UK Business Visitor Visa Rules

The recent changes to business visa requirements post-Brexit have yet to be fully tested in large part thanks to travel restrictions brought on by the COVID pandemic. But make no mistake, the decision to leave the EU will have consequences for those visiting the UK for the purpose of work. Anyone arriving in the UK on any working trip must have the right visa and abide by the rules laid out below.

Currently, the standard visitor visa (business) does have some significant restrictions, among which is the rule that visitors can only remain in the UK for a maximum of 6 months and can only carry out “Permissible Activities”.

So what are these activities?

In short, the government has provided a list which isn’t exhaustive but gives a good sense of you’re allowed to do under the current visa rules:

(a) attend meetings, conferences, seminars, interviews; and

(b) give a one-off or short series of talks and speeches provided these are not organised as commercial events and will not make a profit for the organiser; and

(c) negotiate and sign deals and contracts; and

(d) attend trade fairs, for promotional work only, provided the visitor is not directly selling; and

(e) carry out site visits and inspections; and

(f) gather information for their employment overseas; and

(g) be briefed on the requirements of a UK based customer, provided any work for the customer is done outside of the UK.

You should also be aware of the tax implications of making frequent business trips to the UK. In short, if you end up spending more than 183 days in the UK in any one tax year (6 April to 5 April) you would fall outside the visitor visa (business) regime. If that happens then you will be deemed to be resident in the UK for tax purposes and as a result, you will be expected to declare your income to HMRC.

So, ahead of your next trip to the UK it is worth considering the following:

  • How many trips are you planning to make to the UK in the next 12 months?
  • Are your tax affairs in order?
  • Can you show that you have sufficient funds to support yourself without working?
  • Are you likely to continue to receive salary from abroad
  • Are you able to carry out your intended business under the permitted time limits?
  • Do you know what “permissible activities” you are entitled to engage in?

It’s also important to remember that if you intend to transfer your base to the UK, even on a temporary basis, your standard visitor visa (business) will not be sufficient. In addition, be aware that you’re also barred from charging members of the public for services provided or goods received.

If you’re in need of advice or support in this or any other area, we’re right here for all your needs. You can contact us for help from tax and payroll to accounting and banking.