Home > UK Visitors > Do I Need a Visa to Visit the UK?

Do I Need a Visa to Visit the UK?

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 20 Nov 2015 | comments*Discuss
 
Do I Need A Visa To Visit The Uk?

There are many different categories of UK visa. Whether or not a foreign national will require a visa before they can visit the UK will depend on a number of factors. In particular:

  • The purpose of their visit to the UK;
  • The length of their visit to the UK;
  • The nationality of the visitor;
  • The country of residence of the visitor.

Where to Find Information About UK Visa Requirements

The UK Border Agency has a dedicated website to provide information about visa requirements for travel to the UK. Visitors to the site can complete a very short online questionnaire. From the answers provided the website will tell them whether or not they need a visa. The website also contains a list of all countries whose citizens require a visa to enter – or in some cases transit through – the UK. Alternatively any British Embassy or Consulate which provides visa services will be able to provide the necessary information.

The UK Border Agency visa website provides a complete list of the countries whose nationals require a visa to come to the UK. Citizens of countries which are included in this list are known as visa nationals. The citizens of countries not listed are known as non-visa nationals.

Coming to the UK as an EU Citizen

European Union and European Economic Area citizens do not, generally, require visas to live or work in the UK. However, citizens of some of the newer EU member countries may require permission if they wish to work in the UK.

Coming to the UK for a Holiday

A foreign national who intends to spend less than six months in the UK before returning home, and who can support themselves financially whilst they are here, is likely to be classed as a visitor for visa purposes.

If the visitor is a visa national they will require a visitor’s visa to come to the UK. A visitor’s visa may be valid for between six months and 10 years. The holder of the visa may leave and re-enter the UK repeatedly whilst the visa is valid as long as they never stay in the UK for longer than six months. Non-visa nationals will not need a visa to visit the UK for a holiday provided they leave within six months.

Coming to the UK to Study

Foreign citizens, other than nationals of EU or European Economic Area (EEA) countries who wish to study in the UK must obtain entry clearance before they travel to the UK. Anyone wishing to study in the UK who is not an EU/EEA national will require a visa. If the course they intend to study lasts less than six months they may be entitled to travel on a student visitor visa. Students who are due to study a full-time university or school course will require a full student visa.

Coming to the UK to Work

Citizens of the EEA are allowed to work in the UK without obtaining a visa. However, citizens of some countries who joined the EU recently may need to register with the UK Border Agency or obtain permission before they start work.

Nationals of other countries will require a visa before they can work in the UK. The visa, and method of application, will depend on the applicant’s skills and the type of work they do. From late 2008 the system for those applying for a work visa is due to change with different categories of worker and a new points-based system being introduced.

Travelling Through the UK

The nationals of some countries will need a visa even if they will only be travelling through the UK in transit to another country. Non-visa nationals will not require a visa to transit through the UK. Some visa nationals will not require a visa provided that they spend less than 24 hours in the UK and are guaranteed entry to their final destination. However, some visa nationals will always require a visa to enter the UK, therefore, it is vital that visa nationals check the requirements before they travel.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
If a foreign national (from Israel) is visiting the UK and their baby is born here prematurely. Do they pay hospital charges to the NHS? What will be the situation if they cannot afford to pay for some of the treatment? I feel sure the NHS would not allow a premature baby to die because of a lack of funds. How is this managed?
John - 20-Nov-15 @ 10:46 PM
@donna - as specified in our article a foreign national who intends to spend less than six months in the UK before returning home, and who can support themselves financially whilst they are here, is likely to be classed as a visitor for visa purposes. The British Embassy Algiers will give you more details on how to obtain a visa here.I hope this helps.
AboutImmigration - 3-Nov-14 @ 11:56 AM
I need to take someone from algeria to the uk but only for a few months and im not sure exactly how i could do this and id much appreciate it if someone could please help me out .
donna - 1-Nov-14 @ 12:31 PM
I have a question, i dont need a visa to entre the uk and may i leave and re-enter the UK repeatedly after my six months as long as i dont overstay my 6 months? Thank you
Bobby - 25-Sep-14 @ 8:24 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Zeba
    Re: Giving Birth to a Child in the UK
    I've visited to U.K. With my husband and a one year child but I was pregnant when I visited and there accidentally I'd got…
    23 August 2017
  • Lek
    Re: Giving Birth to a Child in the UK
    My son he was born in the U.K. In 2014 but I have work permits visa. Question is how he get British citizenship or British…
    23 August 2017
  • Cheema
    Re: Marrying a UK Citizen
    Hi I am a British citizen and my partner is an Indian citizen who has overstayed his visa in the UK. We wish to get married soon, however…
    22 August 2017
  • Marta
    Re: Applying for UK Citizenship
    I've obtained a Permanent Residence document and would like to apply for a British Citizenship and Passport. I've lived in the UK…
    22 August 2017
  • Gulsah
    Re: Giving Birth to a Child in the UK
    Hello, My daughter was born 21st July 2017 and I have got my ILR on 8th August 2017. Is my daughter british citizen…
    22 August 2017
  • TeeJay
    Re: Life as a UK Citizen
    I am British married to an Italian 7 Years ago, living in Italy. We are both retired. If we wanted to return to the Uk, what are my husband's…
    22 August 2017
  • ana
    Re: Applying for UK Residency
    Hi, I have a few questions. Firstly, My boyfriend has a blue Belgian passport and he currently lives in Belgium. I am a British…
    22 August 2017
  • Zakiish
    Re: Applying for Visas for Extended Family
    Hello:my name is issack in kenya refugee ,my sister is u.k citizen and i would like to join her in u.k what is the…
    22 August 2017
  • AboutImmigration
    Re: Giving Birth to a Child in the UK
    Harry - Your Question:Myself and my wife are Indian citizens. My son was born and brought up in India and was a Indian…
    22 August 2017
  • rob
    Re: Registering a Child as a UK Citizen or National
    My daughter was born in 1980 in Botswana.Am British , mother Tswana. Daughter has Botswana passport. Was…
    22 August 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the AboutImmigration website. Please read our Disclaimer.