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I believe that as a US citizen I can enter the UK or the EU (until 2021) without a visa for tourism or business purposes for up to 6 months. (Correct me if I'm wrong.)

I'm an independent consultant with clients in the USA. While traveling - for leisure! - I will from time to time also do work for these clients - not just checking email, but also writing/reviewing documents, programming, etc.

This is presumably allowed. (If not, why not?)

My question is: Do I need to mention any of this if I somehow get stopped on entrance and asked what the purpose of my visit is? I'd like to know if the one-word answer "tourism" is sufficient in this case.

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  • Also note that some countries have temporary closed their borders due to the corona virus. You would for example not be able to come into Denmark, since the border is closed for non essential persons.
    – MTilsted
    Mar 14, 2020 at 18:20

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(Correct me if I'm wrong.)

You're wrong. You can enter the UK for up to six months per visit without a visa. In all other EU countries except Ireland, the limit is 90 days in any 180-day period. This is counted separately for each non-Schengen EU country and for the Schengen area.

Ireland is either 90 days or three months; I don't remember which. I think the limit is per visit rather than within a certain period, but I am not certain.

This is presumably allowed. (If not, why not?)

It's certainly not allowed in the UK. The reason is that the law forbids people to work in the UK without a proper visa. The other reason is that legislation and even political consensus haven't caught up with the realities of modern technology.

(Canada, by contrast, explicitly permits this on the argument that such work does not affect the domestic labor market. Whether other EU countries are more like the UK or Canada is not particularly clear.)

Do I need to mention any of this if I somehow get stopped on entrance and asked what the purpose of my visit is? I'd like to know if the one-word answer "tourism" is sufficient in this case.

If you're going to the UK, failing to mention it in an interview would constitute deception, a serious violation that can lead to a 10-year ban, but mentioning it will result in refused entry. A conundrum.

However, US citizens these days are not generally interviewed, thanks to automated passport gates, so you probably won't have to employ deception. Working during your visit will still be a violation, howesver.

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  • Thank you. I guess I didn't understand what "business purposes" were - just going to a meeting or doing a deal or something on behalf of your US company I suppose. Should I ask another question about what is the proper visa for this kind of thing? (Especially this remote work mixed with tourism.) And/or how to justify it to cause the least trouble (in having it granted)? Or is it (practically) unobtainable?
    – davidbak
    Mar 14, 2020 at 5:08
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    @davidbak I think they'll tolerate a small amount of incidental business communication during a tourist visit. Business visits are for meeting business associates in the UK. There is no visa for someone to work remotely in the UK, again, this is because "legislation and even political consensus haven't caught up with the realities of modern technology."
    – phoog
    Mar 14, 2020 at 5:21
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    @davidbak It might help you to read the UK Immigration Rules for visitors gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/… Also, to note how the Common Travel Area works travel.stackexchange.com/questions/138745/… AFAIK, the UK’s approach is similar to the US, which doesn’t allow visitors entering under the Visa Waiver Programne to do the kind of work you’re describing either.
    – Traveller
    Mar 14, 2020 at 6:43

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