Challenges with Border Guards - RE the Laws

So I was going through immigration at the airport and the agent asked what I planned to do in Dublin and where I was staying. … I couldn’t remember the name
Temple Bar, so I said that neighborhood with a lot of bars. … Then I paused and said, well, I guess that wouldn’t narrow things down in Dublin.

He laughed and said, have a good time.

I’m here to sightsee between sits in other countries.

In 2013 I was questioned intensely by the border guard at Heathrow. He wanted to know my age, income, where I worked, why was I here, where was I going, how much I had in the bank, the questions went on and on. He eventually let me through, but not before stating that had I been “younger” :face_with_spiral_eyes: he would have looked at me more closely. I did mention to him that at my age, the last thing I was looking at doing was changing careers and countries! I was in my late fifties then so was surprised.

The NEXT visit, got pulled up again. Why are you here, where are you going, typical questions. So I rattled off my entire planned itinerary for the length and breadth of England Scotland and Wales. He laughed and said have fun, you will be seeing more than I’ve ever seen of my own country.

So, it entirely depends I think on who you encounter at immigration as to what you are asked etc


I just learned a friend’s niece got refused entry to (I think) Sweden this summer for telling the truth - that she was volunteering at a music festival - instead of telling a different truth - that she was attending a music festival.

This very young adult was held for 4 hours and told they would not release her until she purchased a flight back to the US (which was not her next destination). They finally relented and let her fly to the UK, but then she had a stamp in her passport saying she’d been denied entry to the EU, making it difficult for her to meet up with the rest of her family, with whom she’d been traveling.

So, it’s not just housesitting. Never admit to volunteering for anything in a foreign country!


Hey there, everyone, our family really wants to do housesit in the United Kingdom. I am assuming we’d be fine if we told them that we were just there for tourism and visiting friends, but wanted to get an insider exclusive on what other peoples process was like with getting into the United Kingdom doing a trusted housesit. Looking forward to hearing your experiences, and any information that you guys can share. Just as a note, we will be traveling from the United States. Thanks again, everyone!

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Welcome @TheBrandons0819 .

If you have young children then you won’t be able to use the e-gates so you will be “questioned” by a Border Force Officer on arrival to U.K. . They will just be checking that you are genuine tourists and not planning to live or work in U.K.

If you are coming for a short holiday (during school holiday time ) - have sufficient funds for your trip, have return tickets to US, the address of the friends you are staying with and perhaps an itinerary of the tourist places you will be visiting that will be sufficient proof of your tourist status. They may also ask about your work back in US or your children’s school (so that they know you are going back ) . It’s unlikely that they will ask to see all of this but it will speed up the process if you have it to hand if requested .

If your children have a different surname to you also bring a copy of their birth or adoption certificates.

Adults with a US passport flying to U.K. without young children can use the e-gates so won’t get questioned ( unless the e-gates are shut/ broken ) .


I’ve entered the UK from the US 5-6 times in the last 3 years. A mix of tourism and business. Egates available about 1/2 the time, so I talked to a human a few times. Always simple questions about how long I was staying, where (city, region) I was visiting, “pleasure or business?”, etc. I never had to provide any documents other than Passport, or any specific details.

If I was entering for a sit, and were asked, I would state that I was visiting for pleasure and staying with a friend. I feel both answers are truthful.

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Just as an FYI about 170 of 195 countries use passports with a chip in them.
You don’t need a stamp for them to know where you’ve been.
I have more than one nationality.
In renewing my trusted traveler docs the officer knew EVERYWHERE I had crossed a border no matter which passport I had used.
BTW many dual nationals are not aware that most countries require that if you are a citizen of that country you MUST enter the country using that passport. If it is an EU passport then you must enter the EU using the passport of the EU country of which you are a citizen.
Also true of the USA and the UK.

Interesting. I just booked a last-minute trip and am flying into Brussels. Not sit-related. Wonder if I’ll be interrogated. Has only really happened to me entering the UK.

Another thing to be aware of:
If you have a laptop with you, make sure it’s personalized and gives more “personal stuff” vibe than “remote worker” or “intend to sell this nice new laptop” vibe.
Coworkers have been interrogated traveling with their work laptop. The half-joking advice is to put stickers all over it, maybe duct tape.

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@Katie Don’t most people travel with laptops these days? I’ve never been asked about traveling with a laptop (and sometimes I travel with two).

I’m mainly referring to people traveling to or via developing countries where it’s been an issue.

An article in The Guardian today:

After mounting criticism of the Home Office, revised guidance was given to the Border Force to issue immigration bail where appropriate rather than detention. Immigration bail would allow citizens to enter the country on the proviso they left within the required three months.

Sometimes they have been nasty and/or stupid.

The reporter is asking for people willing to share their story about refusals at the UK border.

Fellow BC resident here,and I agree that that border crossing is notoriously difficult. I know many people that have been stopped and grilled for a long time, regardless of their age, race or reason for crossing. They’re brutal. I think you just got a very difficult guard. Good to know and good reminder for the rest of us! I like the advise to just say you’re ‘staying at a friends house’. I think that’s close enough to avoid issues.

I always prepare files on my next trip, with maps, contacts, mails, telephones, emergency contacts ( embassy, consulate, lawyers speaking my language, insurance registration etc.) i keep in my bag (in case my suitcase would be lost in airports…)
A few months ago i went to California i was very careful to print only parts of my mails with 2 owners, i deleted all infos about their pets. Their phones were listed on my cell. With no mention of sit or THS after their name ( not either on whatsapp)

Paranoid ? I kept all other infos (welcome guide, routine) on different files on my lap top without any mention of petsitting in a selected directory called California 2023 not THS or pet sitting…

I had initially added the copy of the lounge pass for SF with my flight ticket, suddenly i thought it might be risky to keep it in my bag, with my boarding pass, even in my suitcase as it was supposed to be used only on my return !
Why a lounge pass would have been given to me by

what could i have explained to the immigration officer if i was asked ?

For the same reasons when i learned that THS has printed a letter to explain to US authorities what pet sitting is, i would never travel with this letter. Much too dangerous. Contradictory to what i would tell immigration : i’m visiting friends, i plan to do tourism.

I explained to the officer all the places i hoped to visit : San Francisco, sausalito, Muir woods, big sur.

i could show him a few hôtels reservations i had booked via booking com (printed too with my return ticket )
I had already decided to cancel these bookings once arrived safely in the States ( free cancellation)

One of my friends lives in California, she was ok to tell any officer i would stay at her place on my arrival. Which was not true.

I’m very careful with the immigration process. Don’t want to face any rejection and then not be allowed to come back to the country…

A few years ago in Vancouver, i was asked by an officer about cheese, and other products i could have brought from France as gifts to my friends, i knew it was forbidden.

My canadian friends had warned me that if i lied to customs, i would be banned for ever, i could not go back to B.C , not to Canada. So i did not dare to bring and hide a camembert…

It really sucks when you get a serious, litigious border official, but at the end of the day it’s their job. They’re also human, and so we’re also at the mercy of their mood on the day.

Multiple entries draw attention, depending on your passport country.

I’ve never been questioned, but I alway tick tourist, and write the address of my THS holiday accommodation which is true. YES!, Personally I consider THS holiday accommodation with the added bonus of pet cuddles, but I know some people in the community consider this a lifestyle.

Just today I was reading about the ‘Fivefold rise in number of EU citizens refused entry to UK since Brexit’: Fivefold rise in number of EU citizens refused entry to UK since Brexit | Immigration and asylum | The Guardian

Thanks for posting this; really useful to have in my travel wallet!

Before the pandemic I used to always tell the guards I was house sitting! I never had an issue doing so and they would be so fascinated, asking all the ins and outs of it (same thing if you mention couchsurfing lol) The admission of staying at a stranger’s house really opened up their curiousity lol

Since the pandemic though, I absolutely DO NOT mention sitting whatsoever. I don’t know if it’s because of its rise in popularity or what but I definitely believe the rules around it will only continue to get stricter and I’m not willing to chance being banned from the US (or anywhere)!

Best bet is to just say you’re staying with friends, hostels, Airbnbs, camping etc, they’re not nearly as interested in that

I currently have my SUV done up as a camper too for those gaps between sits so even if they start snooping around it’s pretty legit! There’s a few other ways to have “proof” that you aren’t sitting, you just have to get creative

We have travelled dozens of countries pre house sitting with zero issues. Literally the world.

Our first sit crossing to Blaine from Vancouver? Lol - where our favourite restaurant is…

Criminals. They took our “biometrics” and warned us we would be charged with fraud if we tried again.

We were stealing jobs.

So we stayed in Victoria and spent our $3000 there.


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So if we say we are volunteers that may work?

No - volunteering is still not allowed.

Why say anything?