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96 day trip to England & France- how's that IO in London going to react to that trip length?

Hello Rick Steves England travel community!

I apologize in advance if this topic has been discussed at length already, I failed to find it, or if this isn't in the correct forum. I have been searching for hours that have turned into days, for answers, advice, and perhaps a sharing of personal experience that could apply to some of my concerns regarding being granted entry into the UK. The bottom line is I am concerned about being denied entry based on the intended length of my trip alone (details on trip to follow). I have read so many horror stories about solo American travelers being denied entry and want to make sure I'm doing everything I can to ensure this trip gets off the ground and get some perspective on the measures I'm taking before I go. Any insight/ advice is very welcomed- and please, please do tell me if I've missed something!

Here is a brief background on me and details of my trip:

I am an American female, 32 years old, employed, and am fortunate enough to have been granted a sabbatical from my job this September- January to take my solo trip of a lifetime to Europe. I have travelled to Europe twice for 10-12 days at a time, but never for so long. On September 11th I will board a plane from the USA to London Gatwick and will be boarding another plane home to the states on December 16th. I have no intent to stay overseas beyond this date- I have a job and a wonderful boyfriend I need to go back to. The trip will run 96 days long in it's entirety, 87 of these days are scheduled to be in Great Britain (England, Scotland, Wales) and are not consecutive, with the remaining 9 being in Paris. I will be going to Paris via Eurostar in October. This part of my travels will fall in the middle of my trip, which I understand will land me going through a UK immigration officer for a 2nd time on my way back into London. I do not have any friends or contacts in the country and will be staying exclusively at several b&b's in many areas I've always wanted to see and they are pre booked, pre paid, mostly through airbnb, with the exception of 2 reservations. I'll be traveling by train and other public transport the majority of the trip. This trip will be entirely tourism and extended vacation time off to see many of the sights I've always wanted to see and things I've long wanted to do, just wanted to see them before im 85 years old, if I make it that far, ha!- as a fun side note some of what I plan to do and see includes riding the Jacobite steam train, trying Scottish whisky in Scotland, hitting several tea rooms I've read about, seeing a portion of Hadrian's Wall, walking the historic walking paths in the Cotswolds and near Canterbury (not at the same time of course), and visiting platform 9 and 3/4 at kings cross (Harry Potter forever. Period).

Back to business-
This is a list of paperwork I will have with me. Please advise if I'm missing anything:

-valid US issued passport that is not going to expire for 8 years
- a notorized letter from my employer stating my employment, total length of my employment, approved sabbatical terms and date I'm expected back at work.
- printed out bank and credit card statements for the past 3 months.
-my return plane ticket itinerary and confirmation printed out.
-a full itinerary of all my pre booked and paid accommodation that the immigration is more than welcome to keep.
- any receipt/ confirmation for pre paid train travel or etickets themselves
- my travel insurance documentation
- I'll have a minimum of 15,000 American dollars (roughly 10,000 GBP) in the bank 2 credit cards. This will be mostly spending money as accommodation is all pre booked,as will most transportation

I'm being a little overkill, I know- just wanting to make sure I know what I'm doing.
Am I pushing my luck with the length of my trip and would it be better to shorten it? Or does this all check out to you guys?

Thank you for your help and your time!
Shawna Chatfield

Posted by
11459 posts

)You have nothing to worry about( wow did you think on this one)

You have a return ticket and as a US citizen you are allowed up to 6 months in uk.

True you are only allowed 90 days in schengen treaty countires like france, but you seem to only be there a short period of time .

I

Posted by
6647 posts

The UK is not part of the Schengen zone and American citizens traveling with a valid US passport normally are allowed to stay for up to 6 months (180 days). So, the length of your trip should not be an issue. I'm thinking you probably won't be needing a lot of your paperwork but, like you, I'd rather be prepared and not need it, than the other way around. As far as I can remember from my trips to England and Scotland I was never asked for any of that.

Per your other post, on the landing card, all I've ever put for a local address is the first hotel or b&b I was staying in. As far as leaving the UK to go to Paris and then return, I believe you'll just have your passport stamped when entering the Schengen zone (Paris) and again when you leave and reenter the UK. If I don't have that right I'm sure others will correct me.

EDIT: I was keying while Pat was posting.

Posted by
14 posts

Thank you Nancy and Pat for your replies! I really did go down a rabbit hole on this one- and thank you for helping be out of it. I had read that, although not illegal or past the 6 months "allowed" to US citizens, trips of 3 months or more tend to raise some red flags with IOs in the UK. I just got terrified I'd get there and all hell would break loose as I find myself unable to convince boarder control I'm not trying to move there or something. Thank you again for all the help both of you!

Posted by
342 posts

Long visits trip the radar when you are some combination of the following:

Young
Visiting your significant other
Visiting "friends" or "family"
Have no return ticket
Have no place to stay/clear travel plans
Unemployed or have no visible means of support

You clearly don't fit the bill.

Posted by
14 posts

Thank you for taking the time reply Miranda! That is a very helpful list of info in one place that makes it clear this is all going to work out ok.

Thank you again for your time and your help :)

Posted by
4861 posts

Although repeated visits with short trips elsewhere can also raise a flag this is generally in circumstances where it appears you are looking to stay for extended periods in the UK beyond 6 months which is not the situation in your case.

Posted by
14 posts

Thank you, Marco! Do you think it would be better to perhaps try to move my Paris portion to another time in my trip to avoid a hassle or just go with it and provide all my documents? I do plan on telling the IO on my initial arrival of my Paris plans and perhaps they can make a note of it on my record. My boyfriend who was all over Canada touring with his band did this and it worked out well for them when they had some repeat visits due to routing in and out of the states and back to Canada in short time periods.
Thanks for your response!
Shawna

Posted by
2353 posts

Unless you are on some kind of watch list an entry, exit, and re-entry will not raise any brows. People do it all the time - when you re-enter just tell them you took a trip to Paris - no worries. Climb back out of this rabbit hole and relax!

Posted by
3155 posts

One thing on your list is totally unnecessary to take.
"printed out bank and credit card statements for the past 3 months."
No need to take this. As a matter of fact, having these things in your bag increases your risk greatly. If you should lose your bag, or leave these documents behind somewhere, it adds to the possibility you would be a victim of identity theft. You do not want lots of printed documents with your credit card information, banking information, and your name and address all over them. Especially in a bag that may also contain your driver's license and passport.
You are already taking all the other documentation you need.

Posted by
29255 posts

Don't worry.

I have read so many horror stories about solo American travelers being denied entry

Stop reading horror stories.

Posted by
6146 posts

I would advise having a secure pac safe purse or money belt if you are carrying those bank cards around. Of course, if your hotels or B&Bs have safes in your room, you can leave a card in the safe.

Another thing that I do is create a file with tabs for each city that I visit and have my research, hotel reservations, etc. printed in those files.
Then I create one document with all my hotel names, addresses, phone numbers and reservation number as well as important phone numbers like airline lost baggage, emergency numbers. Sometimes this document can be several pages, but it is a backup if you loose the main file. Keep that document separate from your files.

Posted by
14 posts

Haha! Sage advice indeed, Nigel. I'll take it :)

Thank you for the itinerary tips, geo! these are good ideas. I bought one of those money/ credit card safe wallets to carry those in- hopefully I won't be mugged like Rick Steves was back in the 80s! just kidding- Although those are probably the things I should be more aware of, at this point my worries had only extended to the British having an aversion to me being their country :) thanks again for the great tips and things to think about!

Posted by
12220 posts

As someone else stated, relax. You seem very worried about being denied entry. This will show when you get to the border agent.

I found most of the UK border people to be very friendly. Just answer their questions. Don't start volunteering lots of information. That will make them suspicious. If they want to know about your plans, they will ask. Just answer their questions.

Posted by
14 posts

Thanks frank, now that I have some insight I'm feeling cool as cucumber. your landing card information was very helpful as well. you're advice is much appreciated

Posted by
14 posts

Thank you Mrs. Eb! It's a trip I've been saving up to take for a couple years and have been planning for probably 10 haha. thanks to everyone here, I feel much more ready for it. happy early anniversary!

Posted by
5675 posts

Shawna -- I agree with all the above, you'll have no problems. Just a couple of thoughts though. First, are you really planning to bring $15000 cash with you? There's no need for that, just use ATMs. You're not likely to be robbed but that's way too much cash to carry anywhere -- in fact it would trigger suspicion in itself. Or maybe I misread your post. Second, not a good idea to put your full name on message boards, even this friendly live-and-let-live one. Have a wonderful trip. Everyone envies you the time you have!

Posted by
2353 posts

@Dick - I think you missed the "in the bank" part. She is NOT carrying it around.

EDIT - Sorry Shawna - sticky "S" key!

Posted by
14 posts

Def keeping all that in tha bank! I'm traveling light :) thanks for the concern though. That would be one real big mistake lol