I am a US citizen. I entered the UK on November 2016, and after my 3 months were over in the UK, I traveled to Spain for another 3 months. I am now in the United States since May.

Because I have been in Europe for 6 months, when is the earliest date I can legally return to England on a tourist visa?

  • What do you mean by "after my 3 months were over"? US citizens are normally given six months on entry into the UK.
    – phoog
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 17:29
  • I thought a tourist visa is just for 90 days/3 months?
    – Noura Jaq
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 17:33
  • 1
    A tourist visa is a sticker inserted into your passport by the consulate or its agent. As a US citizen, you probably don't have that. Instead, you probably have a stamp in your passport. That stamp normally says "leave to enter for six months." What does yours say? (You can see a picture of such a stamp in a US passport at Are UK entry stamps considered visas?).
    – phoog
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 17:37
  • Yes mine mentions "leave to enter for six months"
    – Noura Jaq
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 17:40

1 Answer 1


Your presence in other European countries has no bearing on your status in the UK. You can return to the UK immediately after you leave.

US citizens are normally given six months on entry. There is no rule about how much time you can spend in the UK in aggregate, only that you must leave before six months have elapsed (or, if you are admitted for a shorter time, you must leave before the end of that shorter period, of course).

You can't, however, stay in the UK indefinitely by leaving for a short time just before your period expires and then returning for another several months. If you do that, the officer will refuse entry. This is a little problematic because there's no strict rule you can point to to say that you should or should not be allowed in. You just have to convince the immigration officer each time that you are a "genuine visitor." Another way of putting this is that you are not attempting to live in the UK through successive or frequent visits.

If you are returning more than six months after your last entry, and you stayed in the UK for three months, then you are unlikely to be suspected of trying to live in the UK through successive or frequent visits.


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