Customs Regulations and Visa Requirements of United Kingdom
The UK is an example of a country that, being in Europe, is not in the Schengen zone, therefore it has its own rules for obtaining and issuing national visas. Requirements for a potential guest of England and other lands subordinated to London are periodically updated. Check a2zdirectory for history of United Kingdom.
Since 2014, a number of requirements, in particular for Russian tourists, have been tightened.
To obtain the so-called “visitor visa” ( Visa Visit ) required for tourist purposes in the UK and Northern Ireland, you will need the following:
- Questionnaire-statement. To be completed in English only. Since 2014, the practice of issuing a document by employees of visa centers has been introduced. The cost of the service is from 300 rubles per completed page.
- Passport. Presented in person, you will also need to prepare copies of all completed pages. If expired passports have been issued before, then you must provide all documents with copies of all pages.
- Russian passport. Original and copies of all pages, even if they are blank.
- Photo 3.5 x5 cm in duplicate. In recent years, the requirements for photographs have been tightened:
- The photo must be taken against a white, light beige, cream or light gray background.
- It is forbidden to be photographed in any kind of hats, sunglasses or “chameleons”.
- Photos in glasses with diopters are allowed, but on the condition that at the time of passing the border control the guest will have the same glasses as on the visa photo.
- Since 2011, UK consulates have only accepted photos printed on matte paper.
- Certificate from the place of work on official letterhead with the seal of the organization. The document must indicate the position of the employee, monthly salary, bonuses received, the amount of all contributions to the pension fund. The certificate must be presented in the original and translated into English. Copies must be attached to the original and translation.
- It is advisable to provide a certificate 2-NDFL. A copy and a notarized translation of the original into English will suffice.
- An extract from a bank account indicating all transactions made with investments over the past 3 months.
- For tourists in official relations – a copy of the marriage certificate and its translation into English. If the marriage was dissolved or one of the spouses died – the relevant documents are attached without fail.
- If the tourist has minor children, copies of the birth certificates of each child are required.
- Confirmation of the hotel reservation and its payment for the planned period of stay in the UK. It is sent in the original, by e-mail or by fax, indicating the contacts of the hotel. An alternative document may be an invitation from the British side.
- Ownership certificates. Optional, but highly desirable item. It is best to declare the existing real estate, cars and other valuable objects.
- For non-working tourists – a sponsorship letter. It is considered valid only in the case of attached certificates from the sponsor’s place of work, bank statements or information on the income received for the last year.
- For students and schoolchildren – a certificate from the place of study with a stamp and contacts of the leadership. The certificate must indicate the date of graduation from the educational institution.
- For traveling alone with a minor child – permission to leave from the second parent. The permission must be translated into English. Both the original and the translation must be notarized.
- Consular fee payment receipt. It is presented and paid immediately upon submission of documents.
- Paid insurance policy of international standard with a coverage amount of at least 40 thousand euros.
The application form can be completed online on the website of one of the British consulates or visa centers. It is also possible to pay the consular fee online. After these two procedures, the visa applicant will be assigned a time and date to meet at the Visa Application Centre.
It will be necessary to personally bring all the necessary documents with copies and translations to the meeting. After submitting the documents, the invitee will be taken to a special room for taking biometric data. Fingerprinting will be key.
Visa processing time
According to the official data of the UK visa centers, the waiting time for a visa after taking biometric data and providing documents is 3 weeks. The so-called urgent visas are issued within three days, but the cost is negotiated individually.
The consulate has the right to refuse to issue a visa for several reasons. The first reason is incorrectly completed questionnaires and other documents. The second reason is debt on loans or utility bills. The third reason is the provision of deliberately false information about yourself. The last reason is an insufficient level of income or lack of the required amount in a bank account.
The amount of the consular fee depends on the duration of the visa to the UK. To date, the minimum visa period is 6 months – in this case, the amount of the consular fee is 8,000 rubles.
A visa valid for 2 years will cost 30,000 rubles. For 5 years – 53,000 rubles.
The longest term for a tourist visa to the UK is a period of 10 years. The fee for issuing such a visa is 66,000 rubles.
For those who plan to spend more than 90 days in the UK, a medical fee must be paid. The amount of fees is set in pounds sterling according to the current exchange rate. Each trip has its own medical fees – from 600 to 1100 pounds.
Despite the fact that the UK is not a member of the European Union, some rules for Russians to cross the border will comply with Schengen rules. See United Kingdom import restrictions.
Allowed duty-free importation into the UK
- Tobacco products – no more than 200 cigarettes, 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars ;
- Tobacco – no more than 250 grams of pure tobacco;
- Alcohol with a strength of more than 22% – no more than 1 liter per person over 18 years old;
- Alcohol with a strength of less than 22% – no more than 2 liters per person over 18 years old. This category of alcohol includes red and white wine, sherry, champagne, port, beer;
- Vintage perfume – no more than 60 ml ;
- Eau de toilette – no more than 250 ml ;
- Jewelry and valuable personal items (including photo and video cameras, other electronics) – in the amount of not more than 3,000 pounds at the current exchange rate;
- Gifts, souvenirs and other items that are not prohibited for import, in their original packaging with legible trademarks and serial numbers – in the amount of not more than 300 pounds ;
- Cash of any world currency and any denomination – no more than 10 thousand euros at the current rate.
Prohibited from importing into the UK
- Any type of firearms, gas and pneumatic weapons, as well as ammunition and spare parts for them;
- Most types of edged weapons, including butterfly knives, folding and mechanical knives, concealed carry blades, throwing knives. Exceptions – items of high collectible value, transported only in the luggage compartment and declared in accordance with the laws of Russia and Great Britain;
- Self-defense equipment, including gas cartridges, stun guns, telescopic batons;
- Bulletproof vests and other military ammunition without the right to wear in the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand;
- Any kind of narcotic drugs and substances;
- Books, copies of films and audio recordings prohibited by British law;
- Meat and dairy products produced outside the European Union.
Export prohibited from the UK
- Objects of cultural and historical heritage, objects of art without proper permission ;
- Plants and animals that have not passed quarantine inspection ;
- Cash in excess of £10,000.