UK Visitor Visas allow people to enter the UK for short periods for leisure, to engage in limited business activities, or simply to travel through the Uk en route to elsewhere. This section has 3 pages:

  • Standard Visitor Visa: This visa allows people to enter the UK for travel, tourism, and leisure purposes; as well as short term unpaid business appointments, academic conferences, participating in sporting events or creative/artistic work, and receiving private medical treatment in the UK. 
  • Permitted Paid Engagement Visa: this visa allows people to enter the UK for up to a month to take part in a paid engagement. Such as a public speaking engagement, chairing a meeting, or attending a conference. 
  • Who needs a UK visitor visa?: This guide gives details on who needs a visitor visa to enter or travel through the UK.

UK Standard Visitor visa

The standard visitor visa allows people to enter the UK for several reasons. This includes travel, tourism, and leisure purposes; as well as short term business appointments, academic conferences, participating in sporting events or creative/artistic work, and receiving private medical treatment in the UK.

Length of stay

This visa is usually issued for 6 months. However, it can be extended in the following circumstances:

  • You can prove you need to visit the UK regularly over an extended period of time 
  • You are undertaking academic research in the UK 
  • You are coming to the UK for private medical treatment

Business and work activities

This visa is available for a wide array of short term business and work engagements, these include:

  • Attending business conferences or training 
  • Academic work, such as research or accompanying international students on a study program 
  • Participating in a specific sporting event 
  • Medical professionals entering the UK for clinical attachment or observation 
  • Applying for, or enquiring about, funding to start or run a UK business as a prospective entrepreneur 
  • Taking the following tests: Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test or sit the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE)

Eligibility requirements

Applicants for the Standard Visitor visa must meet several eligibility requirements for their visa to be granted. All applicants must:

  • Prove that they intend to leave the UK when their visit is over 
  • Prove that they have sufficient funds to support themselves and any family members included in the application while in the UK 
  • Prove that they have sufficient funds to pay for a return/onward travel ticket when their visit is over, and any other travel costs

Documentation

Standard Visitor visa applicants must supply several documents with their application. These include:

  • Current passport and/or other travel documents 
  • A separate passport photograph, with the applicant’s name on the back

Additional documents may also be needed depending on the specific purpose of the visit.


UK Permitted Paid Engagement visa

The Permitted Paid Engagement visa is a short term visa which allows non-EEA nationals to enter the UK for up to a month to take part in a paid engagement. Such as a public speaking engagement, chairing a meeting, or attending a conference.

Length of stay

This visa is issued for no longer than 1 month.

Eligibility requirements

Applicants for the Permitted Paid Engagement visa must meet several eligibility requirements for their visa to be granted. All applicants must:

  • Be older than 18 
  • Prove they have sufficient funds to support themselves while in the UK 
  • Prove they have sufficient funds to pay for their journey out of the UK 
  • Not be in transit to a country outside of the UK, Ireland, the Isle of Wight, or the Crown Dependencies (Isle of Mann, Jersey, and Guernsey)

Documentation

Permitted Paid Engagement visa applicants must supply several documents with their application. These include:

  • Current passport and/or other travel documents 
  • A separate passport photograph, with the applicant’s name on the back 
  • Proof of maintenance funds to cover expenses during their stay 
  • Details of their travel plans and UK accomodation 
  • An invitation from the organisation paying them for the engagement in the UK 
  • Proof that the engagement relates to their professional or academic qualifications and expertise

Who needs a UK visitor visa?

If you are not a British Citizen or a citizen of an EU/EEA country, you may need a Visitor Visa before you travel to the UK. The list of countries for which a visa is needed for a visit to the UK is available below, as is the list of countries which require a visa to travel through the UK (Direct Airside Transit Visa).

Even if your country does not appear on this list, you may need a visa for other reasons, such as getting married in the UK.

You should apply for a UK visitor visa either using the UK government’s online service, or at a British Embassy or Consulate in the country where you are normally and legally resident. You should plan to apply for your travel visa well in advance of your proposed travel date. Some travel visas may be processed in 24 hours, but others may take longer, especially in cases where an interview is required. The process could take up to several weeks.

Once you have a valid UK travel visa, you should be allowed entry to the UK on arrival unless your circumstances have changed, you gave false information, or you did not tell the entry clearance officer important facts when you applied for your visa. The final decision, however, rests with the immigration officer at the UK port of arrival.

Visa Nationals

If you are a citizen of one of these countries, you will normally need to apply for a UK visitor visa if you wish to visit the UK:

   
AfghanistanLaos 
AlbaniaLebanon 
AlgeriaLesotho 
AngolaLiberia 
ArmeniaLibya 
AzerbaijanMacedonia 
Bahrain*Madagascar 
BangladeshMalawi 
BelarusMali 
BeninMauritania 
BhutanMoldova 
BoliviaMongolia 
Bosnia HerzegovinaMontenegro 
Burkina FasoMorocco 
BurmaMozambique 
BurundiNepal 
CambodiaNiger 
CameroonNigeria 
Cape VerdeOman* 
Central African RepublicPakistan 
ChadPeru 
People’s Republic of ChinaPhilippines 
ColombiaQatar 
ComorosRussia 
CongoRwanda 
CubaSao Tome e Principe 
Democratic Republic of the CongoSaudi Arabia 
DjiboutiSenegal 
Dominican RepublicSerbia 
EcuadorSierra Leone 
EgyptSomalia 
Equatorial GuineaSouth Africa* 
EritreaSouth Sudan 
EthiopiaSri Lanka 
FijiSudan 
GabonSuriname 
GambiaSwaziland 
GeorgiaSyria 
GhanaTaiwan* 
GuineaTajikistan 
Guinea BissauTanzania 
GuyanaThailand 
HaitiTogo 
IndiaTunisia 
IndonesiaTurkey  
IranTurkmenistan 
IraqUganda 
Ivory CoastUkraine 
JamaicaUnited Arab Emirates 
JordanUzbekistan 
KazakhstanVenezuela 
KenyaVietnam 
Korea (North)Yemen 
KosovoZambia 
Kuwait Zimbabwe 
Kyrgyzstan

This list was last updated in July 2016.

Direct Airside Transit Visa

Citizens of the following countries need a visa in order to travel through the UK (note that there are many exceptions to this listed at the bottom of this page):

  
AfghanistanLibya
AlbaniaMacedonia (former Republic of Yugoslavia)
AlgeriaMalawi
AngolaMoldova
BangladeshMongolia
BelarusNepal
Burma (Myanmar)Nigeria
BurundiPakistan
CameroonPalestinian Territories
People’s republic of ChinaRwanda
Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire)Senegal
Congo (Brazzaville)Serbia
EgyptSierra Leone
EritreaSomalia
EthiopiaSouth Africa
GambiaSouth Sudan
GhanaSri Lanka
GuineaSudan
Guinea-BissauSwaziland
IndiaSyria
IranTanzania
IraqTurkey
Ivory CoastTurkish Republic of Northern Cyprus
JamaicaUganda
KenyaVenezuela*
KosovoVietnam
LebanonYemen
LesothoZimbabwe
Liberia 

This list was last updated in April 2015

*Holders of biomentric Venezuelan passports are exempt

Exemptions

You do not need a transit visa if you are travelling from the same UK airport on the same day and you, or a person you are traveling with, holds any of the following:

  • A valid Australian, Canadian, New Zealand or US visa. Except Syrian nationals with a US B-1 or B-2 Visitor Visa, who must still obtain a Direct Airline Transit Visa. 
  • An expired  Australian, Canadian, New Zealand or US visa. Only ifyou are travelling as part of a ‘reasonable journey’ from the country the visa applies to, and it has been less than 6 months since you last entered that country with a valid visa.  
  • A valid Australian Permanent Resident Visa 
  • A valid Canadian Permanent Resident Card issued on or after 28th June 2002 
  • A valid New Zealand Permanent Resident Visa 
  • A valid USA I-551 Permanent Resident Card issued on or after 21st April 1998 
  • An expired USA I-551 Permanent Resident Card provided it is accompanied by a valid I-797 letter authorising an extension of the period of permanent residency 
  • A valid USA I-551 Temporary Immigrant Visa 
  • A valid standalone US Immigration Form 155A/155B attached to a brown sealed envelope 
  • A valid common format Category D visa for entry to an EEA state or Switzerland 
  • A valid common format residence permit issued by an EEA State pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No 1030/2002(1) or Switzerland 
  • A valid biometric visa issued by the Republic of Ireland 
  • A valid visa issued by a Schengen Area country under the approved destination status scheme. Only if you are travelling through the UK directly to a Schengen Area country. 
  • A valid airline ticket for travel through the UK as part of a journey from a Schengen Area country. Only if it has been less than 30 days since you last entered a Schengen Area country with a valid Schengen visa.  
  • A diplomatic or service passport issued by the People’s Republic of China 
  • A diplomatic or official passport issued by India 
  • A diplomatic or official passport issued by Vietnam 
  • A diplomatic passport issued by Turkey 
  • A alien (non-citizen) passport issued by Latvia or Estonia 
  • UK Visa Tier Points-Based Immigration System
    • Tier 1 Visa
      • Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa
      • Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur
      • Tier 1 Investor Visa
    • Tier 2 Visa for Skilled Workers
      • Tier 2 General Visa
      • Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer Visa
      • Tier 2 Visa Points System
      • UK Visa Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship
      • Tier 2 Sponsor Licence Application – How to apply
      • UK Tier 2 Shortage Occupation List
      • Tier 2 Minister of Religion Visa
      • Tier 2 Sportsperson Visa
      • Tier 2 Visa Resident Labour Market Test
      • Tier 2 visa switching from another visa scheme
      • Tier 2 Visa Government fees from 29 March 2019
    • Tier 3 Visa – Never Implemented and discontinued
    • Tier 4 Student Visas
      • Tier 4 Visa for International Students
    • Tier 5 Visa for Temporary Workers
      • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Charity Worker) visa
      • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting) visa
      • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Government Authorised Exchange) visa
      • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – International Agreement) visa
      • Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Religious Worker) visa
      • Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa
    • Who needs a UK Tier 2 Work Visa or other visa?
  • Non Tier UK Business visas
    • UK Innovator Visa
    • UK Start Up Visa
    • UK Sole Representative of an overseas business visa
    • UK Turkish Businessperson visa
  • UK Visitor Visas
    • UK Standard Visitor visa
    • UK Permitted Paid Engagement visa
    • Who needs a UK visitor visa?
  • UK Family Visas
    • UK Family of a settled person visa
      • UK Marriage visa (Family of a Settled Person Visa) tips
      • UK Fiancé visa (Family of a Settled Person Visa) tips
    • EEA Family Permit and UK Residence Card
    • UK Parent of a Tier 4 child visa
    • British Ancestry visa
    • UK Entry Clearance Guide
    • EU, EEA and Swiss Nationals Working in the UK
  • UK Permanent Residence and UK Citizenship
    • UK Permanent Residence/Indefinite Leave to Remain
    • UK Citizenship and Naturalisation – How to apply
      • Children Born Outside The UK
        • The British Nationality Act 1981
        • British Citizenship By Descent Or Otherwise
        • Children born outside the UK/qualifying territory
        • UK Children of parents in Crown and similar services
        • Children who will not be British citizens
        • List of Crown and services
      • Right of Abode (UK)
    • Long Residence in UK