The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, more often called the UK, is a group of countries that include England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It should not be confused with Great Britain, which is the island that holds England, Scotland and Wales. Travelers to the UK should be aware of visa requirements that apply to their country.
For tourism purposes, many countries do not require a visa to visit the UK. Among such countries are the United States, Canada and all of the countries in the European Union. Before traveling to the UK, be sure to check the visa requirements for citizens of your country. In order to determine your status, visit the UK Border Agency website. It will ask for your nationality, the purpose of your visit and your current country of residence, and will then inform you of your visa requirements.
Visa requirements for the UK differ based on the type of visit. American and Canadian citizens do not require a visa to visit the UK, but will require a visa to study in the UK. Similarly, they will require a visa to work in the UK unless they hold a six-month work permit. If you intend to travel to the UK to get married, you will also require a visa.
When you are not in the UK, you can apply for a visa online or in person at the nearest embassy or consulate. To check if you are eligible to apply for a visa online, check the listing of supported countries on the Visa 4 UK website. Applications can also be completed on the same website. If you are not eligible for online UK visa applications, you will need to fill out one of the visa forms that can be downloaded from the UK Border Agency website.
The visa forms for the UK will require you to provide personal information, contact information and details about your purpose in the UK. If you fill the form out online, you will be able to save and retrieve your data. Be sure to take note of supporting documents that are required for your visa application, as failure to provide them will result in a canceled application.
A visa for the UK does not necessarily guarantee entry into the country; if you have given false information on your visa application, border officials will not allow entry, and you may be denied a visa for 10 years. If your travel plans are delayed, your visa will generally not be changed, but you may be able to apply for an extension of up to three months. If your travel is delayed, you should apply for another visa. Likewise, if your reason for being in the UK changes, you should apply for a visa for that purpose.