Tourism / Transport
England's economy is one of the largest in the world, with an average GDP per capita of £22,907. Usually regarded as a mixed market economy, it has adopted many free market principles, yet maintains an advanced social welfare infrastructure. The official currency in England is the pound sterling, whose ISO 4217 code is GBP. Taxation in England is quite competitive when compared to much of the rest of Europe – as of 2014 the basic rate of personal tax is 20% on taxable income up to £31,865 above the personal tax-free allowance (normally £10,000), and 40% on any additional earnings above that amount.
The economy of England is the largest part of the UK's economy, which has the 18th highest GDP PPP per capita in the world. England is a leader in the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors and in key technical industries, particularly aerospace, the arms industry, and the manufacturing side of the software industry. London, home to the London Stock Exchange, the United Kingdom's main stock exchange and the largest in Europe, is England's financial centre—100 of Europe's 500 largest corporations are based in London. London is the largest financial centre in Europe, and as of 2014 is the second largest in the world.
The Bank of England, founded in 1694 by Scottish banker William Paterson, is the United Kingdom's central bank. Originally established as private banker to the government of England, since 1946 it has been a state-owned institution. The bank has a monopoly on the issue of banknotes in England and Wales, although not in other parts of the United Kingdom. The government has devolved responsibility to the bank's Monetary Policy Committee for managing the monetary policy of the country and setting interest rates.
England is highly industrialised, but since the 1970s there has been a decline in traditional heavy and manufacturing industries, and an increasing emphasis on a more service industry oriented economy. Tourism has become a significant industry, attracting millions of visitors to England each year. The export part of the economy is dominated by pharmaceuticals, cars (although many English marques are now foreign-owned, such as Land Rover, Lotus, Jaguar and Bentley), crude oil and petroleum from the English parts of North Sea oil along with Wytch Farm, aircraft engines and alcoholic beverages.
Most of the UK's £30 billion aerospace industry is primarily based in England. The global market opportunity for UK aerospace manufacturers over the next two decades is estimated at £3.5 trillion. GKN Aerospace – an expert in metallic and composite aerostructures is involved in almost every civil and military fixed and rotary wing aircraft in production is based in Redditch.
BAE Systems makes large sections of the Typhoon Eurofighter at its sub-assembly plant in Salmesbury and assembles the aircraft for the RAF at its Warton plant, near Preston. It is also a principal subcontractor on the F35 Joint Strike Fighter – the world's largest single defence project – for which it designs and manufactures a range of components including the aft fuselage, vertical and horizontal tail and wing tips and fuel system. It also manufactures the Hawk, the world's most successful jet training aircraft.
Rolls-Royce PLC is the world's second-largest aero-engine manufacturer. Its engines power more than 30 types of commercial aircraft, and it has more 30,000 engines currently in service across both the civil and defence sectors. With a workforce of over 12,000 people, Derby has the largest concentration of Rolls-Royce employees in the UK. Rolls-Royce also produces low-emission power systems for ships; makes critical equipment and safety systems for the nuclear industry and powers offshore platforms and major pipelines for the oil and gas industry.
Much of the UK's space industry is centred on EADS Astrium, based in Stevenage and Portsmouth. The company builds the buses – the underlying structure onto which the payload and propulsion systems are built – for most of the European Space Agency's spacecraft, as well as commercial satellites. The world leader in compact satellite systems, Surrey Satellites, is also part of Astrium. Reaction Engines Limited, the company planning to build Skylon, a single-stage-to-orbit spaceplane using their SABRE rocket engine, a combined-cycle, air-breathing rocket propulsion system is based Culham.
Agriculture is intensive and highly mechanised, producing 60% of food needs with only 2% of the labour force. Two thirds of production is devoted to livestock, the other to arable crops.
Science and technology
Prominent English figures from the field of science and mathematics include Sir Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, Charles Darwin, Robert Hooke, James Prescott Joule, John Dalton, Joseph Priestley, Lord Rayleigh, J. J. Thomson, James Chadwick, Charles Babbage, George Boole, Alan Turing, Tim Berners-Lee, Paul Dirac, Stephen Hawking, Peter Higgs, Roger Penrose, John Horton Conway, Thomas Bayes, Arthur Cayley, G. H. Hardy, Oliver Heaviside, Andrew Wiles, Francis Crick, Joseph Lister, Christopher Wren and Richard Dawkins. Some experts claim that the earliest concept of a metric system was invented by John Wilkins, the first secretary of the Royal Society, in 1668.
As the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, England was home to many significant inventors during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Famous English engineers include Isambard Kingdom Brunel, best known for the creation of the Great Western Railway, a series of famous steamships, and numerous important bridges, hence revolutionising public transport and modern-day engineering. Thomas Newcomen's steam engine helped spawn the Industrial Revolution. The Father of Railways, George Stephenson, built the first public inter-city railway line in the world, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, which opened in 1830. With his role in the marketing and manufacturing of the steam engine, and invention of modern coinage, Matthew Boulton (business partner of James Watt) is regarded as one of the most influential entrepreneurs in history. The physician Edward Jenner's smallpox vaccine is said to have "saved more lives ... than were lost in all the wars of mankind since the beginning of recorded history."
Inventions and discoveries of the English include: the jet engine, the first industrial spinning machine, the first computer and the first modern computer, the World Wide Web along with HTML, the first successful human blood transfusion, the motorised vacuum cleaner, the lawn mower, the seat belt, the hovercraft, the electric motor, steam engines, and theories such as the Darwinian theory of evolution and atomic theory. Newton developed the ideas of universal gravitation, Newtonian mechanics, and calculus, and Robert Hooke his eponymously named law of elasticity. Other inventions include the iron plate railway, the thermosiphon, tarmac, the rubber band, the mousetrap, "cat's eye" road marker, joint development of the light bulb, steam locomotives, the modern seed drill and many modern techniques and technologies used in precision engineering.
The Department for Transport is the government body responsible for overseeing transport in England. There are many motorways in England, and many other trunk roads, such as the A1 Great North Road, which runs through eastern England from London to Newcastle (much of this section is motorway) and onward to the Scottish border. The longest motorway in England is the M6, from Rugby through the North West up to the Anglo-Scottish border, a distance of 232 miles (373 km). Other major routes include: the M1 from London to Leeds, the M25 which encircles London, the M60 which encircles Manchester, the M4 from London to South Wales, the M62 from Liverpool via Manchester to East Yorkshire, and the M5 from Birmingham to Bristol and the South West.
Bus transport across the country is widespread; major companies include National Express, Arriva and Go-Ahead Group. The red double-decker buses in London have become a symbol of England. There is a rapid transit network in two English cities: the London Underground; and the Tyne and Wear Metro in Newcastle, Gateshead and Sunderland. There are several tram networks, such as the Blackpool tramway, Manchester Metrolink, Sheffield Supertram and Midland Metro, and the Tramlink system centred on Croydon in South London.
Rail transport in England is the oldest in the world: passenger railways originated in England in 1825. Much of Britain's 10,000 miles (16,000 km) of rail network lies in England, covering the country fairly extensively, although a high proportion of railway lines were closed in the second half of the 20th century. There are plans to reopen lines such as the Varsity Line between Oxford and Cambridge. These lines are mostly standard gauge (single, double or quadruple track) though there are also a few narrow gauge lines. There is rail transport access to France and Belgium through an undersea rail link, the Channel Tunnel, which was completed in 1994.
England has extensive domestic and international aviation links. The largest airport is London Heathrow, which is the world's busiest airport measured by number of international passengers. Other large airports include Manchester Airport, London Stansted Airport, Luton Airport and Birmingham Airport. By sea there is ferry transport, both local and international, including to Ireland, the Netherlands and Belgium. There are around 4,400 miles (7,100 km) of navigable waterways in England, half of which is owned by the Canal and River Trust, however water transport is very limited. The Thames is the major waterway in England, with imports and exports focused at the Port of Tilbury in the Thames Estuary, one of the United Kingdom's three major ports.
You can apply for a Standard Visitor visa if you want to visit the UK:
- for leisure, for example on holiday or to see your family and friends
- for business, or to take part in sports or creative events
- for another reason, for example to receive private medical treatment
Your application won’t be accepted and you won’t get a refund if you have the right of abode in the UK (for example you’re a British citizen). You need to apply for a certificate of entitlement instead.
The Standard Visitor visa has replaced the:
- Family Visitor visa
- General Visitor visa
- Child Visitor visa
- Business Visitor visa, including visas for academics, doctors and dentists
- Sports Visitor visa
- Entertainer Visitor visa
- Prospective Entrepreneur visa
- Private Medical Treatment Visitor visa
- Approved Destination Status (ADS) visa
If you visit the UK on business
You can apply for a Standard Visitor visa if you want to visit the UK for business-related activities, eg:
- you’re coming to the UK for a conference, meeting or training
- you want to take part in a specific sports-related event
- you’re an artist, entertainer or musician and coming to the UK to perform
- you’re an academic and are doing research or accompanying students on a study abroad programme
- you’re a doctor or dentist and are coming to the UK to take a clinical attachment or observer post
- you want to take the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test or sit the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE)
- you want to get funding to start, take over, join or run a business in the UK
Check the Visitor Rules to find the full list of business-related activities you can do with a Standard Visitor visa.
What you can and can’t do
- take part in any of the business-related activities mentioned in the Visitor Rules
- study for up to 30 days, as long as it’s not the main reason for your visit
- take part in an exchange programme or educational visit (if you’re under 18)
- convert your civil partnership into a marriage
- do paid or unpaid work
- live in the UK for long periods of time through frequent visits
- get public funds
- marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership
Read the guidance for more information about what you can and can’t do with a Standard Visitor visa.
How long it will take
The earliest you can apply is 3 months before you travel.
ExampleYou can apply from 16 March if you plan to travel on 15 June.
You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks.
Check the guide processing times to find out how long getting a visa might take in the country you’re applying from.
How long you can stay
You can usually stay in the UK for up to 6 months.
You might be able to stay for longer if:
- you’re coming to the UK for private medical treatment - up to 11 months (£179 fee)
- you’re an academic on sabbatical and coming to the UK for research - you, your spouse or civil partner may be able to stay for up to 12 months (£179 fee)
If you’re staying in the UK as an academic or to receive private medical treatment for longer than 6 months, you must apply for a biometric residence permit.
You might be able to get a visit visa for up to 30 days if you’re a visitor under the Approved Destination Status (ADS) Agreement.
Long-term visit visas
If you can prove you need to visit the UK regularly over a longer period, you can apply for a visa that lasts 2, 5 or 10 years. You can stay for a maximum of 6 months on each visit.
If you’re under 18 years old when you apply, your long-term visit visa will only be valid for up to 6 months after you turn 18.
A Standard Visitor visa costs £89.
The fee for a long-term visit visa depends on its length:
- 2 years - £337
- 5 years - £612
- 10 years - £767
You must always show that:
- you’ll leave the UK at the end of your visit
- you’re able to support yourself and any dependents for the duration of your trip
- you’re able to pay for your return or onward journey and any other costs relating to your visit
- you have proof of any business or other activities you want to do in the UK, as allowed by the Visitor Rules
If you’re applying for a long-term visit visa
You must prove that:
- you have a frequent and ongoing need to come to the UK
- the reason why you need to come to the UK is unlikely to change while your visitor visa is valid
- you plan to leave the UK at the end of each visit
You may be given a visa for a shorter period than requested if you don’t do this. You won’t get a refund of the application fee if you get a shorter visa or your application is refused.
Your visa may be cancelled and you may get a long-term ban on visiting if your travel history shows you’re repeatedly living in the UK for extended periods.
If you’re applying as an academic
You can stay in the UK for 12 months if you’re applying as an academic. You must prove you’re highly qualified within your field of expertise, on sabbatical leave from your home institution and visiting to either:
- take part in a formal exchange with a UK counterpart
- carry out your own research
- take part in someone else’s research, teaching or clinical practice - as long as this doesn’t involve filling a permanent teaching post
If you’re applying to visit for private medical treatment
You must prove that you:
- have a medical condition that needs private consultation or treatment in the UK
- have made or paid for arrangements for consultations or treatment
- have enough money to pay for your treatment, support yourself without using public funds and pay for your return or onward journey
- will leave the UK once your treatment is completed, or when your visa expires
- are not a danger to public health if you’re suffering from an infectious disease, such as leprosy
If you’re applying as an organ donor
You can only visit the UK to donate organs to:
- a family member who you’re genetically related to (for example your sibling or parent)
- someone you have a close personal relationship with (for example your spouse or friend)
You must prove that the person you’re donating an organ to is legally allowed to be in the UK.
Documents you must provide
When you apply you’ll need to provide:
- a current passport or other valid travel identification
- evidence that you can support yourself during your trip, such as bank statements or payslips from the last 6 months
You need a page in your passport that’s blank on both sides for your visa. Your passport must be valid for the whole of your stay in the UK.
You’ll also need to provide a certified translation of any documents that aren’t in English or Welsh.
Read the full list of supporting documents you can provide.
You might need to provide additional documents if you’re visiting the UK:
- for private medical treatment
- to apply as an organ donor
- as an academic on sabbatical and want to stay for 12 months
- as a prospective entrepreneur
- to take the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test or sit the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE)
Where to send your documents
You’ll be told where to send your documents when you apply.
Any original documents you submit as part of your application will be sent back to you.
Other information you’ll need
You’ll need to provide the following:
- the dates you’re planning to travel to the UK
- details of where you’ll be staying during your visit
- how much you think your trip will cost
- your current home address and how long you’ve lived there
- your parents’ names and dates of birth
- how much you earn in a year
You might also need:
- details of your travel history for the past 10 years (as shown in your passport)
- your employer’s address and telephone number
- your partner’s name, date of birth, and passport number
- the name and address of anyone paying for your trip
- the name, address and passport number of any family members you have in the UK
- details of any criminal, civil or immigration offences you have committed
If you're under 18
You can apply for a standard visitor visa if you’re under 18 and:
- you’ve made suitable arrangements for your travel and stay in the UK
- you have consent from your parent or guardian to travel to the UK
- you’re able to pay for your return or onward journey
- you have enough money to support yourself without working or getting help from public funds, or you have family and friends that can support you
You can travel to the UK without an adult (someone over the age of 18).
Your parent or guardian will need to provide their:
- written consent for you to travel to the UK
- full contact details
They’ll also need to provide proof that you have somewhere suitable to live during your stay in the UK, including:
- the name and date of birth of the person that you will be staying with
- an address where you will be living
- details of your relationship to the person who’ll be looking after you
- consent in writing so they can look after you during your stay in the UK
Travelling with an adult
When travelling to the UK with an adult (someone over the age of 18), you’ll need to identify them in your visa application.
If the person you’re travelling with isn’t your parent, you’ll need to provide specific information about them in your application.
Their name will appear on your visa, and you’ll be refused entry to the UK if you arrive in the UK without them.
You can identify up to 2 adults in your visa application, and your visa will only be valid if you travel with at least one of them.
The adult can apply for a visa at the same time, but you must each complete separate applications.
Apply from outside the UK online
You’ll need to have your fingerprints and photograph (known as ‘biometric information’) taken at a visa application centre as part of your application.
You may be able to get your visa faster or other services depending on what country you’re in - check with your visa application centre.
Apply from within the UK
You might be able to extend your visa if you’re already in the UK.
Apply from North Korea
You can’t apply online if you’re from North Korea. You must instead:
Extend your visa
You may be able to extend your visa as long as the total time you spend in the UK is less than 6 months. For example if you apply for a 3 month visa, you can apply to extend it for 3 more months.
Read the guidance to find out if you can extend your visa.
You should apply before your current visa expires.
If you’re receiving private medical treatment in the UK
You can apply to extend your visa for a further 6 months if you:
- have paid for any treatment you’ve already had in the UK
- can and will pay the further costs of your treatment
- continue to meet the eligibility requirements
You must also get a medical practitioner or NHS consultant who’s registered in the UK to provide:
- proof of arrangements for your private medical consultation or treatment
- a letter saying how long your treatment is likely to take
- details of the progress of your treatment, if it’s already started
You must apply while you’re still in the UK.
How to extend your visa
- download the form and guidance and apply by post - the address is on the form
- download the form and apply in person at a premium service centre
You must pay:
- £993 if you apply to extend your visa by post
- £1,583 if you apply in person
How long it takes
A decision will be made:
- within 8 weeks for postal applications
- usually on the same day if you use the premium service
You’ll be contacted if your application is complex and will take longer, eg:
- if your supporting documents need to be verified
- if you need to attend an interview
- because of your personal circumstances (for example if you have a criminal conviction)
Once you’ve applied you can stay in the UK until you’ve been given a decision, as long as you applied before your last visa expired.