Book your visit

Online: Visit 

Phone: Contact the prison directly

How do I arrange a visit?

Visiting procedures vary from prison to prison and whether the person you are visiting is on remand or is a convicted prisoner. 

To find out what the procedures are for a particular prison you can:

  • Contact our helpline on 0808 808 3444
  • Visit the Inside Time website
  • Phone the prison directly
  • Call or email the prisons' visitors' centre if it has one

Difficulty booking a visit over the phone?

You may experience some difficulty booking a visit over the phone, and there can often be long waiting times, usually due to staff shortages and/or high demand.

You can keep trying to reach the booking team, or you can try contacting the switchboard or visitors' centre - they may be able to tell you what the issue is and how long it is likely to last, but they will not be able to book a visit for you. 

Some prisons allow you to book your next visit while you are there or book by e-mail. 

Can I take children?

Yes, children can be taken to visit someone in prison, unless the prisoner has been convicted of a child sex offence. In these cases, special rules apply. Some prisons have play areas within the visits hall, with toys and games and play workers which can help make the visit less scary. Some prisons may require ID for children as well as adults - you can check this by calling the visitors' centre or prison directly. 

Can I get help with the cost of visiting?

If you are on a low income or receive benefits you may be entitled to financial assistance for the cost of visiting your relative in prison. Help is provided by the Assisted Prison Visits Unit (APVU). Click here for more information. 

What do I need to bring?

When you visit a prisoner all visitors will need to have personal identification. Ideally this will be a passport or photo-driving licence.
If you do not have these you can download a list of acceptable alternatives.

Banned items

Do not attempt to bring any of the following into prison during your visit:

  • illegal drugs
  • alcohol
  • weapons
  • a camera
  • a mobile phone
  • indecent or obscene material
  • material that threatens the security of the prison
  • material that is written in code

If you are unsure what you can bring, contact the prison directly. 

Reception Visits

When prisoners first arrive into the prison, they often make a telephone call to family or friends to let them know where they are. This should happen within the first 24 hours (though this is not always possible, see Staying In Touch section below for more info).

Prisoners in a category B prison (or a prison that accepts prisoners going into custody for the first time either on remand or after sentencing) are entitled to a visit within the first 72 hours of their arrival - this is known as a reception visit, and it does not require a Visiting Order. It is the duty of the prison staff to inform all prisoners of this entitlement. 

A prisoner will not appear or be processed on the prison system until the first working day following a court appearance. Therefore, this is the earliest that someone will be able to book a visit. All visits need to be booked 24-48 hours in advance. Visitors should clearly state when they are booking that it is a reception visit.    

Can I give the prisoner money?

You can send the prisoner money in the form of a postal order but you cannot give it to them during a visit. See more details in the Property and Money in Prison section below.