Dear Mr Bassie,I will soon be travelling to the United Kingdom for the first time. Do you have any recommendations for a person such as me going through border control? - JD
There are a number of things that you should be aware of when travelling to the United Kingdom.
You may experience, particularly at busy times of this year, delays at the United Kingdom border. There are a number of steps that may be taken by holiday travellers to ensure that they are not held up any longer than necessary.
The visitor should always produce a valid passport or travel document for himself or herself and any child that is travelling with him or her. If the visitor has a different family name or is not the child's parent, the British authorities may ask for proof of the relationship or a letter of travel consent from the parent.
The visitor should never give false or misleading information. this includes false receipts or documents to a United Kingdom Border Agency officer. It should also be noted that just because an item is on sale in another country, this does not mean that it can be brought into the United Kingdom. It is the visitor's responsibility that he or she must be aware of the rules on restricted or banned items. A visitor is not permitted to bring internationally protected endangered animals and plants, or products made from them, into the United Kingdom unless he or she has a CITES permit. In addition, the visitor must never bring in counterfeit goods, illegal drugs, offensive weapons (including knives), or indecent or obscene material.
The visitor must declare any sums of money, €10,000 or more or the equivalent in another currency, if he or she is travelling from a country outside the European Union (EU). The visitor may also need a licence to carry some prescription medicines into the United Kingdom.
It should be noted that there are restrictions on food products that a person can bring into the United Kingdom from outside the European Union, even for personal use. For example, a person cannot bring in meat or dairy products from most non-EU countries. There are also restrictions on fish products, egg and honey products, some fruit and vegetables, and some plants and plant products such as bulbs, seeds, cut flowers, and tree bark.
It should be noted that there are allowances on the amount of goods such as tobacco, alcohol, and gifts that a person can bring into the United Kingdom. As a visitor, if a person is unsure of any item that he or she is carrying, he or she must speak to a United Kingdom Border Agency officer.
It is most important to remember that it is illegal to carry items that are banned or for which a visitor does not have a licence or permit. If a person is caught smuggling, he or she could face severe delays and penalties, including imprisonment. To find out which items a person is allowed to bring to the United Kingdom, the visitor should check with British Customs.
Just for completeness, if a person is a EU citizen, and he or she is age 18 or over and has a 'chipped passport', he or she can use the United Kingdom's passport gates at 15 major United Kingdom airports. It should be noted that this service offers a secure, self-service alternative to the United Kingdom's conventional border controls.
John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator, and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email:email@example.com.