties. Therefore, it is important to research the laws and customs of the country before traveling there.

Overall, U.S. citizens are able to travel to the UK right now without any restrictions due to Covid-19.

However, travelers should be aware of the potential risk of terrorist attacks and local laws and customs. By taking the necessary precautions and being mindful of their surroundings, travelers can have a safe and enjoyable trip to the UK.

How Long Can U.S. Citizens Stay In The UK Without A Visa?

US citizens are allowed to travel to the UK for up to 6 months without a visa for tourism and business purposes.

This 6-month period is the maximum amount of time that US citizens can stay in the UK without a visa. After the 6-month period, US citizens must apply for a visa if they wish to stay longer.

There are certain circumstances where US citizens may be able to extend their stay beyond 6 months.

For example, if the US citizen is a patient receiving medical treatment or an academic who still meets the eligibility requirements for their visit, then they may be able to obtain a visa and stay for longer than 6 months.

In order to obtain a visa to stay in the UK for longer than 6 months, US citizens will need to provide evidence that they meet the requirements of the visa category they are applying for.

This includes providing documents such as proof of income, proof of address, and any other information required by the UK immigration authorities.

Overall, US citizens are allowed to travel to the UK visa free and stay for up to 6 months.

However, if they wish to stay longer, they must apply for a visa in order to do so. It is important to note that each visa application is assessed on its own merits and that US citizens must meet the requirements of the visa category they are applying for in order to be successful.

Entering The UK To Receive Private Medical Treatment

Traveling to the United Kingdom from the United States for private medical treatment is possible for US citizens.

The UK government does not require US citizens to complete a UK passenger locator form or take any Covid-19 tests before traveling. In addition, no quarantine period is required after arrival.

For US citizens wishing to receive private medical treatment in the UK, the first step is to ensure they have an NHS number.

This is needed to make routine appointments with a General Practitioner (GP) and to get an NHS number, international visitors must register with their local GP practice.

Once registered, US citizens should be aware that tourist visitors to the UK do not typically qualify for free NHS treatment.

Any care beyond emergency treatment and certain other services will likely incur a fee. However, many private healthcare services in the UK seem affordable to North Americans and examples such as IVF (in vitro fertilization) treatment are approximately 35% cheaper than in the US.

In order to protect public health, US citizens should be aware of the guidelines set out by the UK government regarding Covid-19.

As of July 8th 2022, US travelers are permitted to travel to the UK regardless of their vaccination status and testing is not required. Upon arrival in the UK, US citizens should get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after arrival.

They should also monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms and follow additional guidance if they know they were exposed to a person with COVID-19. Following all state, tribal, local and territorial recommendations or requirements after arrival is also important.

Overall, US citizens can travel to the UK for private medical treatment with the right information and preparation.

Having an NHS number is essential and it is important to be aware of the fees associated with private medical treatment, as well as the Covid-19 guidelines set out by the UK government.

Entering The UK For Business Or Academic Activities

It is possible for U.S. citizens to enter the UK for business or academic activities, but they must have a valid passport and the necessary visa or residence permit.

Depending on the duration of the stay, applicants may need to apply for a Short-term Study Visa or a Tier 4 Study Visa. For longer stays, they may need to obtain a Temporary Work – Creative Worker route with a visa and Certificate of Sponsorship.

If you are planning to visit the UK for tourism, business, study, or other permitted activities, you can usually stay for up to six months. However, if you wish to stay for a longer period of time, you will likely need to acquire additional documentation.

In order to apply for a visa to stay in the UK for business or academic activities, applicants must be able to demonstrate that these activities are their full-time professions. The Business Helpdesk can assist with any queries regarding visa applications.

Overall, it is possible for U.S. citizens to enter the UK for business or academic activities, but they must have a valid passport and the necessary visa or residence permit.

Additionally, applicants must be able to demonstrate that these activities are their full-time profession in order to apply for a visa.

Do US Green Card Holders Need A Visa For The UK?

US green card holders are not exempted from needing a visa to enter the United Kingdom.

Even if they have a Green Card, they will still need to apply for a visa to be able to enter the UK. This is true even if they are citizens of countries that are exempt from visa requirements when travelling to the UK.

For those who plan to stay in the UK for a short period of time, up to 6 months for either business or leisure purposes, a visa may not be necessary. However, for longer stays, a visa will be needed.

To apply for a UK visa in the USA, applicants must go through an online application process, pay their fee, attend their biometric appointment , and attend an Application Support Center. Applicants must also submit their passport with at least one blank visa page on both sides.

The UK permanent residence card allows holders to stay in the country without any time limitations. However, this right can lapse if the holder spends more than two years continuously outside the country.

Therefore, it is important to keep track of the amount of time spent outside the UK to avoid having one’s permanent residence card revoked.

In conclusion, US green card holders do require a visa to enter the United Kingdom.

Even though they may be citizens of a UK visa exemption country, they will still need to go through the visa application process in order to gain entry.

The UK permanent residence card allows them to stay in the country without any time restrictions, but this right can lapse if they spend more than two years outside the UK.

  • How Much is USA Visit Visa Fees from the UK
  • How to Apply for UK Visa
  • UK Visit Visa – Documents Required
  • What are the Types of UK Visas
  • Do I need a visa to visit the UK? (Only Guide You Need)

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Us issues travel warning for germany: ‘terrorist groups keep planning attacks’.

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Germany is facing a frightening threat of terrorism, officials warn.

The United States has issued a travel advisory to Germany over fears of terrorism .

On Wednesday, the Department of State upgraded Germany to Level 2 out of four — an edict to “exercise increased caution” — with the stark warning that “terrorist groups keep planning attacks in Germany.”

The US government added that tourist locations and transportation hubs are frequently targeted, along with hotels, restaurants, clubs, places of worship, parks, and both sporting and cultural events.

“Terrorists may attack with little or no warning,” the State Department noted.

In late March, Canada also advised travelers to “exercise a high degree of caution in Germany due to the threat of terrorism.”

The United Kingdom’s foreign travel advice additionally cited incidents of terror in Germany in recent years.

Germany is under a heightened threat of terrorism, the U.S. State Department warns.

These include a killing and severe injury from a knife attack in Dresden in 2020, as well as two mass shootings at bars in Hanau that killed eight in the same year.

In 2019, two people were fatally shot near a synagogue in the city of Halle.

The State Department advises travelers to “identify safe areas” to turn toward in the event of an attack.

Public places frequented by foreigners are high targets.

“Formulate a plan of action. Know where you will go if a terrorist attack or security incident takes place.”

Germany is the only European nation to have an elevated travel warning from the US in 2024, except for Ukraine bordering Moldova, which is on the same level two status due to Ukraine’s war with Russia.

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Local elections live: PM told to 'wake up and smell the coffee' after elections - as critic calls for Johnson's return

A former Number 10 communications guru says Rishi Sunak needs to "wake up and smell the coffee" after a grim set of local elections results for the Tories - but a minister insists it's still "key" to back the PM. Listen to this week's Politics at Jack and Sam's as you scroll.

Monday 6 May 2024 06:19, UK

  • Minister says 'key' to back PM despite elections drubbing
  • Sunak told to put Johnson 'front and centre' of general election
  • Shock Labour win in West Midlands 'beyond expectations'
  • Beth Rigby: This result feels like a momentum shift
  • Analysis: Sunak has got to wake up and smell the coffee
  • Final council announces result - 107 authorities declared
  • Listen to this week's Politics at Jack and Sam's above and tap here to follow the podcast. 
  • Vote 2024:   Council results in full  |  Mayoral results in full
  • Live reporting by   Tim Baker

We're pausing our live coverage for today - thanks for joining us and be sure to check back in tomorrow.

Before you go check out some of today's stories below:

Suella Braverman wrote in the Daily Telegraph about her party that "the hole to dig us out is the PM’s, and it’s time for him to start shovelling".

She also called for the party to take a stance further to the right of where it is now.

Tobias Ellwood - a Tory MP who is much more on the One Nation side of the party - has now called for her to get on board with the PM and help his election efforts.

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Ellwood says: "Why not be part of the efforts Suella Braverman? 

"Why not be part of the team with the prime minister that grabs the shovels as well, rather than simply commentating from the sidelines.

"Let's be bit more JFK about this - you know, every one of us, as the election approaches, especially parliamentarians, should be asking ourselves, do our actions, do our comments, help demonstrate unity or distract from that core message? 

"Did they help win back the middle ground that's vital for electoral success - or do they push to the extreme? 

"Do they help retain Conservative seats, or do they help lose them? 

"That's the big test that we now face with just months away from the next general election."

By Jennifer Scott , political reporter

SNP leadership hopeful John Swinney has warned rivals against entering the contest, saying it would "delay the ability for the [party] to start its rebuilding".

The former deputy leader is currently the only candidate in the running to replace Humza Yousaf, who announced last week he would be stepping down as first minister after his decision to end a power-sharing agreement with the Scottish Green Party led to the collapse of his premiership.

But rumours have surfaced today that SNP activist Graeme McCormick has gathered enough support to launch his own bid for the top job, and if he submits an application before Monday's midday deadline, the party would begin a three-week leadership contest.

Speaking to Sky News' Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips, Mr Swinney accepted there was a "democratic process" for any candidate with 100 signatures from 20 local SNP organisations to enter the race.

However, in what appeared to be a warning to any potential rival, he added: "My bid to become SNP leader has received very, very comprehensive support within the SNP. I have sent out a message which is about unifying the SNP to strengthen our party and win Scottish independence.

"I think that is necessary as the SNP is not as cohesive today as the party needs to be, and my campaign has attracted very wide support."

Read the full story here: 

George Galloway, the leader of the Workers Party of Britain and Rochdale MP, ended an interview with LBC this morning when asked about comments he previously made about gay relationships.

Speaking to Novara Media previously, Mr Galloway said: "I don't want my children prematurely sexualised at all, I don't want them taught that some things are normal when their parents don't believe that they're normal.

"Now there's lots of things not normal, doesn't mean you have to hate something that isn't normal. But if my children are taught that there's – whatever the current vogue number is – 76 or 97 or whatever the number of purported genders that exist, I don't want my children taught that."

He added that he did not want children to be taught "that gay relationships are exactly the same and as normal as a mum, a dad and kids".

"I want my children to be taught that the normal thing in Britain, in society across the world, is a mother, a father and a family.

"I want them to be taught that there are gay people in the world and that they must be treated with respect and affection, as I treat my own gay friends and colleagues with respect and affection but I don't want my children to be taught that these things are equal because I don't believe them to be equal."

Asked about the comments by LBC, Mr Galloway claimed the station was "ambushing" him - and that they had shown a "clip of a clip" that was "edited".

On its website, LBC said: "The clip played was shortened, though a longer clip was then played."

 Exclusive by Mark Kleinman , City editor

The world's second-largest steel company has warned the government that a planning verdict due this week could lead to a key division quitting the UK.

Sky News has seen a letter sent by ArcelorMittal to Michael Gove, the levelling-up secretary, in which it says that a decision to allow the closure and redevelopment of part of Chatham Docks would have "seismic adverse consequences… [for] the British economy and multiple strategic industries".

In the letter from Matthew Brooks, who runs ArcelorMittal's construction solutions arm in the UK, the company urges Mr Gove to issue an urgent order to allow fuller government scrutiny of the redevelopment proposals ahead of Wednesday's decision by Medway Council.

"This is highly time-sensitive - calling in the application after next Wednesday will not be possible," Mr Brooks wrote.

He warned that if the proposals were approved, ArcelorMittal would "regrettably be left with no alternative but to leave Chatham Docks and, more than likely, cease operations in Britain, given the lack of suitable alternative sites".

Read more below:

Yolande Makolo, the spokesperson for the Rwandan government, was speaking to the BBC this morning.

She was asked if the central African nation was able to take the tens of thousands of people the UK government is aiming to send abroad.

Ms Makolo said: "We will be able to welcome the migrants that the UK sends over the lifetime of this partnership.

"What I cannot tell you is how many thousands we are taking in the first year or the second year. This will depend on very many factors that are being worked out right now."

But she rubbished reports Rwanda was only able to take 200 people.

Responding to Ms Makolo's comments, Labour's shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: "This interview shows that more people have arrived in the last week than are likely to be sent to Rwanda over the next few years, and the Conservatives are just trying to con people with their failing plans. 

"Today we heard a stark admission that Rwanda can only take a tiny proportion of people who are arriving in the UK, yet the government is spending half a billion pounds of taxpayers' money on this scheme.

"At the same time the government is letting the backlog go back up and failing to process removals to safe home countries so the costs to the taxpayer will go up even further."

The last of the 107 English councils has declared its winner - with Labour holding Salford.

The net result is that Labour gained one seat and the Conservatives lost one - although this does not mean there were not other swaps.

It means that, in total, the Conservatives are down 474 seats, while Labour is up 186, the Lib Dems up 104, the Greens up 74, and other parties up 100.

Labour gained eight councils, the Lib Dems gained won, three went to no overall control or another party, and the Conservatives lost 12.

This does not include the mayoral races, of which the Tories won only one - Tees Valley.

In totality (there were lots of seats not up for election this time round) Labour now control 51 of the 107 councils, the Lib Dems 12, Conservatives six and independents one, with 37 under no overall control.

Some 255 people crossed the Channel in small boats yesterday, according to the government - in five boats.

But the Home Office has now added more data to the chart they publish -  including "migrants prevented" and "events prevented".

Yesterday, the Home Office says 104 people were stopped in six events.

According to the government, this equates to "individuals who are prevented from departing France, or those who return to France", and also "finds of general maritime equipment".

This information comes from a "snapshot" from the French authorities, and has not been verified - with the Home Office saying it is "inherently likely to be subject to a relatively high degree of measurement error".

The department also states that arrivals and preventions are not comparable. 

Speaking to Trevor Phillips this morning, Transport Secretary Mark Harper said the government's plan is "to stick to focusing on the priorities that the prime minister set out, which are the government's priorities, the Prime Minister's priorities but they're also the priorities of the British people".

But the Liberal Democrats say the Conservatives are in "complete denial".

The party's deputy leader, Daisy Cooper, said: "Mark Harper's claim that their 'plan' is working shows the Conservatives are living in cloud cuckoo land.

"Voters across the country turned to the Liberal Democrats in these local elections as we beat the Conservatives and pushed them into third place.

"Rishi Sunak needs to stop running scared of the British people and call a general election. Every day he clings on to power just does more damage to the NHS and people's living standards."

Robert Largan is the MP for High Peak, in Derbyshire, and falls under the boundaries of freshly minted Labour mayor for the East Midlands Claire Ward.

He is also under the Labour police and crime commissioner Nicolle Ndiweni.

Posting on social media, Mr Largan says: "Congratulations to Claire Ward, the new East Midlands Mayor, and to Nicolle Ndiweni, the new Derbyshire Police & Crime Commissioner.

"I sincerely wish them both the best of luck in their roles. I will do my best to work with them, on a cross-party basis, to deliver for Derbyshire."

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  1. Entry requirements

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