What if I only visit the UK?

Updated on 25 October 2018

Individuals who come to the UK for a short time only, may not become resident in the UK. Being non-resident means you are typically only liable to tax on your UK source income. However personal allowances are only available to certain non-residents.

Residence status

You will not become resident in the UK for tax purposes, if both of the following conditions apply:

  • you have not been resident in the UK in any of the preceding three tax years, and
  • you spend fewer than 46 days during the tax year in the UK. When counting days you normally count days only when you are here at midnight, so you may be able to visit for longer.

You may be able to spend longer than 46 days here and still be regarded as non-resident – you would need to determine your position by considering the other parts of the Statutory Residence Test (SRT). There is detailed guidance on the GOV.UK website.

If you have been resident in any of the previous three tax years, then visits in excess of 15 days (rather than 45) would also require you to determine your residence by considering the other parts of the SRT. Please be aware that your earlier presence in the UK may affect your UK tax position in other ways too (for example by counting towards the ‘90 day’ tie in the sufficient ties test).  

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Personal allowances

Certain classes of non-resident are eligible to claim UK personal allowances. These include EEA nationals and those where allowances are provided by the terms of a double tax agreement.

There is more information about the personal allowances and non-residents in part 8 of HM Revenue & Customs’ (HMRC) guidance booklet RDR1, which you can find on the GOV.UK website.

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Transit passengers

If an individual arrives in the UK only as a transit passenger, 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 UK residence day count.

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 the GOV.UK website.

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Double taxation

If you are not UK resident you will still be taxable on your income arising in the UK. However, this UK source income may also be taxable in another country if you also remain resident there. You may therefore need to consider the terms of any double taxation agreement in place between the UK and the country you are resident in to avoid or mitigate any double taxation.

If there is no double tax agreement or it is not applicable in your circumstances, foreign tax may be charged on your UK source income but a claim can usually be made for a credit to be given against the UK liability on the foreign income. You may need to seek professional advice from a tax adviser in the country concerned.   

For more on double tax agreements and an example of how ‘foreign tax credits’ work see our section 'What is a double taxation agreement?'

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