Top 12 Holiday Destinations That Require a Visa

A United Kingdom passport is ranked in the 5th band of most powerful passports, with visa-free entry into 118 countries, a visa being issued on arrival in 42 and only requiring a visa prior to travelling in 38 countries. But do you know which countries require a visa and which one's don't? Here we've selected the top 12 destination countries that UK citizens visit which require a visa process before you travel.


As a UK citizen, you’ll generally fall under the Visa Waiver Program for the USA, though there are certain requirements you must meet for this to apply. You must hold an e-passport (also known as a machine readable passport) and apply online for an ESTA, or an Electronic System Travel Authorisation. This is a pre-travel check which you must complete at least 72 hours before you plan to travel, and was introduced following heightened security around entrance to the USA after 2009. The ESTA process is entirely an online service and once you have passed the authorisation, you can stay in the USA for up to 90 days at any one time with your ESTA being valid for 2 years.


Visitors to Turkey require an e-Visa before travelling, which will cover a maximum of 90 days stay within a 180 day period. Though the process is entirely online, you must print a copy of your e-Visa to take with you when you travel to Turkey.  It is recommended that you factor in a minimum of 48 hours for your application to be approved before you travel, though if you are able to apply sooner this would be advantageous in the event of further information being requested. If you reach Turkey and decide to stay longer, you are unable to extend an e-Visa whilst you are in country. You must exit Turkey before applying for a new visa.

visa india


You must apply for an e-Visa before you travel to India. This is an online service which will issue you with a document to print and carry with you on your journey, with the official visa stamp being applied when you reach India. It’s important you apply for the correct type, as if you arrive in the country with the incorrect visa you will be detained at immigration.

Only British Citizens are eligible to apply for an e-Visa, so if you are a British subject, British protected person, British overseas citizen, British national (overseas) or a British overseas territories citizen passport holder, you’ll have to acquire one through different means. Only those who carry a machine-readable UK passport are eligible for entry into India, so it’s important to check that everyone in your party has a valid digital passport. You will need to apply for your visa a minimum of 4 days prior to travel and this type is only valid if you are travelling to certain airport or seaports in India. From April 2018, the permitted length of stay has been doubled from 30 to 60 days.

visa egypt


If you are travelling to Egypt as a tourist, you can obtain a 30-day visa stamp for your visit. This can be done in the UK to speed up your entry, or you can apply for the stamp on arrival from a kiosk at the airport before you reach the immigration counters. Certain resorts allow a free-entry stamp valid for up to 15 days, however if you intend to travel outside of these designated areas, or are travelling for work or business reasons, you will need to apply for a visa prior to departure.


All British Citizens will require a visa to enter Cuba which must be obtained prior to travel. The type you require will depend on your reasons for visiting Cuba. If you are on holiday you will require the Tourist Card. It’s worth bearing in mind that entry to Cuba from the USA is likely to be denied, so if you intend to stop off on the way to Cuba, you should plan to avoid taking a flight there from a US airport. Applications for a Cuban visa must be issued from the Embassy in your country of residence. This will be valid for 30 days and one entry and exit from the country, though you can extend your stay once in country to 60 days if you wish.

visa canada


Entry regulations into Canada is similar to that of the USA, no visa is usually required but an Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) must be completed prior to travel. Canada will not allow certain citizens to enter if they hold a criminal record. Due to the fact an eTA does not guarantee your entry into Canada, it’s wise to check with the Canadian High Commission in London before you travel.


You will require a visa to visit Australia which must be obtained prior to travel. You can obtain an eVisitor visa or an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA), which are applied for and delivered electronically, though you must print a copy of your approved status to carry with you when you travel. There are several types of visa available for entering Australia so you must ensure you apply for the correct one to avoid delays at immigration control. For stays lasting longer than a few weeks, you can apply for a visitor visa, though keep in the mind the processing time for this is around a month. If you have any criminal records or convictions, you may need to undergo a Good Character Test before applying for your visa and wait for approval.

visa cape verde


For Cape Verde, a visa can be issued on arrival though many travellers have reported issues and delays when they get to the immigration desks to apply. A visa can be applied for and issued within the UK before you leave, which can give you peace of mind that everything is in place for your arrival. A third party can apply for this on your behalf, however an appointment must be made at the Honorary Consul in London to have the stamp applied so plenty of time must be allocated to have the process completed.


If you are travelling to Equatorial Guinea, a visa is required prior to travel and must be applied for at the Embassy in London. A criminal record check must also be provided by all applicants, alongside proof of your ability to support yourself financially whilst you are in the country and proof of your exit ticket. Visas for Equatorial Guinea can be turned around in a week on the standard service, though they do offer an express service if required. It’s important to ensure you obtain your entry and exit stamps at the airport as you could be delayed or detained if you are unable to provide evidence of these if requested.

visa china


Visiting mainland China (PRC) will require a visa for UK citizens, but visa waiver agreements are in place for Hong Kong and Macau for tourists. If you visit Hong Kong from the mainland of China and wish to return to the mainland, you’ll need a visa that allows you to make a second entry into China, known as a double entry visa. There are various types of visa for China so it’s important to ensure you’ve applied for the correct type and duration. These can be applied for in person at the Embassy by the applicant themselves or a nominated agent, or via post, though this process will take longer. However, as of 30th April 2018, all applicants must attend an appointment at the one of 4 UK Application Centres in person to submit biometric data.


It has been stated that until 30th June 2021, British Citizen passport holders can enter Vietnam as a tourist visa-free for up to 15 days. The date for this change has been previously set and pushed back, so it’s wise to check requirements before you are planning to travel. Any other status such as British Subject or British Overseas Citizen (naturalised) will require a visa regardless. This can be an e-Visa, though you are still subject to the 15 day limit for entry. For visits of up to 30 days for all British Citizens and subjects, you must obtain a visa from the nearest Vietnamese Embassy. For several visits in a short space of time, multiple entry visas are available and can save you time in the long run.

russian visa st petersburg


All UK citizens will require a visa to enter Russia which will cover a 30 day period with a maximum of 2 entries. This can take at least 4 weeks to process and you must provide a specific reason for your visit. Applications can be made via post, though all applicants are now subject to biometric scanning requirements, where you must make an appointment at one of 4 UK Application Centres to have your fingerprints taken prior to your visa being granted. On some cruises, the ship or tour company may have a visa which covers the entire party on board, so you may not need to obtain your own if you are planning on entering by sea. You will need to check this with the tour company when you book.


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Ashraf Vachhiat
Ashraf Vachhiat

Ashraf is the Marketing Technologist at Vital Consular, which means he handles all the technicalities involved in bringing this blog to life! He also enjoys creating in-depth articles around current affairs which impact the travel and relocation industry. In his free time, Ashraf relishes travelling as much as possible, and is always looking for quirky spots to take some great photos.

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