≡ Menu

What is a Code 3 UK Immigration Stamp?

Q: I was given a code 3 stamp in my passport when entering England (UK) via Gatwick, what does this mean? A: Generally, being given a code 3 entry stamp when going through UK immigration is nothing to worry about in and of itself. All landings in England/ UK are coded, and tourists are generally [...]

Support VBJ’s writing on this blog:

Q: I was given a code 3 stamp in my passport when entering England (UK) via Gatwick, what does this mean?


Generally, being given a code 3 entry stamp when going through UK immigration is nothing to worry about in and of itself. All landings in England/ UK are coded, and tourists are generally given a 5n status — which means that their landing card was discarded and no record kept on their entry/ exit from the country. When a code 3 stamp is placed into a passport it means that the person’s landing card is being retained and that UK immigration is going to keep a record on them.

The code 3 stamp in your passport is just to say “We are watching you,” and to trigger a warning sign to any subsequent UK immigration officer who may preside over your entry procedures in the future. Code 3 status just means that your UK immigration record is being tracked, as they have suspicions that you may be planning to break their immigration laws (i.e. overstaying your visa, working illegally, or some other sort of violation).

In and of itself, a code 3 status is not something to fear, and you should not worry about it too much. But you should take precautions to follow UK immigration laws exactly as they are stated and take special care the next time you enter England to be able to show that you have adequate funding, a fool proof itinerary, an onward air ticket etc.

They are watching you.

If you have any further questions feel free to leave them as a comment below.

Walk Slow,


Original question about a code 3 UK immigration stamp


I entered the UK with a tourist visa with the intention of spending my vacation here at Manchester and also shopping. I entered through Gatwick but at the airport i was extensively questioned for over four hours, made to go through x-ray scanning, finger printing, several interviews, extensive search of my luggage, diaries etc. Nothing related to me having any connection with anybody in the UK was found.

Thereafter i was further detained in a room there at the airport and made to fill and sign deportee/ detainee forms but after about 4 hrs of waiting, the immigration officer walked up to me where i was delayed and handed over my passport to me and told me i could go but i noticed that a coded permit to enter (Code 3) was stamped on my passport.

Can someone tell me why all these and the implication of this to my subsequent entry and visa applications.


Filed under: Border Crossing, England, Immigration, Travel Help, Visas

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3704 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Support VBJ’s writing on this blog:

VBJ is currently in: New York City

7 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

  • AlwaysWatchedAmerican March 5, 2012, 3:44 am

    I was visiting my boyfriend in the UK for a month just on a 6 month visitors. My last week here I came down with the flu and was bedridden. I haven’t taken my flight, but we both decided I wasn’t fit to travel and We just accepted my return ticket as a loss, and in a few more weeks, I’ll eventually fly back home to the states…
    Will I get in trouble for not leaving when UK border asked me to? I know this sounds silly but I worry about things like that. Thanks 🙂

    Link Reply
  • Vanessa November 1, 2012, 9:11 am

    I was given a code V stamp in my passport when entering England (UK) via Heathrow. What does it mean?

    Link Reply
  • Marie December 3, 2012, 3:50 pm

    I entered the UK via Manchester from USA on 11/25/12. I was detained by the border agency representative for over 2 hrs and questioned extensively about amount of cash carried (less than 5000 USD), required to show proof of return ticket and my friend whom I was visiting was also questioned about my reasons for coming to visit. After vigorous interrogations my passport was stamped with a code-3 with the following letters and numbers LWG97748. Do you know what this means? This is NOT my first trip to the UK and I have traveled extensively globally and this is the first time I have encountered this problem. As a retired American citizen the freedom to travel when and where I please is a privilege I greatly enjoy and found the experience at Manchester both unsettling and humiliating. The border agent offered NO explanation for seemingly singeling me out but I am concerned about any future return trips to the UK as a result to this incident. I have never violated any immigration laws in the UK or elsewhere.

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard December 4, 2012, 8:05 pm

      This has become a sad state of affairs: some European countries seem very worried about older foreigners visiting, and they are sometimes hassled like you were. This has not been the first time this has been reported to us. My guess is that may be afraid that you’re going to have health issues or try to stay and “retire” there. It is pretty pitiful, and really represents this new trend in European immigration policies.

      Anyway, this article says everything I know about the Code 3 stamp.

      Link Reply
  • IO5411 February 26, 2013, 1:08 pm

    The LWG97748 is taken from your landing card. It is your arrival number in UK immigration law terms. The Code 3 stamp means you have been put on a watch list for future reference.

    Link Reply
  • IO5411 February 26, 2013, 1:09 pm

    It means you have been admitted into the UK as a visitor. The V stands for visitor.

    Link Reply
  • IO5411 February 26, 2013, 1:14 pm

    If UKBA check the passenger manifest in future then yes, you could be detained and removed if they find out that you didn’t leave the UK within your 6 months.

    Link Reply