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Can a Felon Travel to the United Kingdom?

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Many felons can recall having the desire to travel back when life was different and simpler, before their felony conviction.

They may have dreamed of traveling abroad before their conviction, and for some this may have been a reality.

This blog post will address the question of whether a felon can travel to the United Kingdom.

·         Travel Restrictions

·         Why the United Kingdom?

·         Traveling to the United Kingdom

·         Requirements to Enter the United Kingdom

·         Encouraging a Felon to Travel to the United Kingdom


Travel Restrictions

Upon release, felons must complete the terms of their sentence, including probation.

During the probation period, felons are restricted from leaving the district in which they reside without permission from their probation officer.

Of course, travel outside the U.S. is out of the question until the conditions of probation have been satisfied entirely.

Once this is accomplished, travel beyond the U.S. border is possible.

They must obtain a passport, which is a form of identification from the federal government allowing international travel.  Felons are able to obtain a passport.

Being convicted of drug trafficking or a crime of treason against the U.S. may prevent felons from being able to obtain a passport, as well as for anyone owing at least a certain amount of child support.

Having current legal charges pending can also prevent having a passport.  This is because leaving the country will be interpreted as an unlawful attempt to avoid prosecution, which is a federal crime.

Traveling to another country with a passport is very possible.

Why the United Kingdom?

Why would felons want to visit the United Kingdom?  Well, for the same reasons anyone wants to travel there.  Felons may have served time in prison, but they have the same interests as any other U.S. citizen.

Traveling to the United Kingdom is no exception.

The United Kingdom is one of the most frequently visited nations with thousands of tourists every year, including many from the U.S.

The United Kingdom is located in Europe and is made up of the countries of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

While the United Kingdom is part of Europe, it is not in the Schengen area, which is a group of 26 countries that have joined together to have a common border for tourists, including felons, who can visit any of those countries with a single passport entry.

The United Kingdom is the nation of some of the best known historical and literary individuals.

It is home to numerous old cities, historical monuments, majestic castles, and famous museums.  It is also the country of origin for many felons’ ancestors.

The capital of the United Kingdom is London, Royal home to the Queen in Buckingham Palace.

Traveling to the United Kingdom

The only restriction for them flying to the United Kingdom would be if they have a felony warrant outstanding against them.

The other possible issue would be if their name is on what is called the no-fly list maintained by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for those suspected of being terrorists.

There are about 3500 names on this list at any time.  So, felons are probably OK for flying.

Going on a cruise is a popular means of travel to the United Kingdom.

There are two types of cruises, closed loop and open loop.  A closed loop cruise is one that starts and ends in the same U.S. port while an open loop cruise has different starting and final port city locations.

Felons may sail on either type of cruise, although the requirements for a closed loop cruise are less restrictive than for open loop cruises.

U.S. citizens going on a closed loop cruise can depart and enter the U.S. with only proof of citizenship.  This proof consists of an original or copy of a birth certificate and a government issued photo ID.

Open loop cruises require a passport, regardless of the starting or destination port.

Requirements to Enter the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has several requirements all U.S. citizens, regardless of whether they are felons or not, must meet in order to gain entry.

First, the law in the United Kingdom states that they must have at least six valid months remaining on their passport when entering the country.

Those U.S. citizens who stay in the country less than 90 days need to have only a passport.  No visa is required.

Any stay by a U.S. citizen of more than 90 days will require a visa, which must be obtained prior to departing form the U.S.

Felons would do best if they plan their stay in the country to be limited to less than 90 days in order to not have to be subjected to having their criminal record checked.

For felons especially, their conduct while in the United Kingdom is critical.  Of course they will want to stay out of legal difficulties.

This would obviously result in significant problems for felons who may find it extremely difficult to gain their release.  For those felons ending up in jail, legal counsel will be necessary.

It is best to strictly obey all laws and be able to leave the country as planned.

Encouraging a Felon to Travel to the United Kingdom

Families of felons who visit the United Kingdom can be helpful to those felons by encouraging them to travel outside the country for a sense of peace and relaxation.  A trip to the United Kingdom can also be a great opportunity to re-connect with their family.

Once the decision has been made to travel to the United Kingdom, be supportive of their making the trip.

It is important to remind them that as a traveler to a foreign country, just being there as an American will bring them under more scrutiny.  For this reason and others, they must obey the laws and not draw the attention of the legal authorities to themselves.

Remind them of their commitment to live an honest life and how legal difficulties while in the United Kingdom will only defeat these efforts and may result in returning to prison.

Approximately 69% of those released from prison return within the first two years.  Don’t let them be one of those statistics.

So what do you think about this blog post about whether a felon can travel to the United Kingdom?  Have you or someone you know been through this experience?  What was that like and were they successful?   Please tell us in the comments below.

2 thoughts on “Can a Felon Travel to the United Kingdom?”

  1. To begin I went to the U.K. to visit my Biological son and daughter. I had finish-ed the legal requirements of my probation under Missouri law and I had been off probation for 2 years. I had made arrangements to go to London to visit my children and grandchildren. Everyone of the relatives were looking forward to seeing me.I never went or spent time in prison BUT I did plea guilty to a child molestation charge and received 5 years probation for my offence. I want to know WHY I was not allowed to visit my family AFTER arriving in England. I was held in a waiting area from 7A.M. till the next morning when I was put on the 1st flight out of Heathrow Airport. My children were at the airport waiting ALL that time and they only got to see me in a holding cell all that time. I was a
    persona non grata. And made to leave England.

    • A sex offender charge and a felony are and aren’t two different things. Sex offender passports (I’m assuming you’re on a registry if you plead to the charge you mentioned) have a red line that flashes when they scan it. So it wasn’t really your felony that prevented you from entering, it was the nature of the charge. I know this because several years ago I visited a foreign country with a friend and he was not allowed to enter per this same issue. In fact, your passport is probably gray? This is an indicator of sex offense charge.


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