You need a Returning Resident visa to come back to live in the UK if you were previously settled (given ‘indefinite leave to enter or remain’) and you have either:

  • lost your documentation
  • been away for more than 2 years

You don’t need a visa if you have your original documentation confirming your settled status and you’ve been away for less than 2 years.

You may still need to apply for a visa if you’ve been asked to confirm you can travel to the UK, for example by the airline you’re travelling with.


You must:

  • plan to return to live in the UK permanently
  • have been settled in the UK before you last left
  • not have been given public funds to help you leave the UK

There has been no change to the rights and status of EU nationals in the UK, and UK nationals in the EU, as a result of the referendum.

If you’ve been away for more than 2 years

You won’t get a Returning Resident visa unless you’re also able to show what exceptional personal circumstances have led to you being out of the country for this long.

You must provide enough evidence to show:

  • your strong family ties to the UK
  • you lived in the UK most of your life
  • your current circumstances and why you’ve lived outside the UK

You won’t lose your indefinite leave to remain after 2 years outside the UK if your spouse or partner is a member of the UK armed forces and you’ve joined them on an overseas posting.

You also won’t lose it if your spouse or partner is a British citizen or settled in the UK and one of the following:

  • a permanent member of the Diplomatic Service
  • a UK-based British Council employee who works outside the UK
  • a Department for International Development (DFID) employee
  • a Home Office employee

Family members (‘dependants’)

Your dependants (partner and children under 18) need to apply separately for a Returning Resident visa if they’re eligible.


It costs £405 to apply.

How long it takes

Check the guide processing times to find out how long it might take to get a visa in your country.

How long you can stay

You can return to live permanently in the UK.


You’ll need to provide:

  • a current passport or other valid travel identification
  • previous passports
  • a passport-sized colour photograph
  • documents that prove you have ties to the UK, eg proof you’ve earned income, or rented or owned property, in the UK

You may need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances.

Read the guide for a full list of documents you need to provide.


You must apply online for a Returning Resident visa.

You’ll need to have your fingerprints and photograph (known as ‘biometric information’) taken at a visa application centre as part of your application.

You may be able to get your visa faster or other services depending on what country you’re in - check with your visa application centre.

North Korea

You can’t apply online from North Korea.

Download the Returning Resident visa application form and the guidance notes.

Read the instructions for North Korea.