This article will detail whether or not you need a visa for the UK.

The UK visa policy allows visa-free entry for up to six months to citizens of several countries, most of which are EU and Commonwealth states. If you are not from the countries included on the visa-exemptions, then you will have to apply for a standard UK tourist visa.

For stays longer than six months as well as trips during which you will work, everyone needs a visa regardless of nationality.

Do I Need a Visa for the UK?

If you are from the US, an EU Member State, or certain Commonwealth countries, you do not need a visa for the UK for up to six months.

You only need a UK visa if you are from one of the following countries:

  • Afghanistan
  • Albania
  • Algeria
  • Angola
  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh
  • Belarus
  • Benin
  • Bhutan
  • Bolivia
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burma (Myanmar)
  • Burundi
  • Cambodia
  • Cameroon
  • Cape Verde
  • The Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • China (PRC)
  • Colombia
  • Comoros
  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Republic of the Congo
  • Cuba
  • Northern Cyprus
  • Djibouti
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • Fiji
  • Gabon
  • The Gambia
  • Georgia
  • Ghana
  • Guinea
  • Guinea Bissau
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Ivory Coast
  • Jamaica
  • Jordan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kenya
  • Kosovo
  • Kuwait***
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Laos
  • Lebanon
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia
  • Libya
  • Macedonia
  • Madagascar
  • Malawi
  • Mali
  • Mauritania
  • Moldova
  • Mongolia
  • Montenegro
  • Morocco
  • Mozambique
  • Nepal
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • North Korea
  • Oman***
  • Pakistan
  • Palestinian Authority
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Qatar***
  • Russia
  • Rwanda
  • Sao Tome & Principe
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Senegal
  • Serbia
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • Surinam
  • Swaziland
  • Syria
  • Tajikistan
  • Tanzania
  • Thailand
  • Togo
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Turkmenistan
  • Uganda
  • Ukraine
  • The United Arab Emirates***
  • Uzbekistan
  • Vatican City*
  • Venezuela**
  • Vietnam
  • Yemen
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

*Only for holders of service and emergency passports.

**If you have a valid Venezuelan biometric passport with an electronic chip, you do not need a visa.

***Citizens of Kuwait, Oman, Qatar or the United Arab Emirates can also apply for an electronic visa waiver (EVW) instead of a visa.

UK Visa-Free Countries

Citizens of the following countries do not need a visa to enter the UK for stays of up to six months:

  • EU/EFTA Member States
  • Andorra
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Brunei
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Costa Rica
  • Dominica
  • East Timor
  • El Salvador
  • Grenada
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Hong Kong
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Kiribati
  • Macau
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • Marshall Islands
  • Mauritius
  • Mexico
  • Micronesia
  • Monaco
  • Namibia
  • Nauru
  • New Zealand
  • Nicaragua
  • Palau
  • Panama
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Paraguay
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Samoa
  • San Marino
  • Seychelles
  • Singapore
  • Solomon Islands
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Tonga
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Tuvalu
  • United States of America
  • Uruguay
  • Vanuatu
  • Vatican City

Keep in mind:

  • If you enter from the Republic of Ireland, you can only stay for up to three months, not six.
  • Even if you are visa-exempt, you still need to bring the required documents for a UK visa application to show to the immigration officers.

Do I Need a Transit Visa for the UK?

If you typically need a visa to enter the UK as a tourist, you will also need a transit visa. However, there are two types of transit visas for the UK, and the requirements change depending on what country you are from:

  • Visitor in Transit Visa. This type of visa is needed if you will pass through British border control but you intend to depart the country within 48 hours. You need a Visitor in Transit Visa if you are from a country that typically requires UK visitor visas (see above).
  • Direct Airside Transit Visa (DATV). This type of visa is needed if you will change flights in a UK airport, but will not go through British border control. You need a DATV if you are from the following countries:
    • Afghanistan
    • Albania
    • Algeria
    • Angola
    • Bangladesh
    • Belarus
    • Bolivia
    • Burma
    • Burundi
    • Cameroon
    • China (PRC)
    • Colombia
    • Congo
    • The Democratic Republic of the Congo
    • Northern Cyprus
    • Ecuador
    • Eritrea
    • Ethiopia
    • The Gambia
    • Ghana
    • Guinea
    • Guinea-Bissau
    • India
    • Iran
    • Iraq
    • Ivory Coast
    • Jamaica
    • Kenya
    • Kosovo
    • Lebanon
    • Lesotho
    • Liberia
    • Macedonia
    • Malawi
    • Moldova
    • Mongolia
    • Montenegro
    • Nepal
    • Nigeria
    • Pakistan
    • Palestinian Authority
    • Rwanda
    • Senegal
    • Serbia
    • Sierra Leone
    • Somalia
    • South Africa
    • Sri Lanka
    • Sudan
    • Swaziland
    • Tanzania
    • Turkey
    • Uganda
    • Venezuela
    • Vietnam
    • Zimbabwe

Note: Transit Visa if not required if you already have a valid visa issued by Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the United States of America.

Will EU Nationals Need UK Visa After Brexit?

There will not be any changes to visa requirements for EU nationals until at least December 31, 2020, when the Brexit transitional period is due to end. Until then, EU nationals can continue to travel to the UK without a visa for short trips and holidays. It is still unknown what the visa requirements for short trips will be starting in January 2021 but for immigration issues, EU nationals are expected to start adhering to the UK’s point-based system same as everyone else.

This decision was as a result of the British government to prioritize their own population and select “the brightest and the best from around the globe, boosting the economy and our communities, and unleash this country’s full potential.”

Staying in the UK for More Than Six Months

Everyone who wants to stay in the UK for more than six months will have to get a visa. For example, you have to apply for a UK visa if you are a US citizen planning to move to the UK  for work or otherwise, and will stay in the UK for longer than six months. Visa exemptions listed above only apply for short-term stays (up to six months) during which you will not work in the UK.

Requirements for EU nationals: Before Brexit, EU nationals enjoyed the freedom of movement to the UK for either pleasure or work, regardless of the duration of stay. The UK government has now made changes to their immigration rules by making it harder for unskilled EU nationals to settle in the UK, as they will be tested through the UK’s point-based system for immigration. However, it is still not known how exactly the visa requirements will change once the Brexit transitional period is over on 31 December 2020.