Travelling to the UK from abroad

 

This information applies to the following people, resident in the UK, and travelling back to the UK from abroad:

  • EU/EEA/Swiss citizens - for simplicity, referred to as EU citizens on the remainder of this page

  • Non-EU family members of EU citizens
     

For each category of nationalities, the information is split into two parts – during the 'transition period' and afterwards. This is because the rules change after the ‘transition period’, which is currently set to end on the 31st December 2020.

Note – this information is a simplified summary, it is not legal advice and could be subject to change.

See our separate page for travelling to the EU.

Jump directly to the information relevant to you:

 

You are an EU citizen

During the transition period (currently set to end on 31st December 2020)

With or without pre-settled or settled status, you can travel into the UK using your EU passport (or national ID card if travelling from an EU country).

After the transition period (currently set to end on 31st December 2020)

You should apply for pre-settled or settled status - you have until the end of 30th June 2021 to do so.

  • If you have pre-settled or settled status, foreign travel authorities should allow you to board your flight, ship or train even though you may not be able to prove that you have pre-settled or settled status in the UK. 

    UK Border Control should be able to tell from your passport that you are a resident in the UK.

     

  • If you do not have pre-settled or settled status, the intention, as stated in paragraph 50 of the Political Declaration, is that EU citizens will not require a visa to enter the UK.

    Foreign travel authorities should allow you to board your flight, ship or train even though you do not have pre-settled or settled status in the UK. See this reply to a Written Parliamentary Question which confirms at least initially that carriers will not be required to ask EU citizens for evidence of status before boarding.

    UK Border Control may assess your circumstances to establish whether you are resident in the UK. Otherwise they may consider you a visitor, and you will be permitted to remain in the UK with a six month maximum stay. See this reply to a Written Parliamentary Question which confirms that EU citizens will not be routinely asked to prove their status in order to re-enter the UK.

NOTE: We wrote to the Home Office in February 2020 to get confirmation of the above. We received a reply in May, which confirms that for now, carriers will not request proof of settled status. See also these two answers to Parliamentary Questions. the3million is campaigning for EU citizens with pre-settled or settled status to be given physical proof of their status.

The UK may stop accepting nationality identity cards for entry to the UK for EU citizens after 2020.  However if you have pre-settled or settled status, you’ll be able to continue using your national identity card to enter the UK until at least 31st December 2025.

 

You are a non-British, non EU family member of an EU citizen

 

First of all, you need to know whether you are from a country whose nationals, not resident in the UK, would ordinarily require a visa to enter the UK. 

 

To find out whether your nationality is a 'visa-required' or 'visa-free' nationality, see Appendix 2 in Visitor Rules. The UK Government’s Visas and immigration website has more information, including an online walk through process.

During the transition period (currently set to end on 31st December 2020)

If your nationality is a 'visa-required' nationality, you will need a passport plus proof of UK immigration status:

If your nationality is a 'visa-free' nationality, you will need a passport plus proof of UK immigration status (as above). However, not showing any proof of immigration status means that your circumstances will be assessed to establish whether you are a genuine visitor. If you are, you will be permitted to remain in the UK as a visitor - with a six month maximum stay.  

After the end of the transition period (currently set to end on 31st December 2020)

If your nationality is a 'visa-required' nationality, you will need a passport plus proof of UK immigration status:

  • pre-settled status Residence Card; or

  • settled status Residence Card; or

  • leave to remain Residence Permit; or

  • indefinite leave to remain Residence Permit

NOTE: a card marked 'Residence card of a family member of a Union citizen' will be invalid after the end of the transition period.

If your nationality is a 'visa-free' nationality, you will need a passport plus proof of UK immigration status (as above). However, not showing any proof of immigration status means that your circumstances will be assessed to establish whether you are a genuine visitor. If you are, you will be permitted to remain in the UK as a visitor - with a six month maximum stay. 

Note the different kinds of cards which all look very similar

Residence card, issued under Immigration (EEA) Regulations 2016, mentions the words ‘Residence card of a family member of a Union citizen’.

 

NOTE: Even if you also have pre-settled status or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, it is still possible to apply for this card during the transition period, but the card will become invalid after the end of the transition period.

EU Settlement Scheme Residence card (issued to non-EU citizens only) – this is proof of UK immigration status (but is not valid for travel to the EU, even when it contains the wording 'Issued under the EU Exit Separation Agreements')

Residence permit, issued under UK Immigration rules – this is proof of UK immigration status (but is not valid for travel to the EU)

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