United Kingdom and Gibraltar - Consular Information Sheet
December 4, 2000
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The United Kingdom is a highly developed
constitutional monarchy comprising England, Scotland, Wales, and
Northern Ireland; Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory. Tourist
facilities are widely available.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport is required. Tourists are
not obliged to obtain a visa for stays of up to six months in
the United Kingdom or to enter Gibraltar. Those wishing to remain
longer than one month in Gibraltar should regularize their stay
with Gibraltar immigration authorities.
Further information on entry requirements may be obtained from
the British Embassy at 3100 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington,
DC 20008; tel.: (202) 588-7800. Inquiries may also be directed
to British Consulates in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los
Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. The
web site of the British Embassy in the United States is http://www.britainusa.com/consular/embassy/embassy.asp.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: The United Kingdom is stable and
modern. Political demonstrations are well policed and, except
at times in Northern Ireland, generally orderly. There is, however,
a history of terrorist violence related to the political situation
in Northern Ireland (a part of the United Kingdom).
Numerous incidents of terrorist violence have occurred throughout
England and Northern Ireland. U.S. citizens have not been specifically
targeted, but some have been injured when caught up in disturbances.
In the last year, a major suburban London bridge was damaged by
a bomb, various explosions occurred in high-density London neighborhoods,
and an explosive device discovered on a London subway line caused
major public transport delays.
In recent years, there has been widespread civil unrest throughout
Northern Ireland during the summer marching season (April to August).
As a result, American citizens traveling in Northern Ireland have
experienced delays and disruption. Some degree of civil unrest
may continue for the foreseeable future.
During the fall of 2000, fuel refinery blockades by the transport
industry caused fuel shortages that curtailed emergency services,
public transport (including airlines) and slowed or halted distribution
of food and other vital commodities. Gas pump lines caused major
traffic jams throughout the U.K. Further protest and resultant
disruptions - even to tourists - cannot be ruled out if there
is continued concern about high fuel prices.
CRIME: While the United Kingdom and Gibraltar benefit
from generally low crime rates, The U.K. has recently experienced
an increase in crime, including crimes involving violence. Incidents
of pickpocketing, muggings, "snatch and grab" thefts of watches
and jewelry and theft of unattended bags are extremely common.
According to U.K. government reports, these have increased significantly
over the last year.
Pickpockets target tourists, especially at historic sites, restaurants,
on buses, trains and the London Underground (subway). Thieves
often target unattended cars parked at tourist sites. In London,
travelers should use only licensed "black taxi cabs" or car services
recommended by their hotel or tour operator. Unlicensed taxis
or private cars posing as taxis may offer low fares, but are often
uninsured and may have unlicensed drivers. In some instances,
travelers have been robbed while using these cars.
Due to the circumstances described above, visitors should take
steps to ensure the safety of their U.S. passports. Visitors in
England, Scotland and Wales are not expected to produce identity
documents for police authorities and thus may secure their passports
in hotel safes or residences. In Northern Ireland, however, passports
or other photographic I.D. should be carried at all times. The
need to carry a passport to cash Travelers Checks is also minimized
by an abundance of ATM’s able to access systems widely used in
the U.S. and offering more favorable rates of exchange.
The loss or theft of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately
to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
U.S. citizens can refer to the Department of State’s pamphlet
A Safe Trip Abroad for ways
to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available
by mail from the
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs,
or via the
Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND INSURANCE: While good medical services
are widely available, free care under the National Health System
is allowed only to U.K. residents. Tourists and short-term visitors
can expect charges roughly comparable to those assessed in the
MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always
valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs
do not provide payment for medical services outside the United
States. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment
for medical services. Uninsured travelers who require medical
care overseas may face extreme difficulties.
Check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your
policy applies overseas, including provisions for medical evacuation,
and for adequacy of coverage. Generally, travel insurance cannot
be purchased once you have departed the United States. Serious
medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation
to the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Ascertain
whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor
or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur.
Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric
treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas
insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State’s Bureau
of Consular Affairs brochure Medical
Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via
the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations
and other health precautions may be obtained from the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international
traveler's hotline at tel.: 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax:
1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or by visiting the CDC Internet
home page at http://www.cdc.gov.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign
country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ
significantly from those in the United States. The information
below concerning the United Kingdom is provided for general reference
only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location
Safety of Public Transportation: Excellent
Urban Road Condition/Maintenance: Excellent
Rural Road Condition/Maintenance: Excellent
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Excellent
U.K. penalties for drunk driving are stiff and often result in
prison sentences. Visitors uncomfortable with or intimidated by
the prospect of driving on the left-hand side of the road may
wish to avail themselves of extensive bus, rail and air transport
networks that are reasonably inexpensive. Roads in the United
Kingdom are generally good, but are narrow and often congested
in urban areas. If you plan to drive while in the U.K., you may
wish to obtain a copy of The Highway Code, available in the United
Kingdom. The Automobile
Association (AA) of the U.K. provides information and updates
on travel and traffic-related issues on its web site at http://www.theaa.co.uk.
Public transport in the United Kingdom is excellent and extensive.
However, poor track conditions were thought to have contributed
to train derailments resulting in some fatalities. Repairs are
underway and the overall safety record is excellent.
Many U.S. citizens are injured every year in pedestrian accidents
in the United Kingdom, forgetting that traffic moves in the opposite
direction than in the United States. Care should be taken when
In Gibraltar, as in the U.S. and Continental Europe, driving
is on the right-hand side of the road. Persons traveling overland
between Gibraltar and Spain may experience long delays in clearing
Spanish border controls.
For additional general information
about road safety, including links to foreign government sites,
see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page
at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information
concerning United Kingdom driving permits, vehicle inspection,
road tax and mandatory insurance, refer to the
United Kingdom’s Department of Environment and Transport web site
at http://www.detr.gov.uk; the
Driving Standards Agency web site at http://www.dsa.gov.uk,
or consult the
U.S. Embassy in London’s web site at http://www.usembassy.org.uk.
The phone number for police/fire/ambulance emergency services
- the equivalent of "911" in the U.S. - is 999 in the United Kingdom
and 12 in Gibraltar.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) has assessed the Government of the United Kingdom's Civil
Aviation Authority as Category One - in compliance with international
aviation standards for oversight of the United Kingdom's air carrier
operations. For further information, travelers may contact the
Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873,
the FAA Internet home page at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some
foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of
air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific
carriers, travelers may contact DOD at 618-229-4801.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: British customs authorities may strictly
enforce regulations regarding the import or export of certain
items, including material deemed likely to incite racial hatred,
firearms and personal defense items such as mace or knives. It
is advisable to contact the British Embassy in Washington or one
of the United Kingdom's consulates in the U.S. for specific information
regarding customs requirements. Customs authorities encourage
the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet
for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial
samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet
Headquarters, located at the
U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the
Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet
in the United States. For additional information call 212-354-4480,
send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://www.uscib.org
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S.
citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which
sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States
and may not afford the protections available to the individual
under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe
than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating
British law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs
in the United Kingdom are strict, and convicted offenders can
expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Air travelers to and from the United Kingdom should be aware
that penalties against alcohol-related and other in-flight crimes
("air rage") are stiff and are being enforced with prison sentences.
CHILDREN’S ISSUES: For information
on international adoption of children and international parental
child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at: http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html,
or telephone (202) 736-7000.
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: Americans
living in or visiting the United Kingdom may register at the Consular
Section of the U.S. Embassy in London, or at the U.S. Consulates
General in Edinburgh or Belfast and obtain updated information
on travel and security within the United Kingdom.
Embassy is located at 24 Grosvenor Square, London W1A 1AE;
Telephone: in country 0207-499-9000, from the U.S. 011-44-207-499-9000
(24 hours); Consular Section fax: in country 0207-495-5012; from
the U.S. 011-44-207-495-5012. The embassy web site is http://www.usembassy.org.uk.
U.S. Consulate General in Edinburgh, Scotland, is located
at 3 Regent Terrace, Edinburgh EH7 5BW; Telephone: in country
0131-556-8315, from the U.S. 011-44-131-556-8315. After hours:
in country 0131-260-6495, from the U.S. 011-44-131-260-6495. Fax:
in country 0131-557-6023; from the U.S. 011-44-131-557-6023. The
web site is http://www.usembassy.org.uk/scotland.
The U.S. Consulate General in Belfast, Northern Ireland, is located
at 14 Queen Street, Belfast BT1 6EQ; Telephone: in country 01232-328-239;
from the U.S. 011-44-1232-328-239. After hours: in country 01232-241-279,
from the U.S. 011-44-1232-661-629. Fax: in country 01232-248-482,
from the U.S. 011-44-1232-248-482.
There is no U.S. consular representation in Gibraltar. Citizen
services questions should be directed to the U.S. Embassy in London.
Passport questions can be directed to the U.S. Embassy in Madrid,
located at Serrano 75/Madrid, Spain; telephone (34)(91) 587-2200,
and fax (34)(91) 587-2303.