For any information regarding travelling to the UK from your country, the official source of reference should be the Visas and immigration website of the UK government. For your convenience, here below is a summary of the main things to keep in mind.
First of all, check online if you need a visa here. Select your country from the drop-down list, then “Work, academic visit or business” as the reason for your visit, and “6 months or less” – the conditions that apply to your country will then be displayed.
From some countries (e.g. EU, Australia and others) you may not need a visa to “go to a conference, meeting or training”; but remember that you will still need to “show officers at the UK border that you’re eligible for a Standard Visitor visa, even if you don’t need one”, which normally means your valid passport (note: national identity cards are accepted from some EEA countries, but if you also have a passport we would advice to use that instead).
If you do need to obtain a visa, then you should request a Standard Visitor visa, which in most cases costs £95 (as of October 2020). You should be able to apply online from most countries but the procedure may vary and it might take up to 3 weeks to get a response, so plan your time accordingly. All the relevant information is available here. Delegates from the United Arab Emirates can get an electronic visa waiver (EVW) for £30. You can apply online for an EVW here.
As you certainly know, the UK is now officially set to leave the EU on 1 January 2021. This is most likely going to affect travelling to the UK from EU member states – e.g. current passport, visas and health insurance (your EHIC – European Health Insurance Card) may no longer be valid after 31 December 2020. We will update this section with the relevant information as soon as we know more.
If you are travelling from a EU/EEA country, or from any of the following countries – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, USA – you can use the automatic ePassport gates at some airports if your passport has a ‘chip’ on it, or follow the EU/EEA lane at passport control.
If you are travelling from another country (i.e. not listed above), you no longer have to fill in a landing card but you will have to follow the All Other Passports lane.
You can find further information regarding passport control procedures here.
At the moment (October 2020) there are also additional safety procedures in place with regards to COVID-19: e.g. you must complete the UK Government passenger locator form before you arrive in the UK from any country. Hopefully, this will not be the case by the time you attend the conference but we will keep this section posted with any relevant updates in the forthcoming months.