Great Britain

Need expat info for Great Britain?

Connect with fellow expats in the UK
Join exciting events and groups
Get information in our UK guides
Exchange tips about expat life in the UK

UK Visas and Work Permits

This overview of UK visa regulations offers a clear introduction to UK visa requirements, along with details of the relevant authorities to contact for detailed information. It’ll help you kick off your expat life in the UK!
Many of the UK's visa requirements depend on the nationality of their applicants.
  • The type of UK visa that you need depends on your nationality, current country of residence, and reason for coming to the UK.
  • Citizens from EU member states and Switzerland may live and work in the UK without a visa, however this may change as a result of the EU referendum in 2016.
  • Most types of long-term visas permit you to stay in the UK for about two years.
  • After two years you can apply for an extension or even for a so-called settlement, which grant you the right to remain in the UK indefinitely.

Nationality as a Visa Requirement

The type of UK visa you need depends on your nationality, current country of residence, and reason for coming to the UK. As a national of an EU member state, a country in the European Economic Area, or Switzerland, you have the right to reside in the UK without a visa. However, citizens of some specific countries always need a visa when visiting the UK.

 You can check the list of the UK Border Agency to find out if this applies to you. However, if your home country is not on this list, it does not mean that you can always simply enter the country without a UK visa. Often, it simply means that you may enter as a tourist, for social visits, or studies for up to six months.

You might also need a DATV (transit visa) to catch a connecting flight in the UK. In other cases — for example if you intend to take up employment in the UK as part of your expat assignment or if you would like to join your expat partner — you will still require a valid visa. To find out which regulations apply to you, please get in touch with the Border Agency’s visa application center.

Entry Clearance for VisitorsShort-Term Visits

Some visitors to the UK will require a general visitor’s visa to enter the country for a short-term visit. However, there are additional categories for different reasons for travelling into the country, each with different requirements.

You are considered a general visitor if:

  • you are not from an EEA country or the family member of an EEA national;
  • you are at least 18 years of age;
  • you want to stay in the UK for no more than six months;
  • you have a clear intention to leave the country after that time period;
  • you have enough money to finance your stay and return to your home country;
  • you are not coming to the UK for employment, study, marriage, business visits (including artists, athletes, and entertainers), or medical treatment.


To see what you need to include in your application for your UK visa, please ask a person in charge at the nearest visa application center overseas. If you are planning to apply for a visitor visa because you would like to get married in the UK, please have a look at our corresponding article on marriages and civil partnerships.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Jan-Peter van Tijk

"I wish I'd found InterNations sooner: It would have made my first few month as an expat in London much less overwhelming."

Therese Yeboah

"For me, the InterNations events are the best part. I attend almost every get-together and always get to know lots of friendly fellow expats."

Expat Guide Great Britain

Global Expat Guide