Toggle Menu SearchSearch
smartraveller.gov.au smartraveller.gov.au

Summary

  • Exercise normal safety precautions in the United Kingdom (UK). Exercise common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media and other sources for changes to local travelling conditions.
  • Following an incident at 2:40pm local time on 22 March 2017 near the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London local authorites have requested that the public avoid Parliament Square, Whitehall, Westminster and Lambeth Bridge, Victoria St up to junction with Broadway and Victoria Embankment/tube. We recommend you remain vigilant, monitor media reporting and follow the advice of local authorities. 
  • On 21 March 2017, the UK Government announced enhanced security procedures for passengers travelling from or through Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia to the UK. This includes connecting flights. The enhancement in security will require that all electronic devices larger than 16cm in length, 9.3cm in width and 1.5cm in depth (or thickness) be placed in checked baggage. If you need more information about how this may affect your flight contact your airline or travel provider (See Entry and exit).
  • We assess 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).
  • 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'.
  • Australians should remain vigilant in public places and report any suspicious activity to police. Take heed of any warnings or advice issued by local authorities. See Safety and security.
  • Generally, if you are travelling to the UK as a tourist for a period of less than six months you do not require a visa. Visas for any other purposes or to stay of a period greater than six months, must be applied for and granted prior to your arrival in the UK. See Entry and exit.

Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. You should contact the nearest UK High Commission for the most up-to-date information.

On 21 March 2017, the UK Government announced enhanced security procedures for passengers from or through Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia to the UK. This includes connecting flights. The enhancement in security will require that all electronic devices larger than 16cm in length, 9.3cm in width and 1.5cm in depth (or thickness) be placed in checked baggage. The affected countries can be found here. If you need more information about how this may affect your flight, contact your airline or travel provider.

Generally, Australians travelling to the UK as tourists for a period of up to six months do not require a visa. However, it is ultimately the prerogative of the UK authorities to determine who is granted entry. Any individual they believe is entering the UK for any non-tourist purpose and does not hold the corresponding visa, may be refused entry. Australians planning to do paid or unpaid work, to volunteer or get married in the UK are required to obtain a visa before they depart Australia.

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

Australian Government officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements and are refused entry.

Any Australian who is going to the UK for more than six months, or applying from within the UK to extend their stay, is now required to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge as part of their 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. See the UK Visas and Immigration website for the most up-to-date 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. Further information on this and on current hand luggage restrictions at UK airports can be found on the UK Visas and Immigration website.

Declare cash of €10,000 or more (or the equivalent in another currency) if you take it between the UK and any non-European Union (EU) country. This includes notes and coins, money orders, cheques and traveller's cheques. Failing to declare cash or giving incorrect information can lead to fines of £5000 or more. More information can be found on the UK Visas and Immigration website.

Ensure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia.

Safety and security

Terrorism

We assess there is a heightened threat of terrorist attack in a number of European countries, including the UK. This threat is posed by those motivated by the current conflicts in Iraq and Syria.

In the past, terrorist attacks have occurred in a number of European cities, including Brussels, Paris, Nice, Copenhagen, London,  and Moscow. Targets have included aviation, public transport and transport hubs, sporting venues and places of mass gathering, including those frequented by foreigners. In addition, a number of planned attacks have been disrupted by European security services in recent years, including in the UK.

The UK authorities assess the threat level from international terrorism as 'severe' (level 4 of 5). This higher threat level means that a terrorist attack is highly likely. For more information on the UK's terrorism threat level system, see the UK Government's official website.

UK authorities have increased the police presence at public events and on public transport and have urged members of the public to remain alert to the danger of terrorism and to look out for suspicious behaviour, unattended bags on public transport or in public places as well as any other signs of possible terrorist activity. Take heed of any warnings or advice issued by 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 an attack is a strong possibility. The threat from Northern Ireland-related terrorism in Northern Ireland remains 'severe'. 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.

Local information on public safety issues is available from the British Home Office's website or the British Government's Civil Contingencies Secretariat website.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin.

Civil unrest/political tension

Avoid all protests and demonstrations as they may turn violent. Instances of civil disorder can rapidly escalate into violence. Avoid them wherever possible, including by carefully monitoring the media and following the advice of local authorities.

Northern Ireland: Since the 1998 peace agreement, the political situation in Northern Ireland has improved. However, we advise you to avoid the annual parades which occur 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 when tensions may be heightened. These parades may turn violent with little warning. Australians could inadvertently be caught up in violence directed at others.

Crime

Petty crime, such as pickpocketing, mobile phone theft, and ATM and credit card fraud occurs across the UK and tends to increase during the summer months. Be vigilant in tourist areas, airports, restaurants, pubs and bars, as well as on public transportation. Avoid carrying large sums of money and ensure personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are kept secure at all times.

Credit card and ATM fraud, often involving sophisticated equipment, is increasing in the UK. Be vigilant 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, and monitor your transaction statements.

There have been instances of drink spiking reported across the UK. Do not leave drinks unattended in bars and nightclubs, or accept drinks from strangers.

For more extensive safety and crime prevention advice consult the UK Metropolitan Police website.

Money and valuables

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

Local travel

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

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. The local transport providers and emergency services in affected areas will provide up-to-date information and advice to travellers.

See also our road travel page.

Airline safety

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.

Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

You are subject to the local laws of the UK, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. 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. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Health

The standard of health facilities in the UK is comparable to that in Australia and a reciprocal healthcare agreement exists between Australia and the UK. This allows for free National Health Service (NHS) hospital and GP treatment where an unexpected need for medical care arises during your short term visit or holiday.

Further information about what is covered by the agreement, advice on visiting services and guidance on how to prove you are eligible for medical treatment in the UK can be found on the Department of Human Services website.

This agreement does not cover other countries in the European Union.

Payment of the Immigration Health Surcharge is required if you are applying for a visa to stay in the UK for more than six months. Upon the grant of your visa and payment of the surcharge, your information is 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. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. 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.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

To locate your nearest GP surgery or hospital while in the UK, you should call the NHS on 111 or visit the NHS website. In the case of an emergency, or if you require urgent medical care, attend your nearest hospital.

Where to get help

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24 hour emergency number.

For criminal issues, contact the local police on 101 or 999 in an emergency or if a crime is taking place. You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. You should always obtain a police report when reporting a crime.

To complain about tourism services, contact the service provider directly.

The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can't do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, see contact details below:

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

See 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 you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional Information

For other useful information to assist travelling in this country, see: