Advice levelsWhat does this mean?
- International terrorists have staged attacks in the UK. Islamic extremism, extreme right-wing ideology and the status of Northern Ireland contribute to the threat. Always be alert to terrorism. Take official warnings seriously. The UK Government terrorism threat level is severe, meaning it assesses an attack is highly likely.
- Northern Ireland has experienced a number of incidents of street violence and rioting, including attacks on police with stones, fireworks and petrol bombs. The violence has mainly occurred in loyalist areas in west and south Belfast, in Londonderry and in parts of County Antrim. Avoid areas where riots are occurring and follow the advice of authorities.
- Violent clashes occur as a result of civil unrest. Tensions can rise in Northern Ireland from April to August. Take extra care in the weeks leading up to 12 July every year. Avoid all protests.
- Petty crime occurs. Beware of pickpockets in tourist areas, at restaurants and bars, and on transport. Take care when using ATMS and credit cards.
- Drink spiking happens. Don't accept drinks from strangers. Be aware of knife-related crime.
- Severe weather can disrupt transport. Monitor local weather reports.
Full travel advice: Safety
- COVID-19 remains a risk in the UK. Case numbers are much higher than in Australia (see data.gov.uk) You should stay up to date with public health guidance and confirm coverage with your insurance provider.
- The standard of medical facilities is good.
- We have a reciprocal healthcare agreement with the UK. Some GP and hospital treatments are free if you're in the UK for a short visit. If you're staying more than 6 months, you'll pay a surcharge when you apply for your visa.
- Due to the ongoing pandemic, 5.8 million non-emergency medical treatments have been postponed. Australian travellers may experience delays in accessing medical treatment through the NHS.
Full travel advice: Health
- Penalties for drug offences are severe. Don't use or carry illegal drugs.
Full travel advice: Local laws
- From 7 December all people aged 12 years and over must take a COVID-19 test in the 2 days before they travel to England whether or not they qualify as fully vaccinated. For the specific test requirements see: UK Government guidance.
- You must self-isolate on arrival even if you're fully vaccinated. You must take a PCR test before the end of the second day and you can leave self-isolation if you test negative. The GOV.UK website sets out requirements and exemptions for the testing. You must fill in a contact locator form before arriving in the UK.
- You won't be allowed to enter the UK if you've been to a country on the Red List in the last ten days. Exempt UK and Irish nationals and UK residents arriving from these countries are required to isolate in government-provided accommodation for ten days.
- If you've been in, or transited through, a country on the UK Government's Red List in the ten days before arriving in the UK, you'll be required to follow the relevant rules. The rules include requirements for testing and hotel quarantine. The countries on the Red list are subject to review and you should monitor the list in the lead up to planned travel.
- Simplified rules are in place for people recognised as fully vaccinated. The UK recognises people with a full course of Pfizer BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna from a relevant public health body in Australia.
- The UK Home Office has issued advice that foreign nationals who intend to leave the UK but are unable to do so, because of travel restrictions or self-isolation, and have a visa or leave that expires by 31 January 2022, may request additional time to stay (also known as ‘exceptional assurance). If you were granted assurance and are unable to leave the UK by the date given, you must reapply for exceptional assurance nearer to this date.
- Some countries have temporarily restricted travel from the UK due to the risk of COVID-19. Consult your travel provider for the latest information.
Full travel advice: Travel
On 15 November the UK raised its threat of terrorist attack in the UK to severe - meaning that an attack is highly likely. This followed a terrorist attack in Liverpool on 14 November and a fatal attack on a British Member of Parliament on 15 October. In July 2021 UK authorities indicated that 29 late-stage attack plots were disrupted in the past 4 years. The three key sources of this threat are groups or individuals motivated by:
- Islamic extremism
- extreme right-wing ideology
- the status of Northern Ireland
The UK Government national (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) terrorism threat level is severe, meaning an attack is highly likely.
Terrorists have attacked other European cities.
Targets have included:
- public transport and transport hubs
- sporting venues and mass gatherings, including places popular with foreigners
UK authorities have installed security barriers on London's major bridges. More police are at public events and on public transport. Authorities have asked people to:
- be alert to the danger of terrorism
- report suspicious behaviour or bags left alone on public transport and in other public places to the police
- monitor official warnings
- follow the advice of local authorities
The threat from Northern Ireland-related terrorism in Northern Ireland remains 'severe'. An attack is highly likely.
From late March 2021, Northern Ireland has experienced a number of incidents of street violence and rioting, including attacks on police with stones, fireworks and petrol bombs. The violence has mainly occurred to date in loyalist areas in west and south Belfast, in Londonderry and in parts of County Antrim.
Northern Ireland-related terrorist groups have used firearms and bombs to target security forces. They have attacked or attempted to attack in public places. Civilians have been at risk.
Avoid areas where violence is occurring and follow the advice of authorities.
Civil unrest and political tension
Public protests and events that draw large groups of people can turn violent.
To stay safe:
- avoid all protests
- monitor the media for latest information
- follow instructions of local authorities
Since the 1998 peace agreement, the political situation in Northern Ireland has improved. There have been increased tensions in 2021.
Tensions can rise in Northern Ireland from April to August. This worsens in the weeks leading up to 12 July. This is known as the 'Twelfth' or 'Orangemen's Day'.
Petty crime occurs across the UK. This includes pickpocketing and mobile phone theft. It happens more often in summer.
Credit card and ATM fraud is on the rise. It often involves sophisticated equipment.
There have been drink spiking and acid attacks across the UK.
Knife-related crime is increasing.
To stay safe:
- be alert in tourist areas, airports, restaurants, pubs and bars, and on public transport
- when using ATMs and credit cards, keep your card in sight, conceal your PIN and check your bank statements
- don't accept drinks from strangers or leave drinks unattended in public places, such as bars and nightclubs
Check the UK Metropolitan Police website for more safety and crime prevention advice.
Climate and natural disasters
Get comprehensive travel insurance before you leave.
Your policy needs to cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. The Australian Government won't pay for these costs.
If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. This applies to everyone, no matter how healthy and fit you are.
If you're not insured, you may have to pay many 1000s of dollars up-front for medical care.
- what activities and care your policy covers
- that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away
Physical and mental health
Consider your physical and mental health before you travel, especially if you have an existing medical condition. Consider whether you may be in a vulnerable category for COVID-19.
See your doctor or travel clinic to:
- have a basic health check-up
- ask if your travel plans may affect your health
- plan any vaccinations you need
Do this at least eight weeks before you leave.
If you need counselling, the Samaritans provide private phone support. You can call 24 hours a day on 116 123 (free call).
Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may even be illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
If you plan to bring medication, check if it's legal in the UK. Take enough legal medication for your trip.
Carry a copy of your prescription and a dated letter from your doctor stating:
- what the medication is
- how much you'll take
- that it's for personal use
Check the UK Home Office for advice about medication.
COVID-19 remains a risk in the UK. Case numbers are much higher than in Australia (see data.gov.uk for updates). The devolved governments of Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales continue to direct citizens and visitors to follow their own public health guidance. Further advice can be found here: Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Details are found here:
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): UK government response
- NHS information and advice
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) (Department of Health)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) (Smartraveller)
For information on the UK's vaccination program, refer to advice provided for each country:
- England: COVID-19 vaccine (NHS)
- Scotland: COVID-19 vaccine (NSH inform)
- Wales: Getting your COVID-19 vaccine (gov.wales)
- Northern Ireland: COVID-19 vaccination program (Public Health Agency)
You should consult your local health professional for advice on vaccine options, including assistance that may be available locally. The Australian Government cannot provide advice on the safety, quality and efficacy of vaccines that have been approved for use outside of Australia's regulatory process.
Other health issues
Health risks are broadly similar to those in Australia.
The standard of medical facilities is similar to those in Australia.
To find your nearest GP surgery or hospital, call the National Health Service (NHS) on 111.
If you need urgent medical care, go to your nearest hospital.
Accessing NHS medical services
There's a reciprocal healthcare agreement between Australia and the UK.
Some GP and hospital treatments are free if you're in the UK for a short visit.
Check the Department of Human Services to find out what's covered. You'll need to prove you're eligible.
This agreement doesn't cover other countries in the EU.
If you're staying more than six months, you'll pay an Immigration Health Surcharge. This will be charged when you apply for your visa.
When your visa is granted, your details will be shared with the NHS. This lets you access medical care. Under this scheme, you'll need to produce your biometric residence permit at the doctor's or hospital.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, 5.8 million non-emergency medical treatments have been postponed. Australian travellers may experience delays in accessing medical treatment through the NHS.
If you need a medical evacuation, the NHS won't cover the cost. Medical evacuation can be very expensive. Get comprehensive travel insurance before you leave Australia.
You're subject to local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Penalties for possessing, using or trafficking illegal drugs are severe. They include imprisonment and fines.
Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you're overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.
The UK recognises dual nationality.
On 31 December 2020, the transition period for the UK leaving the EU (‘Brexit’) ended. This follows the exit of the UK from the EU on 31 January 2020. The UK and the EU are providing updated guidance on the implications for issues such as travel, residency, education and employment. You can check for the latest information on the websites of the UK Government and the European Commission.
Australians who plan to live in the UK can use the UK's visa and immigration tool to seek guidance on visa status and rights to stay.
If you're travelling as a tourist for less than six months, you usually won't need a visa.
You can't travel to the UK if, in the last ten days, you’ve visited or passed through a country from where travel to the UK has been banned by the UK Government, unless you’re:
- a British national
- an Irish national
- anyone with residence rights in the UK
Foreign nationals are subject to the national COVID-19 restrictions and requirements.
Get a visa if you're planning to do paid or unpaid work, volunteer or get married.
The UK Home Office has issued advice that foreign nationals in the UK who intend to leave but aren't able to do so, because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus, and have a visa or leave that expires before 31 January 2022, may request additional time to stay, also known as ‘exceptional assurance’.
The grant of an Assurance does not grant you leave but will act as a short-term protection against any adverse action or consequences after your leave has expired. If you are granted an assurance, your existing rights to work and access other services in the UK will be preserved during this period.
You'll be required to provide supporting documentation to confirm you are unable to leave through no fault of your own. The decision to grant exceptional assurance rests solely with UK immigration authorities. For more information please see advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents.
If you were granted an Assurance and are unable to leave the UK by the assurance date given, you must reapply for exceptional assurance nearer to this date.
The UK can refuse entry without a visa. This happens if they think you're trying to enter for something other than tourism. You'll need a visa if you're planning to do paid or unpaid work, volunteer or get married. Arrange this before you travel.
Check with UK Visas and Immigration if:
- you're going to the UK for more than six months
- you're travelling for any reason other than tourism
- you want to make sure you apply for the correct visa
Australian Government officials can't help you change your UK visa status.
Entry and exit conditions can change at short notice. Contact the UK High Commission for details about visas, currency, customs and quarantine rules.
Arriving in the UK
The GOV.UK website sets out the requirements and exemptions to the testing requirement.
Requirements for arriving in the UK depend on where you've been (including transits) in the 10 days before you arrive.
You will qualify as fully vaccinated if you were vaccinated under an approved vaccination programme in the UK, Europe or USA or seventeen other countries including Australia at least 14 days before you arrive in the UK.
From 7 December all people aged 12 years and over must take a COVID-19 test in the 2 days before they travel to England whether or not they qualify as fully vaccinated. For the specific test requirements see: UK Government guidance.
If you're arriving from a Red List country, before you travel to the UK, you must take a pre-departure COVID-19 test in the three days before you travel, book a hotel quarantine package, including two COVID-19 tests and complete a passenger locator form. Those arriving from Red List countries must be a British national, Irish national or have residence rights in the UK.
If you’re arriving from the rest of the world and are fully vaccinated or are under the age of 18:
- book and pay for a day two COVID-19 test to be taken after arrival in the UK.
- complete your passenger locator form – any time in the 48 hours before you arrive in England
- take a COVID-19 test on or before day two after you arrive in England
- self-isolate until the test result is known, or until day 14, whichever is sooner
- if your PCR test is negative, you can leave isolation
- if your PCR test is positive or unclear, you must self-isolate for 10 days (the day of the PCR test is day 0)
- children aged 17 and under don't have to quarantine on arrival in England
- children aged 4 and under don't have to take any COVID-19 tests
If you’re arriving from the rest of the world, are over the age of 18 and are not fully vaccinated:
Before you travel to England you must:
- take a pre-departure COVID-19 test – to be taken in the 3 days before you travel to England
- book and pay for day two and day eight COVID-19 tests – to be taken after arrival in England
- complete your passenger locator form – any time in the 48 hours before you arrive in England
After you arrive in England you must:
- quarantine at home or in the place you are staying for 10 days
- take a COVID-19 test on or before day two and on or after day eight
You may be able to end quarantine early if you pay for a private COVID-19 test through the Test to Release scheme.
There are different rules for children arriving from red list countries.
Find out what list the countries you’ve been in and transited through are on and what you need to do. The lists are subject to change and you should monitor them prior to travelling to the UK.
If you fail to comply with the mandatory conditions, you may face enforcement action including significant penalties.
Transit through the UK
If you plan to transit through the UK on your way back to Australia, you may need to provide proof that you have an onward flight booked.
The requirements described above also apply to transit passengers.
Departure from the UK
If you're returning to Australia, check your route carefully with your airline or travel agent as a number of key transit hubs have restrictions in place, including on transit.
Flight disruptions are not uncommon. You may wish to continue to reconfirm your travel leading up to your departure and consider what you would do should your flight be rescheduled at the last minute or if one of your travelling party received a positive PCR test. Make a plan.
Evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken 72 hours prior to scheduled departure is required for inbound travel to Australia (72 hours prior to the first flight if there are one or more connecting flights booked for travel to Australia).
Self administered PCR COVID-19 testing is not accepted and does not meet Australia's pre-departure requirements.
Some countries have temporarily restricted travel from the UK due to the risk of COVID-19. Consult your travel provider for the latest information.
If vaccinated in the UK, you can demonstrate your vaccination status for international travel purposes by obtaining your NHS COVID Pass using the NHS app (this is available from the NHS and is separate to the NHS COVID-19 app). The QR code on the digital pass expires after one month but can be refreshed at any time. Some countries do not accept the digital version as a downloaded PDF, however you can apply to the NHS for a COVID Pass letter and this does not have an expiry date. See Get your NHS COVID Pass letter.
Staying in the UK
The UK Government recommends face masks be worn in crowded places, including public transport. Some businesses may choose to require them as a condition of entry.
The following requirements apply in England:
- If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, self-isolate immediately and get a COVID-19 (PCR) test. You should self-isolate at home while you book the test and wait for the results. It is a legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive. Your isolation period includes the day your symptoms started (or the day your test was taken if you do not have symptoms) and the next ten full days.
- It is a legal requirement to self-isolate if you are told to do so by NHS Test and Trace, for example if you have come into contact with someone who has tested positive. When self-isolating, you must stay at home at all times and not have contact with other people. You can only leave home in very limited circumstances, such as to seek medical assistance.
- You’re not required to self-isolate if you live in the same household as someone with COVID-19, or are a close contact of someone with COVID-19, should any of the following also apply to you:
- you’re fully vaccinated
- you’re below the age of 18 years and six months
- you’ve taken part in or are currently part of an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial
- you’re not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons
- Venues can require the use of the NHS COVID Pass as a condition of entry. This is available through the NHS App (this is available at http://nhs.uk/ and is separate to the NHS COVID-19 App). The NHS COVID pass will not be required as a condition of entry at essential services or retailers.
The following information may not apply while COVID-19 travel restrictions are in place.
If you’re travelling on an Australian ePassport, you can use eGates on arrival in the UK, free of charge. You don't need to complete a landing card.
You can use eGates if you're:
- over the age of 12 years with an Australian ePassport
- a member of the registered traveller service
You need a stamp in your passport if you're:
- travelling on an emergency passport or Document of Identity travel document
- visiting for short-term study (less than six months)
- visiting for other specific reasons or certain types of work (such as Permitted Paid Engagements or with a Tier 5 Creative and Sporting certificate of sponsorship)
Some airports have enhanced security rules. These affect people leaving the UK or transiting through. Check UK Department of Transport for details.
UK airports have extensive security screening. If you're flying to the UK, allow extra time.
You'll also go through extended screenings and luggage checks when you leave for the UK.
Check UK Visas and Immigration for details. Also check the UK's hand luggage rules.
Contact your airline or travel provider for more details.
Some countries won't let you enter unless your passport is valid for six months after you plan to leave that country. This can apply even if you're just transiting or stopping over.
Some foreign governments and airlines apply the rule inconsistently. Travellers can receive conflicting advice from different sources.
You can end up stranded if your passport is not valid for more than six months.
The Australian Government does not set these rules. Check your passport's expiry date before you travel. If you're not sure it'll be valid for long enough, consider getting a new passport.
Lost or stolen passport
Your passport is a valuable document. It's attractive to people who may try to use your identity to commit crimes.
Some people may try to trick you into giving them your passport. Always keep it in a safe place.
If your passport is lost or stolen, tell the Australian Government as soon as possible:
The official currency is the Pound Sterling (GPB).
ATMs are available and credit cards are widely used.
If you're travelling to or from a non-European Union (EU) country, declare cash of more than 10,000 euros or equivalent. This covers all forms of currency, not only cash.
Authorities will fine you if you don't declare this cash.
Weather can be extreme. Flooding can occur in warmer weather. There are snowstorms in the colder months.
Severe weather can affect airline, bus and train services. Check with local transport providers and emergency service providers for up-to-date details.
You can drive a car or motorbike for up to 12 months. You need a full Australian licence for that vehicle, after 12 months you will require a UK driver's licence. An International Driving Permit is not needed.
If riding a motorcycle, always wear a helmet.
Road and safety conditions in the UK are comparable to Australia. Follow advice from local authorities.
Weather and other conditions that may affect driving in the UK.
Rail services are extensive. They can be affected by industrial action, weather or engineering works.
The Australian Government doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.
Check the UK's air safety air profile with the Aviation Safety Network.
Depending on what you need, contact your:
- family and friends
- travel agent
- insurance provider
Fire and rescue services
Always get a police report when reporting a crime.
Your insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
For criminal issues that aren't an emergency:
- call 101 for the local police
- call 0800 555 111 to make an anonymous report to Crimestoppers
Contact your provider with any complaints about tourist services or products.
Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
Australian High Commission, London
London WC 2B 4LA, United Kingdom
Phone: (+44 20) 7379 4334
Fax: (+44 20) 7887 5559
Facebook: Australian High Commission in the United Kingdom
Check the High Commission website for details about opening hours and any temporary closures.
24-hour Consular Emergency Centre
In a consular emergency, if you can't contact an embassy, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on:
- +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas
- 1300 555 135 in Australia