What if I only visit the UK?

Updated on 9 September 2020

Migrants

Individuals who come to the UK for only a short time may not become resident in the UK. Being non-resident means you are typically only liable to 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

Image of a Union Jack and the word visit on keyboard buttons
(c) Shutterstock / Novikov Aleksey

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 UK 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. This means you would usually count your days of arrival but not your days of departure.

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 GOV.UK.

If you have been resident in any one 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).  

If you spend periods in the UK between 1 March 2020 and 1 June 2020 working on coronavirus (COVID-19) related activities, then these may not count towards the residence tests. Please see GOV.UK for further informationon the announcement. Please note that, under the draft provisions, you must be resident in an overseas territory for the days present in the UK to be disregarded. 

Personal allowances

Certain classes of non-resident are eligible to claim UK personal allowances. These include:

  • UK nationals
  • Nationals of an EEA state, 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 GOV.UK.

Transit passengers

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.

Double taxation

If you are not UK resident, you will usually still be taxable on your income arising in the UK. However, this UK-sourced 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-sourced income but a claim can usually be made for a credit to be given against the foreign tax liability on the UK-sourced income. You may need to seek professional advice from a tax adviser in both the countries concerned.   

For more on double tax agreements and an example of how ‘foreign tax credits’ work see our page What if I am liable to tax in two countries on the same income?.

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