About the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom, officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is a sovereign country and Commonwealth realm located in West Europe, which is constituted of the four nations of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The latter three nations have devolved legislatures and laws can therefore vary across the United Kingdom.
Population: 66 million
Language: English, Welsh, Gaelic
Currency: Pound sterling (GBP)
Religion: Christanity (57%) – England and Wales (46%), Scotland (43%), Northern Ireland (79%)
Government: Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
Political Rights and Civil Liberties: 93/100 (Free country)
Head of State: His Majesty King Charles III
Head of Government: The Right Honourable Rishi Sunak MP
Crown Dependencies: Guernsey, Jersey and Isle of Mann.
Overseas Territories: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, and Turks and Caicos Islands.
Information for Barbadian nationals
This information pertains to the United Kingdom and the Crown Dependencies only. The entry requirements for the British Overseas Territories may be different and are not covered by this article.
Barbadians do not need a visa to enter the United Kingdom for tourism purposes, or to visit friends / family. You can usually stay in the United Kingdom as a visitor for up to six months, but this is at the discretion of UK Border Force. Not needing a visa does not mean that you are guaranteed entry into the United Kingdom. You will still be assessed by an immigration officer on arrival to determine your suitability for admission.
Immigration is a reserved matter for the UK Parliament and the entry rules are therefore the same across the United Kingdom. There are no border controls between England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
Please be advised that the British government will be introducing an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) system in the near future. Persons entitled to travel to the United Kingdom without a visa will soon need to get an ETA prior to travel. It is believed that an ETA will become mandatory for Barbadians by 2025.
Local laws and customs
There is zero tolerance to the possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs in the United Kingdom. Persons convicted of drugs-related offences can expect long prison sentences and heavy fines.
It is illegal to carry, purchase, sell, or enter the United Kingdom with, certain types of knives.
Driving a vehicle
You must drive on the left-side, like in Barbados.
Speed limits in the United Kingdom are expressed in miles per hour (mph). Unless road signs indicate otherwise, the speed limits are as follows—
- Residential roads: 30 mph (48 km/h)
- Carriageways: 60 mph (96 km/h)
- Motorways: 70 mph (112 km/h)
A 'carriageway' is like a highway in Barbados and a 'motorway' is like a super highway.
Pedestrians are not allowed on a motorway. You will be arrested by police if you walk or cycle on a motorway.
Never drive or park on the hard shoulder of a motorway. The hard shoulder is the side of the motorway for emergencies only. You must only use the hard shoulder in a genuine emergency (e.g. if your vehicle has broken down). Never use the hard shoulder to overtake vehicles or to avoid busy traffic.
When driving on a carriageway or motorway, you must keep in the left lane unless you are overtaking. You may be stopped by police if you remain in the right-hand lane when there is no nearby traffic in the left-lane.
It is against the law to park a vehicle on a sidewalk in London or Scotland. In other parts of the United Kingdom, it is against the law if a signpost prohibits it, or if the vehicle is parked dangerously or if the parked vehicle blocks access to, or use of, the road.
You must always indicate at a roundabout, whether you are turning left or right. If you are going straight ahead at a roundabout, you must indicate left just before you reach the exit. You may be stopped by the police if you do not use your indicators correctly.
Drivers in the United Kingdom only use their car horns to warn others of a danger. Avoid using your car horn to express gratitude to other drivers for giving way, as using your car horn like this will confuse local drivers or cause a misunderstanding. It is customary to raise a 'high-five' to persons that give way.
You can use your Barbadian driving licence to drive any type of small vehicle listed on your licence (for example cars, motorcycles or vans) for up to 12 months from the date you last entered the United Kingdom. The vehicle may have up to 8 passenger seats and must not exceed 3.5 tonnes in weight. Visitor driving permits do not exist in the United Kingdom and are not required.
Make sure you have appropriate car insurance. If you are planning to rent a car, make sure you are hiring a vehicle from a registered business as they are responsible for arranging car insurance on your behalf.
Car rental companies often require customers to have a credit card. They may place a temporary hold on your credit card during the term of your rental in case you have an accident or cause damage to the vehicle. If you have an accident, you may be required to pay a substantial excess regardless of who is at fault. It may be more cost effective to purchase car hire excess insurance as an alternative to the Collision Damage Waiver offered by rental companies if you have the financial means to pay the excess before submitting a claim.
Be mindful how you respond to closed questions. Avoid responding with "no, please" in all situations as this phrase sounds unusual to persons outside Barbados and may cause confusion. If you are asked a question in which you are being offered something, you should respond with "yes, please" or "no, thank you". For all other yes/no questions, you should simply respond with "yes" or "no" and avoid using the verb "please" as this will confuse a local person or cause a misunderstanding.
Avoid saying "good night" as a greeting as this will cause a misunderstanding. In the United Kingdom, the expression "good night" is only ever used when departing. To greet someone in the late evening, even if the time is one minute before midnight, it is customary to say "good evening". If it's after 12 PM but before 5 PM, you should say "good afternoon".
Never hang up the phone without saying bye. This would be considered rude, even in informal settings.
You may see public displays of affection between same-sex couples, such as hand-holding. Do not express derogatory remarks about a person's sexuality: homophobia is not tolerated in the United Kingdom.
British people are very fond of the Royal Family and feel a strong affinity towards the monarchy. You will cause offence and may be confronted if you express derogatory remarks about the King or any working member of the Royal Family.
To contact the police, fire brigade or ambulance services, call 999. You must only use this number in a genuine emergency or if you are reporting a crime that is in progress. To contact the police when it is not an emergency, call 101.
You cannot call the emergency services in the United Kingdom without an active SIM card installed. If you have a Flow or Digicel SIM card, make sure it is installed in your phone. You do not need to enable roaming, or have any credit, to call the emergency services.
If you are arrested or detained in the United Kingdom
The Barbados High Commission in London may be notified of your arrest. You may be able to ask the British government not to notify, but this is at the discretion of the local authorities.
If you are not sure whether the Barbados government has been notified of your arrest, you have the right to ask the police to notify Consular Services of the Barbados High Commission in London and they must comply with your request without delay.
Any person charged with a criminal offence has the right to receive a timely, fair and public hearing by an independent, impartial court and to be tried by jury. You have the right to be present at your trial and to consult with an attorney at law of your choice. You cannot be compelled to testify or confess guilt. These rights are guaranteed by British law.
You are entitled to free legal advice if you are questioned at a police station. If you are charged with a criminal offence, you may be entitled to legal aid that partially or fully covers the cost of your defence if you do not have the means to pay for it.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, if you are travelling overseas you should also take your Barbadian passport with you, as you will need it to re-enter Barbados without being subject to immigration control.