When is someone resident in the UK?

Updated on 19 November 2017

You can be automatically resident in the UK in certain circumstances. Even if you are not, you can still be resident depending on the number of days you spend in the UK in combination with certain other factors. Here we explain the various residence tests in the UK.

Since 5 April 2013 there has been  a Statutory Residence Test (SRT), which you must apply to your position.

Before 6 April 2013 – residence was based on case law and HM Revenue & Customs' (HMRC) guidance.

This section considers the position for tax years starting after 5 April 2013, that is 2013/14 onwards.

You can find detailed guidance on the SRT in HMRC’s booklet Statutory Residence Test (RDR3) on the GOV.UK website.

There is also a Tax Residence Indicator tool you can use to help you.

What if I am in the UK for 183 days or more in a tax year?

If you are physically present in the UK for 183 days or more in a tax year you will be resident in the UK. People are considered to be present in the UK on a particular day if they are in the UK at midnight.

Please note that there are exceptions to the ‘midnight’ rule, e.g. for those with exceptional circumstances beyond their control which prevent them leaving the UK, or those in transit.

 “Circumstances beyond their control” are listed by HMRC as:

  • National or local emergencies, such as war, civil unrest or natural disasters; or
  • Sudden serious or life-threatening illness or injury.

“Life events” such as birth, marriage, divorce and death are not routinely regarded as exceptional circumstances. Travel problems, for example a delayed or missed flight due to traffic disruption, train delays, or a car breakdown, will not be considered as exceptional either.

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What if I am in the UK for fewer than 183 days in a tax year?

Even if you are physically present in the UK for fewer than 183 days in a tax year, it is possible for you to be resident in the UK. You must follow the rules set out in the SRT; you can use the guidance. which can be found in HMRC's booklet RDR3 on the GOV.UK website.

To determine your residence under the SRT, it is necessary to consider whether or not you meet any of the 'automatic overseas tests'; if you do not, you must then consider whether or not you meet any of the 'automatic UK tests'. If you do not meet any of the automatic tests, you will have to look at the 'sufficient ties test' to determine your tax residence position

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What are the 'automatic overseas tests'?

If you meet any of the automatic overseas test, you are automatically non-resident for the tax year.

There are four automatic overseas tests any one of which will make you not UK resident for tax purposes. They are set out in detail in HMRC's guidance, which you can find on the GOV.UK website. Broadly they are as follows:

  • You were resident in the UK in one of more of the three previous tax years, and you spend fewer than 16 days in the UK in the tax year under consideration;
  • You were resident in the UK for none of the previous three tax years, and you spend fewer than 46 days in the UK in the tax year under consideration;
  • You work full-time overseas for the tax year under consideration, and you spend fewer than 91 days in the UK, and you work for more than three hours in the UK on fewer than 31 days;
  • The fourth test is relevant to people who die during the tax year.

It is important to look at the guidance, as it sets out the conditions in full and provides important definitions that will help you understand whether or not you meet the conditions.

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What are the 'automatic UK tests'?

If you meet any of the automatic UK tests, (and do not meet any of the automatic overseas tests), you are automatically resident in the UK for the tax year.

There are four automatic UK tests. They are set out in detail in HMRC's guidance, which you can find on the GOV.UK website. Broadly they are as follows:

  • You spend 183 days or more in the UK in the tax year under consideration;
  • You have a home in the UK for a period of more than 90 days and you are present in the home on at least 30 separate days, (there are further conditions in relation to this test);
  • You work full-time in the UK for 365 days or more with no significant break from UK work, (there are further conditions in relation to this test, in particular you will usually find this test affects two or more tax years);
  • The fourth test is relevant to people who die during the tax year.

It is important to look at the guidance, as it sets out the conditions in full and provides important definitions that will help you understand whether or not you meet the conditions.

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What is the 'sufficient ties test'?

If you do not meet any of the automatic overseas tests or any of the automatic UK tests for a tax year, you will need to use the sufficient ties test to help you determine your tax residence for the tax year. The sufficient ties test looks at a combination of the number of days you spend in the UK in the tax year and the number of ties you have with the UK. You look up a table (contained in the legislation and the guidance) to determine whether the combination makes you resident in the UK for that tax year.

The ties you have to take into account differ slightly depending on whether or not you were resident in the UK for one or more of the previous three tax years. The ties you need to consider are:

  • Family;
  • Accommodation;
  • Work;
  • 90-day;
  • Country (which you consider only if you were resident in one or more of the previous three tax years).

It is important to look at the guidance on the GOV.UK website, as it sets out the conditions in full and provides important definitions that will help you understand whether or not you meet the conditions.

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What if I make short-term repeated visits?

For residence purposes, it does not matter whether your visits to the UK are for the same purpose, different purposes or varying lengths of time. The number of days spent in the UK is one factor, alongside others, which needs to be taken into account when considering your UK residence status.

For more information see our section ‘What if I only visit the UK?'

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What if my circumstances change?

Your tax residence status can change from one tax year to the next. You should check your status each year anyway, but most certainly if your situation changes, for example:

  • you spend more or less time in the UK
  • you buy or sell a home in the UK
  • you change your job
  • your family moves in or out of the UK, or you get married, separate or have children

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What records should I keep?

If you spend a lot of time travelling in and out of the UK you should ideally keep a diary of where you are each day, and in particular, whether or not you are in the UK at midnight each day. This will enable you to consider your residence status and self-assess it, if necessary.

You may also need to need to keep a record of how many hours you spend working in the UK on a particular day, or the length of a journey within the UK, for some of the conditions.

There is more information on record-keeping in chapter 7 of the RDR3 guidance on the GOV.UK website.

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