The consultants often receive desperate pleas for help from South Africans who are refused entry to the United Kingdom at the Port of Entry.
Help at this stage, is, unfortunately, often too late. Our consultants have compiled some tips for persons travelling to the UK from South Africa.
Pre-departure tips for flying to the UK
- Do not rely on hearsay about any UK immigration rules and regulations. Check the Home Office website for correct and up to date information. Better yet, speak to your consultant.All South Africans need to apply for entry clearance before they travel to the UK. This includes South Africans who are flying to the UK for tourist purposes.
- Make sure that you have the correct UK visa for the purpose you are visiting the UK.
- Ensure that you have a return ticket to South Africa when traveling to the UK if you are traveling to the UK as a visitor. Visitor visa applicants need a return flight when traveling to the UK. However, we recommend only booking the flights once the UK visa is approved. People applying for a type of residence permit, do not need a return ticket.
- If you are traveling to the UK from South Africa, with minor children, you have to ensure that you have the relevant birth certificates, together with permission from the other parent if not traveling together. You can find the relevant guidelines in this regard on the Department of Home Affairs website.
- Keep copies of your travel documents, such as your passport or Biometric Residence Permit. You can either keep hard copies or save scanned copies on your email account. This makes life a bit easier should you lose your documents.
- Check with your airline what you are allowed to pack in your bag, your bag restrictions, etc. before traveling.
Tips for dealing with Customs at the UK port of entry
- Have your passport open at the information page and your current Biometric Residence Permit or UK visa ready to show at border control.
- Ensure that everything you say to the Immigration Officer at the UK port of entry is in line with your documents.
Rather take your time and make double sure your answers are factually correct regarding dates etc., rather than unwittingly give wrong information.
- Answer the questions posed by the Immigration Officer as straightforwardly as you can. Do not volunteer any unnecessary information. People sometimes talk themselves in all innocence into a situation.
- Make sure that you have documents available to support your reason for traveling to the UK. If you are traveling as a non-visa national or on a long-term visit visa and you enter the UK frequently or stay for long periods, it is recommended that you have some documents available as evidence. This would include pay-slips from your overseas employer, details of business meetings if you are entering as a business visitor, etc. We also recommend that you travel with confirmation of your UK address.
- If you are traveling with your British spouse, you are allowed to go through Customs at the British queue at most ports of entry, rather than the Other/Non-EU queue. This will save you a lot of queuing time.