Overview

You can come to the UK as a Standard Visitor:

  • for tourism, for example on a holiday or to see your family and friends
  • for certain business activities, for example attending a meeting
  • to do a short course of study
  • to take part in research or an exchange programme as an academic
  • for medical reasons, for example to receive private medical treatment

You may not have to apply for a visa. What you need to do depends on your nationality and what you plan to do in the UK.

Check if you need to apply for a UK visa.

Your application will not be accepted and you will not get a refund if you have the right of abode in the UK (for example you’re a British citizen). You need to apply for a certificate of entitlement instead.

What you can and cannot do

You can visit the UK to do certain activities, for example visiting friends and family or attending a conference.

You cannot:

  • do paid or unpaid work for a UK company or as a self-employed person
  • live in the UK for long periods of time through frequent visits
  • claim public funds (benefits)
  • do a course of study that lasts longer than 6 months
  • marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership. You’ll need a Marriage Visitor visa instead

Read the guidance for more information about what you can and cannot do with a Standard Visitor visa.

Eligibility

You’ll need to prove that you meet the eligibility requirements, for example that you’ll leave the UK at the end of your visit.

How long you can stay

You can usually stay in the UK for up to 6 months (£95 fee).

You might be able to stay for longer if:

  • you’re coming to the UK for private medical treatment - up to 11 months (£190 fee)
  • you’re an academic and meet the eligibility requirements - you, your spouse or partner and your children may be able to stay for up to 12 months (£190 fee)

If you’re staying in the UK for longer than 6 months, you must collect your biometric residence permit when you arrive. You may also have to take a tuberculosis test as part of your application depending on where you come from.

If you need to visit the UK regularly

You can apply for a long-term Standard Visitor visa that lasts 2, 5 or 10 years if you need to visit the UK regularly over a longer period. You can stay for a maximum of 6 months on each visit.

If you’re under 18 years old when you apply, your long-term Standard Visitor visa will only be valid for up to 6 months after you turn 18. You cannot get a refund on the fee.

When to apply and how long it takes

If you need a visa, you must apply online before you come to the UK.

As part of your application, you’ll need to book an appointment at a visa application centre to prove your identity and provide your documents.

Allow time to attend your appointment, as the visa application centre could be in another country.

The visa application centre may keep your passport and documents while processing your application.

The earliest you can apply is 3 months before you travel.

Getting a decision

Once you’ve applied online, proved your identity and provided your documents, you’ll usually get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks.

Find out how to get your visa decision faster - this depends on what country you’re in.

Fees

A Standard Visitor visa costs £95.

The fee for a long-term Standard Visitor visa depends on its length:

  • 2 years - £361
  • 5 years - £655
  • 10 years - £822

Extending your stay as a visitor

You cannot switch from a Standard Visitor visa to another type of visa.

You can only extend your stay for specific reasons, for example needing further private medical treatment.

If you want a visa to do something other than visiting, for example work or longer-term study, you’ll need to leave the UK and make a new application.

  1. Step 1 Check if this visa is right for you

    You might be eligible for different visas depending on why you're visiting the UK and how long for.

    1. Check which visas you're eligible for
  2. Step 2 Prepare the evidence you need

  3. Step 3 Apply

    The cost of your visa depends on how long it’s valid for.

    1. Apply for a visa and book an appointment £95 to £822
    2. Check where your visa appointment will be

    You should get a decision within 3 weeks of your appointment.

    You might be able to pay an extra £220 for a decision within 5 working days or £956 for a decision within 24 hours (not including weekends or bank holidays). Check with your visa application centre.

    If your visa allows you to stay in the UK for longer than 6 months, you’ll get a biometric residence permit. You don't need to apply for this separately.

  4. Step 4 Attend an appointment

    1. What you need to prove at your appointment

    You'll be told when a decision has been made about your visa.

  5. Step 5 Check what you can bring with you

  6. Step 6 Check what you need to show at the UK border

    1. Check what you need to show at the UK border

    Keep the documents that prove why you're visiting the UK in your hand luggage so you can show them if asked.

    1. Check the documents you can use to show why you're visiting the UK
  7. Step 7 After you arrive in the UK

    Check your visa to find out when you must leave the UK. If you break the conditions of your visa you may not be able to return to the UK again.