Overview:

  • consists of face-to-face interviews with a sample of passengers travelling via principal airports, sea routes and the Channel Tunnel

  • survey is conducted 362 days a year

  • the target number of interviews is 260,000 per year, although over 300,000 interviews have been conducted annually since 2009

  • the survey has been run since 1961

  • the overall response rate for the survey is approximately 80%

The International Passenger Survey (IPS) is a continuous survey at major ports of entry to, or exit from the UK. The survey provides data on international travel and tourism visits between the UK and abroad of less than 12 months, and on long and short term migrants. These statistics are important for measuring the impact of travel expenditure on the UK economy, estimating the number of migrants and providing information about international tourism and how it’s changed over time.

Published estimates are based on face-to-face interviews with a random sample of passengers as they enter or leave the UK. All interviews are conducted on a voluntary basis. Estimates are published monthly, quarterly and annually, although a single quarter is the minimum period required to make detailed analysis of the data.

Quarterly and annual datasets are available at the UK Data Service. Monthly and quarterly estimates are subject to revision and the final estimates are published in spring in the annual Travel Trends publication.

The primary purposes of the IPS are to collect data that will feed into the Balance of Payments (BoP) Travel Account. This information can then be used for migration and population estimates.

The survey is sponsored by a number of government departments, including the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the Department for Transport, the Scottish Government, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). Additional sponsorship for the survey comes from VisitBritain, VisitScotland and VisitWales

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