London Travel Advice
Security travel advice for London
How Safe is London?
Threat level: Low - Medium
COVID-19 Situation Update in London
Further to the new variant of coronavirus in South Africa, entry to the United Kingdom is banned to travellers from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Eswatini, Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho, Mozambique and Angola, the Seychelles and Mauritius.
The United Kingdom was in full lockdown between the 4th of January and the 8th of March and is now lifting lockdown restrictions in stages.
International travellers arriving in the UK must follow different rules based on a traffic light system (green, amber and red). Passengers who have visited a country on the 'green' that is deemed safe will not be required to quarantine on arrival in England. They must fill in a passenger locator form, provide a negative PCR test result before travelling and take a sequencing test on day 2 after arrival. Passengers who have visited a country on the 'amber' list that pose a risk must fill in the passenger locator form, present a negative PCR COVID-19 test result before travelling, quarantine at home for 10 days (quarantine rule will be lifted on the 19th of July for fully vaccinated people) and take a sequencing test on day 2 and day 8 after their arrival. Travellers from 'red' countries that pose a high risk of contracting COVID-19 will be refused entry (except British and Irish citizens as well as people with residency rights who will be subject to compulsory quarantine in a government approved facility).
Face-covering is now compulsory on public transport including in buses, trams, trains, coaches, aircraft and ferries and people must maintain social distancing of at least 1 metre.
2021 Lockdown Exit Plan
On the 22nd of February 2021, Prime Minister Boris Johnson released a lockdown exit plan that consists in lifting lockdown restrictions in four stages, which will be dependent on cases, deaths and hospital admissions continuing to fall. The first stage of the plan was effective on the 8th of March and consisted in re-opening schools and colleges. The stay at home order ended on the 29th of March and was replaced by a 'stay local' instruction, applying rule of six that allows people to meet in group of six people or two households to gather together in parks and gardens. On the 12th of April, shops and outdoor hospitality reopened. Whereas, indoor pubs, restaurants and entertainment venues reopened on the 17th of May. International travel resumed on the 17th of May. All limits on social contacts, social distancing, capacity for large events and the obligation to wear a face mask in public transport and shops should be lifted on the 19th of July. See the full official lockdown exit plan roadmap online provided by the government.
For more information on preventive measures to avoid contracting coronavirus, please refer to our healthcare section.
Security in London
The general travel advice for London is for visitors to London to remain extra vigilant. London has suffered a lot over the past decade or so from terrorism and kinfe crime has been on the risk in the UK's capital.
For more information on how security and terrorism have affected tourism in London, see our blog article: How safe is London?
In the Streatham area of London on the 2nd of Febuary 2020, police shot dead a terror suspect after he had stabbed two people in Streatham High Road. Witnesses have described 'silver canisters' strapped to the chest of the attacker.
On the 29th of November 2019, a stabbing attack occurred during a conference in Fishmongers' Hall venue. It was carried out by a former terrorist offender, who appeared to be wearing an explosive device that turned out to be fake. He fled the scene and was shot by the police on London Bridge. Two members of the public died and three others were injured.
On the morning of the 15th September 2017, a number of people had suffered significant injuries due to a confirmed terrorist incident at Parsons Green Train Station.
On the evening of the 25th of August 2017, Police arrested a male suspect in the Mall outside Buckingham Palace. The male suspect who was in his twenties had crashed his car into barriers and had made towards the Officers with a machete. Two Officers received minor injuries in making the arrest.
In the early hours of Monday 19th June 2017, a van drove into worshipers outside the Finsbury Park Mosque. It is known that one person has died and up to ten people have been injured. It was a deliberate attack against British Muslims in retribution for the recent London ISIS attacks.
On the 3rd of June 2017, there was a terrorist attack on London Bridge and nearby Borough Market. There were three suspects that drove a transit van at people on London Bridge and then went on foot through Borough Market stabbing people as they ran through.
It is reported 8 were killed and over 50 people injured and taken to hospitals throughout London. The three suspects were shot dead by police just after 10:16pm, eight minutes from the start of the incident, they were found to be wearing hoax suicide vests.
On the 22nd March 2017, there was a terrorist attack in the center of London at Westminster bridge and in the grounds of Parliament. The lone attacker, now named as Khalid Massoud, was shot by diplomatic protection officers at the scene. Khalid Massoud drove a car over Westminster bridge hitting many members of the public. The attacker then ran through the Palace of Westminster gates, gained entry to the grounds where he stabbed and killed a Police Officer, before he was shot and killed. At least 50 people were injured, 5 of them fatally.
Prior to the incident in March 2017, the last incident in London was in July 2005. London commuters were attacked by suicide bombers in three public transport areas, including underground trains at King‘s Cross station, a bus and other areas. These attacks resulted in 52 deaths. Four men, three British nationals of Pakistani background and a Jamaican were behind the attacks and were all killed during the bombings.
More recently in May 2013, a British Soldier was beheaded in Woolwich, southeast London. Lee Rigby, the young soldier killed, was walking to his local army barracks in civilian clothing, when he was attacked by two Islamic extremists. It was later revealed that this was a revenge attack to avenge the killing of Muslims by the British Armed Forces in Afghanistan. Incidents such as these are rare, but it is important to remain vigilant at all times during travel in London. If you see somebody acting suspiciously, a suspicious package or unattended luggage, inform the Police immediately on the Counter Terror hotline: 0800 789 321.
London and the United Kingdom is well known for hosting large scale, international sporting events and music concerts. While these are on the whole well managed and well policed, care should be taken and it is advised that you are aware of your surroundings and where the emergency exits/fire exits are located at all times. These should in all cases be clearly marked.
London has some of the very best policing and CCTV in the world, but like any major city, it also has issues with crime; violent crime does happen but gun crime is not a regular occurrence. Avoid walking alone at night in quieter areas, muggings occur every day in London and generally happen at night in the poorer, less developed parts of the city. Avoid alleyways or unlit streets.
Demonstrations sometimes occur in London, these are often restricted to the area around Parliament Square, but can and do happen outside foreign embassies; for the most part these are peaceful and do not represent too much of a security risk. On occasions, these demonstrations have turned to violence such as the 2011 London riots that escalated out of the death of a police suspect and quickly spread into chaos, looting and arson in which a further four individuals were killed. This resulted in mass deployment of police from all over the country and took 5 days to get the situation under control.
In the event of civil unrest, the best advice is to avoid any large gatherings and monitor both local media and social media, such as Twitter regularly.
Travelling around London?
Despite the 2005 attacks, the London underground is one of the safest, most efficient methods of travelling around the city. It can be uncomfortable to use during peak hours and throughout the summer months, it is also at these times when the likely risk of pickpocketing is most troublesome. Remain alert to this when using the underground.
Taxis in London can be expensive but they are reliable and safe. Official London black cabs are very safe and easy to use. It takes years to train to become an official black cab driver and they are highly regulated; unlike private hire and Uber. In black cabs, fares are metered and very transparent. If you are staying at a hotel in London, transportation can be booked via your concierge service or hotel reception. It is recommended that you use this form of transport whenever possible.
Popular shopping areas, such as Oxford Street, can get very crowded, which can result in an increased risk of multiple security threats. You should take extra care when in built up areas to avoid theft and assault. Individuals should consider the use of Close Protection, if they feel they are at a particular risk.
Commercial Travel Risk Services
Intelligent Protection International Limited provides companies and organisations with Commercial Travel Risk Services designed to mitigate risks of staff when they travel for business. If you are interested in these services, please see: Commercial Travel Risk Services.
Emergency services in London
Emergency services: 999
Note: Emergency services in the UK include Police, Medical, Fire and Coastguard service.
Anti-Terrorism Hotline: 0800 789 321
Currency: Pound Sterling
Time now in London:
London is a popular tourist destination and with over 16 million tourists travelling the city each year, most visits are pleasant and risk-free. There is a high threat from terrorism at present.
There are high levels of crime in some areas of London, but this does not tend to affect the popular tourist areas, where most visitors will spend the duration of their trip. There are cases of pick pocketing on the underground and in popular tourist destinations within London, the travel advice for London is that the risk of robbery can be reduced by not carrying large sums of cash or having expensive jewellery on display.
London is well-known for its night life. Generally, night clubbing does not represent too much of a serious risk, however you should avoid travel between clubs on foot during night time hours and be cautious of accepting free drinks from strangers, as there have been some isolated cases of spiking in the past.
Healthcare in London
Due to the coronavirus outbreak that is affecting the country, it is recommended to apply good hygiene practices and avoid contact with people showing flue-like symptoms. Both elderly people over the age of 70 and people with underlying health issues are recommended to stay at home for an extended period. If you are coughing and have fever, it is required to quarantine yourself for 14 days and only call emergency services if you have severe respiratory issues.
The overall health care in the United Kingdom is of a very high standard, the London Ambulance Service prides itself on its ability to respond to any medical emergency with an average response time of eight minutes. Hospitals in London and the rest of the United Kingdom are run by the National Health Service (NHS), and various other private health care services. Emergency out of hours care is readily available, including for dental emergencies.
The main hospitals in London include The University College London Hospital, the Royal London Hospital, Guy's and St Thomas'; the latter two being internationally renowned teaching hospitals.
If you are an EU citizen, all medical treatment in NHS hospitals are free on presentation of an EU health card.
Consular information for London
24 Grosvenor Square,
Telephone: +44 207 4999 000
Emergency Telephone: +44 207 4999 000
14 Three Kings' Yard,
Telephone: +44 20 7312 2200
Telephone: +44 20 7073 1000
39 Chesham Pl,
Telephone: +44 20 7235 5555
30 Princes Gate,
Telephone: +44 20 7581 1281
For further embassy information and locations please see our live travel map below.
Our offices in the United Kingdom
Intelligent Protection International Limited has an office in London and its international headquaters is located in the Cotswolds, near Cheltenham.
For further information on our services in the UK, see: Close Protection Services in the UKIntelligent Protection International Limited - London
Tel: +44 207 4566740
Intelligent Protection International Limited - Headquaters
Tel: +44 1453 791444