These Are the Countries UK Passport Holders Need a Visa in Advance for

If you're looking to relax on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand, you'll need to apply in advance for a NZeTA
If you're looking to relax on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand, you'll need to apply in advance for a NZeTA | © Rolf_52 / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Siobhan Grogan
2 March 2021

Can’t wait to jet away from the UK? Make sure you have the right paperwork first for a hassle-free holiday. Read on for all the details you need to know, including the countries that British passport holders need a visa in advance for.

A British passport is still one of the world’s most powerful, despite the impact of Brexit on travel. The document currently allows British travellers access to 185 countries around the world without a visa – though this may still change following Brexit.

Britons now need to have at least six months remaining on their passport to visit Europe, but do not need a visa for leisure stays under 90 days in any 180-day period in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania have their own separate 90-day limits.

From 2022, the EU is expected to introduce a visa-waiver scheme similar to that of the US. Britons will need to fill in a form online before travel, and pay a fee for an EU-wide visa that will last three years.

Britons do not need a visa for leisure stays of less than 90 days in Iceland | © robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo

Visas on arrival

British passport holders can still explore most of the world without applying for a visa. Countries that do require one will often grant it free or for a small fee on arrival, including the Maldives, Seychelles, Tonga and UAE. Be aware that some countries have suspended this practice following the Covid-19 pandemic, so always check with the UK Foreign Office before travel.

Luckily, many of the destinations that do require Britons to obtain a visa before travel now allow tourists to apply online without visiting the relevant embassy in London. These include Australia, India and Kenya.


Britons must obtain a visa in advance to visit several African countries, including Algeria, Ghana, Sudan, Mali and Nigeria.

Visitors to Egypt will also require a visa. This can be obtained on arrival, but it’s advisable to apply online before travelling. Tourists staying in the resorts of Sharm el Sheikh, Dahab, Nuweiba and Taba for up to 15 days do not need a visa, but must get one if they travel out of these areas, or stay for longer. It can be bought at Sharm el Sheikh airport.

Anyone travelling to South Africa or Morocco does not need a visa, although the British Foreign Office advises visitors to Morocco to ensure their passport is stamped on arrival.

You can travel on a British passport to South Africa without a visa | © Jon Arnold Images Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo


Britons should apply for an eVisitor visa online before heading down under. These are free and valid for 12 months for visits of up to 90 days.

Visitors to New Zealand must apply in advance for a NZeTA, which costs NZ$9 (£5) , via the mobile app. This is valid for up to two years. Applicants must also pay an International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy of NZ$35 (£18).

North America

Desperate to hit the shops in New York, or visit Disneyland in Florida? Don’t even think about getting on the plane without an ESTA, which allows travel in the US for up to 90 days and is valid for two years. Applications are submitted online and cost $14 (£10).

Those travelling to Canada must also apply in advance for an eTA costing 7 Canadian dollars (£4), while Britons hoping to visit Cuba will need to buy a tourist card before departure.

Britons hoping to visit Cuba will need to buy a tourist card before departure | © Nile Sprague / Alamy Stock Photo

South America

There’s great news if you’re planning the trip of a lifetime to South America, as almost every country welcomes Britons without a visa. The only exception is Suriname, which requires travellers to apply in advance for an e-visa. Those visiting Mexico do not require one, but you do need to complete an immigration form when you arrive and retain it until departure.


Britons visiting Russia must obtain a visa from the Russian Embassy before travel. However, cruise or ferry passengers can stay for 72 hours without one if you book tours through authorised travel agencies – and these do not have to be cruise ship tour companies. This only applies in certain cities, including St Petersburg, Kaliningrad and Vladivostok.

You can stay in St Petersburg for 72 hours without a visa if you book through an authorised travel agency | © Boris Stroujko / Alamy Stock Photo


Countries across Asia that do not require British travellers to obtain a visa in advance include Thailand, Japan, Indonesia (including Bali), Vietnam, Singapore and Sri Lanka. Be aware, however, that all these countries still enforce a maximum stay limit. In Vietnam, stays of longer than 15 days require an advance e-visa.

Britons visiting China will normally need to apply in person for a visa before travel, though visa waivers are available when transiting in certain areas. A visa is not needed to visit Macau, Hong Kong or Taiwan.

Middle East

Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran require travellers to apply for a visa in advance of travel. Britons visiting the UAE to holiday in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are granted a free tourist visa upon arrival that is valid for 30 days.

British citizens are also allowed to visit Turkey without a visa for visits of up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

Britons visiting Dubai and Abu Dhabi can get a free 30-day tourist visa on arrival | © Jason Knott / Alamy Stock Photo

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