When you arrive in the UK and step into the airport in London, do expect that some time will be
spent getting through Immigration and Customs.
Leaving the Aircraft
- When you leave the aircraft, follow the signs for 'Arrivals' - this will take you
to the passport control area.
- There are two different channels each with their own queue, one is for British or
'EEA (European Economic Area) passports and the other is for 'All other Passport
holders'. Make sure you join the right queue as they are very strict about this
and you could waste a lot more time. Be prepared to be in the queue for a long time
- especially if you arrive during peak times when a lot of other flights have arrived.
Getting through Passport Control
- When you reach the front of the line, the Immigration Officer will check your documents.
Make sure you have all of the necessary documentation on hand. You will be asked
questions about yourself and what you intend to do during your stay in the UK; a
primary principle of the Immigration Rules is that people with no entitlement to
reside permanently in Britain must be able to support and accommodate themselves
without having access to public funds (unemployment & housing benefit). If you
are in the UK on a Work Permit scheme, have the original copy of this ready.
- Have the address on hand of where you are going to stay, you will be asked to complete
a card giving these details.
- After Immigration, you will need to collect your baggage. There will be TV screens
showing flight numbers with correlating baggage carousel numbers. Go to the carousel
next to your flight number and collect your baggage. If you are missing anything
or your luggage has been damaged in any way, be sure to report this to the Lost
Baggage desk before you leave the baggage claim area.
- Once you have your bags, the final step is to clear customs.
- There will be three channels that you can choose from; these channels are walkways
which take you into the arrival lounge with customs officials present in each to
stop anyone entering the UK with forbidden items or an excess of duty free. The
Green channel means you have nothing to declare, the red channel is if you have
goods to declare and the blue channel is for those from other EU countries with
nothing to declare.
- Whichever channel you pass through you may be stopped by a customs officer and searched.
If you are caught with goods that are prohibited or goods in excess of your customs
allowances, you risk heavy fines and possibly a prison sentence so make sure you
know what you can and cannot take into the country.
- For up to date information on your customs allowances and prohibited or restricted
goods, visit the HM Customs and Excise Website on
www.hmce.gov.uk and follow the links to Your Customs Allowances and Banned
& Restricted Goods.
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