At border control

Your passport or identity card will be checked.

You must:

  • have your passport or identity card ready - remove it from a holder or wallet if you use one
  • remove your sunglasses if you’re wearing them
  • move through passport control together if you’re in a family

Arriving by bus or coach

You have to leave the bus when you arrive at border control.

Make sure you:

  • are ready to get off the bus when you arrive
  • have your travel documents ready

Read the guidance for school parties and groups coming to the UK by coach.

You’re from an EEA country and Switzerland

You can use the EU/EEA channel to get your passport or identity card checked - this is usually faster than the other channels.

You can use automatic ePassport gates at some airports if your passport has a ‘chip’ on it and you’re 12 or over. If you’re between 12 and 17, you must be accompanied by an adult.

These gates use facial recognition technology to check your identity against the photo in your passport.

You’re from a non-EEA country

Your carrier will give you a landing card - fill this in before you arrive at border control.

Your passport, landing card (and visa if you have one) will be checked.

You’ll usually be asked why you’re coming to the UK.

Keep documents that show the reason for your visit in your hand luggage, so you can show them if asked, for example your travel itinerary, work permit or university letter.

Registered Travellers

If you’ve joined the Registered Traveller service, you can use the:

  • UK/EEA channels
  • automatic ePassport gates if your passport has a ‘chip’

You will not need a landing card at some UK airports.

Travelling with a UK biometric visa

You’ll have a biometric visa if your fingerprints were taken when you applied.

Your fingerprints will be checked at border control - they’ll be checked against the ones stored on your visa document.

If you’re refused entry

You’ll be told in writing:

  • why you’ve been refused entry to the UK
  • if you can appeal against the decision
  • when you will be removed from the UK

You’ll usually have to leave the UK immediately.

You may be allowed into the UK temporarily (usually for up to a week) but your passport will be taken from you and you must report to immigration officers at set times.

  1. Step 1 Check if you need a visa

    You might be eligible for different visas depending on why you're visiting the UK and how long for.

    1. Check if you need a visa
    2. Compare the different types of short stay visa
  2. Step 2 Prepare the evidence you need

  3. Step 3 Apply

    The cost of your visa depends on how long it's valid for.

    1. Apply for a visa and book an appointment £97 to £186
    2. Check if you'll need a biometric residence permit
    3. Check where your visa appointment will be

    You should get a decision within 3 weeks of your appointment.

    You might be able to pay an extra £212 for a decision within 5 working days or £956 for a decision within 1 working day. Check with your visa application centre.

  4. Step 4 Attend an appointment

    1. What you need to prove at your appointment

    You'll be told when a decision has been made about your visa.

  5. Step 5 Travel to the UK

  6. Step 6 After you arrive in the UK

    If your visa allows you to stay in the UK for longer than 6 months, you'll need to collect your biometric residence permit soon after you arrive.

    1. Collect your biometric residence permit

    Check your visa to find out when you must leave the UK. If you break the conditions of your visa you may not be able to return to the UK again.