Visa requirements for visitors to the UK

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Visitors to the UK who live in the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland have the right of free movement and residence in the UK. Hence they do not need a visa to enter the UK. Members of their family need an EEA family permit.

Visitors from other countries need a visa to visit the UK. Visitors from some countries might need an entry certificate instead of a visa, but it functions in much the same way as a visa. A visitor to the UK is normally allowed to stay for up to 6 months.

Types of visas

There are a number of types of visa, depending on the reason for your visit:

  • General visitor - to visit the UK as a tourist or to stay with friends in the UK
  • Family visitor - to visit family members in the UK
  • Student visitor - to study a short course in the UK, who will not work while they are in the UK
  • Business visitor - to do business in the UK. There are also some special case types for visas for prospective entrepreneurs, sportspeople, entertainers etc.
  • Visitor for marriage or civil partnership
  • Visitor for private medical treatment
  • Visitor in transit - for visits to the UK for less than 48 hours on their way to another country

Visitors from China

Visitors from China who want to visit the UK for less than 30 days as a member of a group of tourists can apply for a visa under the UK/China Approved Destination Status (ADS) agreement.