UNITED KINGDOM

United Kingdom Flag
Country Description: The United Kingdom is a highly developed constitutional monarchy; Gibraltar is a British dependent territory.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: A passport is required. Tourists are not required to obtain a visa for stays of up to six months in the United Kingdom or to enter Gibraltar. Those wishing to remain longer than one month in Gibraltar should regularize their stay with Gibraltar Immigration authorities. Persons traveling overland between Gibraltar and Spain may experience delays at the border. For further information concerning entry requirements, travelers can contact the Consular Section of the Embassy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland at 19 Observatory Circle, Washington, D.C. 20008, tel. 202-986-0205, or the nearest consulate in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco or Seattle.

Medical Facilities: Good medical care is widely available. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health care services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. In some cases, supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage has proved useful. Further information on health matters can be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline on (404) 332-4559 or by visiting CDC's Internet home page at http://www.cdc.gov.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: The United Kingdom and Gibraltar benefit from generally low crime rates, and incidents of violent crime are minimal. Incidents of pickpocketing and theft of unattended bags are common in urban areas, however, and thieves sometimes target unattended cars at tourist sites.

American visitors should take steps to ensure the safety of their U.S. passports. Visitors in the United Kingdom are not expected to produce their passports for police checks or other purposes, and thus may store their passports in hotels or residences. In Northern Ireland, however, passports or similar photograph identification should be carried at all times. The need to carry a passport to cash travelers checks is also minimized by an abundance of United Kingdom and Gibraltar ATM machines able to access systems widely used in the U.S.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Useful information on guarding valuables and protecting personal security while traveling abroad is provided in the pamphlet "A Safe Trip Abroad," which is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Penalties for possessing, using, and dealing in illegal drugs in both the United Kingdom and Gibraltar are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

Terrorist Activities: The United Kingdom is a stable, modern democracy. Political demonstrations are generally orderly and well policed. There is, however, a history of terrorist violence related to the political situation in Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom, and several such incidents occurred in British cities in 1996. Although U.S. citizens have not been specifically targeted, some have been injured. There was widespread civil unrest throughout Northern Ireland during the annual Orange Order marches of July/August 1996. Some U.S. citizens traveling in Northern Ireland at the time had to seek alternate routes to their destinations when roads were blocked by protestors. No Americans were injured.

Road Safety: Roads in the United Kingdom are excellent, but often congested in urban areas. Penalties for drunk driving are stiff. Visitors uncomfortable with the prospect of left-sided driving may wish to avail themselves of extensive rail and air transport networks. By the same token, pedestrians should look both ways prior to stepping off curbs, as the flow of traffic is from the opposite direction. Within the past two years there have been at least three deaths of American tourists who stepped in front of buses.

In the past year there have also been several incidents of "road rage", resulting in at least two deaths of motorists. While these incidents are rare, those renting cars should be aware of them and maintain a low profile while driving in order not to irritate other drivers.

The phone numbers for police/fire/ambulance emergency services: The equivalent of "911" in the U.S. is "999" in the United Kingdom and "112" in Gibraltar.

Registration and Embassy/Consulate Location:
U.S. citizens are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy or a U.S. Consulate and obtain updated information on travel and security in the United Kingdom.

The U.S. Embassy in London is at 24/31 Grosvenor Square, tel. (44)(171) 499-9000.

U.S. Consulates are in Belfast, Northern Ireland, at Queen's House, 14 Queen Street, tel. (44)(1232) 328239 and in Edinburgh, Scotland,
at 3 Regent Terrace, tel. (44)(131) 556-8315.
The U.S. Consulate in Edinburgh provides only emergency American citizen services.

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