WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE AIRPORT (UK)
What coronavirus (COVID-19) testing and quarantine rules you need to follow depends on:
- whether you qualify as fully vaccinated
- where you have been in the 10 days before you arrive
Before you leave for the UK
- 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.
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 UK
- You and your baggage may be checked for anything you must declare.
You’re not from an EEA country
- You must have a valid passport to enter the UK. It should be valid for the whole of your stay.
- You may also need a visa, depending on which country you’re from.
- Check if you need a visa to enter the UK.
- You may also need a visa if you’re ‘transiting’ or travelling through the UK, for example you’re changing flights at a UK airport.
- The rules on what you’ll need to enter the UK may be different if you’re travelling from Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man.
Applying for a visa
You must apply for your visa before you arrive in the UK.
Travelling with children
You may be asked at the border to prove the relationship between yourself and any children travelling with you, if you do not seem to be the parent, for example if you have a different surname.
You can prove this with:
- A birth or adoption certificate showing your relationship with the child
- Divorce or marriage certificates if you’re the parent but have a different surname from the child
- A letter from the child’s parent giving permission for the child to travel with you and providing contact details, if you’re not the parent
Before you board
Your ‘carrier’ (for example airline or transport provider) will check your passport and other travel documents. They’ll send this information electronically to Border Force.
You can ask to see the information about you that’s been sent by carriers.
At border control
You’ll need to show:
- your passport or identity card
- your passenger locator form
You might also need to provide proof of a negative coronavirus (COVID-19) test. Find out what testing and quarantine rules you need to follow.
- Have your passport or identity card ready – remove it from a holder or wallet if you use one
- Remove your face covering or sunglasses, if you’re wearing them
- Move through passport control together if you’re in a family
You will have to wait longer than usual at border control because of COVID-19.
Showing your passenger locator form
You need to show proof that you’ve completed a passenger locator form when you arrive at the UK border. The government will use the form to contact you if someone you’ve travelled with develops COVID-19 symptoms.
When you submit the form you’ll receive a confirmation email with a document attached. At border control you must show either a:
- printed copy of the document
- downloaded copy of document on your phone
- Border Force officers will scan the QR code at the top of this document to check you have completed the form successfully.
It is a criminal offence to provide false or deliberately misleading information when filling out your passenger locator form. You could be fined up to £10,000, imprisoned for up to 10 years, or both, if you do not provide accurate details about the countries you have visited in the 10 full days (11 nights) before you arrived in the UK.
You may also need to show proof of a negative coronavirus test at the border. You could be fined up to £500 if you cannot show proof when asked.
If you’re from a non-EEA country
Your passport (and visa if you have one) will be checked at border control. You’ll usually be asked why you’re coming to the UK.
When you cannot use an ePassport gate
You must see a border control officer and get a stamp in your passport if you are entering the UK:
- With a Tier 5 Creative or Sporting certificate of sponsorship for up to 3 months (and you want to enter without a visa)
- On a permitted paid engagement
- You cannot get a stamp if you use the ePassport gates.
- Without a stamp you will not be allowed to carry out the activities you came to the UK to do.
You can use the UK/EEA immigration lanes and the automatic ePassport gates.
Travelling with a UK biometric residence permit
You’ll have a biometric residence permit 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.
You must cooperate if you’re stopped and asked about your baggage.
Customs officers keep a record of:
- All baggage they open and check
- Any damage to your baggage or belongings during a check
If your things are damaged
You may be offered compensation if your baggage or belongings are damaged during a customs check.
Making a complaint
- ask for the duty manager if you want to complain about a customs check while you’re at the border
- send your complaint to Border Force if you want to complain later