If you have come to the UK and you need to stay because you would be in danger in your country of origin or residence, and you want the UK to grant you international protection, you need to claim asylum.

You claim asylum via the UK Home Office.

Read this page to find out how and where you claim asylum and what the asylum process is. On this page, you can find out about lawyers/solicitors; whether you are allowed to work in the UK; accommodation and financial support; reporting to the Home Office; and immigration detention. Find out how long the asylum process takes; evidence you might need to win your claim; and actions you should be taking at this stage to be in the best possible position to get the right to stay.

The UK government may refuse to consider asylum claims made after 1 January 2021 if they believe you “could enjoy sufficient protection in a safe third country” if you travelled through other countries on your way to the UK. Read the section below to find out more about these new “inadmissibility” rules.

How and where to claim asylum

The Home Office expect people to claim asylum immediately on entry to the UK. If you do not do this, the Home Office may say you are not really in danger. If you didn’t claim asylum as soon as you came to the UK, you will need to explain why you didn’t claim asylum immediately, and provide evidence of this where possible.

Some people claim asylum immediately on entering the UK, at the port at which they arrive. They do this by telling the immigration officials there that they wish to claim asylum. If you do this, you will usually have your first interview to gather basic information about you and your journey – your screening interview – that day or in the next five days.

If you don’t claim asylum immediately on entering the UK, you will generally need to register your asylum claim by telephoning to make an appointment to claim asylum at the Screening Unit in Croydon. This is the same for adults and children – in the case of unaccompanied children, however, they should have their welfare interview locally rather than having to travel to Croydon if that is not the nearest Home Office branch.

If you have nowhere to live, you do not need to telephone first to register your asylum claim – you can just present yourself at the Screening Unit in Croydon. See the Screening Interview page for information on phoning the Home Office and presenting in person. You should also check our Covid updates page to see if the process has changed because of the coronavirus public health crisis.

The exception to this process for claiming asylum is if you arrive to the UK in Northern Ireland – in this situation you claim asylum at the Home Office at Drumkeen House in Upper Galwally, Belfast.

You cannot claim asylum at a police station – though in some cases people who make themselves known at a police station may be directed to the Home Office.

If you are picked up by immigration enforcement teams before you have arranged to claim asylum, you need to tell them you wish to claim asylum.

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