I overstayed for a year over 10 years ago with student visa. When I left the UK voluntarily, the custom officer told me I needed to explain to the officer with a reason if I re-enter the country, this was in April 2008. I now have a Canadian passport, which does not require a visa for short travel in the UK. Would I be ok to visit the Uk again?

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    Closely related, but not quite a duplicate: Recently naturalized American visiting the UK, previously denied visa. Apply for entry clearance?.
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 4:14
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    Did they make a note? Did they give you any papers?
    – user58558
    Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 10:41
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    @ Patricia Shanahan obviously. But the papers may suggest he was considered to have been “required to leave.”
    – user58558
    Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 17:00
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    Prior to the stop at exit immigration, did the UK give you any communication to the effect that you have overstayed and it's time to leave? Letter... Getting stopped by border force, that kind of thing? Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 17:06
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    @Harper He can’t have been stopped by UK Border Force when leaving in 2008, because it has only existed since March 2012. He might have been stopped by the UK Border Agency that preceded Border Force (or by the Border and Immigration Agency if it was in the first three months of 2008)
    – Mike Scott
    Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 14:34

2 Answers 2


The most comfortable way to find out is to apply for a visa, rather than attempting UK entry under visa waiver.

If you apply for a visa you will be able to answer any questions about your overstay, and why you are not going to repeat it, as part of your application. If you go visa waiver, your interview will be just after a long haul flight, when you may be tired and so a bit less articulate.

If you are denied entry on arrival, you will have two transatlantic flights in quick succession, possibly separated by a stay in a immigration holding area while your return flight is being arranged. If you are denied a visa, you will find out about it while still at home, and can pick somewhere other than the UK to visit.

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    As far as I know, interviews for UK visas are unheard of. The application will be decided in the UK based on the application form and evidence.
    – MJeffryes
    Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 15:25
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    @MJeffryes Even better. The OP will be able to write carefully, sleep on it, and have others review the application. Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 16:17
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    @MJeffryes, I've seen clips from UK visa interviews in fly-on-the-wall documentaries. At least in some countries they did exist only a few years ago. Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 17:12

The UK is NOT the same as it was in 2008.

Border controls have tightened significantly, especially in the wake of UK nationals travelling to fight for ISIS then returning via 'dubious and possibly surreptitious means', such as under another passport from a third nation via a 'visa waiver'.

Your entry, unannounced, will likely NOT be looked upon favourably by the SOFTWARE that performs most security checks this century, and you WILL be flagged as a suspicious individual attempting entry into the UK. Global border controls have strengthened.

Given the UK has one of the best and most competent security services of any of the developed nations, computer-based analysis via super-computers tracking millions of individuals on file, globally, and the nation pioneered public CCTV and public facial-tracking, you may want to reconsider your 'simple plan'.

Apply for a visa prior to flight into the UK to comprehend your actual status and options or your short stay may not be... pleasant.

  • "Given the UK has one of the best and most competent security services of any of the developed nations"... Citation needed Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 22:12
  • See reality for more details.... Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 21:21

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