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The United Kingdom is not part of the Schengen passport-free travel area which covers most of the rest of the European Union. With the exception of travellers arriving from Ireland, the Channel Islands and Isle of Man, all travellers will need to show a valid passport (and visa if necessary) on arrival. Uniformed Immigration Officers from the UK Border Force are responsible for checking passports and visas for arriving passengers; normally there is no passport check on leaving the UK (other than by airline staff, etc).
Land Border: The United Kingdom has just one external land border, located between the province of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. There are no routine checks in place for those crossing this border, either by foot or vehicle owing to the complexity of patrolling it. Occasionally the Irish Police ("Garda Siochana") will set up spot border checks on key arterial roads for customs purposes, but tourists will normally be waved through without any trouble. On entering Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland, the border is rarely signposted - apart from signs stating "speed limits in miles per hour".
British or Irish citizens do not require to show a passport when travelling between their respective countries, but those crossing by ferry or air from Northern / the Republic of Ireland to mainland UK will require photo identification. For non-UK or Ireland citizens, this will mean national identification cards or passports. Despite the absence of passport controls between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, non-EU citizens must be in possession of a UK visa (if necessary).
Arriving by ferry, air or train: These are the three main methods of entry into the UK. Passports will be checked by the UK Border Force on arrival. Passengers coming on the Eurostar train service from Brussels, Lille or Paris will normally have their passports examined before boarding the train. Some ferry routes also have UK passport checks before boarding.
All citizens of the EEA (EU nations plus Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, San Marino and Andorra) are allowed free passage, right of residence and have the right to work into the UK without impedance. A showing of your passport at Border Control is usually all that's needed; any EEA citizen wishing to work in the UK must for apply for a National Insurance number (enabling you to pay the correct amount of tax, rather than the higher rate) through any branch of Job Centre Plus (in Great Britain) or Jobs & Benefits Office (in Northern Ireland).
Non-EEA citizens and nationals have different entry requirements, though for citizens of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, other Commonwealth nations and the United States, a Visa Waiver Program operates. This entitles the holder to 90 days as a tourist in the UK without needing a visa. You must prove you have sufficient funds for your stay and show a return ticket to Immigration Officials, if asked to do so. If you are non-EEA and seeking employment, you must possess an appropriate work permit prior to landing in the UK.
Citizens of other nations will require visa clearance for entry as a tourist, consult your local British Embassy or Consulate, click here for more details.
Internal Borders: Visitors will also notice border signs when entering and leaving England, Scotland and Wales ("Welcome to England/Scotland" & "Croeso i Gymru").
These borders indicate where one country ends and another begins the same as it would anywhere else in the world. No passport or ID checks are required to cross these borders, but please remember, the Northern Irish, the Scots, the Welsh and the English have separate identities and these should not be confused! It is highly offensive to people from parts other than the south to use the words 'England' and 'Britain' or 'UK' interchangeably, for example do not talk about 'english money' if you mean 'british money'. A referendum on independence from the UK will be held in Scotland on 18 September 2014.
Channel Islands and Isle of Man: These British Crown Dependencies are NOT part of the United Kingdom, but no passport controls are in operation between the UK and the Channel Islands or Isle of Man. There are, however, customs checks between the Channel Islands and the UK. If you wish to work in the Channel Islands (Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Herm and Sark) or the Isle of Man, note that they have their own system of work permits - which also apply to British and EEA nationals. Private Health Insurance is also required for all visits to the Channel Islands by all nationalities. For more information, check directly with the governments of these territories: Isle of Man www.gov.im, Jersey www.gov.je or Guernsey www.gov.gg.
Bermuda, Gibraltar, Falkland Islands, St Helena and other UK Overseas Territories: These internally self-governing territories are under British sovereignty but are not part of the United Kingdom. Passports are required for travel between the UK and these territories.