Toggle Menu SearchSearch

United Kingdom

smartraveller.gov.au smartraveller.gov.au

Summary

  • Exercise normal safety precautions in the United Kingdom (UK). Use common sense. Look out for suspicious behaviour. Monitor the media and other sources for changes to local travel conditions.  
  • There is a heightened threat of terrorist attack in the UK. See the Security Services MI5 website for current domestic UK threat levels. In recent years, there have been several terrorist attacks causing deaths and injuries. See Safety and security.
  • Be alert 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.

Entry and exit

Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Australian Government cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements. 

Visas

If you're travelling as a tourist for less than six months, you usually won't need a visa. However, UK authorities can refuse visa-free entry to anyone who they believe is trying to enter for a purpose other than tourism. If you're planning to do paid or unpaid work, volunteer or get married, you need to get a visa before you travel.

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

Australian Government officials can't intervene on your behalf to change your UK visa status.

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

If you have a UK visa, you may be eligible to apply for the UK's Registered Travellers Scheme (RTS) for 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 up-to-date information.

Some airports have enhanced security procedures for passengers departing from or transiting throughto the UK. Check the UK Department of Transport website to see which airports are affected. 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 more information on these measures and on current hand luggage restrictions at UK airports.  

Passport

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

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

Money

The official currency is the Pound Sterling (GPB).

ATMs are available and credit cards are widely used.

Declare cash of 10,000 Euros or more (or the equivalent in another currency) if you're travelling between the UK and any non-European Union (EU) country. This includes notes and coins, money orders, cheques and travellers cheques. If you fail to declare your cash or give incorrect information on entry to, or exit from, the UK, you could be fined GPB5000 or more.

More information: UK Visas and Immigration

Safety and security

Terrorism

There is a heightened threat of terrorist attack. 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

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

In September 2017, a terrorist attack on a Tube train in south-west London caused a number of injuries. The domestic threat level was temporarily raised to 'Critical', the highest level, for two days.

In June 2017, a vehicle collided with pedestrians outside a mosque in Finsbury Park, North London, causing a number of injuries.

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

In 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 temporarily raised to 'Critical' for six days.

In March 2017, a vehicle and stabbing attack on London's Westminster Bridge and Houses of Parliament caused a number of deaths and injuries.

In the last few years, terrorist attacks have occurred in other European cities. Targets have included aviation, public transport and transport hubs, sporting venues and places of mass gathering, including those frequented by foreigners. In addition, European security services have prevented several planned attacks in recent years, including in the UK.

More information: Terrorism and national emergencies (UK Government)

UK authorities have installed protective security barriers on London's major bridges. More police are at public events and on public transport. Authorities have asked everyone 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
  • monitor official warnings
  • follow the advice of local authorities.

Northern Ireland

The threat level from Northern Ireland-related terrorism in England, Wales and Scotland is 'moderate'. This means an attack is possible, but not likely. The threat from Northern Ireland-related terrorism in Northern Ireland remains 'severe'. This means 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

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

Instances of civil disorder throughout the UK can rapidly escalate into violence.

  • Avoid 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.

Crime

Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and mobile phone theft, occurs 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 and acid attacks reported across the UK. Knife-related crime is increasing.

  • Avoid carrying large sums of money.
  • Ensure 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. Always keep your card in sight. Take care not to expose your PIN, particularly when using ATMs. Monitor your transaction statements.
  • Don't accept drinks from strangers.
  • Don't 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. Follow advice from local authorities regarding any weather or other adverse conditions that may affect driving in the UK.

More information: Road safety and driving

Driver's licence

You can drive a car or motorcycle for up to 12 months if you have a full Australian licence for that vehicle.

Taxis

Passengers using unlicensed taxis have reported sexual assaults and robberies. Only use officially marked taxis.

More information: UK Metropolitan Police

Rail travel

Rail services 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 doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in the UK.

More information: Air travel

Laws

You're subject to 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 include imprisonment and fines.

More information: Carrying or using drugs

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws 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 your 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 aren't covered under your policy
  • that you're covered for the whole time you'll be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

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 discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

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

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may even be 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 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

Health risks are broadly similar to those in Australia.

Medical facilities

The standard of medical facilities is comparable to Australia. To locate your nearest GP surgery or hospital, call the NHS on 111 or visit the NHS website. If you need urgent medical care, go to 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 you have an unexpected need for medical care during your short-term visit or holiday. Check the Department of Human Services website for information on what is covered and how to prove you're eligible for treatment. This agreement doesn't cover other countries in the European Union.

If you're planning to stay for more than six months, you'll pay an Immigration Health Surcharge when you apply for your visa. When your visa is granted, your information will be shared with the NHS. This allows you to access medical treatment. Under this scheme, you'll need to produce your biometric residence permit when accessing healthcare. 

If you need a medical evacuation, the NHS won't cover this cost. Take out comprehensive travel insurance before arriving.

Natural disasters

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

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

Where to get help

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

Emergency phone numbers

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

For criminal issues that aren't an emergency, contact the local police on 101. You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Always get 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 Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to assist Australians overseas.

Australian High Commission, London

Australia House
Strand
London WC 2B 4LA, UNITED KINGDOM
Phone: (44 20) 7379 4334
Fax: (44 20) 7887 5559
Website: uk.highcommission.gov.au
Facebook: Australian High Commission in the United Kingdom
Twitter: @AusHouseLondon
Twitter: @AusHCUK

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

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

Additional information

Additional resources