US citizen with a criminal record traveling to UK.

Travel Forums Europe US citizen with a criminal record traveling to UK.

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1. Posted by true2hart (Budding Member 2 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

My criminal record has non-violent convictions all prior to 2009 in the USA. Last conviction was age 25, I'm now 38.

When I get to immigrations, what should I expect? (If I go through with this trip, I'll be landing in Heathrow)

Can they scan my passport and immediately see these old convictions?
Will they ask about convictions as part of standard questioning?
If I tell the truth, will they deny me?
If I lie, will they find out?

I never traveled outside of the US before.

Thanks!

2. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 5031 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

> (If I go through with this trip, I'll be landing in Heathrow)

It doesn't matter where you arrive in the UK. Border procedures in all/almost all countries are the same at all ports of entry, whether entering by land, sea or air.

>When I get to immigrations, what should I expect?

You'll join a queue, which may well be quite long. When it's your turn you'll be called to a desk with a border officer. He/she will scan your passport, look closely at you and may (or may not) ask you some questions e.g. 'What's the purpose of your visit?', 'How long are you staying in the UK?'

>Can they scan my passport and immediately see these old convictions?

As far as I'm aware the US does not automatically attach criminal record information to its citizens' passports.

>Will they ask about convictions as part of standard questioning?

It's unlikely. However, people can be taken for 'secondary questioning' (in the US etc too) where border officers can ask anything they like within the relevant law/regulations/guidelines. People are sometimes taken for secondary questioning at random but it mostly happens because they've been 'flagged' by another authority or because something about their answers, passport, appearance (e.g. nervous, sweaty), previous travel history etc has raised suspicions.

>If I tell the truth, will they deny me?

You would be very foolish indeed to lie to any border officer anywhere. When you're asked a question always answer honestly and courteously.

Every country has the absolute right to deny non-citizens entry. It's impossible for anyone here or anywhere else to gauge your chances of being denied entry purely on the basis of your convictions without knowing exactly what you were convicted for plus all the other details of your personal circumstances.

> If I lie, will they find out?

As I said, it would be very foolish indeed to lie. It is certainly possible for lies to be uncovered. UK and US border authorities do co-operate and exchange information about criminal records & activity but details about how this information is accessed and under what circumstances are not, for obvious reasons, in the public domain.

[ Edit: Edited on 8 Dec 2022, 09:27 GMT by leics2 ]

3. Posted by true2hart (Budding Member 2 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

No way would I risk getting in trouble in another country, but was curious to how it all works. Thanks for the insight.

Post 4 was removed by a moderator
5. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 5031 posts) 8w Star this if you like it!

For clarification, I should add that my comments above apply only to those entering under the UK's visa-free provisions for US citizens which allow a maximum of 6 months' stay.

If a US citizen needs a UK visa he/she will have to declare his/her criminal record during the application process and it can affect whether a visa is granted. More info here:

https://unlock.org.uk/advice/travelling-uk/