Moving abroad / Moving to the UK

Do You Need a Visitor Visa for UK Travel?

Updated November 10, 2023

Do you need a visitor visa for UK travel? The answer for most visitors is NO.

I get asked a lot of questions about this topic, so here you go! Don’t forget to watch this video I’ve made on this topic.

You don’t need a visa to stay in the UK if you are simply a visitor, coming as a tourist or visiting friends and family. As a visitor you may stay for up to 6 months at a time but no longer.

When DO You Need a Visitor Visa for UK Travel?

1. If you have a criminal record or have been previously been refused entry to the UK, you may need to apply for something called a Standard Visitor visa.

2. If you’re from a country that doesn’t have an arrangement with the UK government to allow your passport visa free access. Here are the list of countries that aren’t allowed to enter the UK without a visa.

3. If you are coming to the UK for more than just a casual visit and want to pursue other activities while you’re here.

What if you want to do more than be a tourist or visit friends and family?

The you should consider applying for something called a UK Standard Visitor visa.

What Can You Do with a Standard Visitor Visa?

– You can do all the things you can do without a visa!
– For example, visit friends & family and be a tourist
– You’re allowed to volunteer up to 30 days
– You’re able to attend business meetings or interviews
– You’re allowed to take a recreational (non academic) course for up to 30 days
– You can study, do a placement or take an exam
– If you’re a senior Doctor, dentist, or academic professor you may carry out research and attend clinical practice
– Visit for private medical treatment

What Does a Standard Visitor Visa NOT Allow?

  • You’re not allowed to do paid or unpaid work, be self employed or work remotely
  • You’re not allowed to claim UK benefits
  • You won’t be able to marry or enter a civil partnership
  • You’re not permitted to live in the UK for long periods through successive visits

How to Apply for a Standard Visitor Visa?

  • The soonest you can apply is 3 months before you travel
  • You must meet eligibility requirements
  • You should apply at a visa application center

What Are the Eligibility Requirements for a UK Standard Visitor Visa?

  • You’ll leave at the end of your visit and are able to pay to for your return
  • You can support yourself and other family members during your visit
  • You won’t try to live in the UK for successive visits or make it your home

What’s the Duration and Cost of a UK Standard Visitor visa?

You may apply for a long-term Standard Visitor visa if you visit the UK regularly and you qualify. Visa terms lasts 6 months, 2, 5 or 10 years but remember you can only stay for a maximum of 6 months on each visit.

Visa Fee Max Length of Stay
Standard Visitor £115 6 Months
Standard Visitor – Medical Reasons £200 11 Months
Standard Visitor – Academics £200 12 Months
2 Year Long Term Standard Visitor £400 6 Months per visit
5 Year Long Term Standard Visitor £771 6 Months per visit
10 Year Long Term Standard Visitor £963 6 Months per visit

I’ve also made a video about visitor visas for the UK so be sure to watch that too.


Watch this video to find out more about UK Visitor visas!

For more information on UK visas:

Traveling to the UK and need to know your options to get to London from Heathrow or Gatwick Airports? Find that here.


About Author

With over 30 years in a creative role in advertising and publishing, and a lifetime of journeys between the US and UK, I've created Hipoverfifty for you. I hope my journey and perspective will guide you on yours.