Visits to the UK
If you visit the UK regularly, you should consider whether those visits will mean you are tax resident in the UK.
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Individuals who come to the UK for only a short time may not become resident in the UK. This is because, under the statutory residence test (SRT), they may meet one (or more) of the automatic overseas tests, or they are non-resident under the sufficient ties test.
Being non-resident means you are typically only liable to UK tax on your UK-sourced income. However, if you are non-resident and not a national of either the UK or an EEA country you may not be eligible for a personal allowance.
As we explain on our statutory residence test page, any day where you are in the UK at the end of the day (at midnight) usually counts as a day spent in the UK for the purposes of the test. However, this is subject to the three exceptions described below.
In some cases, if you have exceptional circumstances beyond your control which prevent you from leaving the UK, you may be able to ignore days spent in the UK which are attributable to those circumstances for some parts of the statutory residence test.
You must also intend to leave the UK as soon as those circumstances permit.
“Circumstances beyond their control” are listed by HMRC as:
- national or local emergencies, such as war (HMRC have specific guidance on this point regarding the war in Ukraine), civil unrest or natural disasters; or
- sudden serious or life-threatening illness or injury.
HMRC also published guidance on whether or not an individual’s days spent in the UK are due to ‘exceptional circumstances’ as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This includes the case where official government advice was not to travel from the UK as a result of coronavirus, or you were unable to leave the UK as a result of closure of international borders.
The number of days which can be disregarded because they are attributable to exceptional circumstances is strictly limited to 60 days per tax year.
Exceptional circumstances will not usually include:
- life events such as birth, marriage, divorce and death,
- travel problems, such as a delayed or missed flight due to traffic disruption, train delays, or a car breakdown, or
- moral obligations.
If an individual arrives in the UK only in transit, leaves the UK the next day, and between arrival and departure the individual does not engage in activities unrelated to simply passing through the UK en-route to another country (such as engaging in social meetings, carrying out employment duties, etc.) – he will be a ‘transit passenger’ and his presence in the UK at midnight will not count towards his days ‘spent’ in the UK.
This transit exception will most commonly apply to travellers who change flights in the UK where the incoming and outgoing flights straddle midnight.
There is detailed guidance, including examples, on GOV.UK.
Working on coronavirus-related activities
Periods between 1 March 2020 and 1 June 2020 spent in the UK by individuals working on coronavirus (COVID-19) related activities, for example as a medical or healthcare professional, may be ignored in determining your residence status for:
- 2019/20; and
- 2020/21, if you were non-resident in the UK for 2019/20.
For the days to be ignored, you must be resident in an overseas territory in the tax year in question.