Although the UK is a part of the EU, Brits disdain being referred to as Europeans.
This ideology has led them to keep the British pound, and also adopt a stricter set of policies concerning immigration.
So if you’re heading to the UK as a tourist, student, or worker, here’s what you need to know to enter without a hitch.
Tourist Visa Requirements
US citizens do not need a visa for visits under 6 months. However, given the influx of migrant workers from Eastern Europe in recent years, airport border security has become much tighter.
To avoid being sent home or detained at immigration like I was a few years ago, here’s what you should do.
1) Present Yourself Well
If you haven’t showered recently, have clothes in tatters, and have nothing but a backpack on, immigration will be likely to detain you for questioning. Therefor it’s best to hit the bathroom before you get online and try and make yourself look decent.
2) Show proof of sufficient funds
Often times the immigration officer is going to want to know how much money you have. You can save yourself a lot of trouble if you can prove this with a copy of your bank details.
3) Have a return ticket
Although not a requirement, not having a return flight leads to some suspicion. If you don’t have a return ticket you may want to consider faking one. It’s something I do all the time. Check out How To Fake A Return Plane Ticket.
Work Visa Requirements
As you might expect, receiving a work visa is not as easy as a tourist visa. There are many different tiers of visas depending on the type of work you wish to conduct. For more info, click here, Work Visa. http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/visas-immigration/working/
Study Visa Requirements
If the study program is under 6 months you can visit as a tourist without the need to apply for a visa.
However if you’re study program is longer and you wish to work as well, you’re going to need to apply for a Tier 4 visa. You can do this either from home or in the UK. Click here for info on the Tier 4 Visa.
European Union Visa Requirements
While tourist visa policy in the UK and EU are the same, 90 days per country within 180 days in the EU/Schengen Zone, work and study visas are not. Click here for info on Visas Requirements For Europe.
The former requirements are nearly identical for Americans, Canadians, and Australians, to name a few. However, you’re going to want to review your countries specific requirements here, UK Border Agency.
No matter what visa you need, be sure to not to give the immigration officer any reason to believe that you intend to stay in the UK past your visa and or work illegally. To see how the UK ranks for backpacking, check out Best Countries For Budget Backpacking Map. Good luck!