United Kingdom Visa Policy

Check the UK’s visa policy and find out travel requirements for your nationality.

Visa Policy for the United Kingdom

The visa policy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) is the list of requirements and restrictions for nationals of other countries who wish to visit the UK.

The UK visa policy covers the four constituent countries that make up the United Kingdom: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, as well as the Crown dependencies of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands (the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Bailiwick of Jersey).

There are a number of different types of visa for the UK. The type required depends on the foreign visitor’s nationality, length of stay, and purpose of travel.

Travelers from the majority of countries must apply for a visa for the United Kingdom at their nearest UK Visa Application Centre.

Types of visa that can be obtained at an application centre include the Standard Visitor visa for the purposes of tourism, business, and medical treatment, the Marriage Visitor visa, the UK work visa, various categories of student visa, and a number of other visa options.

Around 90 different nationalities currently do not require a visa to enter the UK for stays of up to 6 months.

The Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) for the United Kingdom is required for citizens of a small number of visa-exempt countries. This electronic travel authorization can be obtained by completing an online application.

There are plans to introduce another visa waiver for visa-exempt countries in the near future, known as the electronic travel authorization (ETA). The UK ETA will be modeled on similar systems, such as the US ESTA, the Canadian eTA, and the Australian ETA.

The ETA for the UK will be an entry requirement for citizens of the European Union and Schengen Area when it is launched, following the country’s exit from the EU (Brexit).

See below further information about the UK’s rules and regulations regarding entry visas.

Tourist Visa Policy for the United Kingdom

The visa or travel authorization required to visit the United Kingdom as a tourist depends on the nationality of the foreign traveler.

Nationals of a select few countries must apply online for the UK electronic visa waiver (EVW), which allows them to visit for purposes of tourism. All travelers from these countries, including children, must have a valid EVW to enter the United Kingdom or Crown dependencies.

The UK EVW permits holders to stay in the UK for up to 180 consecutive days.

The Standard Visitor visa functions as a UK tourist visa, as well as covering visits for purposes such as business and visiting family. This multi-purpose visa replaced various other UK visas and permits foreign nationals to visit the UK for tourism.

The Standard Visitor visa for the UK can be obtained by completing an application form and attending an interview at a UK Visa Application Centre.

Nationals of around 90 different sovereign states will require a UK ETA to visit for tourist purposes in the near future. Such travelers will be able to register their details online in order to apply for this electronic travel authorization.

This is expected to be a simple application process, similar to the US ESTA, with a rapid turnaround time.

Learn more about the UK’s policy on tourist visas below.

EVW for the UK

The Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) for the United Kingdom is a travel authorization rather than a visa.

It is a requirement for visitors from a small number of countries, all of which are found in the Persian Gulf. Citizens of these countries do not need a visa to visit the UK, but they do need an EVW prior to traveling, according to UK visa policy.

Eligible travelers are required to complete the simple online application form for the UK EVW. This involves submitting some basic personal details, passport information, and travel plans.

The traveler must have a valid biometric passport, the details of which must be registered on the application. The approved UK EVW is then electronically linked to this passport.

A copy of the approved EVW is sent to the applicant by email. It can then be printed and presented along with the traveler’s passport upon arrival at UK border control.

All visitors to the UK from eligible countries must have a valid EVW to gain entry. Parents or legal guardians may complete the application on behalf of minors.

Consult the list below to see which nationalities require the EVW for the UK.

EVW for the UK: Country list

Click on the links below to find out more about each country

UK Electronic Travel Authorization

The Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) for the United Kingdom is a visa waiver planned for the near future.

The British government announced plans to introduce the ETA for the UK in December 2019.

Because of the Brexit separation, the UK is no longer part of the EU and once the transition period comes to an end, EU citizens will no longer enjoy freedom of movement to the country.

However, rather than having to go to a UK Visa Application Centre to apply for a visa, EU nationals will be able to obtain an ETA.

The UK ETA is an electronic authorization system that will function in a similar way to Canada’s eTA and the ESTA for the United States. The system will add an extra level of security screening for visa-exempt travelers that eliminates the need to obtain a visa.

It is expected that citizens of all EU and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries will require the ETA in order to visit the UK. Nationals of other visa-exempt countries may also have to apply.

Like the EVW, the ETA for the UK can be acquired by applying online.

Find more information about travelers who will be eligible for the UK ETA below.

Visa Required for the UK

Around 150 nationalities require a visa in advance for the UK. There are various types of UK visa, depending on the foreign national’s purpose of entering the country.

The UK Standard Visitor visa permits a foreign national to visit the United Kingdom for leisure, business (including sports-related, artistic, and entertainment events), and medical treatment. These generally allow the holder to stay in the UK for up to 6 months.

According to UK immigration policy, foreign nationals require a residence card to live in the country and a work visa to work in the UK economy. There are a number of different types of British work visa, depending on the length and type of work.

There are separate visas available for people who wish to get married, study, or join family already living in the UK.

Each type of UK visa has its own set of requirements.

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) is a division of the United Kingdom’s Home Office. It has many UK Visa Application Centres around the world where foreign nationals can attend an appointment to apply for a visa.

As part of the application process, the UK visa policy requires an international traveler to submit biometric identifiers (fingerprints, digital image of the face, etc.) unless the individual plans to visit the Channel Islands only.

Residents of various countries and territories must be tested for tuberculosis if they plan to stay in the UK for 6 months or more.

See below the list of nationalities that require a visa to visit the UK and Crown dependencies.

Visa Required for the UK: Country list

Click on the links below to find out more about each country

Transit Visa Required

Travelers of certain nationalities may need a UK transit visa in order to change flights in the country.

There are 2 types of transit visa for the UK.

The Visitor in Transit visa allows the holder to pass through border control and leave the airport for up to 48 hours between flights.

The Direct Airside Transit visa (DATV) is required by many nationalities to transit through a UK airport even if they do not pass through border control. The only airports that offer airside transit are London Heathrow, London Gatwick, and Manchester.

In order to apply for a UK transit visa, foreign nationals need to provide proof of onward travel and proof that they have permission to enter their destination country after leaving the UK (e.g. a visa for that country).

Visa Not Required for the United Kingdom

Citizens of various countries and territories may enter the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as well as the Crown dependencies, without a UK visa, at least for a certain period of time.

Thanks to the Common Travel Area arrangement between the UK and the Republic of Ireland, Irish nationals have the right to travel to the UK and remain there indefinitely.

Citizens of Commonwealth countries who have right of abode in the UK under the Immigration Act 1971 and citizens of Gibraltar have the same right.

Citizens of all EU countries and EFTA countries also currently have freedom of movement to the UK. However, now that the UK has left the EU, this will soon end once the transition period is complete.

Nationals of over 50 other countries and territories, including British Overseas Territories citizens (who do not have full British citizenship) are visa-exempt for entering the UK and may stay in the country for a maximum of 6 months without a visa.

However, if they enter the UK from the Republic of Ireland, they may only stay for up to 3 months.

Check which nationalities are exempt from UK visa requirements in the list below.

School Pupils Resident in the European Economic Area and Switzerland

School pupils who are not citizens of the European Union or European Economic Area countries or of Switzerland, but who are legal residents of one of these countries, may visit the UK without a visa as part of an organized school group accompanied by a teacher.

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