If you plan to enter to the UK to visit, work, study or join your family, you will normally need to apply for a UK visa before you travel.

Whether you need a visa or not depends on your nationality and on the reasons for your travel.

EU nationals and several other nationalities do not need a visa to enter the United Kingdom. There are also certain reasons, exceptions and circumstances in which a visa is not required. To check whether you need to apply for a visa to enter the UK, see the section: Do I need a visa?

To apply for a UK visa and obtain leave to enter the United Kingdom you will need to submit an application from the country where you currently live.

To apply for a UK Visa, you will need to:

  1. fill in the appropriate application form
  2. attach relevant supporting documents
  3. pay the required visa processing fee.
  4. schedule an appointment at the visa section of a British Embassy or at your nearest Visa Application Centre
  5. attend the appointment to provide your biometrics and submit your application
  6. attend an interview and be ready to supply further documents, in case the Entry Clearance Officer could not make an immediate decision about whether you qualify for a visa.

Visa application: approved, refused or invalid

To be valid, applications for a visa need to be submitted on the appropriate form, completed in the prescribed manner and accompanied by the required supporting documents. You will also need to pay the correct fee in the local currency of the country you are applying from.

If your visa application is approved, you will be called to collect your visa unless you asked for it to be sent to you by post. Once you receive it, you need to make sure it contains your correct personal and travel details. Remember: any incorrect information could prevent your entry once at the UK border.

If your visa application is refused, you will receive a notice of refusal. This document will list the reasons for the refusal, and will explain your right to appeal.

If you did not comply with the requirements, your application will be invalid. This does not mean that you have been refused a visa, but rather it means that the Entry Clearance Officer could not take the decision whether to grant you a visa or not.

This means that you will need to make a fresh visa application again.

 Travellers to the UK who produce a false travel document or passport to the UK immigration authorities for themselves and/or their children are committing an Immigration offence and potentially a criminal offence. People found guilty of this offence face up to two years in prison or a fine (or both).