UK Travel Restrictions: What You Need TO Know Before Going
The UK – four countries in one bottle: monarchical England with a lot of attractions, mountains, and blue lakes of Scotland, the land of medieval castles in Wales, and cozy villages of Northern Ireland.
A land of rains, pipes, and fox hunting, the UK is constantly gaining global attention. Either Lord of the Dance will come on tour, or Catherine Zeta-Jones and Sean Connery will shine in another Hollywood fairy tale. And even though it is still difficult to obtain a British visa, and travel to foggy Albion promises to result in a tidy sum, the tourist flow to the country does not dry up - we all want to stand at the threshold of the English monarchy, delve into the rules of pub etiquette, pick up a kilt for the cold autumn and recite "To be or not to be?" directly in the homeland of Shakespeare.
In addition, the UK has medieval castles and Gothic cathedrals, the tranquil beauty and serenity of rural landscapes, the recklessness and frenzy of evening London, granite of science in the best language schools, shopping in expensive prestigious boutiques and rummaging through the junk at flea markets. In short, a great variety.
Let's take a look at what it takes to properly enter the United Kingdom.
General rules for entering the UK
Upon arrival at the UK airport, you will have your passport or other identification checked to ensure that you are allowed to enter the country. Your documents must be valid throughout your visit to England. Before leaving for the UK, check the documents you will need to enter the UK.
You may be asked at the border to confirm your relationship with the children you are traveling with if border control doubts that you are the parent of the child. For example, you have a different last name with your child.
You can present:
a certificate of birth or adoption,
a marriage or divorce certificate (if your child has a different surname),
a consent from the parent of the child, giving him the right to travel with you. The letter must contain the contacts of the parents.
Your carrier (for example, an airline) will check your passport and other travel documents and then send information about you to customs. You can ask to take a look at this information.
Your passport is subject to verification, so keep it ready. Remove the cover of your passport before showing it. If you are wearing dark glasses, take them off. If you go through control with your family, then stick together.
If you are not from the EEA or Switzerland, your carrier will give you a “landing page”. Please fill it out before going through border control. This will save you time. Passport, as well as the "landing page" will be checked at the control.
Passing through British customs
UK entry regulations require you to cooperate if you are stopped at customs and asked about your baggage. If you broke the rules, then any of your things, as well as what you are transporting it in, can be confiscated.
It is prohibited to import weapons, ammunition, drugs, pornography, and poisons into the UK. Special permits are required for items of cultural or historical value, drugs containing drugs, plants, wild birds, and animals.
Products made from meat and milk are a travel ban: even a box of chocolates is confiscated. As an exception, you can import baby food or dietary food for people with various diseases, but its weight should not exceed 2 kg.
Those who travel to the UK with pets will have to prepare an international veterinary certificate and a special license, as well as tune in to a long quarantine. Pets that meet the PETS program are admitted to the country without delay. Export restrictions and prohibitions are the same as for import.
Non-EU tourists staying in the UK for less than 3 months a year can take advantage of the Tax free system. When making retail purchases in participating stores, you can get up to 20% VAT refund. Global Blue prepares a refund for amounts from 30 GBP, Tax Free Worldwide - from amounts of 50 GBP per check. In the store, you will need to fill out a special form, keep the receipt and the integrity of the packaging, present the goods and documents at customs (the employee will put a stamp), and then at the Cash Refund point. VAT can be returned in cash at Heathrow Airport or by wire transfer to a bank card.
What questions are asked at the UK border?
If you have already received a UK visa and packed your suitcases, then it's time to think about the following topic: the rules for entering the UK. Before travel, be sure to familiarize yourself with the information on entering the United Kingdom, at least in general terms, in order to feel more confident. As a rule, a tourist thinks about what questions he may be asked when crossing the English border, how to behave, how long the process takes, whether medical insurance is required, and what can and cannot be brought into the country.
So, according to the rules of entry into England, upon arrival, all tourists are given a small migration card in English (UK Border Agency Landing Card). There you need to indicate some of your personal information, including the address where you plan to stay in the UK. You will have to fill them right on the spot; the questions are simple, so there will be no difficulties at this stage. You need to be prepared for the fact that you will have to stand in a rather big queue since airports are often very busy.
UK Border Crossing Documents
Some documents are required when entering the UK, but there are not many of them. The most important are papers confirming the purpose of your visit to the country. This can be an invitation from relatives you are going to visit, or from a company where you are traveling on business. If the purpose of the travel is for tourism purposes only, you should bring your hotel booking confirmation. You can show it if the officer asks where you plan to stay.
In each individual situation, it is worth taking additional documents with you to cross the English border. If, for example, you got married and changed your last name, and the old one is indicated on your visa, take a marriage registration certificate to prevent unnecessary questions. If you are traveling with a child and you have different surnames, you should take your birth certificate with you; if you are not his parent, then you must have documents confirming your right to accompany him during his travel to Britain; these papers will definitely be asked. All of them must be provided in English, translation is not required.
UK and Covid-19
Traveling to the UK may be a dream of many people, but the current situation in the world can greatly prevent from visiting the country.
The situation with the spread of the new coronavirus Covid-19 infection in the UK remains tense. The country is among the states with an unfavorable course of the disease. The success of the British healthcare system looks especially weak in comparison with some other European countries. On the first day of autumn, more than 334 thousand cases of Covid-19 were recorded in the UK. At the same time, more than 41 thousand people have already died. The daily increase in cases is also not encouraging - 1715 people as of August 31.
Against this background, the country's cabinet of ministers has repeatedly come under serious public criticism. Many experts have accused the government of being unprepared for the pandemic and delaying the adoption of restrictive measures. Fuel to the fire was added by the fact that the head of the British government Boris Johnson himself fell ill with the coronavirus Covid-19, temporarily moving away from the government.
A nationwide quarantine was announced, when local hospitals were already unable to cope with the large flow of sick citizens. At the same time, the British authorities, unlike other European countries, did not close their borders and introduce a mandatory 14 days quarantine requirement for arriving guests with need to self isolate. However, it was difficult to obtain a visa for travel. The fact is that almost all British visa centers abroad were not working.
And yet, the restrictive measures introduced inside the country gave the first positive results, the number of cases decreased. Since May 13, the UK has begun to ease domestic quarantine and return to normal life. However, repeated outbreaks of the disease are forcing the British government to return to separate prohibitive measures.
Rules for entering the UK under quarantine restrictions
The difficult epidemiological situation forced the British Cabinet to impose restrictions on entry into the country. Obviously, they were belated, given that the state did not close its external borders.
From 8 June, all foreigners entering the UK must:
fill out a special form, where you need to indicate contact information and place of residence, and email address;
self isolate for 14 days.
You can get to the place of quarantine by public transport, but subject to the mask regime and social distancing. For violation of these rules, you could face a fine, in extreme cases - expulsion from the country.
Exceptions to the rules
The actions of the British authorities are well suited to the Soviet slogan during the New Economic Policy: “One step forward, two steps back”. By adopting travel restrictions, Boris Johnson's cabinet also adopted an extensive list of exceptions to them. In particular, the 14 days self isolate period is not required to go among:
diplomats and state representatives of the EU countries;
train carriages, ships, and aircraft;
specialists of the oil, gas, and nuclear industries.
A complete list of all exceptions can be found on the British Embassy Information Portal.
UK and EU
Having made a decision to withdraw from the common European space, Great Britain is forced to build new political relations with the European Union. Despite the fact that individual European countries were in no hurry to let English tourists into their territory without self isolating for 14 days, on July 10 the British government decided not to extend this rule to guests from European countries.
UK and the world
Since mid-July, the British authorities have also begun to exempt visitors from countries belonging to the so-called "green zone" from the mandatory 14-day self-isolation. Today this list, in addition to European countries, includes about 30 more states. A complete list of it is published on a special website.
Due to the closure of external borders by most countries in the world, the UK has provided its citizens with the opportunity to return home by charters. Persons who have a residence permit were also able to use them.
When can quarantine be violated?
The British authorities admit cases of violation of the mandatory quarantine. It can be done:
during the travel from the airport to the place of self isolate;
in an emergency when something threatens your life;
if you need to go to the store if the other way to deliver the goods failed;
to travel to hospitals by ambulance.
Covid-19 and political decisions
The Prime Minister of Great Britain said that the new travel restrictions that the government is introducing due to the increase in the incidence of Covid-19 may be in effect for another six months.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke in Parliament about the introduction of new quarantine restrictions in England. In the evening he repeated the main points of his speech in a television address to the nation.
New measures in England:
Pubs and restaurants will close at ten o'clock sharp;
Mandatory service by waiters, ordering from the bar is prohibited everywhere;
If possible, citizens should work from home.
Other parts of the UK - Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland - determine their own quarantine measures.
"I am sorry that this will affect a large part of the business, but we must act," the prime minister said. Thus, in England, where it is no longer possible to gather in groups of more than six people, the restrictions will increase, however, amid complaints from small businesses about serious losses due to quarantine, the government will not take more stringent measures.
Johnson noted that these measures could remain in effect for about six months. "This virus has become a phenomenon in our lives. And I must tell the members of parliament and the whole country that our fight against it will continue," the Prime Minister said.
In recent weeks, the number of cases of Covid-19 in Britain has risen sharply. Scientific and medical advisers to the government warned that if the disease spreads at the same rate as now, the country could become sick up to 50 thousand people a day.
An infectious disease professor at the University of Liverpool said these measures would not be enough. He speaks of a "serious concern" in the scientific community as the infection rate among people under 50 is growing.
Tough measures in Scotland
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Tuesday that the country would temporarily claim travel ban.
The measure of self isolation has already been introduced for more than 1.7 million people in Glasgow and some of its suburbs. Now, according to Sturgeon, this will apply to the entire country.
In addition, Scotland, following England, will ban pubs and restaurants after 10 pm.
Thus, Scotland has stricter quarantine measures than England, where it is still allowed to visit, albeit with greater restrictions.
Since Monday, the "rule of six" has been in effect in England: people who do not live under one roof can gather (even at home) in an amount of no more than six people.
"The reason we took these steps is because we know these restrictions are holding back the spread of the virus in the west of Scotland."
Do the restrictions work?
Restrictions are introduced, but as it turned out, not everyone understands them. And it's not even the folly of people, but the system itself with different levels and exceptions.
Liverpool people have no time for fun. There are already more COVID patients in hospitals in the city than at the peak of the first wave. Restrictions of the third, that is, the highest level of self isolating were introduced here recently.
Even by introducing seemingly tough restrictions, the government is trying to inflict minimal damage on business. As a result, the quarantine is very special, with numerous exceptions.
The three-tier system of restrictions is so complex that even police chiefs do not understand the rules, writes the Daily Mail. The confusion did not stop officers from fining four students a record £ 40,000 for hosting an illegal party.
But hardly anyone can punish the inhabitants of the village of States. The river divides the village into two parts. Each belongs to different municipalities. And they have different rules.
London is one of the regions where quarantine may be tightened in the near future. In the meantime, there are second-level restrictions: residents are forbidden to gather in groups of more than six people and need to self isolate.
Due to the coronavirus, the United Kingdom has become disunited. The British government controls the situation only in England. Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland decide for themselves, what to do. If you are going to travel to the UK, you need to know the basic rules for entering the country so as not to waste extra time when going through airport security. These rules differ depending on the type of visa and also the country from which you are coming. As for Covid-19, further plans for the 14-day self isolate and the establishment of "air bridges" are expected to be announced within the nearest time. You should see for yourself, whether a self isolation requirement applies to you, definitely see more information on how this requirement will affect your plans to visit the UK.