To enter the United Kingdom, all U.S. citizens, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, and South Africans must have a passport valid through their length of stay. No visa is required. A passport will allow you to stay in the country for up to 6 months. The immigration officer may also want to see proof of your intention to return to your point of origin (usually a round-trip ticket) and of visible means of support while you’re in Britain (credit cards work). If you’re planning to fly from the United States or Canada to the United Kingdom and then on to a country that requires a visa (India, for example), you should secure that visa before you arrive in Britain.
No E.U. nationals require a visa to visit the U.K. Visas are also not required for travelers from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, or the U.S. To be sure that hasn’t changed, see www.ukvisas.gov.uk/en/doineedvisa. The usual permitted stay is 90 days or fewer for tourists, although some nationalities are granted stays of up to 6 months. If you plan to work or study, though, or if you’re traveling on a passport from another country, you’ll need to obtain the correct paperwork.
Non-E.U. nationals aged 17 and over can bring in, duty-free, 200 cigarettes, or 100 cigarillos, or 50 cigars, or 250 grams of smoking tobacco. You can also bring in 4 liters of wine and 16 liters of beer plus either 1 liter of alcohol more than 22% ("spirits") or 2 liters of "fortified" wine at less than 22%. Visitors may also bring in other goods, including perfume, gifts, and souvenirs, totaling £390 in value. (Customs officials tend to be lenient about these general merchandise regulations, realizing the limits are unrealistically low.) For arrivals from within the E.U., there are no limits as long as goods are for your own personal use, or are gifts.
For specifics on what you can take back home and the corresponding fees, U.S. citizens should download the invaluable free pamphlet Know Before You Go online at www.cbp.gov. Alternatively contact the U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20229 (tel. 877/CBP-5511), and request the pamphlet. For a clear summary of their own rules, Canadians should consult the booklet Travelling Outside Canada, issued by the Canada Border Services Agency (tel. 800/461-9999 in Canada, or 204/983-3500; www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca). Australians need to read Know Before You Go. For more information, call the Australian Customs Service at tel. 1300/363-263, or download the leaflet from www.customs.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/GuideForTravellers.pdf. For New Zealanders, most questions are answered under "Arriving in New Zealand" at www.customs.govt.nz. For more information, contact the New Zealand Customs Service (tel. 0800/428-786, or 09/300-5399).
Unless you're arriving from an area known to be suffering from an epidemic (particularly cholera or yellow fever), inoculations or vaccinations are not required for entry into the U.K.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.