The British diplomatic mission (the British embassy or British consulate) is in an office in the capital or in a large city of your country and is the base for the UK's diplomatic representatives there. In Commonwealth countries the UK's diplomatic mission is called a High Commission and is headed by a High Commissioner; in all other foreign countries it is called the British Embassy and is headed by an Ambassador. High Commissions and Embassies perform the same functions and have the same status.
There are other diplomatic posts representing the UK in all countries overseas - a consular mission, or a British Consulate. Their prime function is to protect the interests of the British nationals living in or visiting your country. In the same way if you are a foreigner in England, embassy of your country is the place where you can seek information, help or guidance.
If you require any information concerning entry requirements to the UK for nationals of your country, you should enquire at the British Consulate or High Commission. Staff provide all kinds of other information about the UK and are happy to provide guidance.
When you arrive in the UK the immigration officer will ask you for a valid national passport or other document satisfactorily establishing your identity and nationality. You may also be asked for information to establish whether you require permission to enter the UK and, if so, on what terms.
You may require a visa to enter the UK, depending on your nationality and the purpose of your visit. Your local Embassy, High Commission or British Consulate can tell you whether you do need a visa. The UK visas website also provides an online visa enquiry form, which is a quick means of finding out whether you need a visa and the forms you may need to fill out.
Straightforward visa applications can often be processed within 24 hours. But this is not possible for all applicants. There may be a delay if the Visa Officer needs to make further enquiries, or if you will be asked to come for an interview. If you are coming to the UK for an event on a particular date you should make sure you allow enough time for your application to be processed. Students in particular need to apply in good time before the start of their course.
If you are visiting the UK from a country outside the EU you are allowed to bring with you a specific amount of tobacco, alcohol, perfume, toilet water and other goods without paying duty or tax. Items worth more in value than £145 carry a duty on their full value. Allowances are specified by travel operators and at duty-free shops. If you have no more than your allowances go through the green channel in the customs area on arrival; otherwise go through the red channel.
If you come directly from another EU country you do not need to go through red or green channels. You can bring as much alcohol and tobacco as you wish but you must satisfy customs officers that it is for your own consumption. There are guidelines as to amounts.
If you plan to bring your pet with you, note that the UK is rabies-free and because of the possibility of animals carrying diseases, there are strict rules regarding pets brought into the UK. Animals brought in must either enter under the rules of the Pet Travel Scheme or the new EU pet passport, or meet the UK's quarantine regulations.