Do Military Dependents Need Passports and Visas when PCSing to the United Kingdom?

A PCS (Permanent Change of Station) for military dependents across state lines will obviously not present any problems as they travel freely across America. However, can military dependents PCS to the UK without a passport and visa?

Dependents’ Requirements

The military sponsor’s orders should clearly list each dependent who will be PCSing with them to the UK, such as the spouse and minor children. Orders must be hand carried by either the active duty sponsor or spouse so that immigration control can inspect the orders upon arrival into the UK. Many military dependents who move with their sponsor to the UK are unaware of the fact that they must obtain government clearance and the proper documents (passports and visas) before they are allowed to set foot on British soil. The sponsor’s orders lists accompanying dependents. Nevertheless, this does not take the place of a valid, current passport and an entry clearance visa for a stay of more than 6 months. The entry visa will reflect the length of time that the sponsor will spend in the UK and dependent visas will expire when the sponsor’s tour in the UK ends. A sponsor’s extended tour will mean that their dependents will need to apply to the British Home Office for a leave to remain visa in their passport.

Sponsor’s Requirements

Active duty personnel are not subject to the same rigorous immigration checks as their accompanying dependents because they are on official business. In effect, this means they do not have to present their passport or obtain a visa to legally enter and work in the UK. Their government issued travel orders and military ID card are sufficient proof of their intentions as they enter the UK on official U.S. government business.

EU Dependent Requirements

EU citizens who will be PCSing to the UK with their sponsor will only need to present their passport to immigration control. They do not require an entry clearance visa to move to the UK for any length of time, but will be treated exactly as other EU (including British) citizens.

In short, military dependents who PCS with their sponsor to the UK must present a current, valid passport and obtain an entry clearance visa (except for non-EU citizens who do not require a visa). Plan months in advance of your move to the UK by making sure that family members who will be moving with you has their own up to date passport and an entry clearance visa if it applies.