Will I Be Arrested for Back Council Tax at Heathrow?

“Dear Jon,

Back in England I couldn’t afford to pay my Council Tax when working and eventually it went to a payment plan. However shortly after this, I emigrated and naturally haven’t heard anything since. I’m now having to head back due to a sick Mother in February (over a year since I emigrated) and I’m concerned about being arrested at Heathrow.

Given that not paying Council Tax in the UK can eventually lead to a prison sentence, I’m worried that a year after leaving the UK for America it will have progressed to the point where I may get stopped at the UK Border at Heathrow and taken into custody. Is there any chance of being arrested for this?



First, you will not be stopped or detained when you return to the UK. While paying council tax is a priority bill and important, and the councils do exercise their powers in collecting it, you will not be arrested just for owing council tax.

A couple of questions:

How much council tax did you owe, and from what years?

When was your last contact with the council?

Do you know what has gone on with the collection process since you left?

I ask as while you will not be stopped when you return, it doesn’t mean the council ceased their collection efforts. They may have looked into getting a CCJ against you, or using bailiffs to try and collect what is owed. Not that any of this is really an issue for you while visiting, but it is good to be informed as to what action may have been taken against you. Especially if you were to return to live here.



Jon Emge is an experienced UK debt advisor who has helped thousands and thousands of people in the UK to deal with problem debt. Jon specialises in finding good solutions for problem debt using a variety of UK specific techniques.

If you have a question you’d like to ask about how to get out of UK debt, just use the online form. I’m happy to help you for free.

Leave a Comment