Travelling as a group
Dear Mr Bassie,
My church is in the process of planning a trip to a convention in the United Kingdom and we plan to travel as a group. Could you please provide me with any pointers that might assist us in our plans to travel as a group to the United Kingdom.
Thank you for your email.
It is possible for your group to travel under the group travel scheme and be entitled to go to a designated area in the airport called the group travel point, upon arrival. The group travel point is a zone in the airport that is designed for members of a group to meet prior to them proceeding through immigration control.
This service is not only extended to you when you arrive in the United Kingdom as part of a group, but also if you arrive separately and have the intention of joining the group upon arrival. In addition, this service is free of charge.
The group travel scheme will assist you to pass through immigration control at certain ports if you arrive in the United Kingdom as part of a group, or if you intend to join a group; and also, if you do not intend to stay for more than six months. When you are travelling under the group travel scheme, you do not have to register in advance or give advance notice of your arrival. You will be able to qualify to join the scheme if you are a member of a tourist group, school group, sports team, student group or another group.
There are certain advantages to utilising group travel. For instance, you will be processed through immigration much faster as opposed to being processed individually. Also, you will be kept together as a group, even if you arrive individually and have made arrangements to meet up; and you will be able to use the group travel point to convene.
It is also worth noting that you do not need to nominate a group leader when you are travelling as part of the group travel scheme. However, if you do nominate a tour leader that is travelling within the group, then he or she should take the passengers to the immigration officer at the group travel point and tell the immigration officer the purpose and length of the group's stay in the United Kingdom. In addition, you should all be prepared to give your landing cards to the immigration officer together along with with any invitation cards. In some cases, members of a group may have been required to fill out information leaflets that were issued to the group through the tour operator or travel agent.
The group travel scheme is operational at Heathrow Airport, terminals 3 and 4, and Gatwick Airport's North and South terminals, as well as various other ports in the United Kingdom.
I hope that this assists with your planning.
John S. Bassie
John S. Bassie is a Barrister/Attorney-at-Law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a Supreme Court-Appointed Mediator and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org