Travelling to the UK: Let’s start from the beginning! Do you need a visa to enter the UK? What are the passport requirements, and what can you expect at UK Customs and Immigration? Plus, plan your trip to the UK and get top tips to make your trip even easier with our information guide.
Whether you are traveling to the UK by Eurotunnel, Eurostar, Coach, Ferry, or Airplane – we answer the most frequently asked questions that may be on your mind when you book your trip of a lifetime. We’ll make your journey easy from the start!
Travelling to the UK by sea, rail, and coach
You’ll cross either the English Channel or the North Sea while traveling from the European continent to Great Britain, and there are many different ways you can do this. Ferry services operate from several ports and have good relations with both public transport and international coaches/buses. The Channel Tunnel provides a non-stop rail link between the UK and the rest of Europe. Prices remain competitive between pier and tunnel services, and both options are good green options for flying. Get more information:
Ferry services to Britain from Europe
A network of car and passenger ferry services conveniently connects many ports around the UK with Northern and Southern Europe.
Major international UK ferry ports include Felixstow, Harwich, Folkestone, Dover, Southampton, and Bristol in South England; Hull and Liverpool in northern England; Edinburgh in Scotland and Belfast in Northern Ireland.
Ferries can be convenient, economical, and fun. Fares vary greatly depending on the season, travel time, and length of stay so make sure you do your research before you book.
Crossing times vary from just one hour on the shortest routes to 24 hours on services from places like Spain and Scandinavia. If you go sailing overnight, it may be worth paying extra for sleeping quarters. DFDS runs fast Seacat (catamaran) services to France, which take only less than an hour. Catamarans can carry vehicles and lack the plunge and sway of a traditional ship, so may be preferable for those who get seasick.
Travel to Britain via the Channel Tunnel
The Channel Tunnel provides a route from the European continent to the UK via Eurostar trains (which carry passengers) and Eurotunnel trains (which carry passengers in their cars). The cost is comparable to flying and the train could be more convenient and more eco-friendly. One-way tickets between London and Paris can cost as little as £29; Prices depend on the day and time of your trip and how much advance you book.
Passengers in coaches/buses and cars board a freight train operated by Eurotunnel, which takes 35 minutes to travel from Calais in France to the port of Folkestone in the UK.
Eurostar passenger rail services, operated by French, Belgian and British, run frequent direct services from Brussels in Belgium and Paris, Lille and Calais in France to Ashford and Ebbsfleet in south-east England and St Pancras station in London.
International coach travel to Britain
Coach/bus is a cheap option for traveling in the UK. Several services offer regular routes that cross the channel from the European continent. You can choose to end your trip in London or other major UK cities.
Travelling to the UK by air
It is easy to fly to the UK from countries around the world, with London Heathrow being the largest airport in Europe and well connected to central London. Other major international airports in the UK include Gatwick, Stansted, City and Luton in London; Manchester and Newcastle in the north of England; Birmingham in West England; Wales in Cardiff; Scotland in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and Northern Ireland in Belfast.
Arriving at British airports
Heathrow has 5 terminals, and some other airports often have more than one, so before you fly, check which terminal your flight arrives at or leaves at to assist with onward travel. The separate Heathrow and Gatwick terminals are each linked by free shuttle services. To transfer between Heathrow and Gatwick, frequent buses with National Express take about 75 minutes. Buses between Heathrow and Stansted or Luton airports take up to 90 minutes, so remember this when planning flight connections.
Travelling from the airport
You will find all British airports well connected with local public transport options. For example, London Heathrow and Newcastle Airport in northern England are each linked by the city’s underground (subway) rail network. Arriving at Heathrow you can also take the Heathrow Express, a fast, direct train to London’s Paddington railway station (approximately 15-20 minutes, depending on which terminal you travel from).
Arriving at Gatwick you can take local train services or take the fast, direct Gatwick Express to London Victoria (30 minutes). There are also regular express train connections to Stansted and Manchester. There is an easy tram connection to Edinburgh city centre.
National Express Coaches provide direct connections between major airports (London’s Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, Luton, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Coventry, East Midlands, and Bristol) and many British cities and towns. They also have a regular service between Gatwick and Heathrow and are usually a cheaper alternative to rail.
Travelling within Britain by air
With shorter distances within the UK, domestic air travel isn’t necessary, but if you want to save time – a good option for longer trips between London and Scotland, or to reach one of the many spectacular offshore islands. all over the country. Internal flight providers include British Airways, EasyJet, Ryanair, FlyBe, and Aer Lingus.
Travelling to the UK by Eurostar train
Cross by direct train from continental Europe to the UK – Eurostar trains connect Paris, Lille, and Calais in France and Brussels in Belgium directly with London and South East England via the Channel Tunnel.
Travelling from Paris to London
• There are frequent Eurostar services between Paris and London every day of the week. Train services run regularly between around 6.45 am-9.15 pm.
• The Paris to London train takes around 2 hours 20 minutes.
• The Paris-London train arrives at London’s St Pancras International. Here you can find world-class shopping, Europe’s longest champagne bar, a daily farmers’ market, and top restaurants and bars – quite a welcome to Britain!
Travelling from Brussels, Belgium, and Lille and Calais, France to London
• Services also run between these destinations and London every day of the week.
• See the full Eurostar timetables.
Eurostar tickets and fares
Eurostar offers a wide range of ticket types and fares. Find out more and book on the Eurostar website.
To and from the Eurostar station in London
• St Pancras International is in the heart of London in an area called King’s Cross. The station has excellent transport links including London Buses, 6 Underground lines as well as domestic train services.
• To travel on the London Underground network, you must use either a London Travelcard or a Visitor’s Oyster card, both of which are available for purchase in advance from the VisitUK shop.
• Once you reach London, you can connect by rail to almost anywhere in the UK: East Midlands Railway from St Pancras International and London North Eastern Railway services from nearby King’s Cross to St Pancras in the north of England and Scotland connects with. Thameslink will take you to stations in the South of England. Virgin Trains from Euston Station travel to Birmingham, Manchester, and North West England, while Great Western Railway trains run from London Paddington to Bristol, South West England, and South Wales.
For more details on onward travel by train check National Railway Enquiries.
Passport and visa requirements for entering the UK
EU, EEA, and Swiss nationals
You will not be able to use an EU, EEA, or Swiss national ID card to enter the UK from 1 October 2021, unless you:
- have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
- have an EU Settlement Scheme family permit
- have a frontier worker permit
- are an S2 Healthcare Visitor
- are a Swiss Service Provider
In these cases, you can continue to use your national ID card to enter the UK until at least 31 December 2025. All other travelers will need a passport to enter the UK from this date.
Nationals from the Rest of the World
You must have a valid passport to enter the UK. It should be valid for your entire stay. Depending on which country you are from, you may also need a visa.
If you are planning an adventure to the UK, you may need to organize a visa. Whether you need one or not depends on your nationality and your reason for visiting.
If you’re visiting from the EU
For the latest information on visiting the UK for EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens, please visit the official government website.
If you’re visiting from the Rest of the World
If you are an American, Canadian, or Australian tourist, you will be able to travel visa-free throughout the UK, provided you have a valid passport and your reason for arrival meets immigration regulations.
If you are a tourist arriving from Brazil, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Japan, you are able to travel around the UK visa-free. This also applies to citizens of some additional South American and Caribbean countries. You can check here whether you need a UK visa or not.
If you are a citizen of Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, or the United Arab Emirates and you plan to visit the UK, you may be able to get an electronic visa waiver instead of a visa. You can find more details https://www.gov.uk/get-electronic-visa-waiver.
Travelling to the UK