UK Visitor and Tourist Visas
This guidance explains what you will need to do if you wish to travel to the United Kingdom (UK) as a visitor. It is only a guide but aims to answer commonly asked questions about the UK Visit Visa.
You must be able to show that you:
• want to visit the UK for no more than six months
• plan to leave the UK at the end of your visit
• have enough money to support and accommodate yourself adequately without working or help from public funds
As a visitor you may:
• go to meetings and trade fairs, buy goods, negotiate and complete contracts with UK businesses
• go to conferences and seminars as a delegate
• undertake fact finding missions, check details or examine goods
• receive training provided it is classroom instruction or limited to observation only
In limited circumstances you may also enter the UK as a visitor if you are:
• delivering goods from abroad
• a representative of a foreign company coming to service, repair or install their products
• an adviser, consultant, trainer or trouble shooter who is employed abroad either directly or under contract by the same company or group of companies
• a guest speaker at a conference or seminar, an expert speaker or to run a conference or seminar for no more than five days
• a sportsperson or entertainer for trials or auditions, or personal appearances which do not involve performances
• take paid or unpaid employment
• produce goods or provide services in the UK
• sell goods and services to members of the public
If you have been invited by a UK company you should provide a letter from the company explaining what you will be doing and the purpose of the trip. If your company or the UK company is meeting the cost of the trip this should also be confirmed in a letter.
All visitors, whether they are in the UK for business or social reasons, can only stay for a maximum of six months. Frequent visitors and business visitors can apply for a visa that is valid for one, two or five years. All visit visas are valid for multiple entries within their period of validity.
You can study in the UK as a visitor but you will only be allowed to stay in the UK for a maximum of six months. If the purpose of your visit is to study, either full-time or for more than six months then you should apply for a student visa.
You can apply for a visit visa to travel to the UK to receive private medical treatment.
You must be able to show that:
• satisfactory arrangements for the necessary consultation or treatment have been made
• sufficient funds are available to meet the cost of the treatment
• you have enough money to support and accommodate yourself adequately without working or help from public funds
• you intend to leave the UK when you have completed your treatment
You may also be required to produce:
• a doctor's letter which provides details of the medical condition which requires treatment
• confirmation that satisfactory arrangements have been made for the consultation or treatment and how long the treatment will take
• evidence that there are sufficient funds available to meet the cost of the consultation and/or treatment. You may also be asked to give an undertaking that you will meet those costs
You may have to attend an interview and you may be asked to provide further documentation.
If you need to stay longer than six months to complete your medical treatment you can apply to the Home Office by post or in person to one of their public enquiry offices. The contact address is at the end of this guidance.
Visitors are not allowed to enter or remain in the UK to receive treatment on the National Health Service.
The UK has reciprocal arrangements with a number of foreign governments whereby their nationals can be referred to the UK for the purpose of receiving free hospital treatment under the National Health Service. Information about these arrangements is available on the Department of Health website (www.doh.gov.uk).
If you are a visa national you will require a visa to enter the UK in transit.
If you are entering the UK in transit to another country and will remain in the UK for no longer than 48 hours, you will need to obtain a "visitor in transit " visa. If you wish to stay in the UK for more than 48 hours you will need to apply for a visit visa.
You may be able to transit the UK, at the discretion of the Immigration Officer, without holding a "visitor in transit visa". This is known as the Transit without Visa concession (TWOV).
To qualify you must:
• arrive on a cruise ship and depart on the same ship within 24 hours
• arrive and depart by air within 24 hours with no intention of remaining in the UK. (You may travel by rail or road between two airports)
• hold a confirmed booking on a flight or ship departing within 24 hours of your arrival in the UK
• have the documents you will need to be allowed to enter the country you are travelling to
• have the documents you will need for any other country that you may pass through on your journey.
This concession does not apply to certain visa nationals, who must hold a visa to pass through the UK on the way to another country, even if they are not entering the UK or changing airports. This is known as a "direct airside transit" visa (DATV). If you are a national of certain countries you will need to have a valid UK direct airside transit visa.
Passengers holding a direct airside transit visa will not be able to pass through immigration control. You will not normally be allowed to remain overnight to await an onward connection.
Your visitor in transit visa will usually be valid for six months and may be used to transit the UK throughout its validity, provided that both your passport and visa for the country that you are travelling to remain valid beyond the expiry of the transit visa. The visa will only be valid for entry to the UK if these conditions are met on each journey through the UK.