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Summary

  • Exercise normal safety precautions in the UK.  Use common sense. Look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media and other sources for changes to local travelling conditions.  
  • On 19 June 2017, a vehicle collided with pedestrians outside a mosque in Finsbury Park, North London, causing a number of injuries. Roads in the area have been closed and there is an increased presence of police in the area. Remain vigilant and follow the instructions of local authorities (See Safety and security). Police are still investigating the incident. The level of advice has not changed. Exercise normal safety precautions in the United Kingdom.
  • On 3 June 2017, an attack at London Bridge and Borough Market caused a number of deaths and injuries.  UK authorities have declared these events as terrorist attacks.  Australians who have concerns for the welfare of family and friends in the region should attempt to contact them directly. If you are unable to contact them and still hold concerns for their welfare, you should call the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's 24 hour Consular Emergency Centre on 1 300 555 135, or +61 2 6261 3305 (if calling from overseas). 
  • On 22 May 2017, a suicide bomber caused an explosion in Manchester which resulted in a number of deaths and injuries. Remain vigilant about your personal security, monitor the media and follow local authorities' instructions. See Safety and security.
  • On 22 March 2017, a vehicle and stabbing attack in London resulted in a number of deaths and injuries. There is a heightened threat of terrorist attack in a number of European countries, including the UK. UK authorities assess the threat level from international terrorism as 'severe' (level 4 of 5). See Safety and security.
  • In May 2016, UK authorities raised the threat from Northern Ireland-related terrorism in England, Wales and Scotland to 'substantial'. The threat from Northern Ireland-related terrorism in Northern Ireland remains 'severe'. See Safety and security.
  • Be vigilant in public places and report any suspicious activity to police. Take official warnings seriously and follow the advice of local authorities. See Safety and security.
  • Local authorities have imposed restrictions on the carriage of some electronic devices in cabin baggage on aircraft from or through some airports in the Middle East and the UK. See Entry and exit.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers. 

Entry and exit

Visas

Generally, Australians travelling to the UK as tourists for a period of up to six months do not require a visa. However, UK authorities can refuse visa-free entry to anyone who they assess is trying to enter the UK for a purpose other than tourism. Example: Australians planning to do paid or unpaid work, to volunteer or to get married in the UK must obtain a visa before they depart Australia.

If you are planning to visit the UK for more than six months, or for any purpose other than tourism, consult the UK Visas and Immigration website to ensure you apply for the appropriate visa.

Australian Government officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you are refused entry.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice.

More information:

Other formalities

If you plan to stay in the UK for more than six months, or if you apply from within the UK to extend your stay, you will need to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge as part of your application.

If you hold any class of UK visa, you may be eligible to apply for the UK's Registered Travellers Scheme (RTS), which enables faster clearance through UK border control. The RTS entitles you to use electronic passport gates (or the UK/EU passport queue) at most UK airports and Eurostar stations. Check the UK Visas and Immigration website for the most up-to-date information.

Local authorities have announced enhanced security procedures for passengers from or through Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia to the UK. This includes connecting flights. All electronic devices larger than 16cm in length, 9.3cm in width and 1.5cm in depth (or thickness) must be placed in checked baggage. Contact your airline or travel provider for more information.

UK airports administer extensive security screening for passengers. If you are flying to the UK, allow extra time for extended screenings and luggage checks at your airport of departure. Check the UK Visas and Immigration website for further information on these checks and on current hand luggage restrictions at UK airports.  

Passport

Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place. By law, you must, as soon as possible:

Money

Declare cash of 10,000 Euros or more (or the equivalent in another currency) if you are travelling between the UK and any non-European Union (EU) country. This includes notes and coins, money orders, cheques and traveller's cheques. If you fail to declare your cash or give incorrect information on entry to, or exit from, the UK, you could be fined £5000 or more.

More information: UK Visas and Immigration

Safety and security

Terrorism

There is a heightened threat of terrorist attack in the UK. There are two key sources of this threat:(i) groups and individuals motivated by the current conflict in Iraq and Syria ('international terrorism') and (ii) groups and individuals motivated by the status of Northern Ireland.

International terrorism

On 3 June 2017, attacks were carried out at London Bridge and Borough Market causing a number of deaths and injuries.

On 22 May 2017, a suicide bomber carried out an attack in Manchester causing a number of deaths and injuries. The domestic threat for the UK was raised to “Critical” on 22 May and subsequently lowered on 27 May to “Severe” on 27 May 2017.

On 22 March 2017, a vehicle and stabbing attack on London's Westminster Bridge and Houses of Parliament resulted in a number of deaths and injuries. In the last few years, terrorist attacks have occurred in other European cities, including Brussels, Paris, Nice, Copenhagen and Berlin. Targets have included aviation, public transport and transport hubs, sporting venues and places of mass gathering, including those frequented by foreigners. In addition, several planned attacks have been disrupted by European security services in recent years, including in the UK.

UK authorities assess the threat level from international terrorism as 'severe' (level 4 of 5). This threat level means that a terrorist attack is very likely.

More information: Terrorism and national emergencies (UK Government)

UK authorities have increased the police presence at public events and on public transport and have urged members of the public to:

  • be alert to the danger of terrorism
  • look out for suspicious behaviour or unattended bags on public transport and in other public places
  • look out for other signs of possible terrorist activity
  • report suspicious behaviour and unattended bags to the police
  • take heed of any official warnings
  • follow the advice of local authorities.

Northern Ireland

In May 2016, UK authorities raised the threat from Northern Ireland-related terrorism in England, Wales and Scotland to 'substantial'. This means that there is a strong possibility of an attack.

The threat from Northern Ireland-related terrorism in Northern Ireland remains 'severe'. This means that an attack is highly likely. In recent years, Northern Ireland-related terrorist groups have used firearms and explosives to target security forces. Civilians have been put at risk by these activities, which have been carried out or attempted in public places.

More information: Terrorism threat levels (UK Government)

Civil unrest and political tension

Instances of civil disorder can rapidly escalate into violence.

  • Avoid all protests and demonstrations.
  • Monitor the news and other sources for information on planned and possible demonstrations or other civil unrest.
  • Follow the advice of local authorities.

Northern Ireland

Since the 1998 peace agreement, the political situation in Northern Ireland has improved. However, tensions can increase in Northern Ireland during the months of April to August, especially the weeks leading up to the 'Twelfth' (also called Orangemen's Day) on 12 July. Associated parades can turn violent with little warning. Bystanders can get caught up in violence directed at others.

  • Avoid the parades and other large public gatherings in Northern Ireland on and around 12 July.

Crime

Travellers and residents encounter petty crime, such as pickpocketing and mobile phone theft, across the UK, especially during the summer months. Credit card and ATM fraud, often involving sophisticated equipment, is increasing.  There have been instances of drink spiking reported across the UK.

  • Avoid carrying large sums of money.
  • Make sure your personal belongings, passport and other travel documents are secure at all times.
  • Be particularly alert in tourist areas, airports, restaurants, pubs and bars, and on public transport.
  • Be careful when using ATMs and credit cards. Keep your card in sight at all times. Take care not to expose your PIN, particularly when using ATMs. Monitor your transaction statements.
  • Do not accept drinks from strangers.
  • Do not leave your drinks unattended in public places such as bars and nightclubs.

Check the UK Metropolitan Police website for more extensive safety and crime prevention advice.

Local travel

Seasonal weather conditions can be extreme and include flooding in warmer weather and snowstorms in the colder months. This can affect travel services and result in the cancellation of airline, bus and train services. Check with local transport providers and emergency service providers in affected areas for up-to-date information.

Road travel

Road and safety conditions in the UK are comparable to Australia. We recommend you take heed of any advice from local authorities regarding any weather or other adverse conditions that may affect driving in the UK.

More information: Road travel

Driver's license

Visitors to the UK you can drive any small vehicle (car or motorcycle) listed on your full and valid Australian driver licence for 12 months.

Taxis

Passengers using unlicensed taxis have reported sexual assaults and robberies. Only use officially marked taxis and consult the UK Metropolitan Police websites for more information and advice.

Public transport

Take care when travelling on public transport services, especially late at night.

Rail travel

Rail services across the UK are extensive and may be impacted by industrial action, weather or engineering works. Check National Rail or the Transport for London websites for latest service updates.

Air travel

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in the UK.

More information: Air travel

Laws

Local laws

You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Drug laws

Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking illegal drugs are severe and penalties include imprisonment and fines.

More information: Drugs

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal offences apply overseas. You can be prosecuted for them in Australia. These offences include, but are not limited to:

  • child sex offences and child pornography
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • drug trafficking
  • people smuggling and human trafficking
  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • money laundering
  • terrorism and foreign incursions.

More information: Staying within the law

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.

Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
  • that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

It's important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

If you need counselling services, the Samaritans UK provide confidential telephone support 24 hours a day on 116 123 (free call within the UK).

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Take prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Always carry on your person a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only. Before you leave Australia:

  • check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to
  • see Home Office website for information on entering the UK with medication.

More information: Prescription medications

Health risks

UK health risks are broadly similar to those in Australia.

Medical facilities

The standard of UK health facilities is similar to that in Australia. To locate your nearest GP surgery or hospital while in the UK, call the NHS on 111 or visit the NHS website. If you require urgent medical care, attend your nearest hospital.

Accessing National Health Service (NHS) medical services

A reciprocal healthcare agreement between Australia and the UK allows you to get free National Health Service (NHS) hospital and GP treatment if an unexpected need for medical care arises during a short-term visit or holiday. Check the Department of Human Services website for further information about what is covered by the agreement and guidance on how to prove you are eligible for medical treatment in the UK.  This agreement does not cover other countries in the European Union.

If you are planning to stay in the UK for more than six months, you will pay an Immigration Health Surcharge when you apply for your visa. When your visa is granted, your information will be shared with the NHS enabling you to access medical treatment. Under this scheme, you need to produce your biometric residence permit as proof of eligibility when accessing healthcare in the UK. 

If you need to be medically repatriated, the NHS will not cover this cost. Take out comprehensive travel insurance before arriving in the UK.

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, travel agent, travel insurance provider, employer, or airline. Your travel insurer should have a 24 hour emergency number.

Emergencies

  • Firefighting and rescue services: 999
  • Medical emergencies:  999
  • Criminal issues, contact police:  999

For criminal issues that are not an emergency, contact the local police on 101. You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Always obtain a police report when reporting a crime.

Tourism services and products

For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.

Australian High Commission, London

Australia House
Strand
London WC 2B 4LA, UNITED KINGDOM
Telephone: (44 20) 7379 4334
Facsimile: (44 20) 7887 5559
Website: uk.highcommission.gov.au

Check the High Commission website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

In a consular emergency, if you are unable to contact the High Commission, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 (or 1300 555 135 within Australia).

Additional Information

Severe weather and climate

Strong winds, flooding, rain and snowstorms occur. In the event of severe weather, anticipate transport disruptions, monitor local weather reports and follow instructions of local authorities.

More information: Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS)

Additional resources