Return ticket needed to enter UK?

Jan 21st, 2004, 04:55 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2004
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Return ticket needed to enter UK?

I live in Canada and am planning a trip to Europe this spring. I will be arriving in London sometime around the end of April, then backpacking around as much of Europe as possible for the summer. As I don't know when or from where I'll be flying back home, I figured I'd just by a one-way ticket to London, then buy another one-way ticket home from where-ever I will be at that time. A local travel agent told me that I likely would not be allowed into the country without a return flight ticket. I've heard this from other sources as well, but I have also heard from different sources that that is not correct. I've heard that as long as I can proove that I have enough funds for the duration of my stay in the country, that I'll have no problem. Can someone please give me a definitive answer on this??!! (I know there are ways around it, such as flying "open jaws" (too expensive) or buying an onward ticket to a nearby country and then cancelling it for a refund later on, etc., but these all seem to be too expensive and/or a pain in the ass.) By the way, if I do have to show that I have enough funds, how is that done? Thanks!

ptmac is offline  
Jan 21st, 2004, 04:59 PM
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If you think an open jaw is expensive, wait 'til you see the price of two one-way tickets.
indytravel is offline  
Jan 21st, 2004, 05:50 PM
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This is the second thread tonight where I am plugging these two companies, but I promise I'm not a spammer. Anyway, two one-way flights are not any more expensive, or at most slightly more expensive, with Zoom or Thomas Cook -check out the web sites of and .

Alternatively, go to and look into getting an open-ended return ticket, probably from London.
WillTravel is offline  
Jan 21st, 2004, 06:26 PM
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Zoom has flights from Toronto to London(Gatwick) as low as $209 CND in May, 249$ from Vancouver, a flight from London to Toronto in Oct is as low as $199. Does not include tax which is $12 to London and $87 from London.
Garfield is offline  
Jan 21st, 2004, 06:27 PM
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I used to be questioned rigorously when entering the UK and had to show credit cards, return ticket, and explain where I would be staying and for how long, etc. etc. etc.

The last time, in 2001, I wasn't questioned at all - good thing since I was unemployed. Don't know if it's because I'm older now. I think they just want to make sure you're not going to try to work in the UK. One time I was questioned on the boat from France and then I showed my work ID and the immigration gentleman said "oh, why didn't you tell me you work for xyz company...have a great holiday." That was my clue that they wanted to be sure I had a job and would leave the country when I said I was leaving.

The next trip I papercliped my work ID to my passport on the page opposite my photo. No questions were asked once they saw I had a job. If you have a work ID, even an old one, then include it with your passport.

I think you need to prove you have quite a bit of money to be assured entry. Even my return tickets weren't enough to satisfy any immigration officials.

It's interesting that the UK was the only country (countries) that I was ever asked any questions. Every other time, every other place, I've had my passport stamped (or looked at) and nothing was said.
adrienne is offline  
Jan 21st, 2004, 07:18 PM
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Well - one problem you'll have if questioned -- there is no way to prove you have enough money for the duration of your stay since you won't be able to prove what the duration will be . . . . W/o a return ticket you don't have a "duration".

And normally one-way tix are so much more expensive you would probably be better off buying an open jaw ticket and later on changing (for a fee) your return date/city if needed.
janis is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2004, 12:18 AM
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There's no hard and fast rule on this: it's ultimately up to the passport officer concerned to decide whether you're a genuine tourist or a potential illegal worker or drain on the public purse, though there are some rights of appeal against deportation.

But young North Americans are high on the list of potential illegal workers (a glance at the number of questions about how to work illegally on sites like this shows why). And deportation isn't the only risk: hanging round the Immigration Detention Centre while your references are checked is one of the few experiences more vile than being at Heathrow at all.

The Lonely Planet Thorn Tree (UK/Ireland page)site has more experts on this issue, including the per diems you will need if an immigration officer decides to start making life difficult for you and what kind of documentation you then need, than anywhere else. One contributor - Eurotraveller - is particularly expert, and you might try PMing him

One simple solution might be to have a one-way Easyjet or Ryanair ticket for somewhere other than the UK or Ireland. Since you don't care where, and they both offer specials for pennies, that'd cost you less than than buying coffee at airport prices while hassling with the immigration people.

Be aware though that this doesn't guarantee permission to enter: they're as aware of this dodge as we all are.

If you look like trouble (and in Britain that means being an illegal migrant rather than a terrorist or drug dealer), they'll want proper evidence you're going to go home soon. Absent a proper return ticket, clear documentation of your job or course back home is important.

And they're into affirmative action: in my younger days, it was the beautiful, white, well-dressed, Australian and Canadian female fellow-students who got the most grief each new term.

Having said all of which, you might just breeze through with a "My auntie's in Saskatoon: enjoy your stay" from an official whose priority that day is something other than preserving us from the horror of illegal barstaff. Or get yourself a passport from an EU state to avoid all this. Surely you've got an Italian or Irish grandparent somewhere?
flanneruk is offline  
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