Entry conditions for the United Kingdom

Traveling to the United Kingdom
Updated 2023-09-07 09:36

The United Kingdom is one of the countries that have attracted the largest number of tourists and expats over the years. The diverse culture, beautiful landscape, and unmatched UK attractions are some of the island's strengths. Beyond this, a solid and prosperous economy provides various opportunities for different travellers' profiles. But how do you qualify to move to the United Kingdom?

UK international arrivals

In 2022, the United Kingdom was among the top ten most popular tourist destinations worldwide, with more than 30 million tourists.

COVID-19 considerations:

Since the England lockdown rules ended in 2021, there are no longer COVID-19 restrictions for entering the UK from another country. The testing and quarantine rules are not mandated anymore, and even people without a COVID-19 vaccine can travel freely.

Entry conditions for EEA and EU citizens

The time when citizens of the EEA and EU could travel freely to the UK with their valid national ID card or passport and were allowed to work ended on 31 December 2020. On 1 January 2021, the transition period of the UK's withdrawal from the EU ended, and the UK officially left the EU single market and the EU customs union. A new Trade and Cooperation Agreement has come into force, also changing the conditions for EEA and EU travellers to the UK.


Travellers to the UK won't be able to enter the UK with their EU, EEA, or Swiss national ID card from 1 October 2021. EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens can continue to use the automatic ePassport gates to pass through the border on arrival.

EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens can travel to the UK for holidays or short business trips for up to six months without a visa. However, if you are an EU citizen moving to the UK for work, you must apply for a work visa that gives you the right to work. There are several work visas in the UK, the most popular being the Skilled Worker visa, Health and Care visa, Global Talent visa, and Innovator-Founder visa. Note that as of the 1st of September 2023, specific groups with pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme will have their status automatically extended by two years if they have not yet obtained settled status by the time their pre-settled status expires.

Student visas for EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens only apply to individuals who have a study offer from a Home Office-licensed education institution and can prove that they have the finances to support themselves during their studies and pay their tuition fees. Students can benefit from a Graduate Visa to stay in the UK for at least two years after graduation.


The above rules do not apply to Irish citizens.

Entry conditions for non-EEA and non-EU citizens

Visitors from outside the EEA or EU must apply for a Visitor's visa online or at the British embassy or consulate in their home country. If you plan to travel to the UK, the earliest time to apply for your Visitor's visa is three months before the intended date. The visa should be issued within three weeks following the application if you satisfy all existing conditions. Remember that the visa approval and duration of stay can depend on various factors, including your country of origin. The Visitor's visa generally allows you to stay in the UK for at least six months.

Working in the UK

During your stay on a Visitor's visa, you cannot undertake any paid or unpaid job in the UK. However, you can enroll in courses that do not exceed six months. Please find more information regarding work and professional visas in the UK in our Visas Expat Guide.

Good to know:

The UK is not part of the Schengen area. You may travel to other European countries with a Schengen visa, but you won't be able to use it when entering the United Kingdom. You will, therefore, need a valid visa that is delivered by the British Embassy or British Consulate.

Formalities for entering the UK

You must produce the appropriate visa if you're coming from outside the UK. Once you have successfully moved to the country with your valid documents, you can travel freely within England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.