Great Britain

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Getting to the UK

There are many ways of getting to the UK: by coach, train, ferry, or airplane. The country offers different international connections that vary by price and convenience. We have compiled an overview of how to get to the UK (and back again) for expats.
Ferries to and from Dover are regularly used to cross the English Channel.
  • Flying is often still the fastest way of getting to the UK, especially when traveling from further afield; popular expat destination, London, is served by six international airports.
  • Those coming from the European mainland who would like to bring their car will need to take either a ferry, or the Eurotunnel Shuttle in order to cross the English Channel.
  • Regular train connections through the Channel Tunnel are also available for just passengers and operated by Eurostar.
  • Bus travel is one of the cheapest, but slowest options of getting to the UK.

Permission to Land in the UK

The United Kingdom has around 30 international airports, plus numerous smaller regional ones. London alone is connected to the rest of the world through six major airports: London City (LCY), Gatwick (LGW), Heathrow (LHR), Luton (LTN), Stansted (STN), and Southend (SEN). Heathrow is the city’s busiest and most popular airport, handling 75 million passengers in 2015.

Other British airports with regular international connections are Manchester (MAN), Edinburgh (EDI), Birmingham (BHX), Glasgow (GLA), Bristol (BRS), Newcastle (NCL), and Belfast (BFS), all of which see annual passenger numbers in the millions.

Crossing the English Channel

The English Channel, the stretch of the Atlantic between northern France and southern England, separates the UK from the rest of Europe. It is the world’s busiest sea route and important for imports and exports between different European countries. It’s also an important transportation route, not just between the UK and the European mainland, but also to connect the Channel Islands with the UK and France.

Through the Channel Tunnel

The Channel Tunnel, sometimes also referred to as the Eurotunnel, was opened in 1994. It runs from Calais in France to Folkestone in England. The trains can carry both passengers and their vehicles including cars, trucks, and coaches. Train connections operated by Eurotunnel, referred to as the Eurotunnel Shuttle, are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, taking between 30 and 45 minutes to make the crossing. Fares vary greatly depending on the type of vehicle you are taking along, and how far you book your ticket in advance.

There is also a direct train connection from London to Brussels, Paris, Lille and a few more French destinations. This is operated by Eurostar and is available for foot passengers only. Unlike the Eurotunnel Shuttles, the trains do not run 24 hours a day. However, they are a convenient and fast way to travel to and from the UK.

Using Ferry Connections

Many people, however, decide to take a ferry instead. There are numerous destinations around the British Isles; one of the cheapest and most popular connections is from Calais to Dover. Other destinations include the Channel Islands, Ramsgate, Portsmouth, Poole, Weymouth, and Plymouth. Ferries from Ireland usually connect to Liverpool and the Isle of Man.

As you can imagine, fares vary considerably, depending on your destination and the time you’re traveling. Booking a ticket way in advance is a good way to cut costs. Turn to Discover Ferries for more information.

Taking the Coach to the UK

Traveling by coach is becoming more and more popular within Europe and is the right choice for those who want to travel on a shoestring. The company Eurolines, for example, is one of the biggest in the UK, with more than 25 destinations across Europe. Although fares depend largely on your route and provider, you can be sure that traveling by coach is significantly cheaper than any other transport to the UK. Just be sure to pack a good book — the downside is that it will take you much longer to reach your new home.


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