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When is someone resident in the UK?
You can be 'automatically' resident in the UK in certain circumstances. Even if you are not resident automatically, 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 GOV.UK.
If you are an international student studying in the UK, please see also What is the residence position of international students?.
Please note the government announced on 9 April 2020 that the SRT will be amended to ensure that any 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, will not count towards the residence tests. Note that under the draft provisions, you must be resident in an overseas territory for the days present in the UK to be disregarded.
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 for that year. People are normally considered to be present in the UK on a particular day if they are in the UK at midnight at the end of the day, but there are exceptions to the ‘midnight’ rule – for example, for those with exceptional circumstances beyond their control which prevent them leaving the UK, those in transit, or if you are resident overseas but working in the UK on coronavirus-related activities.
“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.
Note that HMRC have 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.
“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.
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 still possible for you to be resident in the UK. You must follow the rules set out in the SRT, which can be found in HMRC's booklet RDR3 on GOV.UK.
To determine your residence status under the SRT, it is first 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 overseas tests or automatic UK tests, you will have to look at the sufficient ties test to determine your tax residence position.
If you meet any of the automatic overseas tests, you are automatically non-resident for the tax year. This will be irrespective of whether you satisfy any of the automatic UK tests or the sufficient ties test. You should therefore consider the automatic overseas test first.
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 GOV.UK. Broadly they are as follows:
- You were resident in the UK in one or 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 with no ‘significant break’, you spend fewer than 91 days in the UK in the tax year, and you work for more than three hours in the UK on fewer than 31 days in the tax year;
- The fourth test is only 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 you meet the conditions.
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. Again, they are set out in detail in HMRC's guidance, which you can find on GOV.UK. 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 (note there are further conditions in relation to this test which you should also consider);
You work full-time in the UK for 365 days or more with no significant break from UK work (there are also further conditions in relation to this test). Note that this test usually affects two or more tax years because the 365-day period will typically straddle two years);
The fourth test is only 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.
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 determine your tax residence status 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.
Which ties you have to consider differ slightly depending on whether or not you were resident in the UK for one or more of the preceding three tax years. The ties you need to consider are known as:
- Family tie;
- Accommodation tie;
- Work tie;
- 90-day tie;
- Country tie (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 GOV.UK, as it sets out the conditions in full and provides important definitions that will help you understand whether or not you meet the conditions.
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 need to be considered when considering your UK residence status.
For more information, see our page What if I only visit the UK?.
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,
you relationship status changes, or
you have children
What records should I keep?
If you spend a lot of time travelling in and out of the UK you should 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 and overseas on a particular day, or the length of a journey within the UK, for some parts of the SRT.
There is more information on record-keeping in section 7 of the RDR3 guidance on GOV.UK.