Overview

You can apply for a Start-up visa if:

  • you want to set up an innovative business in the UK - it must be something that’s different from anything else on the market
  • you meet the other eligibility requirements

If you’re from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein

If you or your close family member started living in the UK before 1 January 2021, you may be able to apply to the free EU Settlement Scheme.

Otherwise you need a visa to work in the UK.

Irish citizens do not need to apply for a visa or to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Eligibility

You must be endorsed by an authorised body that is either:

  • a UK higher education institution
  • a business organisation with a history of supporting UK entrepreneurs

You must be able to show that your business idea is:

  • a new idea - you cannot join in a business that is already trading
  • innovative - you must have an original business idea which is different from anything else on the market
  • viable - it has potential for growth

If you’re not eligible for a Start-up visa

You may be eligible for another type of visa to work in the UK.

How long you can stay

You can stay for 2 years if you either:

  • come to the UK on a Start-up visa
  • switch to this visa from another visa while in the UK

If you want to stay longer in the UK

You cannot apply to extend this visa.

You may be able to switch to an Innovator visa if you set up a business while on a Start-up visa and:

  • your endorsing body assessed and agreed it
  • it is active, trading and sustainable
  • you have day to day involvement in it

If your endorsement is withdrawn

Your visa may be cut short if your endorsement is withdrawn by the endorsing body. If you want to stay longer, you must re-apply with a new endorsement before your current visa expires.

You can only stay for a total of 2 years even if you’re granted a new visa with a new endorsement.

How to apply

You must apply online.

How you apply depends on whether you’re:

You can include your partner and children in your application to stay in the UK if they are eligible.

How long it takes

As part of your application, you’ll need to prove your identity and provide your documents.

You may need to allow extra time if you need an appointment to do this. You’ll find out if you need one when you start your application.

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, if you’re outside the UK
  • 8 weeks, if you’re inside the UK

If you need to go to an appointment, you may be able to pay for a faster decision. How you do this depends on whether you’re outside the UK or inside the UK.

Fees

How much you pay for a Start-up visa depends on your situation and where you apply from.

Who you’re applying for Apply (outside the UK) Switch (in the UK)
Yourself £363 £493
Your partner and children £363 each person £493 each person

You must pay the visa fee for each person that applies at the same time as you or applies later to join you in the UK.

If you’re from an eligible country

Your application fee will be automatically reduced by £55 if you’re from one of the following countries:

Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden or Turkey.

This reduction only applies to your visa application. Your partner and children will still need to pay the full application fee.

Healthcare surcharge

You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application.

Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

If you’re applying to switch in the UK

You may need to pay £19.20 to have your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken.

What you can and cannot do

With a Start-up visa you can:

  • bring your partner and children with you as your ‘dependants’, if they’re eligible
  • work in another job, as well as working for your business
  • travel abroad and return to the UK

You can also switch to this visa from some other visa categories.

You cannot:

  • apply for most benefits (public funds), or the State Pension
  • work as a professional sportsperson, for example a sports coach
  • settle in the UK on this visa

If your application is successful, you’ll get a full list of what you can and cannot do with a Start-up visa.