United Kingdom - Country Commercial Guide
Business Travel

Includes information on business customs, travel advisory, visa requirements, acceptable business etiquette, dress, business cards, gifts, etc.

Last published date: 2021-09-22

Business Customs

UK business customs are similar to those in the United States, as the British class structure, based on family history, profession, as well as property and land ownership, continues to erode through taxation, education, and social developments over the last few decades.  Liberalization of business and industry has rewarded enterprise and a new generation of professionals schooled in management, marketing and finance techniques has increasingly taken charge. The UK (England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland) left the European Union on  January 1, 2021.  However, thanks to a comprehensive trade agreement signed between the UK and EU at the end of December 2020, goods can continue to move tariff free between the UK & the 27 member countries for the EU and visa-versa. The UK is a diverse and multi-ethnic society.

Some fundamental cultural differences between the U.S. and the UK remain. Variations in pace and style may be most noticeable and sustained personal contact with potential business partners is expected. Prompt acknowledgment of correspondence, longer lead time for appointments, adherence to appointment schedules and a greater formality in the conduct of business is the norm.

British executives communicate typically by phone and e-mail. The British are less likely to seek legal advice and guidance than their U.S. counterparts, although a litigation culture is developing along the lines of the U.S. model – i.e. no win, no fee cases have recently been permitted.

Travel Advisory

The State Department’s Consular Information Sheet for the United Kingdom provides information for travel to the United Kingdom. The State Department’s Travel Alerts provides information on travel warnings.

The U.S. Embassy London website has information for both U.S. visitors to the UK and for UK citizens seeking to travel to the United States.

Visa Requirements

UK Visa Information can be found on the UK Visas and Immigration website, as well as the British Embassy in Washington website.

The UK uses electronic gates at the border for UK citizens, EEA nationals, and citizens of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States. 

For nationalities not already using the e-gates upon entry, Registered Traveler is a fee-based service to expedite entry into the UK.

U.S. Companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States should be advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process.  Visa applicants should go to the following links: