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Intercountry Adoption

English

Country Information

United Kingdom

Country Information

United Kingdom
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

Must be valid for duration of your stay (six months remaining validity recommended)

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

1 page

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

Not required for stays under 90 days

VACCINATIONS:

None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

None

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy London

24 Grosvenor Square
London, W1A 2LQ
United Kingdom
Telephone: +(44)(20) 7499-9000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(44)(20) 7499-9000
Fax: +(44) (20) 7495-5012

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Edinburgh, Scotland
3 Regent Terrace,
Edinburgh EH7 5BW
Scotland
Telephone: 013-1556-8315 / from the United States: 011 (44)(13) 1556-8315
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 020-7499-9000 / from the United States: 011 (44)(20) 7499-9000
Fax: 0131-557-6023 /from the United States: 011 (44) 131-557-6023

U.S. Consulate General Belfast, Northern Ireland
Danesfort House, 223 Stranmillis Road,
Belfast BT9 5GR
Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Telephone: 028-9038-6100 / from the United States: 011 (44)(28) 9038-6100
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 01253-501106 / from the United States: 011 (44) 1253-501106
Fax: 028-9068-1301 / from the United States: 011 (44)(28) 9068-1301
Email: ConsularBelfast@state.gov

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Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on the United Kingdom for information on U.S.-United Kingdom relations. 

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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements
  • No minimum passport validity is required for U.S. citizens entering the United Kingdom (UK).
  • Travelers transiting through the UK on their way to a continental European country should have six months remaining validity in their passport. Please see our Schengen Fact Sheet for additional details.
  • Visas for specific categories of visitors must be obtained prior to travel. Visit the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) website to determine if you need a visa to enter the United Kingdom. We cannot intervene on your behalf when applying for a visa nor can we assist you if you are denied entry into the United Kingdom.  
  • Students and prospective students should visit the UKVI website to determine if they need a visa.
  • Unpaid and paid workers, interns, volunteers, charity workers, and temporary workers can find information about obtaining a visa on the UKVI website.
  • Visitors traveling to the United Kingdom to get married, even if they do not plan to reside there, must obtain a visa in advance. See the UKVI website for visa information.
  • Surcharges apply to certain categories of visas, generally those involving work, study, or residency for more than six months. More information is available on the UKVI website and in our Health section below.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of the United Kingdom.

Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

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Safety and Security

Credible information indicates terrorist groups continue plotting possible near-term attacks in Europe. All European countries remain potentially vulnerable to attacks from transnational terrorist organizations. The UK Security Service, commonly known as MI5, publishes specific reasons for any changes in the threat level and recommended actions for the public via its UK threat levels website.

There is the potential for isolated violence related to the political situation in Northern Ireland. The Police Service of Northern Ireland assesses there is a continued threat of violence from dissident republicans in Northern Ireland, focused primarily on police and military targets, and may involve the use of firearms and explosives. Tensions may be heightened during the summer marching season (April to August), particularly during the month of July (around the July 12 public holiday).

Avoid areas of demonstrations if possible, and be careful within the vicinity of demonstrations. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate to violence.  Stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of your surroundings.

The phone number for police/fire/ambulance emergency services – the equivalent of 911 in the United States – is 999 in the United Kingdom and 112 in Gibraltar. You should also use this number to report security threats or suspicious packages.

Crime: The United Kingdom and Gibraltar generally have low crime rates.

  • Be cautious and aware of your surroundings.
  • Be vigilant, as pickpocketing, mugging and “snatch and grab” theft of mobile phones, watches and jewelry can occur.
  • Do not leave bags unattended in restaurants, pubs, hotel lobbies, and parked cars.
  • Be alert to other criminal schemes, such as impostors posing as undercover police officers and “fining” tourists for bogus minor offenses. A legitimate Metropolitan Police Services officer will never demand an immediate cash payment.
  • Use only licensed Black Cabs or pre-ordered car services (minicabs). Unlicensed taxis or private cars posing as taxis may offer low fares, but in some instances, travelers have been robbed or sexually assaulted while using these cars. The Safer Travel at Night partnership among the Metropolitan Police, Transport for London, and the mayor of London maintains a website with additional information on cabs and car services.
  • Avoid using ATMs that look temporary in structure or location or are located in isolated areas – they may not be legitimate. Use ATMs located inside a bank branch.
  • Scams: Before sending any money to individuals you have never met in person, visit the Embassy London blog website for more information about internet financial scams and how to protect yourself. Financial crimes conducted over the internet have increased dramatically in the United Kingdom as scammers attempt to convince you to send them money. These fraudulent schemes can include:
    • Lotteries
    • Online dating/social networking services
    • Inheritance notices
    • Work permits/job offers
    • Bank overpayments
    • Schemes that make it appear you are helping a loved one or a friend in trouble

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime: Report crimes to the local police at 999 (United Kingdom) or 112 (Gibraltar) and contact the U.S. Embassy at +(44) (20) 7499-9000.

  • Local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide information on victim’s compensation and support in the United Kingdom:
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support if you are destitute
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.

For further information:

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Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. A U.S. passport will not protect you from being arrested, prosecuted, or jailed.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

  • You will be arrested if you bring pocket knives, blades, mace or pepper spray canisters, and any part of a gun into the United Kingdom. Please refer to the Travelling to the UK publication, which details the items visitors are prohibited from bringing into the United Kingdom.
  • Penalties against alcohol-related and other in-flight crimes (“air rage”) to and from the United Kingdom are stiff and are enforced with prison sentences. Please also see our information on U.S. customs regulations covering your return to the United States.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.

Special Circumstances:

  • The legal drinking age in the United Kingdom is 18 years of age. Parents and organizers of school trips should read our Students Abroad website to help plan a safe and enjoyable experience.
  • Scotland’s “drink drive limit” law was amended to a lower level and is stricter than the rest of the United Kingdom. This means that driving after even one drink can result in a driving under the influence charge.
  • The United Kingdom has very strict gun control laws and importing firearms is extremely complicated. Information on applying for a firearm and/or shotgun certificate can be found on the London Metropolitan Police Firearms licensing webpage. Licenses from England or Wales may not be valid in Scotland; please check with the appropriate authorities. For firearms certificates for Scotland, please check with Police Scotland.

Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in the United Kingdom. 

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from the United States.

  • UK law requires that all public service providers (except in the transportation sector) make “reasonable adjustments” to ensure their services are available to persons with disabilities. Nevertheless, code exemptions permit many older buildings to have steps up from the street.
  • Getting around in cities may be difficult at times because sidewalks can be narrow and uneven.
  • Most London Underground and UK National Rail System stations are not readily accessible for people with disabilities. Very few stations have elevators, and most have stairways and long corridors for changing trains or exiting to the street. However, many UK buses are equipped with lowering platforms for limited-mobility or sight or hearing disabled travelers.
  • Many taxis have swivel entry seats or retractable ramps to ease entry.

The Transport for London and National Rail websites provide information for passengers with disabilities.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for women travelers.

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Health

While medical services are widely available, free medical care under the National Health System (NHS) is allowed only for UK residents, certain EU nationals, and some visa holders. 

An NHS surcharge is assessed on certain visa applicants at the time of application. Tourists and short-term visitors will not be assessed the surcharge, but will be charged 150 percent of the cost of any medical treatment they receive from the NHS. Unpaid balances of £1,000 or more can result in being barred from return to the United Kingdom.

  • The U.S. government does not pay medical bills, and U.S. Medicare is not valid overseas.  

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage

Carry prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Certain prescriptions available in the United States are classed as narcotics in the United Kingdom and not available. 

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

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Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Road conditions in the United Kingdom can differ significantly from those in the United States.  UK penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs are stiff and often result in prison sentences.

  • In contrast to the United States, UK traffic drives on the left. Read the Highway Code before driving.
  • Emergency call boxes (orange telephone booths with “SOS” printed on them) are found at half-mile intervals along motorways. White and blue poles point in the direction of the nearest call box. Call boxes dial directly to a motorway center. Use these phones rather than a personal cell phone, because motorway center personnel will immediately know your exact location.
  • Generally, pedestrians do not have the right of way and should not expect vehicles to stop for them.

Many U.S. citizen pedestrians are injured, some fatally, every year in the United Kingdom, because they forget that oncoming traffic approaches from the opposite direction than in the United States. Exercise extra care when crossing streets; remain alert and look both ways before stepping into the street.

Traffic Laws:

  • Using a hand-held cell phones or similar device while driving is illegal in the United Kingdom. Only hands-free phones may be used. You will be fined, or in the case of an accident, arrested and serve time in prison.
  • The speed limit on highways/motorways in the United Kingdom is 70 mph.
  • You will be detained and arrested if you cannot provide a UK address to receive a subpoena or are about to depart the United Kingdom and have to be brought to court quickly for a motoring offense.
  • In Central London, a congestion charge is levied on all drivers who pass through the zone. You will be fined or arrested if you do not pay the charge. See Transport for London for more information about driving in London.

Public Transportation: Public transport in the United Kingdom is extensive.

  • Information on disruptions to London transportation services can be found on the  Transport for London website.
  • Information about the status of National Rail Services can be found on the National Rail Enquiries website.
  • Bus and train service information in Northern Ireland can be found on the Translink website.
  • Bus and train service information in Scotland can be found on the Traveline Scotland website.

See our Road Safety page for more information. For specific information concerning UK driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance, refer to the UK Department for Transport website or the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency website.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of the United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of United Kingdom’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to the United Kingdom should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts at www.marad.dot.gov/msci.  Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website (https://homeport.uscg.mil), and the NGA broadcast warnings website https://msi.nga.mil/NGAPortal/MSI.portal (select “broadcast warnings”).

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy London

24 Grosvenor Square
London, W1A 2LQ
United Kingdom
Telephone: +(44)(20) 7499-9000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(44)(20) 7499-9000
Fax: +(44) (20) 7495-5012

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Edinburgh, Scotland
3 Regent Terrace,
Edinburgh EH7 5BW
Scotland
Telephone: 013-1556-8315 / from the United States: 011 (44)(13) 1556-8315
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 020-7499-9000 / from the United States: 011 (44)(20) 7499-9000
Fax: 0131-557-6023 /from the United States: 011 (44) 131-557-6023

U.S. Consulate General Belfast, Northern Ireland
Danesfort House, 223 Stranmillis Road,
Belfast BT9 5GR
Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Telephone: 028-9038-6100 / from the United States: 011 (44)(28) 9038-6100
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 01253-501106 / from the United States: 011 (44) 1253-501106
Fax: 028-9068-1301 / from the United States: 011 (44)(28) 9068-1301
Email: ConsularBelfast@state.gov

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General Information

 

The United Kingdom (UK) and the United States have been treaty partners under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention) since July 1, 1988.

For information concerning travel to the UK, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for the UK. 

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA).  The report is located here.

 

 

 

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Hague Abduction Convention

 

The U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention.  In this capacity, the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children's Issues facilitates the submission of applications under the Hague Abduction Convention for the return of, or access to, children located in countries that are U.S. treaty partners, including the UK.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.

Contact information:

United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone:  1-888-407-4747
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
Website

The UK has separate Hague Abduction Convention central authorities for England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the Isle of Man.  The Central Authority for England and Wales is the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit.  The Central Authority for Scotland is the European Union (EU) and International Law Branch.  The Central Authority for Northern Ireland is the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunal Service, Central Business Unit.  The Central Authority for the Isle of Man is the Attorney General.  All four central authorities have an administrative role in processing Hague Abduction Convention applications.

The UK Central Authority can be reached at:

England and Wales:
The International Child Abduction and Contact Unit
Office of the Official Solicitor
Victory House, 30-34 Kingsway
London WC2B 6EX
DX 141423 Bloomsbury 7
United Kingdom
Tel:  +44 (20) 3681-2608
Fax:  +44 (20) 3681-2763
Website

Scotland:
Scottish Government
EU & International Law Branch
2W St. Andrew's House
Edinburgh EH1 3DG
Scotland, UK
Tel:  +44 (131) 244-4827
Fax:  +44 (131) 244-4848

Website

 

Northern Ireland:
Northern Ireland Courts & Tribunals Service
Central Business Unit
3rd Floor
Laganside House
23-27 Oxford Street
Belfast BT1 3LA
Northern Ireland, UK
Tel:  +44 (28) 9072-8808 
Fax:  +44 (28) 9072-8945
Email:  businessdevelopmentgroup@courts.ni.gsi.gov.uk
Website

Isle of Man:
Attorney General's Chambers
3rd Floor, St. Mary's Court
Hill Street
Douglas
Isle of Man IM1 1EU
British Isles
Email:  ChildAbduction@attgen.gov.im

To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in the UK, parents may submit a Hague application to the USCA or the relevant central authority in the UK.  The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the relevant central authority in the UK, and to subsequently monitor its progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes. 

There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the U.S. or the UK central authorities.  All four central authorities in the UK assign a solicitor (attorney) to represent parents or legal guardians making an application for return or access under the Hague Abduction Convention.  For applications for return, all four central authorities provide pro bono (no fee) legal assistance.  In access cases, applicants are responsible for legal fees if they do not qualify for legal aid.  Additional costs may include airplane tickets for court appearances and for the return of the child, if so ordered.

 

 

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Return

A parent or legal guardian may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for return to the United States of a child abducted to, or wrongfully retained in, the UK.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand whether the Convention is an available civil remedy and can provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Visitation/Access

A person may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in the UK.  The criteria for acceptance of a Hague access application vary from country to country.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand country-specific criteria and provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Retaining an Attorney

Parents do not need to retain a private solicitor in the UK to submit a Hague Abduction Convention application for return or access. All four of the central authorities in the UK will assign a solicitor to represent parents making these applications. Parents may still retain a private solicitor to pursue their applications. However, if that solicitor is not included on the relevant central authority's list of contracting solicitors, the Central Authority will not open a case, and it may be difficult for the USCA to monitor the application.

The U.S. Embassy in London, UK, posts a list of attorneys in England and Wales, including those who specialize in family law.

The U.S. Consulate General in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, posts a list of attorneys.

For information on attorneys in Northern Ireland, parents can contact the U.S. Consulate General in Belfast using the contact information listed on the Consulate's website.

For information on attorneys on the Isle of Man, parents can contact the Attorney General's Office by calling +44 (0) 1624 685452 or by consulting the lawyers list of Reunite International.

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the persons or firms included in this list. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

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Mediation

All four central authorities in the UK encourage mediation for all Hague Abduction Convention applications, and both parties are given the opportunity to come to a mutual agreement before the application goes to court. In general, the parties' solicitors are responsible for facilitating mediation. The UK central authorities, except for the Isle of Man, do not play an active role in this process.

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country.  It is important for parents to understand that, although a left behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.   For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney when planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
Yes
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Both adoptions to the United States from United Kingdom and from the United States to United Kingdom are possible.
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
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Hague Convention Information

United Kingdom is a party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention or Convention). Intercountry adoption processing in Convention countries must be done in accordance with the requirements of the Hague Adoption Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA); and the IAA’s implementing regulations; as well as the implementing legislation and regulations of United Kingdom.

The UK is generally not considered a country of origin in intercountry adoption. Most intercountry adoptions in the UK are by UK residents who adopt from other countries however it is possible to adopt a child from the UK through intercountry adoption. The information provided below is intended primarily to assist in rare adoption cases from the UK, including adoptions of UK children by relatives in the United States. This information may also be useful to U.S. citizens living in the UK considering adoptions from the UK or other countries.

Note: If any of the following occurred prior to April 1, 2008, (the date on which the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force with respect to the United States), the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption: 1) you filed a Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, identifying United Kingdom as the country where you intended to adopt and the approval is still valid; 2) you filed a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, on behalf of a child from United Kingdom, or 3) the adoption was completed. Under these circumstances, your adopted child’s adoption could continue to be processed as a non- Convention intercountry adoption, provided the child’s country of origin agrees. For more information, read about Hague Transition Cases. Please contact adoption@state.gov with the details of the case if this situation applies to you.

U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS

To bring an adopted child to the United States from United Kingdom, you must meet certain suitability and eligibility requirements. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), determines who is suitable and eligible to adopt a child from another country and bring that child to live in the United States under U.S. immigration law.

Additionally, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law in order to immigrate to the United States with an IH-3 or IH-4 immigrant visa.

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Who Can Adopt

In addition to being found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS, prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt a child from United Kingdom must meet the following requirements of United Kingdom:

  • Residency: UK residency is not a requirement for adoptions where the UK is the state of origin. Prospective adoptive parents may apply for a Convention adoption order in the UK once they have lived with the child for a minimum of 10 weeks. If they intend to adopt in the United States, they should apply to a UK court for an order under section 84 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002, which confers parental responsibility on the applicant and allows them to remove the child for the purposes of adoption.

    The UK adoption law permits U.S. citizens resident in the UK for at least one year to apply to adopt from other countries through the UK intercountry adoption process. These prospective adoptive parents may contact the relevant city or county council that is the local child welfare authority for the area of their residence, or a registered voluntary adoption agency, in order to initiate the process. The UK Central Authority does not make habitual residence determinations to establish whether prospective adoptive parents may apply for a Hague Convention Adoption through the UK. We recommend that U.S. citizens adopting through the Hague Convention process in the UK seek private legal guidance regarding their habitual residence status in addition to reaching out to the local authorities in the UK.
  • Age of Adopting Parents: Applicants must be at least 21 years old to adopt. The United Kingdom does not have a statutory upper age limit. However, in making decisions on adoptive placements, each council or local authority has the power to consider age as a factor in determining whether placement with a prospective adoptive parent is in the best interest of the child.
  • Marriage: Married or single persons may apply to adopt. Married couples must adopt jointly unless one partner cannot be found, is incapable of making an application, or if a separation is likely to be permanent. Unmarried couples may not adopt jointly, although one partner of that couple may adopt as a single parent. Adoption by gay or lesbian married couples and/or single persons is permitted under U.K. law.
  • Income: There are no specific income requirements related to adoption.
  • Other: None.
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Who Can Be Adopted

Because United Kingdom is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from United Kingdom must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for intercountry adoption. For example, the adoption may take place only if the competent authorities of United Kingdom have determined that placement of the child within United Kingdom has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests.

In addition to qualifying as a Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law, a child must meet the following requirements of United Kingdom:

  • Relinquishment or Abandonment: Birthparents or legal guardians must consent, except in cases where consent may be waived. A court ruling declaring adoptability is also required for a child to be eligible for adoption. The birth mother is not considered legally competent to give consent to her baby’s placement for adoption until the child is six weeks old.
  • Age of Adoptive Child: A child can be adopted until age 19, provided that the appropriate UK authorities receive the application for adoption before the child reaches age 18. Please note that in order for a child to meet the definition of Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law, a Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, must be filed on the child’s behalf while the child is under the age of 16 (or under the age of 18 if the child is the birth sibling of another adopted child who has immigrated or will immigrate based on adoption by the same adoptive parent(s)). Please see the USCIS website for special rules on filing dates for children aged 15-16 or siblings aged 17-18.
  • Sibling Adoptions: There are no specific legal requirements. The local authority gives consideration to adoption of siblings together on a case by case basis depending on the needs of the children.
  • Special Needs or Medical Conditions: There are no specific legal requirements. The local authority assesses the ability of the prospective adoptive parents to care for a particular child’s needs during the adoption process.
  • Waiting Period or Foster Care: There is a mandatory 10-week pre-adoptive care period in each adoption case. Prospective adoptive parent(s) generally should plan to remain in the UK for the 10-week period.

    In certain circumstances a child may be placed by the UK authorities with relatives who live abroad under a fostering arrangement prior to possible adoption. In these cases, if the child’s legal custodians wish to travel to the United States with the child then they may apply at the U.S. Embassy in London for a B-2 non-immigrant visa for the child to travel to the United States during the pre-adoptive care period.

    Note: U.S. immigration law applies to the issuance of non-immigrant visas. There is no guarantee that the child will qualify for a non-immigrant visa, nor is it advisable for the child to travel under the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA) during the pre-adoptive care period. In order to be eligible for a non-immigrant B-2 visa or travel under the Visa Waiver Program, the child must have a residence abroad that he or she has no intention of abandoning and cannot be an intending immigrant who is coming to live permanently in the United States.
  • Other: A person cannot be adopted if he or she is married.

Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are available for adoption. In many countries, birth parents place their child(ren) temporarily in an orphanage or children’s home due to financial or other hardship, intending that the child return home when possible. In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to the adoption of their child(ren).

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How to Adopt

Warning: Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in United Kingdom before: 1) USCIS has approved your Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country, 2) the Central Authority of United Kingdom has determined the child is available for intercountry adoption, 3) USCIS has provisionally approved your Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, and 4) a U.S. consular officer has issued an “Article 5/17 Letter” in the case. Read on for more information.

United Kingdom’s Central Adoption Authority

The Department for Education

The Department for Education is the UK Central Authority for the Hague Adoption Convention and is responsible for children’s social services, including adoption policy. However, each adoption case is handled by the relevant council or voluntary adoption agency in the area where the adoptive child is located. Contact information for the local councils and local adoption agencies is available on the Department for Education’s webpage A guide to intercountry adoption: Apply to adopt a child through your council, and Apply to adopt a child through a voluntary adoption agency.

Complete contact information for the Department for Education is listed below.

Note: Special transition provisions may apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Read about Hague Transition Cases.

The Process

Because United Kingdom is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adoptions from United Kingdom must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is provided below. You must complete these steps in the following order to meet all necessary legal requirements. Adoptions completed out of order may result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa to the United States.

  1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider to Act as Your Primary Provider (That Has Been Authorized by United Kingdom’s Central Authority to Operate in United Kingdom)
  2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt (Form I-800A)
  3. Apply to United Kingdom’s Authorities to Adopt and Be Matched with a Child
  4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Provisionally Eligible for Immigration to the United States as a Convention Adoptee (Form I-800) and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption (Art. 5/17 letter)
  5. Adopt the Child in United Kingdom (or Obtain Legal Custody of the Child for Purposes of Emigration and Adoption)
  6. Obtain a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home

1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider to Act as Your Primary Provider (That Has Been Authorized by United Kingdom’s Central Authority] to Operate in United Kingdom)

The first step in adopting a child from United Kingdom is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide services to U.S. citizens in Convention cases (and that has been authorized by the Government of United Kingdom). A primary provider must be identified in each Convention case and only accredited or approved adoption service providers may act as the primary provider in your case. Your primary provider is responsible for:

  • Ensuring that all six adoption services defined at 22 CFR 96.2 are provided consistent with applicable laws and regulations;
  • Supervising and being responsible for supervised providers where used (see 22 CFR 96.14); and
  • Developing and implementing a service plan in accordance with 22 CFR 96.44.

Learn more about Agency Accreditation.

2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt

After you choose an accredited or approved adoption service provider, you must be found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS by submitting Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country. You will need to submit a home study, fingerprints, and a background check as part of this application. Read more about Suitability and Eligibility Requirements.

3. Apply to United Kingdom’s Authorities to Adopt and be Matched with a Child

Submit Your Dossier to the Central Authority
After USCIS determines that you are suitable and eligible to adopt and approves the Form I-800A application, your adoption service provider will provide your approval notice, home study, and any other required information to the adoption authority in United Kingdom as part of your adoption application. United Kingdom’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also suitable and eligible to adopt under United Kingdom’s law.

Receive a Referral for a Child from the Central Authority
If both the United States and United Kingdom determine that you are suitable and eligible to adopt, and United Kingdom’s Central Authority for Convention adoptions has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the Central Authority for Convention adoptions in United Kingdom may provide you with a referral for a child. The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of the child. The adoption authority in United Kingdom will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral or not. We encourage families to consult with a medical professional and their adoption service provider to understand the needs of the specific child but family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of, and provide a permanent home for, a specific child and must conform to the recommendations in the home study submitted to USCIS for the number of children and capacity to deal with any special needs of an adoptive child Learn more about Health Considerations. If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates that to the central authority in United Kingdom. Learn more about this critical decision.

4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Provisionally Eligible for Immigration to the United States as a Convention Adoptee and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption

Submit a Petition for a Determination on the Child’s Immigration Eligibility
After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to USCIS for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States by filing the Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative. USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child appears to meet the definition of a Convention adoptee and will likely be eligible to enter and remain in the United States.

Submit an Immigrant Visa Application
After provisional approval of Form I-800 petition, you or your adoption service provider will submit a visa application to the consular section of the U.S. Embassy in London responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from United Kingdom.

You should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the provisionally approved Form I-800 petition and assigning a case number and an invoice ID number. Use this information to log into the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) to file the Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) for your child. An adoptive parent should fill out these forms in your child's name. Answer every item on the form. If information is not applicable, please write “N/A” in the block. Please review the DS-260 FAQs, our Online Immigrant Visa Forms page, or contact the NVC at NVCAdoptions@state.gov or +1-603-334-0700 if you have questions about completing the online DS-260 form. A consular officer will review the provisionally approved Form I-800 petition and the visa application and, if applicable, advises you of options for the waiver of any ineligibilities related to the visa application.

The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5/17 Letter”) to United Kingdom’s Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from United Kingdom if all Convention requirements are met and the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter will inform the United Kingdom’s Central Authority that the parents are suitable and eligible to adopt, that the child appears eligible to enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.

Warning: Do not attempt to adopt (or obtain custody) of a child in United Kingdom before you receive provisional approval of your Form I-800 petition AND a U.S. consular officer issues the “Article 5/17 Letter” for your adoption case.

Remember: The consular officer will make a final decision about a child’s eligibility for an immigrant visa later in the adoption process.

5. Adopt the Child in United Kingdom (or Obtain Legal Custody of Child for Purposes of Emigration and Adoption of the Child)

Remember: Before you adopt (or obtain legal custody of) a child in United Kingdom, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps can you proceed to finalize the adoption (or a grant of legal custody by United Kingdom for the purposes of emigration and adoption).

The process for finalizing the adoption (or obtaining legal custody) in United Kingdom generally includes the following:

  • Role of Adoption Authority: The Department for Education (DfE) is the central government department responsible for adoption policy and legislation. The DfE also has a role in the processing of intercountry adoption cases. The DfE issues Certificates of Eligibility for all non-Hague Convention adoption applications made by prospective adoptive parents habitually resident in the U.K. For adoptions completed under the Hague Convention, the DfE only processes applications for England. The Devolved Administrations in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the Isle of Man Government each have their own Central Authorities under the Hague Convention and process casework for applicants in their respective countries.
  • Role of the Court: The court is responsible for making legal rulings on adoption applications including an order under section 84 giving parental responsibility. An application for an adoption order will usually start in a Family court. However, every case is different and the court's decision about the next steps will depend on the details of the application.
  • Role of Adoption Agencies: In the UK, all local councils have a statutory responsibility to provide adoption services. In addition to the local council, there are a number of voluntary adoption agencies that also provide an adoption service. For a listing of adoption agencies, see Apply to adopt a child through a voluntary adoption agency.
  • Time Frame: There is no standard time frame.
  • Adoption Application: Please see A Guide to Intercountry Adoption for UK Residents linked to the webpage A guide to intercountry adoption on the Department for Education website for detailed information on preparing an application for intercountry adoption.
  • Adoption Fees: There are no specific costs set by the UK government.

    Prospective adoptive parents are advised to obtain detailed receipts for all fees and donations paid, either directly or through your U.S. adoption service provider, and to raise any concerns regarding any payment that you believe may be contrary to the Convention, U.S. law, or the law of United Kingdom with your adoption service provider. Please also refer to information concerning the Hague Complaint Registry. Improper payments may have the appearance of buying a child, violate applicable law, and could put all future adoptions in United Kingdom at risk. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, for instance, makes it unlawful to bribe foreign government officials to obtain or retain business. Further, the IAA makes it unlawful to improperly influence relinquishment of parental rights, parental consent relating to adoption of a child, or a decision by an entity performing Central Authority functions.

    In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.
  • Documents Required: Adoptive parents must provide the following:
    • A detailed home study complete by and approved adoption agency;
    • Medical clearance;
    • Full police background check

    Note: Additional documents may be requested.
  • Authentication of Documents: You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic. If so, the Department of State, Authentications Office has information on the subject.

    Note: The United States and the United Kingdom are parties to the Hague Apostille Convention. U.S. public documents may be authenticated with Apostilles by the appropriate U.S. Competent Authority.

6. Obtain a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home

Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child for the purposes of emigration and adoption of the child in the United States), there are a few more steps to take before your child can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:

Birth Certificate
If you have finalized the adoption in United Kingdom, you will first need to apply for a birth certificate for your child so that you can later apply for a passport.

If you have been granted custody for the purposes of emigration and adoption of the child in the United States, the birth certificate you obtain will, in most cases, not yet include your name.

Adoptive parents may obtain UK Certificates of Adoption, the equivalent of a birth certificate issued in an adopted person’s new name from the General Register Office, Adoptions Section, Room C202, Trafalgar Road, Southport PR8 2HH. The short form birth certificate will be sent approximately six weeks after the court hearing. If a long form birth certificate is required the adopting parent will need to request one from the General Register Office, at the following website: gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/default.asp.

United Kingdom Passport
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from United Kingdom.

Information on how to obtain a U.K. child’s passport can be found on the following website: ips.gov.uk/passport/apply-child.asp.

U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to finalize your application for a U.S. visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in London. After the adoption (or custody for purposes of emigration and adoption) is granted, visit the U.S Embassy for a final review of the case, and if applicable, the issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Certificate, the final approval of the Form I-800 petition, and to obtain your child’s immigrant visa. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you and be admitted to the United States as your child. As part of this process, you must provide the consular officer with the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child if you did not provide it during the provisional approval stage. Read more about the Medical Examination.

Before coming for your child’s immigrant visa interview, please be sure to complete an Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) online at the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC). You should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the provisionally approved Form I-800 petition and assigning a case number and an invoice ID number. You will need this information to log into CEAC to file the DS-260 for your child. An adoptive parent should fill out these forms in your child's name. Answer every item on the form. If information is not applicable, please write “N/A” in the block. Print and bring the DS-260 form confirmation page to the visa interview. Please review the DS-260 FAQs, our Online Immigrant Visa Forms page, or contact the NVC at NVCAdoptions@state.gov or +1-603-334 -0700 if you have questions about completing the online DS-260 form.

Visa issuance after the final interview generally takes at least 24 hours. It is usually not possible to provide a visa on the same day as the immigrant visa interview. Adoptive parents should verify current processing times with the U.S. Embassy in London before making final travel arrangements.

Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: An adopted child residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence generally will acquire U.S. citizenship automatically upon entry into the United States if the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, including the child is under the age of eighteen.

For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States: You will need to complete an adoption following your child’s entry into the United States and before the child turns eighteen for the child (if he or she otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000) to automatically acquire U.S. citizenship.

Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

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Traveling Abroad

Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Once your child has acquired U.S. citizenship, s/he will need a U.S. passport for any international travel. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.

Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Department of State’s Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.

Obtaining a Visa to Travel to United Kingdom
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa to travel abroad. Where required, visas are affixed to a traveler’s passport and allow him or her to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for United Kingdom, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.

Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country in the world about various issues, including health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.

Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State through our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country. Enrollment makes it possible for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in United Kingdom, to contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in United Kingdom, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

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After Adoption

Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements
Once an adoption order has been granted, you are legally the child’s parent with the same rights and responsibilities as if they were born to you. Post-adoption reporting requirements will be determined by a UK local authority.

We urge you to comply with United Kingdom’s post-adoption/post-placement requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption service provider may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to that United Kingdom’s history of positive experiences with U.S. citizen adoptive parents.

Post-Adoption Resources
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services. Your primary provider can provide or point you to post- placement/post-adoption services to help your adopted child and your family transition smoothly and deal effectively with the many adjustments required in an intercountry adoption.

Here are some places to start your support group search:

Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of content.

Complaints

If you have concerns about your adoption process, we ask that you share this information with the Embassy in London, particularly if it involves possible fraud or misconduct specific to your child’s case. The Department of State takes all allegations of fraud or misconduct seriously.

Our Adoption Comment Page provides several points of contact for adoptive families to comment on their adoption service provider, their experience applying for their child’s visa, or about the Form I-800 petition process.

The Hague Complaint Registry is an internet based registry for filing complaints about U.S. accredited or approved adoption service providers. If you think your provider's conduct may have been out of substantial compliance with accreditation standards, first submit your complaint in writing directly to your provider. If the complaint is not resolved through the provider's complaint process, you may file the complaint through the Hague Complaint Registry.

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Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in United Kingdom
24 Grosvenor Square
London, W1K6AH, United Kingdom
Tel: (44) (0) 20 7499-9000
Internet: uk.usembassy.gov

United Kingdom’s Adoption Authority
The Department for Education
Intercountry Adoption Team
Level 0
Bishopsgate House
Feethams
Darlington DL15QE
Tel: 0379-0002288
Email: DARLINGTON.ICA@education.gsi.gov.uk
Internet: www.gov.uk/topic/schools-colleges-childrens-services/adoption-fostering

Embassy of United Kingdom
The British Embassy
3100 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel: (202) 588-7800
Internet: ukinusa.fco.gov.uk.com/

United Kingdom also has consulates in: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20522-1709
Tel: 1-888-407-4747
Email: Adoption@state.gov
Internet: adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
Internet: uscis.gov

For questions about filing a Form I-800A application or a Form I-800 petition:
USCIS National Benefits Center (NBC)
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
Email: NBC.Hague@uscis.dhs.gov

Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 60 Months
A-2 None Multiple 60 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1 None Multiple 120 Months
B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
C-1 None Multiple 120 Months
C-1/D None Multiple 120 Months
C-2 None Multiple 12 Months
C-3 None Multiple 60 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 120 Months
E-1 2 None Multiple 60 Months
E-2 2 $105.00 A Multiple 60 Months
E-2C 12 None Multiple 12 Months
F-1 None Multiple 60 Months
F-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-1 None Multiple 60 Months
G-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-3 None Multiple 60 Months
G-4 None Multiple 60 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 24 Months
H-1B None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-1C None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2A None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2B None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2R None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-4 None Multiple 60 Months 3
I None Multiple 60 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 60 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 60 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 None Multiple 60 Months
L-2 $105.00 A Multiple 60 Months
M-1 None Multiple 60 Months
M-2 None Multiple 60 Months
N-8 None Multiple 60 Months
N-9 None Multiple 60 Months
NATO 1-6 10 None Multiple 60 Months
NATO-7 1 None Multiple 24 Months
O-1 None Multiple 60 Months 3
O-2 None Multiple 60 Months 3
O-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-1 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-2 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-4 None Multiple 60 Months 3
Q-1 6 None Multiple 15 Months 3
Q-2 6 None Multiple 36 Months
Q-3 6 None Multiple 36 Months
R-1 None Multiple 60 Months
R-2 None Multiple 60 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 120 Months
V-2 None Multiple 120 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 120 Months 8
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Country Specific Footnotes
  1. Fees for E-2 and L-2 visas apply to all persons, including spouses and children holding passports issued by United Kingdom issuing authorities, and do not apply to those persons with passports issued by authorities of British colonies or dependent territories. Fee is charged on a per individual basis.

    Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

     

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Visa Category Footnotes
  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

 

 

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General Documents

The publication "General Register Office Abstract of Arrangement Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths in the United Kingdom and Other Countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and in the Irish Republic" contains a great deal of pertinent information, and may prove of value as a reference to persons confronted with individual problems. It is published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 49 High Holborn, London WC1.

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth Certificate

  • England and Wales (including Scilly Isles and Isle of Wight): Available. Certificates of births, adoptions, deaths and marriages may be obtained from the General Register Office, Smedley Hydro, Trafalgar Road, Southport, Merseyside PR8 2HH, or from the local registrar's office in the district in which the birth, death or marriage was originally registered. Long-form birth certificates should be requested, as short-form birth certificates do not contain the parents' names.
  • Scotland: Available. Certificates of births, deaths, marriages and The Adopted Children's Register may be obtained from the Registrar General, New Register House, Edinburgh EH1 3YT, or from the Registrar's Office for the district in which the event occurred. Long-form birth certificates should be obtained as short-form certificates do not contain parents' names.
  • Northern Ireland: Available. Certificates of births, adoptions, deaths and marriages may be obtained from the Registrar General's Office, Oxford House, 49-65 Chichester Street, Belfast BT1 4UY or if registered before January 1, 1922, from the Registrar General, Dublin, Eire. Marriage certificates may also be obtained from the local registration office for the district in which the marriage was originally registered. Long-form birth certificates should be obtained as short-form birth certificates do not contain the parents' names.
  • Jersey: Available. Apply to: Superintendent Register, States Office, Royal Square, St. Helier, Jersey.
  • Guernsey, Sark, and Alderney: Available. Apply to: Registrar General's Office, Greffe, Guernsey.
  • Isle of Man: Available. Apply to Registrar General, General Registry Building, Douglas, Isle of Man.

Death/Burial Certificate

  • England and Wales (including Scilly Isles and Isle of Wight): Available. Certificates of births, adoptions, deaths and marriages may be obtained from the General Register Office, Smedley Hydro, Trafalgar Road, Southport, Merseyside PR8 2HH, or from the local registrar's office in the district in which the birth, death or marriage was originally registered. Long-form birth certificates should be requested, as short-form birth certificates do not contain the parents' names.
  • Scotland: Available. Certificates of births, deaths, marriages and The Adopted Children's Register may be obtained from the Registrar General, New Register House, Edinburgh EH1 3YT, or from the Registrar's Office for the district in which the event occurred. Long-form birth certificates should be obtained as short-form certificates do not contain parents' names.
  • Northern Ireland: Available. Certificates of births, adoptions, deaths and marriages may be obtained from the Registrar General's Office, Oxford House, 49-65 Chichester Street, Belfast BT1 4UY or if registered before January 1, 1922, from the Registrar General, Dublin, Eire. Marriage certificates may also be obtained from the local registration office for the district in which the marriage was originally registered. Long-form birth certificates should be obtained as short-form birth certificates do not contain the parents' names.
  • Jersey: Available. Apply to: Superintendent Register, States Office, Royal Square, St. Helier, Jersey.
  • Guernsey, Sark, and Alderney: Available. Apply to: Registrar General's Office, Greffe, Guernsey.
  • Isle of Man: Available. Apply to Registrar General, General Registry Building, Douglas, Isle of Man.
Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriage Certificate

  • England and Wales (including Scilly Isles and Isle of Wight): Available. Certificates of births, adoptions, deaths and marriages may be obtained from the General Register Office, Smedley Hydro, Trafalgar Road, Southport, Merseyside PR8 2HH, or from the local registrar's office in the district in which the birth, death or marriage was originally registered. Long-form birth certificates should be requested, as short-form birth certificates do not contain the parents' names.
  • Scotland: Available. Certificates of births, deaths, marriages and The Adopted Children's Register may be obtained from the Registrar General, New Register House, Edinburgh EH1 3YT, or from the Registrar's Office for the district in which the event occurred. Long-form birth certificates should be obtained as short-form certificates do not contain parents' names.
  • Northern Ireland: Available. Certificates of births, adoptions, deaths and marriages may be obtained from the Registrar General's Office, Oxford House, 49-65 Chichester Street, Belfast BT1 4UY or if registered before January 1, 1922, from the Registrar General, Dublin, Eire. Marriage certificates may also be obtained from the local registration office for the district in which the marriage was originally registered. Long-form birth certificates should be obtained as short-form birth certificates do not contain the parents' names.
  • Jersey: Available. Apply to: Superintendent Register, States Office, Royal Square, St. Helier, Jersey.
  • Guernsey, Sark, and Alderney: Available. Apply to: Registrar General's Office, Greffe, Guernsey.
  • Isle of Man: Available. Apply to Registrar General, General Registry Building, Douglas, Isle of Man.

Divorce Certificate

  • England and Wales (including Scilly Isles and Isle of Wight): Available. Copies of "Decrees Nisi" (preliminary) and "Decrees Absolute" (final) of divorces in England and Wales may be obtained from the Principal Register, Divorce Registry, Room G45, Somerset House, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London WC2A 2LL.

    If the record is not held in the Principal Divorce Registry, the applicant will be notified of the address of the appropriate County Court from which to obtain the record.
  • Scotland: Available. If a divorce has taken place after May 1, 1984, a decree from the divorce is available from the Registrar General, New Register House, Edinburgh EH1 3YT. If the divorce took place before March, 1984, a decree from the divorce is available from the Deputy Clerk of Sessions, 1 Parliament Square, Edinburgh EH1 1RQ. A marriage extract issued by the Deputy Clerk of Sessions subsequent to the granting of a divorce in Scotland (of a marriage, which has taken place in Scotland,) will bear an endorsement relating to the divorce.
  • Northern Ireland: Available. Copies of "Decrees Nisi" (preliminary) and "Decrees Absolute" (final) of divorces obtained in Northern Ireland may be obtained from the Chief Registrar, Queen's Bench Division Matrimonial, Principal Probate Registry, Royal Courts of Justice, Chichester Street, Belfast BT1 3JF. While only a plain office copy of a "Decree Nisi" (preliminary) is supplied, a sealed and certified copy of a "Divorce Decree Absolute" (final) is obtainable.
  • Jersey: Available. Apply to: The Judicial Greffe. 16 Hill Street, St. Helier, Jersey.
  • Guernsey, Sark, and Alderney: Available. Apply to: Registrar General's Office, Greffe, Guernsey.
  • Isle of Man: Available. Apply to Registrar General, General Registry Building, Douglas, Isle of Man.
Adoption Certificates
  • England and Wales (including Scilly Isles and Isle of Wight): Available. Certificates of births, adoptions, deaths and marriages may be obtained from the General Register Office, Smedley Hydro, Trafalgar Road, Southport, Merseyside PR8 2HH, or from the local registrar's office in the district in which the birth, death or marriage was originally registered. Long-form birth certificates should be requested, as short-form birth certificates do not contain the parents' names.
  • Scotland: Available. Certificates of births, deaths, marriages and The Adopted Children's Register may be obtained from the Registrar General, New Register House, Edinburgh EH1 3YT, or from the Registrar's Office for the district in which the event occurred. Long-form birth certificates should be obtained as short-form certificates do not contain parents' names.
  • Northern Ireland: Available. Certificates of births, adoptions, deaths and marriages may be obtained from the Registrar General's Office, Oxford House, 49-65 Chichester Street, Belfast BT1 4UY or if registered before January 1, 1922, from the Registrar General, Dublin, Eire. Marriage certificates may also be obtained from the local registration office for the district in which the marriage was originally registered. Long-form birth certificates should be obtained as short-form birth certificates do not contain the parents' names.
  • Jersey: Available. Apply to: Superintendent Register, States Office, Royal Square, St. Helier, Jersey.
  • Guernsey, Sark, and Alderney: Available. Apply to: Registrar General's Office, Greffe, Guernsey.
  • Isle of Man: Available. Apply to Registrar General, General Registry Building, Douglas, Isle of Man.
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Identity Card

Unavailable.

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police Records

Available. Immigrant visa applicants who have resided in the United Kingdom for six months or more since the age of sixteen are required to obtain a Police Certificate from the Association of Chief Police Officers Criminal Records Office (ACRO). Applicants will find further guidance and application forms here.

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 enables some criminal convictions to become 'spent', or ignored, after a set length of time from the date of conviction. After this period, with certain exceptions, an ex-offender is not normally obliged to mention their conviction when applying for a job or obtaining insurance, or when involved in criminal or civil proceedings. The "No Live Trace" or "Further Information Stepped Down" response indicates that information is available relating to a 'spent' conviction. A "No Trace" response indicates a clean police record.

Applicants presenting “No Live Trace” or “Further Information Stepped Down” police records are encouraged to request and submit their Subject Access Record to facilitate visa processing.  Applicants are legally entitled to gain access to this information about themselves under Section 7 of the British Data Protection Act, 1998.

Prison Records

Unavailable.

Court Records

Available. Applicants may obtain court records (usually called "Memorandum of Conviction" in the United Kingdom), by writing to the Clerk of Court of the court (or courts) in which he or she was tried. This request must include as precise a date and place as possible.

Military Records

Available. Military discharge certificates are issued to enlisted personnel, non-commissioned personnel, and petty-officer personnel of the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines.

Officer personnel are not issued discharge certificates, but are usually able to obtain a letter from the appropriate office listed below confirming their release from the Armed Forces.

Details of service in the Armed Forces may be obtained as follows:

Force Address
Army MOD (M3) (A)
Army Records Office
Empress State Building
Bourne Avenue
Lillie Road
Hayes
London SW6 1TR
Middlesex ROYAL
Air Force - Officers

Ministry of Defence
Royal Air Force
Eastern Avenue
Records Office Gloucester
GL4 7TN 231
Nestles Avenue
Hayes, Middlesex

Air Force - Non-Commissioned Personnel P. Man (3E1)
Royal Air Force Records Office
R.A.F. Personnel Management
231 Nestles Avenue Centre
R.A.F. Insworth
Hayes
Gloucester, Middlesex
Royal Navy and Royal Marines

Naval Secretary
Navy Records
Room 116, Old Admiralty Building
Bourne Avenue
Spring Gardens
Hayes
London SW1
Middlesex

Passports & Other Travel Documents

Passport Extensions: As of June 16, 2014, the UK government has begun extending the expiration dates of certain passports by placing a stamp in the passport. This stamp is only being used when UK citizens seek to renew their passports outside of the UK. This stamp may be placed on any page and will extend the passport validity for one year. The Department views this extended passport as a valid travel document.

British Visitor's Passport: A short-form travel document issued by HMG to citizens of the United Kingdom intending to travel only to countries which do not require nonimmigrant visas for U.K. citizens. For this reason the document is not validated by HMG for travel to the United States, nor does it contain pages for the issuance of visas. Nevertheless, the document meets the requirements of Section 101(a)(30) of the INA, and may be presented by a U.K. citizen in connection with an application for a nonimmigrant visa at a consular office outside the United Kingdom. A nonimmigrant visa issued to the bearer of such a document should be placed on Form OF-232. [See 22 CFR 41.113(b)(2).]

Refugee Travel Documents: The new Refugee Travel Documents issued by the United Kingdom are machine-readable. The Travel Documents include the Certificate of Identity which is brown in color, a travel document for refugees under the 1951 Convention which is dark blue in color, and a travel document for refugees under the 1954 Convention which is red in color. All documents contain a disclaimer stating their issuance is "without prejudice to and in no way affects the holder's nationality." All list either the country of nationality or of birth, or both. The nationality of the bearer is listed as "Unknown". The documents will also indicate whether the bearer has "indefinite leave to remain" or the "right of abode."

Nonimmigrant visas issued to bearers of these travel documents should reflect the visa reciprocity schedule of his/her nationality or origin, even if the bearer has "indefinite leave to remain" in the United Kingdom.

Old style Refugee Travel Documents issued by the United Kingdom are still valid until they expire. These include a light brown travel document and a light blue Certificate of Identity. These documents also indicate whether the bearer has indefinite leave to remain or the right of abode in the United Kingdom.

Bearers of U.K. (British) Passports who are not U.K. Citizens: The following provides guidance on the various categories of British nationality and citizenship, and the respective reciprocal treatment to which each is entitled.

British citizens are identified in the passport by the words: "BRITISH CITIZEN." This is stamped in the old-style black U.K. passport and is noted on the nationality line on the new machine-readable passports. Only British citizens are entitled to travel on the Visa Waiver Pilot Program.

British subjects and British nationals are identified in U.K. passports as "British National Overseas Citizens," "British Overseas Citizens," "British Subjects," British Dependent Territories Citizens," and British Protected Persons." Bearers of these passports in these categories are not entitled to travel on the Visa Waiver Pilot Program. Also, bearers of passports in these categories may or may not have the right of abode or indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom. The document will indicate if the bearer has the right of abode or indefinite leave to remain.

British subjects (persons born in former British territory before 1949 who have no other nationality) and British nationals are entitled to British passports, but not necessarily to the right of abode in the United Kingdom. British subjects born in Ireland, however, do have the right of abode in the United Kingdom. Irish-born British subjects (bearers of British passports) and other British subjects and British nationals who have the right of abode (or indefinite leave to remain) in the United Kingdom should be granted the same reciprocity as U.K. citizens. British subjects and British nationals who do not have the right of abode or indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom should be issued visas according to the reciprocity schedule of their country of birth, unless, like Hong Kong, there is a separate reciprocity schedule.

The following chart depicts the reciprocity for bearers of British passports:

British Citizens U.K. reciprocity, VWPP
Irish-born British subjects (Have right of abode in the U.K.) U.K. reciprocity
Other British subjects and nationals who have leave to remain on right of abode U.K. reciprocity
Other British subjects and nationals who do not have leave to remain or right of abode in the U.K. Reciprocity of country of birth
Hong Kong-born British subjects and nationals (British passports) Hong Kong reciprocity
Other Records

Not applicable

Visa Issuing Posts

London, England (Embassy)

Mailing Address:
PSC 801 Box 6
FPO AE 09498-4006

Street Address:
24 Grosvenor Square
London W1A 1AE

Tel: 011-44- 20-7499-9000

Fax: 011-44-20-7495-5012

Belfast, Northern Ireland (Consulate General)

Mailing Address:
PSC 801 Box 40
FPO AE 09498-4040

Street Address:
U.S. Consulate General Belfast
Danesfort House
223 Stranmillis Road
Belfast BT9 5GR
Country Antrim
Northern Ireland

Tel: 44-2890-386100

Fax: 44-2890-687773

Visa Services

U.S. Embassy London provides immigrant visas for:

  • England
  • Scotland
  • Wales and Northern Ireland (including the Isle of Man, the Isle of Wight, the Isles of Scilly, and the Channel Islands.)
  • Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas and Ascension.

London also provides nonimmigrant visas for all of the above except for Northern Ireland which is served by Belfast.

The Northern Ireland area includes the countries of:

  • Antrim
  • Armagh
  • Down
  • Londonderry
  • Tyrone
  • Fermanagh

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC 1-800-997-6465 1-800-998-6465

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy London
24 Grosvenor Square
London, W1A 2LQ
United Kingdom
Telephone
+(44)(20) 7499-9000
Emergency
+(44)(20) 7499-9000
Fax
+(44) (20) 7495-5012
United Kingdom Country Map

Learn about your destination
Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

Country Information

United Kingdom
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

Must be valid for duration of your stay (six months remaining validity recommended)

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

1 page

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

Not required for stays under 90 days

VACCINATIONS:

None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

None

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

None

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy London

24 Grosvenor Square
London, W1A 2LQ
United Kingdom
Telephone: +(44)(20) 7499-9000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(44)(20) 7499-9000
Fax: +(44) (20) 7495-5012

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Edinburgh, Scotland
3 Regent Terrace,
Edinburgh EH7 5BW
Scotland
Telephone: 013-1556-8315 / from the United States: 011 (44)(13) 1556-8315
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 020-7499-9000 / from the United States: 011 (44)(20) 7499-9000
Fax: 0131-557-6023 /from the United States: 011 (44) 131-557-6023

U.S. Consulate General Belfast, Northern Ireland
Danesfort House, 223 Stranmillis Road,
Belfast BT9 5GR
Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Telephone: 028-9038-6100 / from the United States: 011 (44)(28) 9038-6100
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 01253-501106 / from the United States: 011 (44) 1253-501106
Fax: 028-9068-1301 / from the United States: 011 (44)(28) 9068-1301
Email: ConsularBelfast@state.gov

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Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on the United Kingdom for information on U.S.-United Kingdom relations. 

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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements
  • No minimum passport validity is required for U.S. citizens entering the United Kingdom (UK).
  • Travelers transiting through the UK on their way to a continental European country should have six months remaining validity in their passport. Please see our Schengen Fact Sheet for additional details.
  • Visas for specific categories of visitors must be obtained prior to travel. Visit the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) website to determine if you need a visa to enter the United Kingdom. We cannot intervene on your behalf when applying for a visa nor can we assist you if you are denied entry into the United Kingdom.  
  • Students and prospective students should visit the UKVI website to determine if they need a visa.
  • Unpaid and paid workers, interns, volunteers, charity workers, and temporary workers can find information about obtaining a visa on the UKVI website.
  • Visitors traveling to the United Kingdom to get married, even if they do not plan to reside there, must obtain a visa in advance. See the UKVI website for visa information.
  • Surcharges apply to certain categories of visas, generally those involving work, study, or residency for more than six months. More information is available on the UKVI website and in our Health section below.

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of the United Kingdom.

Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

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Safety and Security

Credible information indicates terrorist groups continue plotting possible near-term attacks in Europe. All European countries remain potentially vulnerable to attacks from transnational terrorist organizations. The UK Security Service, commonly known as MI5, publishes specific reasons for any changes in the threat level and recommended actions for the public via its UK threat levels website.

There is the potential for isolated violence related to the political situation in Northern Ireland. The Police Service of Northern Ireland assesses there is a continued threat of violence from dissident republicans in Northern Ireland, focused primarily on police and military targets, and may involve the use of firearms and explosives. Tensions may be heightened during the summer marching season (April to August), particularly during the month of July (around the July 12 public holiday).

Avoid areas of demonstrations if possible, and be careful within the vicinity of demonstrations. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate to violence.  Stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of your surroundings.

The phone number for police/fire/ambulance emergency services – the equivalent of 911 in the United States – is 999 in the United Kingdom and 112 in Gibraltar. You should also use this number to report security threats or suspicious packages.

Crime: The United Kingdom and Gibraltar generally have low crime rates.

  • Be cautious and aware of your surroundings.
  • Be vigilant, as pickpocketing, mugging and “snatch and grab” theft of mobile phones, watches and jewelry can occur.
  • Do not leave bags unattended in restaurants, pubs, hotel lobbies, and parked cars.
  • Be alert to other criminal schemes, such as impostors posing as undercover police officers and “fining” tourists for bogus minor offenses. A legitimate Metropolitan Police Services officer will never demand an immediate cash payment.
  • Use only licensed Black Cabs or pre-ordered car services (minicabs). Unlicensed taxis or private cars posing as taxis may offer low fares, but in some instances, travelers have been robbed or sexually assaulted while using these cars. The Safer Travel at Night partnership among the Metropolitan Police, Transport for London, and the mayor of London maintains a website with additional information on cabs and car services.
  • Avoid using ATMs that look temporary in structure or location or are located in isolated areas – they may not be legitimate. Use ATMs located inside a bank branch.
  • Scams: Before sending any money to individuals you have never met in person, visit the Embassy London blog website for more information about internet financial scams and how to protect yourself. Financial crimes conducted over the internet have increased dramatically in the United Kingdom as scammers attempt to convince you to send them money. These fraudulent schemes can include:
    • Lotteries
    • Online dating/social networking services
    • Inheritance notices
    • Work permits/job offers
    • Bank overpayments
    • Schemes that make it appear you are helping a loved one or a friend in trouble

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for information on scams.

Victims of Crime: Report crimes to the local police at 999 (United Kingdom) or 112 (Gibraltar) and contact the U.S. Embassy at +(44) (20) 7499-9000.

  • Local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide information on victim’s compensation and support in the United Kingdom:
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support if you are destitute
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.

For further information:

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Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. A U.S. passport will not protect you from being arrested, prosecuted, or jailed.

Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the U.S., regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

  • You will be arrested if you bring pocket knives, blades, mace or pepper spray canisters, and any part of a gun into the United Kingdom. Please refer to the Travelling to the UK publication, which details the items visitors are prohibited from bringing into the United Kingdom.
  • Penalties against alcohol-related and other in-flight crimes (“air rage”) to and from the United Kingdom are stiff and are enforced with prison sentences. Please also see our information on U.S. customs regulations covering your return to the United States.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.

Special Circumstances:

  • The legal drinking age in the United Kingdom is 18 years of age. Parents and organizers of school trips should read our Students Abroad website to help plan a safe and enjoyable experience.
  • Scotland’s “drink drive limit” law was amended to a lower level and is stricter than the rest of the United Kingdom. This means that driving after even one drink can result in a driving under the influence charge.
  • The United Kingdom has very strict gun control laws and importing firearms is extremely complicated. Information on applying for a firearm and/or shotgun certificate can be found on the London Metropolitan Police Firearms licensing webpage. Licenses from England or Wales may not be valid in Scotland; please check with the appropriate authorities. For firearms certificates for Scotland, please check with Police Scotland.

Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in the United Kingdom. 

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from the United States.

  • UK law requires that all public service providers (except in the transportation sector) make “reasonable adjustments” to ensure their services are available to persons with disabilities. Nevertheless, code exemptions permit many older buildings to have steps up from the street.
  • Getting around in cities may be difficult at times because sidewalks can be narrow and uneven.
  • Most London Underground and UK National Rail System stations are not readily accessible for people with disabilities. Very few stations have elevators, and most have stairways and long corridors for changing trains or exiting to the street. However, many UK buses are equipped with lowering platforms for limited-mobility or sight or hearing disabled travelers.
  • Many taxis have swivel entry seats or retractable ramps to ease entry.

The Transport for London and National Rail websites provide information for passengers with disabilities.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for women travelers.

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Health

While medical services are widely available, free medical care under the National Health System (NHS) is allowed only for UK residents, certain EU nationals, and some visa holders. 

An NHS surcharge is assessed on certain visa applicants at the time of application. Tourists and short-term visitors will not be assessed the surcharge, but will be charged 150 percent of the cost of any medical treatment they receive from the NHS. Unpaid balances of £1,000 or more can result in being barred from return to the United Kingdom.

  • The U.S. government does not pay medical bills, and U.S. Medicare is not valid overseas.  

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage

Carry prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Certain prescriptions available in the United States are classed as narcotics in the United Kingdom and not available. 

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

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Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Road conditions in the United Kingdom can differ significantly from those in the United States.  UK penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs are stiff and often result in prison sentences.

  • In contrast to the United States, UK traffic drives on the left. Read the Highway Code before driving.
  • Emergency call boxes (orange telephone booths with “SOS” printed on them) are found at half-mile intervals along motorways. White and blue poles point in the direction of the nearest call box. Call boxes dial directly to a motorway center. Use these phones rather than a personal cell phone, because motorway center personnel will immediately know your exact location.
  • Generally, pedestrians do not have the right of way and should not expect vehicles to stop for them.

Many U.S. citizen pedestrians are injured, some fatally, every year in the United Kingdom, because they forget that oncoming traffic approaches from the opposite direction than in the United States. Exercise extra care when crossing streets; remain alert and look both ways before stepping into the street.

Traffic Laws:

  • Using a hand-held cell phones or similar device while driving is illegal in the United Kingdom. Only hands-free phones may be used. You will be fined, or in the case of an accident, arrested and serve time in prison.
  • The speed limit on highways/motorways in the United Kingdom is 70 mph.
  • You will be detained and arrested if you cannot provide a UK address to receive a subpoena or are about to depart the United Kingdom and have to be brought to court quickly for a motoring offense.
  • In Central London, a congestion charge is levied on all drivers who pass through the zone. You will be fined or arrested if you do not pay the charge. See Transport for London for more information about driving in London.

Public Transportation: Public transport in the United Kingdom is extensive.

  • Information on disruptions to London transportation services can be found on the  Transport for London website.
  • Information about the status of National Rail Services can be found on the National Rail Enquiries website.
  • Bus and train service information in Northern Ireland can be found on the Translink website.
  • Bus and train service information in Scotland can be found on the Traveline Scotland website.

See our Road Safety page for more information. For specific information concerning UK driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance, refer to the UK Department for Transport website or the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency website.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of the United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of United Kingdom’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to the United Kingdom should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts at www.marad.dot.gov/msci.  Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website (https://homeport.uscg.mil), and the NGA broadcast warnings website https://msi.nga.mil/NGAPortal/MSI.portal (select “broadcast warnings”).

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy London

24 Grosvenor Square
London, W1A 2LQ
United Kingdom
Telephone: +(44)(20) 7499-9000
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(44)(20) 7499-9000
Fax: +(44) (20) 7495-5012

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Edinburgh, Scotland
3 Regent Terrace,
Edinburgh EH7 5BW
Scotland
Telephone: 013-1556-8315 / from the United States: 011 (44)(13) 1556-8315
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 020-7499-9000 / from the United States: 011 (44)(20) 7499-9000
Fax: 0131-557-6023 /from the United States: 011 (44) 131-557-6023

U.S. Consulate General Belfast, Northern Ireland
Danesfort House, 223 Stranmillis Road,
Belfast BT9 5GR
Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Telephone: 028-9038-6100 / from the United States: 011 (44)(28) 9038-6100
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: 01253-501106 / from the United States: 011 (44) 1253-501106
Fax: 028-9068-1301 / from the United States: 011 (44)(28) 9068-1301
Email: ConsularBelfast@state.gov

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General Information

 

The United Kingdom (UK) and the United States have been treaty partners under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention) since July 1, 1988.

For information concerning travel to the UK, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for the UK. 

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA).  The report is located here.

 

 

 

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Hague Abduction Convention

 

The U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention.  In this capacity, the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children's Issues facilitates the submission of applications under the Hague Abduction Convention for the return of, or access to, children located in countries that are U.S. treaty partners, including the UK.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.

Contact information:

United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone:  1-888-407-4747
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
Website

The UK has separate Hague Abduction Convention central authorities for England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the Isle of Man.  The Central Authority for England and Wales is the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit.  The Central Authority for Scotland is the European Union (EU) and International Law Branch.  The Central Authority for Northern Ireland is the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunal Service, Central Business Unit.  The Central Authority for the Isle of Man is the Attorney General.  All four central authorities have an administrative role in processing Hague Abduction Convention applications.

The UK Central Authority can be reached at:

England and Wales:
The International Child Abduction and Contact Unit
Office of the Official Solicitor
Victory House, 30-34 Kingsway
London WC2B 6EX
DX 141423 Bloomsbury 7
United Kingdom
Tel:  +44 (20) 3681-2608
Fax:  +44 (20) 3681-2763
Website

Scotland:
Scottish Government
EU & International Law Branch
2W St. Andrew's House
Edinburgh EH1 3DG
Scotland, UK
Tel:  +44 (131) 244-4827
Fax:  +44 (131) 244-4848

Website

 

Northern Ireland:
Northern Ireland Courts & Tribunals Service
Central Business Unit
3rd Floor
Laganside House
23-27 Oxford Street
Belfast BT1 3LA
Northern Ireland, UK
Tel:  +44 (28) 9072-8808 
Fax:  +44 (28) 9072-8945
Email:  businessdevelopmentgroup@courts.ni.gsi.gov.uk
Website

Isle of Man:
Attorney General's Chambers
3rd Floor, St. Mary's Court
Hill Street
Douglas
Isle of Man IM1 1EU
British Isles
Email:  ChildAbduction@attgen.gov.im

To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in the UK, parents may submit a Hague application to the USCA or the relevant central authority in the UK.  The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the relevant central authority in the UK, and to subsequently monitor its progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes. 

There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the U.S. or the UK central authorities.  All four central authorities in the UK assign a solicitor (attorney) to represent parents or legal guardians making an application for return or access under the Hague Abduction Convention.  For applications for return, all four central authorities provide pro bono (no fee) legal assistance.  In access cases, applicants are responsible for legal fees if they do not qualify for legal aid.  Additional costs may include airplane tickets for court appearances and for the return of the child, if so ordered.

 

 

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Return

A parent or legal guardian may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for return to the United States of a child abducted to, or wrongfully retained in, the UK.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand whether the Convention is an available civil remedy and can provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Visitation/Access

A person may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in the UK.  The criteria for acceptance of a Hague access application vary from country to country.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand country-specific criteria and provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Retaining an Attorney

Parents do not need to retain a private solicitor in the UK to submit a Hague Abduction Convention application for return or access. All four of the central authorities in the UK will assign a solicitor to represent parents making these applications. Parents may still retain a private solicitor to pursue their applications. However, if that solicitor is not included on the relevant central authority's list of contracting solicitors, the Central Authority will not open a case, and it may be difficult for the USCA to monitor the application.

The U.S. Embassy in London, UK, posts a list of attorneys in England and Wales, including those who specialize in family law.

The U.S. Consulate General in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, posts a list of attorneys.

For information on attorneys in Northern Ireland, parents can contact the U.S. Consulate General in Belfast using the contact information listed on the Consulate's website.

For information on attorneys on the Isle of Man, parents can contact the Attorney General's Office by calling +44 (0) 1624 685452 or by consulting the lawyers list of Reunite International.

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the persons or firms included in this list. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

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Mediation

All four central authorities in the UK encourage mediation for all Hague Abduction Convention applications, and both parties are given the opportunity to come to a mutual agreement before the application goes to court. In general, the parties' solicitors are responsible for facilitating mediation. The UK central authorities, except for the Isle of Man, do not play an active role in this process.

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country.  It is important for parents to understand that, although a left behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.   For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney when planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
Yes
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Both adoptions to the United States from United Kingdom and from the United States to United Kingdom are possible.
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
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Hague Convention Information

United Kingdom is a party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention or Convention). Intercountry adoption processing in Convention countries must be done in accordance with the requirements of the Hague Adoption Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA); and the IAA’s implementing regulations; as well as the implementing legislation and regulations of United Kingdom.

The UK is generally not considered a country of origin in intercountry adoption. Most intercountry adoptions in the UK are by UK residents who adopt from other countries however it is possible to adopt a child from the UK through intercountry adoption. The information provided below is intended primarily to assist in rare adoption cases from the UK, including adoptions of UK children by relatives in the United States. This information may also be useful to U.S. citizens living in the UK considering adoptions from the UK or other countries.

Note: If any of the following occurred prior to April 1, 2008, (the date on which the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force with respect to the United States), the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption: 1) you filed a Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, identifying United Kingdom as the country where you intended to adopt and the approval is still valid; 2) you filed a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, on behalf of a child from United Kingdom, or 3) the adoption was completed. Under these circumstances, your adopted child’s adoption could continue to be processed as a non- Convention intercountry adoption, provided the child’s country of origin agrees. For more information, read about Hague Transition Cases. Please contact adoption@state.gov with the details of the case if this situation applies to you.

U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS

To bring an adopted child to the United States from United Kingdom, you must meet certain suitability and eligibility requirements. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), determines who is suitable and eligible to adopt a child from another country and bring that child to live in the United States under U.S. immigration law.

Additionally, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law in order to immigrate to the United States with an IH-3 or IH-4 immigrant visa.

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Who Can Adopt

In addition to being found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS, prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt a child from United Kingdom must meet the following requirements of United Kingdom:

  • Residency: UK residency is not a requirement for adoptions where the UK is the state of origin. Prospective adoptive parents may apply for a Convention adoption order in the UK once they have lived with the child for a minimum of 10 weeks. If they intend to adopt in the United States, they should apply to a UK court for an order under section 84 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002, which confers parental responsibility on the applicant and allows them to remove the child for the purposes of adoption.

    The UK adoption law permits U.S. citizens resident in the UK for at least one year to apply to adopt from other countries through the UK intercountry adoption process. These prospective adoptive parents may contact the relevant city or county council that is the local child welfare authority for the area of their residence, or a registered voluntary adoption agency, in order to initiate the process. The UK Central Authority does not make habitual residence determinations to establish whether prospective adoptive parents may apply for a Hague Convention Adoption through the UK. We recommend that U.S. citizens adopting through the Hague Convention process in the UK seek private legal guidance regarding their habitual residence status in addition to reaching out to the local authorities in the UK.
  • Age of Adopting Parents: Applicants must be at least 21 years old to adopt. The United Kingdom does not have a statutory upper age limit. However, in making decisions on adoptive placements, each council or local authority has the power to consider age as a factor in determining whether placement with a prospective adoptive parent is in the best interest of the child.
  • Marriage: Married or single persons may apply to adopt. Married couples must adopt jointly unless one partner cannot be found, is incapable of making an application, or if a separation is likely to be permanent. Unmarried couples may not adopt jointly, although one partner of that couple may adopt as a single parent. Adoption by gay or lesbian married couples and/or single persons is permitted under U.K. law.
  • Income: There are no specific income requirements related to adoption.
  • Other: None.
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Who Can Be Adopted

Because United Kingdom is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from United Kingdom must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for intercountry adoption. For example, the adoption may take place only if the competent authorities of United Kingdom have determined that placement of the child within United Kingdom has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests.

In addition to qualifying as a Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law, a child must meet the following requirements of United Kingdom:

  • Relinquishment or Abandonment: Birthparents or legal guardians must consent, except in cases where consent may be waived. A court ruling declaring adoptability is also required for a child to be eligible for adoption. The birth mother is not considered legally competent to give consent to her baby’s placement for adoption until the child is six weeks old.
  • Age of Adoptive Child: A child can be adopted until age 19, provided that the appropriate UK authorities receive the application for adoption before the child reaches age 18. Please note that in order for a child to meet the definition of Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law, a Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, must be filed on the child’s behalf while the child is under the age of 16 (or under the age of 18 if the child is the birth sibling of another adopted child who has immigrated or will immigrate based on adoption by the same adoptive parent(s)). Please see the USCIS website for special rules on filing dates for children aged 15-16 or siblings aged 17-18.
  • Sibling Adoptions: There are no specific legal requirements. The local authority gives consideration to adoption of siblings together on a case by case basis depending on the needs of the children.
  • Special Needs or Medical Conditions: There are no specific legal requirements. The local authority assesses the ability of the prospective adoptive parents to care for a particular child’s needs during the adoption process.
  • Waiting Period or Foster Care: There is a mandatory 10-week pre-adoptive care period in each adoption case. Prospective adoptive parent(s) generally should plan to remain in the UK for the 10-week period.

    In certain circumstances a child may be placed by the UK authorities with relatives who live abroad under a fostering arrangement prior to possible adoption. In these cases, if the child’s legal custodians wish to travel to the United States with the child then they may apply at the U.S. Embassy in London for a B-2 non-immigrant visa for the child to travel to the United States during the pre-adoptive care period.

    Note: U.S. immigration law applies to the issuance of non-immigrant visas. There is no guarantee that the child will qualify for a non-immigrant visa, nor is it advisable for the child to travel under the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA) during the pre-adoptive care period. In order to be eligible for a non-immigrant B-2 visa or travel under the Visa Waiver Program, the child must have a residence abroad that he or she has no intention of abandoning and cannot be an intending immigrant who is coming to live permanently in the United States.
  • Other: A person cannot be adopted if he or she is married.

Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are available for adoption. In many countries, birth parents place their child(ren) temporarily in an orphanage or children’s home due to financial or other hardship, intending that the child return home when possible. In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to the adoption of their child(ren).

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How to Adopt

Warning: Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in United Kingdom before: 1) USCIS has approved your Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country, 2) the Central Authority of United Kingdom has determined the child is available for intercountry adoption, 3) USCIS has provisionally approved your Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, and 4) a U.S. consular officer has issued an “Article 5/17 Letter” in the case. Read on for more information.

United Kingdom’s Central Adoption Authority

The Department for Education

The Department for Education is the UK Central Authority for the Hague Adoption Convention and is responsible for children’s social services, including adoption policy. However, each adoption case is handled by the relevant council or voluntary adoption agency in the area where the adoptive child is located. Contact information for the local councils and local adoption agencies is available on the Department for Education’s webpage A guide to intercountry adoption: Apply to adopt a child through your council, and Apply to adopt a child through a voluntary adoption agency.

Complete contact information for the Department for Education is listed below.

Note: Special transition provisions may apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Read about Hague Transition Cases.

The Process

Because United Kingdom is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adoptions from United Kingdom must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is provided below. You must complete these steps in the following order to meet all necessary legal requirements. Adoptions completed out of order may result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa to the United States.

  1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider to Act as Your Primary Provider (That Has Been Authorized by United Kingdom’s Central Authority to Operate in United Kingdom)
  2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt (Form I-800A)
  3. Apply to United Kingdom’s Authorities to Adopt and Be Matched with a Child
  4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Provisionally Eligible for Immigration to the United States as a Convention Adoptee (Form I-800) and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption (Art. 5/17 letter)
  5. Adopt the Child in United Kingdom (or Obtain Legal Custody of the Child for Purposes of Emigration and Adoption)
  6. Obtain a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home

1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider to Act as Your Primary Provider (That Has Been Authorized by United Kingdom’s Central Authority] to Operate in United Kingdom)

The first step in adopting a child from United Kingdom is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide services to U.S. citizens in Convention cases (and that has been authorized by the Government of United Kingdom). A primary provider must be identified in each Convention case and only accredited or approved adoption service providers may act as the primary provider in your case. Your primary provider is responsible for:

  • Ensuring that all six adoption services defined at 22 CFR 96.2 are provided consistent with applicable laws and regulations;
  • Supervising and being responsible for supervised providers where used (see 22 CFR 96.14); and
  • Developing and implementing a service plan in accordance with 22 CFR 96.44.

Learn more about Agency Accreditation.

2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt

After you choose an accredited or approved adoption service provider, you must be found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS by submitting Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country. You will need to submit a home study, fingerprints, and a background check as part of this application. Read more about Suitability and Eligibility Requirements.

3. Apply to United Kingdom’s Authorities to Adopt and be Matched with a Child

Submit Your Dossier to the Central Authority
After USCIS determines that you are suitable and eligible to adopt and approves the Form I-800A application, your adoption service provider will provide your approval notice, home study, and any other required information to the adoption authority in United Kingdom as part of your adoption application. United Kingdom’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also suitable and eligible to adopt under United Kingdom’s law.

Receive a Referral for a Child from the Central Authority
If both the United States and United Kingdom determine that you are suitable and eligible to adopt, and United Kingdom’s Central Authority for Convention adoptions has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the Central Authority for Convention adoptions in United Kingdom may provide you with a referral for a child. The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of the child. The adoption authority in United Kingdom will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral or not. We encourage families to consult with a medical professional and their adoption service provider to understand the needs of the specific child but family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of, and provide a permanent home for, a specific child and must conform to the recommendations in the home study submitted to USCIS for the number of children and capacity to deal with any special needs of an adoptive child Learn more about Health Considerations. If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates that to the central authority in United Kingdom. Learn more about this critical decision.

4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Provisionally Eligible for Immigration to the United States as a Convention Adoptee and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption

Submit a Petition for a Determination on the Child’s Immigration Eligibility
After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to USCIS for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States by filing the Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative. USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child appears to meet the definition of a Convention adoptee and will likely be eligible to enter and remain in the United States.

Submit an Immigrant Visa Application
After provisional approval of Form I-800 petition, you or your adoption service provider will submit a visa application to the consular section of the U.S. Embassy in London responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from United Kingdom.

You should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the provisionally approved Form I-800 petition and assigning a case number and an invoice ID number. Use this information to log into the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) to file the Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) for your child. An adoptive parent should fill out these forms in your child's name. Answer every item on the form. If information is not applicable, please write “N/A” in the block. Please review the DS-260 FAQs, our Online Immigrant Visa Forms page, or contact the NVC at NVCAdoptions@state.gov or +1-603-334-0700 if you have questions about completing the online DS-260 form. A consular officer will review the provisionally approved Form I-800 petition and the visa application and, if applicable, advises you of options for the waiver of any ineligibilities related to the visa application.

The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5/17 Letter”) to United Kingdom’s Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from United Kingdom if all Convention requirements are met and the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter will inform the United Kingdom’s Central Authority that the parents are suitable and eligible to adopt, that the child appears eligible to enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.

Warning: Do not attempt to adopt (or obtain custody) of a child in United Kingdom before you receive provisional approval of your Form I-800 petition AND a U.S. consular officer issues the “Article 5/17 Letter” for your adoption case.

Remember: The consular officer will make a final decision about a child’s eligibility for an immigrant visa later in the adoption process.

5. Adopt the Child in United Kingdom (or Obtain Legal Custody of Child for Purposes of Emigration and Adoption of the Child)

Remember: Before you adopt (or obtain legal custody of) a child in United Kingdom, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps can you proceed to finalize the adoption (or a grant of legal custody by United Kingdom for the purposes of emigration and adoption).

The process for finalizing the adoption (or obtaining legal custody) in United Kingdom generally includes the following:

  • Role of Adoption Authority: The Department for Education (DfE) is the central government department responsible for adoption policy and legislation. The DfE also has a role in the processing of intercountry adoption cases. The DfE issues Certificates of Eligibility for all non-Hague Convention adoption applications made by prospective adoptive parents habitually resident in the U.K. For adoptions completed under the Hague Convention, the DfE only processes applications for England. The Devolved Administrations in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the Isle of Man Government each have their own Central Authorities under the Hague Convention and process casework for applicants in their respective countries.
  • Role of the Court: The court is responsible for making legal rulings on adoption applications including an order under section 84 giving parental responsibility. An application for an adoption order will usually start in a Family court. However, every case is different and the court's decision about the next steps will depend on the details of the application.
  • Role of Adoption Agencies: In the UK, all local councils have a statutory responsibility to provide adoption services. In addition to the local council, there are a number of voluntary adoption agencies that also provide an adoption service. For a listing of adoption agencies, see Apply to adopt a child through a voluntary adoption agency.
  • Time Frame: There is no standard time frame.
  • Adoption Application: Please see A Guide to Intercountry Adoption for UK Residents linked to the webpage A guide to intercountry adoption on the Department for Education website for detailed information on preparing an application for intercountry adoption.
  • Adoption Fees: There are no specific costs set by the UK government.

    Prospective adoptive parents are advised to obtain detailed receipts for all fees and donations paid, either directly or through your U.S. adoption service provider, and to raise any concerns regarding any payment that you believe may be contrary to the Convention, U.S. law, or the law of United Kingdom with your adoption service provider. Please also refer to information concerning the Hague Complaint Registry. Improper payments may have the appearance of buying a child, violate applicable law, and could put all future adoptions in United Kingdom at risk. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, for instance, makes it unlawful to bribe foreign government officials to obtain or retain business. Further, the IAA makes it unlawful to improperly influence relinquishment of parental rights, parental consent relating to adoption of a child, or a decision by an entity performing Central Authority functions.

    In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.
  • Documents Required: Adoptive parents must provide the following:
    • A detailed home study complete by and approved adoption agency;
    • Medical clearance;
    • Full police background check

    Note: Additional documents may be requested.
  • Authentication of Documents: You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic. If so, the Department of State, Authentications Office has information on the subject.

    Note: The United States and the United Kingdom are parties to the Hague Apostille Convention. U.S. public documents may be authenticated with Apostilles by the appropriate U.S. Competent Authority.

6. Obtain a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home

Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child for the purposes of emigration and adoption of the child in the United States), there are a few more steps to take before your child can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:

Birth Certificate
If you have finalized the adoption in United Kingdom, you will first need to apply for a birth certificate for your child so that you can later apply for a passport.

If you have been granted custody for the purposes of emigration and adoption of the child in the United States, the birth certificate you obtain will, in most cases, not yet include your name.

Adoptive parents may obtain UK Certificates of Adoption, the equivalent of a birth certificate issued in an adopted person’s new name from the General Register Office, Adoptions Section, Room C202, Trafalgar Road, Southport PR8 2HH. The short form birth certificate will be sent approximately six weeks after the court hearing. If a long form birth certificate is required the adopting parent will need to request one from the General Register Office, at the following website: gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/default.asp.

United Kingdom Passport
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from United Kingdom.

Information on how to obtain a U.K. child’s passport can be found on the following website: ips.gov.uk/passport/apply-child.asp.

U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to finalize your application for a U.S. visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in London. After the adoption (or custody for purposes of emigration and adoption) is granted, visit the U.S Embassy for a final review of the case, and if applicable, the issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Certificate, the final approval of the Form I-800 petition, and to obtain your child’s immigrant visa. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you and be admitted to the United States as your child. As part of this process, you must provide the consular officer with the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child if you did not provide it during the provisional approval stage. Read more about the Medical Examination.

Before coming for your child’s immigrant visa interview, please be sure to complete an Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) online at the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC). You should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the provisionally approved Form I-800 petition and assigning a case number and an invoice ID number. You will need this information to log into CEAC to file the DS-260 for your child. An adoptive parent should fill out these forms in your child's name. Answer every item on the form. If information is not applicable, please write “N/A” in the block. Print and bring the DS-260 form confirmation page to the visa interview. Please review the DS-260 FAQs, our Online Immigrant Visa Forms page, or contact the NVC at NVCAdoptions@state.gov or +1-603-334 -0700 if you have questions about completing the online DS-260 form.

Visa issuance after the final interview generally takes at least 24 hours. It is usually not possible to provide a visa on the same day as the immigrant visa interview. Adoptive parents should verify current processing times with the U.S. Embassy in London before making final travel arrangements.

Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: An adopted child residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence generally will acquire U.S. citizenship automatically upon entry into the United States if the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, including the child is under the age of eighteen.

For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States: You will need to complete an adoption following your child’s entry into the United States and before the child turns eighteen for the child (if he or she otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000) to automatically acquire U.S. citizenship.

Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

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Traveling Abroad

Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Once your child has acquired U.S. citizenship, s/he will need a U.S. passport for any international travel. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.

Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Department of State’s Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.

Obtaining a Visa to Travel to United Kingdom
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa to travel abroad. Where required, visas are affixed to a traveler’s passport and allow him or her to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for United Kingdom, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.

Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country in the world about various issues, including health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.

Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State through our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country. Enrollment makes it possible for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in United Kingdom, to contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in United Kingdom, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

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After Adoption

Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements
Once an adoption order has been granted, you are legally the child’s parent with the same rights and responsibilities as if they were born to you. Post-adoption reporting requirements will be determined by a UK local authority.

We urge you to comply with United Kingdom’s post-adoption/post-placement requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption service provider may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to that United Kingdom’s history of positive experiences with U.S. citizen adoptive parents.

Post-Adoption Resources
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services. Your primary provider can provide or point you to post- placement/post-adoption services to help your adopted child and your family transition smoothly and deal effectively with the many adjustments required in an intercountry adoption.

Here are some places to start your support group search:

Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of content.

Complaints

If you have concerns about your adoption process, we ask that you share this information with the Embassy in London, particularly if it involves possible fraud or misconduct specific to your child’s case. The Department of State takes all allegations of fraud or misconduct seriously.

Our Adoption Comment Page provides several points of contact for adoptive families to comment on their adoption service provider, their experience applying for their child’s visa, or about the Form I-800 petition process.

The Hague Complaint Registry is an internet based registry for filing complaints about U.S. accredited or approved adoption service providers. If you think your provider's conduct may have been out of substantial compliance with accreditation standards, first submit your complaint in writing directly to your provider. If the complaint is not resolved through the provider's complaint process, you may file the complaint through the Hague Complaint Registry.

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Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in United Kingdom
24 Grosvenor Square
London, W1K6AH, United Kingdom
Tel: (44) (0) 20 7499-9000
Internet: uk.usembassy.gov

United Kingdom’s Adoption Authority
The Department for Education
Intercountry Adoption Team
Level 0
Bishopsgate House
Feethams
Darlington DL15QE
Tel: 0379-0002288
Email: DARLINGTON.ICA@education.gsi.gov.uk
Internet: www.gov.uk/topic/schools-colleges-childrens-services/adoption-fostering

Embassy of United Kingdom
The British Embassy
3100 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel: (202) 588-7800
Internet: ukinusa.fco.gov.uk.com/

United Kingdom also has consulates in: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20522-1709
Tel: 1-888-407-4747
Email: Adoption@state.gov
Internet: adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
Internet: uscis.gov

For questions about filing a Form I-800A application or a Form I-800 petition:
USCIS National Benefits Center (NBC)
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
Email: NBC.Hague@uscis.dhs.gov

Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 60 Months
A-2 None Multiple 60 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1 None Multiple 120 Months
B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
C-1 None Multiple 120 Months
C-1/D None Multiple 120 Months
C-2 None Multiple 12 Months
C-3 None Multiple 60 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 120 Months
E-1 2 None Multiple 60 Months
E-2 2 $105.00 A Multiple 60 Months
E-2C 12 None Multiple 12 Months
F-1 None Multiple 60 Months
F-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-1 None Multiple 60 Months
G-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-3 None Multiple 60 Months
G-4 None Multiple 60 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 24 Months
H-1B None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-1C None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2A None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2B None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2R None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-4 None Multiple 60 Months 3
I None Multiple 60 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 60 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 60 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 None Multiple 60 Months
L-2 $105.00 A Multiple 60 Months
M-1 None Multiple 60 Months
M-2 None Multiple 60 Months
N-8 None Multiple 60 Months
N-9 None Multiple 60 Months
NATO 1-6 10 None Multiple 60 Months
NATO-7 1 None Multiple 24 Months
O-1 None Multiple 60 Months 3
O-2 None Multiple 60 Months 3
O-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-1 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-2 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-4 None Multiple 60 Months 3
Q-1 6 None Multiple 15 Months 3
Q-2 6 None Multiple 36 Months
Q-3 6 None Multiple 36 Months
R-1 None Multiple 60 Months
R-2 None Multiple 60 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 120 Months
V-2 None Multiple 120 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 120 Months 8
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Country Specific Footnotes
  1. Fees for E-2 and L-2 visas apply to all persons, including spouses and children holding passports issued by United Kingdom issuing authorities, and do not apply to those persons with passports issued by authorities of British colonies or dependent territories. Fee is charged on a per individual basis.

    Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

     

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Visa Category Footnotes
  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

 

 

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General Documents

The publication "General Register Office Abstract of Arrangement Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths in the United Kingdom and Other Countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and in the Irish Republic" contains a great deal of pertinent information, and may prove of value as a reference to persons confronted with individual problems. It is published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 49 High Holborn, London WC1.

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth Certificate

  • England and Wales (including Scilly Isles and Isle of Wight): Available. Certificates of births, adoptions, deaths and marriages may be obtained from the General Register Office, Smedley Hydro, Trafalgar Road, Southport, Merseyside PR8 2HH, or from the local registrar's office in the district in which the birth, death or marriage was originally registered. Long-form birth certificates should be requested, as short-form birth certificates do not contain the parents' names.
  • Scotland: Available. Certificates of births, deaths, marriages and The Adopted Children's Register may be obtained from the Registrar General, New Register House, Edinburgh EH1 3YT, or from the Registrar's Office for the district in which the event occurred. Long-form birth certificates should be obtained as short-form certificates do not contain parents' names.
  • Northern Ireland: Available. Certificates of births, adoptions, deaths and marriages may be obtained from the Registrar General's Office, Oxford House, 49-65 Chichester Street, Belfast BT1 4UY or if registered before January 1, 1922, from the Registrar General, Dublin, Eire. Marriage certificates may also be obtained from the local registration office for the district in which the marriage was originally registered. Long-form birth certificates should be obtained as short-form birth certificates do not contain the parents' names.
  • Jersey: Available. Apply to: Superintendent Register, States Office, Royal Square, St. Helier, Jersey.
  • Guernsey, Sark, and Alderney: Available. Apply to: Registrar General's Office, Greffe, Guernsey.
  • Isle of Man: Available. Apply to Registrar General, General Registry Building, Douglas, Isle of Man.

Death/Burial Certificate

  • England and Wales (including Scilly Isles and Isle of Wight): Available. Certificates of births, adoptions, deaths and marriages may be obtained from the General Register Office, Smedley Hydro, Trafalgar Road, Southport, Merseyside PR8 2HH, or from the local registrar's office in the district in which the birth, death or marriage was originally registered. Long-form birth certificates should be requested, as short-form birth certificates do not contain the parents' names.
  • Scotland: Available. Certificates of births, deaths, marriages and The Adopted Children's Register may be obtained from the Registrar General, New Register House, Edinburgh EH1 3YT, or from the Registrar's Office for the district in which the event occurred. Long-form birth certificates should be obtained as short-form certificates do not contain parents' names.
  • Northern Ireland: Available. Certificates of births, adoptions, deaths and marriages may be obtained from the Registrar General's Office, Oxford House, 49-65 Chichester Street, Belfast BT1 4UY or if registered before January 1, 1922, from the Registrar General, Dublin, Eire. Marriage certificates may also be obtained from the local registration office for the district in which the marriage was originally registered. Long-form birth certificates should be obtained as short-form birth certificates do not contain the parents' names.
  • Jersey: Available. Apply to: Superintendent Register, States Office, Royal Square, St. Helier, Jersey.
  • Guernsey, Sark, and Alderney: Available. Apply to: Registrar General's Office, Greffe, Guernsey.
  • Isle of Man: Available. Apply to Registrar General, General Registry Building, Douglas, Isle of Man.
Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriage Certificate

  • England and Wales (including Scilly Isles and Isle of Wight): Available. Certificates of births, adoptions, deaths and marriages may be obtained from the General Register Office, Smedley Hydro, Trafalgar Road, Southport, Merseyside PR8 2HH, or from the local registrar's office in the district in which the birth, death or marriage was originally registered. Long-form birth certificates should be requested, as short-form birth certificates do not contain the parents' names.
  • Scotland: Available. Certificates of births, deaths, marriages and The Adopted Children's Register may be obtained from the Registrar General, New Register House, Edinburgh EH1 3YT, or from the Registrar's Office for the district in which the event occurred. Long-form birth certificates should be obtained as short-form certificates do not contain parents' names.
  • Northern Ireland: Available. Certificates of births, adoptions, deaths and marriages may be obtained from the Registrar General's Office, Oxford House, 49-65 Chichester Street, Belfast BT1 4UY or if registered before January 1, 1922, from the Registrar General, Dublin, Eire. Marriage certificates may also be obtained from the local registration office for the district in which the marriage was originally registered. Long-form birth certificates should be obtained as short-form birth certificates do not contain the parents' names.
  • Jersey: Available. Apply to: Superintendent Register, States Office, Royal Square, St. Helier, Jersey.
  • Guernsey, Sark, and Alderney: Available. Apply to: Registrar General's Office, Greffe, Guernsey.
  • Isle of Man: Available. Apply to Registrar General, General Registry Building, Douglas, Isle of Man.

Divorce Certificate

  • England and Wales (including Scilly Isles and Isle of Wight): Available. Copies of "Decrees Nisi" (preliminary) and "Decrees Absolute" (final) of divorces in England and Wales may be obtained from the Principal Register, Divorce Registry, Room G45, Somerset House, Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London WC2A 2LL.

    If the record is not held in the Principal Divorce Registry, the applicant will be notified of the address of the appropriate County Court from which to obtain the record.
  • Scotland: Available. If a divorce has taken place after May 1, 1984, a decree from the divorce is available from the Registrar General, New Register House, Edinburgh EH1 3YT. If the divorce took place before March, 1984, a decree from the divorce is available from the Deputy Clerk of Sessions, 1 Parliament Square, Edinburgh EH1 1RQ. A marriage extract issued by the Deputy Clerk of Sessions subsequent to the granting of a divorce in Scotland (of a marriage, which has taken place in Scotland,) will bear an endorsement relating to the divorce.
  • Northern Ireland: Available. Copies of "Decrees Nisi" (preliminary) and "Decrees Absolute" (final) of divorces obtained in Northern Ireland may be obtained from the Chief Registrar, Queen's Bench Division Matrimonial, Principal Probate Registry, Royal Courts of Justice, Chichester Street, Belfast BT1 3JF. While only a plain office copy of a "Decree Nisi" (preliminary) is supplied, a sealed and certified copy of a "Divorce Decree Absolute" (final) is obtainable.
  • Jersey: Available. Apply to: The Judicial Greffe. 16 Hill Street, St. Helier, Jersey.
  • Guernsey, Sark, and Alderney: Available. Apply to: Registrar General's Office, Greffe, Guernsey.
  • Isle of Man: Available. Apply to Registrar General, General Registry Building, Douglas, Isle of Man.
Adoption Certificates
  • England and Wales (including Scilly Isles and Isle of Wight): Available. Certificates of births, adoptions, deaths and marriages may be obtained from the General Register Office, Smedley Hydro, Trafalgar Road, Southport, Merseyside PR8 2HH, or from the local registrar's office in the district in which the birth, death or marriage was originally registered. Long-form birth certificates should be requested, as short-form birth certificates do not contain the parents' names.
  • Scotland: Available. Certificates of births, deaths, marriages and The Adopted Children's Register may be obtained from the Registrar General, New Register House, Edinburgh EH1 3YT, or from the Registrar's Office for the district in which the event occurred. Long-form birth certificates should be obtained as short-form certificates do not contain parents' names.
  • Northern Ireland: Available. Certificates of births, adoptions, deaths and marriages may be obtained from the Registrar General's Office, Oxford House, 49-65 Chichester Street, Belfast BT1 4UY or if registered before January 1, 1922, from the Registrar General, Dublin, Eire. Marriage certificates may also be obtained from the local registration office for the district in which the marriage was originally registered. Long-form birth certificates should be obtained as short-form birth certificates do not contain the parents' names.
  • Jersey: Available. Apply to: Superintendent Register, States Office, Royal Square, St. Helier, Jersey.
  • Guernsey, Sark, and Alderney: Available. Apply to: Registrar General's Office, Greffe, Guernsey.
  • Isle of Man: Available. Apply to Registrar General, General Registry Building, Douglas, Isle of Man.
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Identity Card

Unavailable.

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police Records

Available. Immigrant visa applicants who have resided in the United Kingdom for six months or more since the age of sixteen are required to obtain a Police Certificate from the Association of Chief Police Officers Criminal Records Office (ACRO). Applicants will find further guidance and application forms here.

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 enables some criminal convictions to become 'spent', or ignored, after a set length of time from the date of conviction. After this period, with certain exceptions, an ex-offender is not normally obliged to mention their conviction when applying for a job or obtaining insurance, or when involved in criminal or civil proceedings. The "No Live Trace" or "Further Information Stepped Down" response indicates that information is available relating to a 'spent' conviction. A "No Trace" response indicates a clean police record.

Applicants presenting “No Live Trace” or “Further Information Stepped Down” police records are encouraged to request and submit their Subject Access Record to facilitate visa processing.  Applicants are legally entitled to gain access to this information about themselves under Section 7 of the British Data Protection Act, 1998.

Prison Records

Unavailable.

Court Records

Available. Applicants may obtain court records (usually called "Memorandum of Conviction" in the United Kingdom), by writing to the Clerk of Court of the court (or courts) in which he or she was tried. This request must include as precise a date and place as possible.

Military Records

Available. Military discharge certificates are issued to enlisted personnel, non-commissioned personnel, and petty-officer personnel of the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines.

Officer personnel are not issued discharge certificates, but are usually able to obtain a letter from the appropriate office listed below confirming their release from the Armed Forces.

Details of service in the Armed Forces may be obtained as follows:

Force Address
Army MOD (M3) (A)
Army Records Office
Empress State Building
Bourne Avenue
Lillie Road
Hayes
London SW6 1TR
Middlesex ROYAL
Air Force - Officers

Ministry of Defence
Royal Air Force
Eastern Avenue
Records Office Gloucester
GL4 7TN 231
Nestles Avenue
Hayes, Middlesex

Air Force - Non-Commissioned Personnel P. Man (3E1)
Royal Air Force Records Office
R.A.F. Personnel Management
231 Nestles Avenue Centre
R.A.F. Insworth
Hayes
Gloucester, Middlesex
Royal Navy and Royal Marines

Naval Secretary
Navy Records
Room 116, Old Admiralty Building
Bourne Avenue
Spring Gardens
Hayes
London SW1
Middlesex

Passports & Other Travel Documents

Passport Extensions: As of June 16, 2014, the UK government has begun extending the expiration dates of certain passports by placing a stamp in the passport. This stamp is only being used when UK citizens seek to renew their passports outside of the UK. This stamp may be placed on any page and will extend the passport validity for one year. The Department views this extended passport as a valid travel document.

British Visitor's Passport: A short-form travel document issued by HMG to citizens of the United Kingdom intending to travel only to countries which do not require nonimmigrant visas for U.K. citizens. For this reason the document is not validated by HMG for travel to the United States, nor does it contain pages for the issuance of visas. Nevertheless, the document meets the requirements of Section 101(a)(30) of the INA, and may be presented by a U.K. citizen in connection with an application for a nonimmigrant visa at a consular office outside the United Kingdom. A nonimmigrant visa issued to the bearer of such a document should be placed on Form OF-232. [See 22 CFR 41.113(b)(2).]

Refugee Travel Documents: The new Refugee Travel Documents issued by the United Kingdom are machine-readable. The Travel Documents include the Certificate of Identity which is brown in color, a travel document for refugees under the 1951 Convention which is dark blue in color, and a travel document for refugees under the 1954 Convention which is red in color. All documents contain a disclaimer stating their issuance is "without prejudice to and in no way affects the holder's nationality." All list either the country of nationality or of birth, or both. The nationality of the bearer is listed as "Unknown". The documents will also indicate whether the bearer has "indefinite leave to remain" or the "right of abode."

Nonimmigrant visas issued to bearers of these travel documents should reflect the visa reciprocity schedule of his/her nationality or origin, even if the bearer has "indefinite leave to remain" in the United Kingdom.

Old style Refugee Travel Documents issued by the United Kingdom are still valid until they expire. These include a light brown travel document and a light blue Certificate of Identity. These documents also indicate whether the bearer has indefinite leave to remain or the right of abode in the United Kingdom.

Bearers of U.K. (British) Passports who are not U.K. Citizens: The following provides guidance on the various categories of British nationality and citizenship, and the respective reciprocal treatment to which each is entitled.

British citizens are identified in the passport by the words: "BRITISH CITIZEN." This is stamped in the old-style black U.K. passport and is noted on the nationality line on the new machine-readable passports. Only British citizens are entitled to travel on the Visa Waiver Pilot Program.

British subjects and British nationals are identified in U.K. passports as "British National Overseas Citizens," "British Overseas Citizens," "British Subjects," British Dependent Territories Citizens," and British Protected Persons." Bearers of these passports in these categories are not entitled to travel on the Visa Waiver Pilot Program. Also, bearers of passports in these categories may or may not have the right of abode or indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom. The document will indicate if the bearer has the right of abode or indefinite leave to remain.

British subjects (persons born in former British territory before 1949 who have no other nationality) and British nationals are entitled to British passports, but not necessarily to the right of abode in the United Kingdom. British subjects born in Ireland, however, do have the right of abode in the United Kingdom. Irish-born British subjects (bearers of British passports) and other British subjects and British nationals who have the right of abode (or indefinite leave to remain) in the United Kingdom should be granted the same reciprocity as U.K. citizens. British subjects and British nationals who do not have the right of abode or indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom should be issued visas according to the reciprocity schedule of their country of birth, unless, like Hong Kong, there is a separate reciprocity schedule.

The following chart depicts the reciprocity for bearers of British passports:

British Citizens U.K. reciprocity, VWPP
Irish-born British subjects (Have right of abode in the U.K.) U.K. reciprocity
Other British subjects and nationals who have leave to remain on right of abode U.K. reciprocity
Other British subjects and nationals who do not have leave to remain or right of abode in the U.K. Reciprocity of country of birth
Hong Kong-born British subjects and nationals (British passports) Hong Kong reciprocity
Other Records

Not applicable

Visa Issuing Posts

London, England (Embassy)

Mailing Address:
PSC 801 Box 6
FPO AE 09498-4006

Street Address:
24 Grosvenor Square
London W1A 1AE

Tel: 011-44- 20-7499-9000

Fax: 011-44-20-7495-5012

Belfast, Northern Ireland (Consulate General)

Mailing Address:
PSC 801 Box 40
FPO AE 09498-4040

Street Address:
U.S. Consulate General Belfast
Danesfort House
223 Stranmillis Road
Belfast BT9 5GR
Country Antrim
Northern Ireland

Tel: 44-2890-386100

Fax: 44-2890-687773

Visa Services

U.S. Embassy London provides immigrant visas for:

  • England
  • Scotland
  • Wales and Northern Ireland (including the Isle of Man, the Isle of Wight, the Isles of Scilly, and the Channel Islands.)
  • Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas and Ascension.

London also provides nonimmigrant visas for all of the above except for Northern Ireland which is served by Belfast.

The Northern Ireland area includes the countries of:

  • Antrim
  • Armagh
  • Down
  • Londonderry
  • Tyrone
  • Fermanagh

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC 1-800-997-6465 1-800-998-6465

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy London
24 Grosvenor Square
London, W1A 2LQ
United Kingdom
Telephone
+(44)(20) 7499-9000
Emergency
+(44)(20) 7499-9000
Fax
+(44) (20) 7495-5012
United Kingdom Country Map

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Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.