Following South Africa’s on again, off again travel relationship with the UK, many have opted to push their plans into the new year. While travel is permitted between the two countries, there are a couple of things to consider before booking your flights and packing your bags.
Know your Visas
While it’s important to know that England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom all refer to different things, it is equally important to understand what visa you are applying for. Other than an ancestral visa, which requires proof of ancestral ties to England, visas can be broken into two groups.
- Visitor Visas – The UK is the world’s eighth biggest tourist destination, so it is no wonder that there are a many visa options available for visitors. If you are travelling for leisure or short-term business, you would probably look at the different visitor’s visa options. These visas usually include temporary spousal or other family visas.
- Working Visas – If you possess a critical skill or qualification, it could entitle you to apply for a skilled worker visa. A valid job offer from an employer with a sponsorship license could secure you a temporary worker visa, though it depends whether the company will sponsor the visa application. In rare circumstances, such as for artists and celebrities, there is the possibility of qualifying for an exceptional talent visa, though this requires sponsorship from an empowered authority, like the British Arts Council.
It is a common misconception that a Schengen Visa will permit you entry into the UK. However, the UK does not fall in the Schengen Area. If you are in possession of a Schengen Visa, or are applying for one to travel across Europe, you will need a separate visa to transit through or visit the UK.
The UK government website is very helpful when trying to get your head around the finer points about certain visas or understanding the requirements for each. It is, however, advisable to get an experienced immigration consultant to assist with your application.
Travel in London
Travelling around London can be a bit jarring when using their public transportation system. Buses, taxis and trains are readily available, though it might be challenging to determine their intended destination, the fares of each mode of transport, or which would be fastest.
It is true that they also drive on the left side of the road, but that does not simplify the deliberate haste of first-world travel. Before leaving for the UK, read up on the London Tube etiquette, bus and taxi fares, and remember to always keep to the right if you move slower than other pedestrians on the Tube escalators.
Travel has undergone numerous changes over the last two years. It is imperative to understand the impact of COVID when travelling from your country to another country. COVID regulations are in a constant state of flux and differ from country to country depending on what wave or variant they are facing. Booking a PCR test prior to boarding the plane and completing the test after arrival is still a general prerequisite to obtaining entry to the UK.
Quarantine requirements further add to the uncertainty for travellers. If you are confined to an obligatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival, your holiday planning needs to accommodate for this delay. The costs of quarantine are usually for the account of visitors and come with specific regulations. Professional travel agents are supposed to stay current with the latest changes and should be able to assist with your travel plans.
Be ready for the UK border control
UK border patrol operates independently and holds the authority to deny anyone entry, whether they are in possession of a UK visa or not. To avoid being denied entry, it is imperative to prepare yourself for the inevitable and to keep all documentation ready. These initial stringent regulations might seem like a deterrent, but it is important to note that there are no border controls between Scotland, Wales, and England. Once you enter the UK, you can travel about without concern.
The curious lingo and the diverse culture make for interesting learning experiences and shouldn’t be mulled over comprehensively. No amount of research will help you decide whether to stop for a cup of tea during lunch or grab a quick pint at the corner pub. Nor will it tell you if Buckingham Palace is more majestic than Big Ben. Regardless of your preferences, be sure to ask your immigration or travel consultant what they deem essential information.
Need help obtaining your visa?
Whatever type of visa you require or even if you’re unsure about the visa category you require, our team of experts, with more than 17 years of experience, are just the guys to assist. Speak to us about obtaining your visa today.