The UK and its thriving economy attract business people from all over the world. The UK economy is ranked above regional and global averages.
If you do not hold a British passport and wish to carry out your business activities in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa first. The UK Business Visitor Visa is a sub-category of the Standard Visitor Visa.
Visa for business visitors
A business visitor visa lasts up to 6 months or up to 1 year for academic visitors, but you can apply for a visa extension if your total time spent in the UK is less than 6 months.
If you need to make repeat visits to the UK over a longer period of time, you can apply for a long-term visit visa if you can demonstrate the need to make repeat visits. This type of visa can last 1, 2, 5 or 10 years and will allow you to stay for up to 6 months per visit.
Why are British business visitor visas issued?
You need to apply for a UK Business Visitor Visa if you intend to:
- Attend training courses, meetings, seminars or conferences.
- Receive training (which is essential for your employment and you cannot take it in your home country from a UK-based company or organization).
- Negotiate and sign agreements and contracts
- Participate in trade fairs, only for promotional activities. The visitor does not have to sell directly.
- Carry out site visits and inspections.
- Other commercial activities.
How long does it take to get a UK visa?
You can apply for a business visitor visa online up to 3 months before your intended date of travel to the UK. It will take approximately 3 weeks for a decision on your visa application to be made, but processing times vary depending on where you are applying from.
How much does a UK visa cost?
A business visitor visa costs £85 per person. Long-term visit visa fees are as follows:
- 1 year – £324
- 2 years – £324
- 5 years – £588
- 10 years – £737
Eligibility requirements for the UK Business Visitor Visa
If you wish to carry out any business in the UK and apply for the UK Business Visitor Visa you must first ensure that you meet the eligibility requirements:
- Have a valid travel document or passport. It should be valid for the entire duration of your stay in the UK.
- Provide proof that you are traveling for business. This could, for example, be an invitation from a company, organization or other institution in the UK to attend a business meeting, conference or other business-related activity.
- Please provide evidence that you intend to leave the UK at the end of your visit, such as a return ticket.
- Show that you are able to support yourself during your trip or that you have funding from someone else to support you (e.g. your employer or host company/organization).
How to apply for a business visitor visa to the UK?
You must apply for a UK business visa online, on the UK government website before applying in person at a visa application center in your country. The step-by-step process is as follows:
Check if you need a visa
Depending on your nationality, you may be able to visit the UK for up to 6 months without needing a visa. Therefore, check first whether you need a UK visa. On the UK government website, before you are redirected to the application form, you will need to select your nationality and the purpose of your visit (in this case, a tourist visa), which will inform you whether you need to apply for a visa and which one.
Upload the documents required for a UK business visitor visa
To apply for a UK tourist visa for business purposes, you must “Upload evidence” of your travel. This includes documents that support your visa application, such as the following:
- Valid passport or other valid travel documents.
- Evidence of what you will be doing in the UK, such as documents confirming your meetings, work appointments, activities, etc.
Proof that you have sufficient means to support yourself during your intended stay. This may include your bank statements
- Proof of your employment. An employment letter from your employer or your employment contract, stating your position and salary.
- Proof of your business, if you are self-employed, such as a company certificate.
- Evidence that you will be leaving the UK at the end of your visit, such as a return flight ticket.
- Proof that you can pay for the return ticket.
- The full list of documents can be found on the visa application form. You must upload digital copies of your documents.
- Pay the visa fee
- The visa fee is paid online. Once you have provided all the information in the application form, you will be able to pay the fee on the UK government website.
- Visit a Visa Application Center and submit your documents and biometric data
You need to visit the UK Visa Application Center in person, as you will need to submit your documents and biometrics. If your biometric data has been submitted within the last 59 months, you do not need to submit it again.
UK business visa duration
The standard business visitor visa is valid for 6 months, during which you can attend meetings, and conferences and carry out other business activities. If you frequently visit the UK for work, you can apply for a long-term tourist visa, issued for 2, 5 or 10 years, which allows you to stay in the UK for six months at a time.
Can I extend my UK business visa?
You can only extend your stay in the UK for up to six months if you were originally issued a visa for a shorter period of time. Even if you have a 10-year business visitor visa, you can only stay for six months at a time.
If you want to stay longer than six months or work in the UK, you need to apply for a different type of visa, such as a work visa or startup visa.
How long does it take to process a UK business visa?
Business visitor visas to the UK are issued within three weeks. Depending on the workload of the visa application centers, this period may be extended up to six weeks or more. Therefore, you should submit your visa application well in advance of your trip; the earliest possible is three months before the travel date.
UK Business Visa Fees
The visa fee depends on how much you intend to stay in the UK. The following table lists fees for the different types of Standard Visitor Visas.
Visa type: Fee:
- Standard Visitor Visa (with a validity of 6 months) £100
- Long-term Standard Visitor Visa (with a validity of up to 2 years) £376
- Long-term Standard Visitor Visa (with a validity of up to 5 years) £670
- Long-term Standard Visitor Visa (with a validity of up to 10 years) £837
Applying for a long-term visitor business visa
A long-term visitor business visa grants you the ability to stay in the UK for two, five and ten years. You can stay in the country for up to 6 months per visit. The documents you will need include:
- A valid passport/travel document (a blank page in the passport for the standard visitor visa)
- Detailed organization of the trip
- Dates you plan to travel to the UK
- The place you intend to stay
- Your home address (include how long you have lived there)
- Personal information of your parents (names and dates of birth, if known and possible)
- Your annual income (how much you earn in a year)
- Details of any criminal, civil or immigration offenses you may have committed
Additionally, you may need to provide:
- Your travel history over the past ten years.
- Your employer’s details (their address and telephone number).
- Your partner’s details (name, date of birth, passport number).