Although the United Kingdom is preparing to formally exit the European Union, that should have no effect on the immigration requirements for American tourists. Since it joined the EU, Great Britain has enjoyed an exemption from participation in the Schengen Area agreement, allowing it to maintain a closed border.
Under the country’s agreement with the United States, U.S. passport holders are granted a visa exemption for stays of up to 6 months for tourism and some business activities. The UK government provides a tool to check if you need a UK visa, which I highly recommend using if the purpose of your travel is not expressly tourism or visiting friends/family.
Entry into the United Kingdom using the visa exception for United States citizens requires the following:
- A valid passport that with validity for the duration of your stay.
- One blank passport visa page.
Americans are required to complete an immigration arrival card when entering the UK, which will request personal information including your name, date of birth, passport number, occupation, purpose of travel and the address of your hotel or accommodation. Immigration officers at the UK border are also likely to ask you a series of questions to engage you in small-talk, so be prepared for that.
Travel Safety & Advisories
For the most up to date and detailed information on the safety of travel to the United Kingdom, read the country report authored and released by the United States Department of State at www.travel.state.gov.
Resources in an Emergency
If you encounter a medical emergency or are a victim of a crime in London, contact the local authorities immediately. Although 9-1-1 is the emergency number in the United States, that is not true in the majority of other countries. Read this FAQ article I wrote to locate the appropriate emergency contact numbers: What Number Do I Call To Reach Police, Fire or Ambulance Services In Other Countries?
The U.S. Embassy in London can also be a resource to American Citizens. It is located at:
33 Nine Elms Lane
London, SW11 7US
Contact information is listed below:
Phone: +44 (20) 7499-9000
Phone (24-hours/Emergency): +44 (20) 7499-9000
Although there are no wheelchair accessible Underground stations within walking distance of the U.S. Embassy, multiple city bus routes have stops along Nine Elms Lane, including bus numbers 156, 344, 436, 786, 788, 789 and 790. The River Bus also stops at two nearby piers, Battersea Power Station Pier and Vauxhall St. George Wharf Pier, both of which are wheelchair accessible.