Passports, Visas, Customs, Immigration

Passports & visas


On arrival in the United Kingdom, you must show a valid national passport or other equivalent official document that satisfactorily establishes your identity and nationality. 


Citizens of Canada, the USA, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and certain Commonwealth countries, do not require a visa to holiday in the UK. However, you will need to fill in forms to apply for entry clearance on arrival, and may not stay for longer than six months. Citizens of these countries must apply for a visa to work in the UK.

Citizens of the European Economic Area and Swiss nationals do not require visas to enter, live and work in the UK. The European Economic Area covers the countries of the EU, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. However, nationals of the new EU member states Romania and Bulgaria currently need to apply for permission to work in the UK.

Visa regulations are frequently revised. Check with your local British Embassy or other diplomatic representative before you travel

If you have a valid passport and UK visa, you will normally be granted entry to the UK. When you arrive in Britain your visa tells UK immigrations: 

  • The reason you are travelling to Britain
  • How long you are allowed to stay
  • The last day you are allowed entry  

Entry clearance follows strict rules and procedures.

Visa Extensions

Under exceptional circumstances, tourist visas may be extended: you will need to consult the Immigration and Nationality Enquiry Bureau on +44 (0)870 606 7766. To extend student visas, apply to the Public Enquiry Office in Croydon.

Student Visas

EEA and Swiss nationals are free to study in the UK on the same basis as home students. To obtain a student visa, citizens of other countries need proof of enrolment on a full-time course of study, with a recognised education provider.

Further details are available from the UK Visa website .

Longer stays

Leave to enter the country as a visitor is normally only granted for a six month period. Subject to certain restrictions on age, nationality, and marital status, visas may be granted to young people to work in the UK as an au pair or working holiday-maker for up to two years. Special arrangements are also in place for the entry and residence of seasonal agricultural workers, language teachers on exchange placements, and those seeking training or work experience.

Customs & Immigrations

Within the EU - Tax and Duty Paid

In 1999, duty-free sales for travellers within the EU were abolished. However, some types of goods remain cheaper when bought in other EU countries, with local duty paid. Enquiries will be made by Customs Officers at your point of entry to the UK if you attempt to bring in more than:

  • 3,200 cigarettes
  • 200 cigars
  • 3kg tobacco
  • 10 litres of spirits
  • 20 litres of fortified wine (such as port or sherry)
  • 90 litres of wine
  • 110 litres of beer

Travellers from some EU countries face limits on the amount of tobacco products that can be bought back without paying UK duty. From Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia or Slovenia you can import 200 cigarettes, while from Estonia the limit is 200 cigarettes or 250g of smoking tobacco. There is no limit on other tobacco products as long as they are for your own use.

If you have tobacco products over these limits you will need to speak to a Customs officer in the red channel or on the red point phone.

Outside the EU - Duty Free

When travelling to the UK from outside the EU you are allowed to bring in the following, provided you travel with the items and do not intend to sell them:

  • 200 cigarettes, 100 cigarillos, 50 cigars, or 250g of tobacco
  • 2 litres of still table wine
  • 1 litre of spirits or strong liqueurs over 22% volume or 2 litres of fortified wine, sparkling wine or other liqueurs
  • 60ml of perfume
  • 250ml of toilet water
  • £145 worth of all other goods including gifts and souvenir

Prohibited & restricted goods

To protect health and the environment, some goods are prohibited – banned completely – from being brought into the UK, and others are restricted - you cannot import them without authority such as a licence. Below, we have listed some examples for you to use as a guide, but be aware that these are only a small selection of goods prohibited and restricted in the UK. If in doubt you should contact the National Advice Service at HM Revenue & Customs (

Prohibited goods

  • Unlicensed drugs, such as heroin, morphine, cocaine, amphetamines, barbiturates, LSD and cannabis. Though cannabis is now a Class C drug in the UK, bringing it into the UK is still illegal and may result in seizure and prosecution.
  • Offensive weapons, such as flick knives, butterfly knives, push daggers, belt-buckle knives, death stars, swordsticks, knives disguised as everyday objects, knuckledusters, blowpipes, spring-operated telescopic truncheons, and some martial arts equipment.
  • Indecent and obscene material featuring children, such as books, magazines, films, videotapes, laser discs and software.
  • Pornographic material other than that which depicts the type of consensual sexual activity between adults, which can be legally purchased in the UK.
  • Counterfeit and pirated goods and goods that infringe patents when brought into the UK from outside the UK (such as watches, clocks and CDs, and any goods with false marks of their origin).
  • Meat, dairy and other animal products (such as fish, shellfish, eggs and honey) from outside the EU, except: 
  • Powdered infant milk, infant food and special foods required for medical reasons which do not need to be refrigerated and are proprietary branded products, with packaging intact unless in current use.
  • Meat, milk, eggs, honey, fish and their products for your own consumption from Andorra, Norway, San Marino, the Canary Islands and the Channel Islands.
  • Meat, milk and their products for your own consumption from Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, with a combined total weight of not more than 5kg per person.
  • From some other countries you are allowed to bring in up to 1kg of food not containing meat or milk derivatives eg fish, eggs and honey. For advice call the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), 08459 335577 or visit DEFRA (
  • Live birds – with some exceptions, there are currently strict restrictions on the import of live birds. 

Restricted goods

Firearms, explosives and ammunition, including electric shock devices (such as stun guns) and gas canisters.

Live animals must normally have a British import (rabies) licence and must be quarantined. But dogs or cats that meet the conditions of the Pet Passport Scheme can be imported without quarantine. Live birds, including pets, must normally have a British health import licence. For advice call DEFRA Animal Health, +44 (0)20 7904 6000.

Endangered species, including birds and plants, whether alive or dead; also such things as fur, ivory or leather (or goods made from them) that have been taken from endangered species. For advice call DEFRA Global Wildlife, +44 (0)117 372 8749.

Certain plants and their produce, including trees, shrubs, potatoes, certain fruit, bulbs and seeds. For advice call DEFRA Plant Health, 08459 335577.

Radio transmitters such as CB radios that are not approved for use in the UK. For advice call The Radiocommunications Agency, +44 (0)20 7211 0463.

Items prohibited for hand luggage (airports)

In light of recent security threats in Britain, allow extra time when you are at the airport for the increased security checks, and ensure you do not carry any of the following in your hand luggage:

  • Scissors
  • Razor blades
  • Knives with blades of any length
  • Household cutlery
  • Tweezers
  • Hypodermic needles (unless required for medical reasons)
  • Tools or toy/replica guns (metal or plastic)
  • Catapults
  • Knitting needles
  • Sporting bats
  • Billiard, snooker or pool cues
  • Darts  

Taxes and Refunds

Value-added tax (VAT) is a 17.5% sales tax levied on most goods and services except food, books and children’s clothing. Restaurants must, by law, include VAT in their menu prices.

It is possible for visitors to claim a refund of VAT paid on goods and/or business expenses, resulting in a considerable saving.

Leisure Travellers

If you are travelling for leisure purposes or visiting friends and family, you maybe eligible for a VAT refund. You need to have spent fewer than 365 days out of the two years prior to making the purchase living in the UK, and you must be leaving the EU within three months of making the purchase.

The VAT refund scheme is called the Retail Export Scheme or Tax-Free Shopping. Not all shops participate in the scheme, and different shops will have different minimum purchase conditions (normally around £75 in any one shop).

On request, participating shops will give you a special form (VAT 407). This must be presented with the goods and receipts to customs when you depart (VAT-free goods can't be posted or shipped home). After customs has certified the form, it should be returned to the shop for a refund (minus an administration or handling fee), which takes about eight to 10 weeks to come through.



The Champagne Bar at St Pancras
Address St Pancras International Station, NW1 2QP
Tel 020 3006 1550
Price £40.00Opening Hours Mon-Sun 8am-11pm

Celebrate the new Eurostar route from St Pancras with a glass of bubbly at the world’s longest Champagne bar. Located within the magnificently restored station, the actual bar alone seats 110 with a dozen leather-clad banquettes as well as several smaller tables & ample standing room. The impressive range of Champagnes, showcasing up to 70 bins, starts at £39.95 rising to £2,500; 11 are available by the glass. Food from a menu designed to complement the fizz includes things such as smoked salmon & scrambled eggs for breakfast, fishcakes & potted shrimps for lunch & langoustines for dinner. Best of all, bubbly flows practically all day.

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