Dear Jon,

I have a close friend in the UK who has been there for about 9 months to settle her father’s death settlement with the courts.

She is a US citizen and has finished up all necessary court proceedings and acquiring all necessary forms needed to take possession of the settlement. During her time there, she has generated a bit of debt in unpaid rent and utilities.

She says that they are not allowing her to leave until the debt is paid in full but does not have the means to do so until she returns home and has the inheritance collected.

I have tried different suggestions and finally told her to get on a plane and leave, then repay the debt after you are home.

She told me they put a do not board restriction on her until the debt is paid, so she cannot board a plane back to the US. It doesn’t sound right to me, but she said the UK government owns the rooms she was in, so they have the authority to do so.

Is there such law or right in the UK allowing what seems to me as imprisonment, not allowing a foreigner to board a plane out of the country due to unpaid bills?




I have not heard of anyone ever being detained or not allowed to board a plane just for owing money in the UK. I have never even heard of a “do not board” restriction, except in certain health issues, such as contagious diseases or all that is happening now, being required to show a negative Covid test within a certain time frame before flying.

Even owing money to the government here in the UK is no reason to be denied the right to leave the country.

What “rooms” is she staying at that owned by the UK government? The only government accommodations I know of are for asylum seekers and those being detained to be deported.

Owing money or being in debt is not a crime in the UK.

If you can provide us with some specifics:

How much does she owe, and to whom?

Has she been charged with any crimes?

What city is she living in?

Has she failed to meet any quarantine measures?

Has she contacted the US Embassy in London?

Has she overstayed here in any way? Was she on a Visitor Visa, or just here on holiday? Holiday stays are usually six (6) months.

Is her US Passport current? When does it expire?

If you wish to provide more details, you can post them in the comments, and I will research this more for you; if need be, make a few phone calls to see what more information I can find.



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