Departure to Edinburgh

Passport, Visa & Permits to Edinburgh

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This section is intended for reference only. We strongly recommend that you contact the embassy directly for the most up-to-date information that pertains to your specific situation.


You must have a valid passport to travel abroad. A passport is an official government document that certifies one's identity and citizenship. The process and cost associated with getting a passport can be high, so start the process at least six months before you plan to leave. Your passport must be valid 6 months beyond your intended stay. Minors are allowed to travel on their parents' passports up until aged 15 years.


A visa is a stamp or endorsement placed by officials on a passport that allows the bearer to enter the country. This permission is called "entry clearance".

Who needs a visa?

There are no border controls when travelling within the United Kingdom including the land border with England. Scotland has the same immigration and visa requirements as the rest of the United Kingdom.

The UK and Ireland have opted out of the Schengen Agreement. The UK wants to maintain its own borders, and Ireland prefers to preserve its free movement arrangement with the UK, called the Common Travel Area. However, they do participate in some aspects of the Schengen agreement, such as the Schengen Information System (SIS).

European Economic Area Citizens do not need entry clearance to enter the UK. The European Economic Area (EEA) includes all EU countries plus Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. Swiss nationals also fall under this category. Non-Visa Nationals and members of the common wealth only require an entry certificate when going to the UK to work or to settle. Nationals of the following countries need a visa when staying in the UK longer than six months:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Hong Kong SAR
  • Japan
  • Malaysia
  • New Zealand
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • USA
The UK Border Agency offers a helpful guide: Do I need a visa?

Where to Apply for a UK Visa

Visas need to be obtained prior to arrival in Great Britain. If you require a visa there is no way to make an application on arrival and the likelihood is that you will be refused entry to the United Kingdom. Applications for entry into the UK should be made at any British Diplomatic Post in your country of residence.

Basic Requirements

    There are 4 types of entry clearance document:
  1. a visa which is required by some nationals or citizens of the countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA)
  2. an entry certificate which is issued to non-visa nationals;
  3. an EEA family permit which is issued to non-EEA nationals who are the family members of EEA nationals; and
  4. an exempt vignette for people (such as diplomats) who are exempt from the requirements of the Immigration Act 1971.
  • Visa application form (can be obtained at the British mission or online at
  • Valid passport
  • 2 (sometimes three) recent passport-sized (45mm x 35mm), color photographs
  • Visa fee (which will be paid for in local currency)
  • Supporting documents (such as work permit; a letter of acceptance from a university; evidence of your qualifications like diplomas, certificates, references; evidence of financial viability.)

Visitor Visa

There are different categories of visitors. A visitor is someone who generally intends to be in the UK for a short period, for example, to visit friends and family, to do business, to do a short course of study, to have private medical treatment. For complete information on requirements and visitor visas, consult Home Office Visiting the UK.

    In general, you must show that:
  • you want to visit the UK for no more than six months;
  • you intend to leave the UK at the end of your visit;
  • you have enough money to support yourself during your stay in the UK without working or needing help from public funds.
  • you do not intend to take paid or unpaid employment.
    You will need a visa to visit the UK if any of the following apply to you:
  • you are a national of one of the countries listed in the visa and transit visa nationals page on this website;
  • you are applying to visit the UK in order to get married;
  • you are applying as an Academic Visitor and intend to stay in the UK for more than 6 months;
  • you are applying as a parent of a child at school and intend to stay in the UK for more than 6 months;
  • you are applying as a student visitor to undertake an English language course which lasts longer than 6 months and no more than 11 months;
  • you are applying as a Prospective Student;
  • you are stateless (you do not have a nationality);
  • you hold a non-national travel document (a travel document which does not give you the nationality of the country that issued it), or
  • you hold a passport issued by an authority that is not recognized in the UK.

Long-Term Visit Visa

Long-term visit visas are valid for 1, 2, 5 or 10 years. Although there is no requirement for you to have held a short-term visit visa before being able to apply for a long-term one, if you have not previously applied for a UK visa, you may wish to apply for a short-term visit visa first.

    Applications for long-term visit visas will be considered if:
  • Whether the applicant can demonstrate a frequent and sustained need to come to the UK, such as family links or an established business connection.
  • Whether personal circumstances are unlikely to change significantly during the validity of the visa. The better able the applicant can demonstrate stability over the long term the more it will support an application for a longer period.
  • Whether the applicant can support themselves in the UK without public funds, and demonstrate that they intend to leave the UK at the end of each visit.
  • Previous travel history as evidenced in a current valid passport.

Student Visitor

If you want to come to the UK in order to do a short course of study during your visit, you can apply to do so as a student visitor. The period when you intend to be in the UK must not exceed six months. You must be aged 18 or over, and you must have been accepted to a proved course of study.

    During your visit, you must:
  • support and pay for accommodation for yourself and any dependents, without help from public funds; or
  • ensure that you and your dependents will be supported and accommodated by relatives or friends, and will not take employment.
  • For a complete guide to Student visas:

Family Visitors

To visit a family member, you should apply as a family visitor.

    The following are defined as family:
  • Spouse, father, mother, son, daughter, grandfather, grandmother, grandson, granddaughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece or first cousin (note: "first cousin" means, in relation to a person, the son or daughter of his uncle or aunt);
  • Spouse’s father, mother, brother or sister;
  • Spouse of your son or daughter;
  • Stepfather, stepmother, stepson, stepdaughter, stepbrother or stepsister; or
  • A person with whom you have lived as a member of an unmarried couple for at least two of the three years before the day on which your application for entry clearance was made.

Business Visitors

If you are employed abroad but want to visit the UK for short periods to undertake business related activities you may be eligible to do so as a business visitor.

    Anyone wishing to visit the UK as a business visitor should:
  • be based abroad and not intend to transfer their base to the UK, even temporarily; and
  • receive their salary from abroad, although it is acceptable for them to receive reasonable travel and subsistence expenses whilst in the UK
  • not be involved in selling goods or services direct to members of the public;
  • not be replacing someone in the UK, including for temporary leave periods;
  • not be coming to the UK to do work placements or internships.

Work Permit

In order to hire a non-EU citizen and obtain a work permit, a company must demonstrate that the applicant has a certain set of required skills and they do not have EU candidates for the position. Smaller firms may not be willing to make the effort as they are typically not short of candidates and the approval process can take 4-6 months. For senior management, IT professionals and other highly qualified positions, the conditions are much easier to fulfill and an application properly handled with the sponsorship of the employer can be processed quicker.

Complete information on work in the UK can be found at Home Office Working in the UK.

What is a work permit?

Work permits are issued to a specific person for a specific job. They are used to enable British employers to recruit workers from outside the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA) whilst also protecting the interests of resident workers in the UK.

Who needs a Work Permit?

EU citizens, citizens of EEA countries, and Swiss nationals do not need a visa to work in the UK.

How to Apply for a Work Permit

A UK employer wishing to employ someone needs to apply for the work permit. Applications are dealt with by the Home Office. It is recommended that the employer applies at least eight weeks ahead of the date from which the employee is required to start work. Supporting documentation will be required, such as evidence of the candidate's relevant qualifications and experience for the job.

Worker Registration Scheme

You will need to register under the Worker Registration Scheme if you are working in the UK and you are a national of: Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, or Slovenia. If you are on the Worker Registration Scheme you will need to complete 12 months continuous employment in the UK before you have full rights of free movement. After these 12 months you can then apply for a residence permit to confirm your status.

You can find more information about the Worker Registration Scheme on the Working in the UK Border Agency website.


After you have lived legally in the UK for a certain length of time (usually between 2-5 five years), you may be able to apply for permission to settle here. This is known as "indefinite leave to remain". Applicants must be in the UK when applying. Applicants usually need to show that they have a knowledge of language and life in the UK.

There are two ways of applying for settlement, by post or through a public enquiry office. Find an office. Applications need to be submitted no more than 28 days before you become eligible to apply. However, you must make your application before your current permission to stay in the UK expires.

Bring Family to UK

For family to join you in the UK long-term, applicants must provide documentation of their relationship.

    Spousal applicants must show:
  • Legally married
  • Intend to permanently live together
  • Able to support yourselves and any dependent without recourse to public funds
  • Both over 18 years old
    Fiance applicants must show:
  • Intention to marry in the near future (within six months)
  • Able to support yourselves and any dependent without recourse to public funds.
    To join your unmarried partner, both you and your unmarried partner must show:
  • Any previous marriage has permanently broken down
  • Been living together for at least two years
  • Intend to permanently live together
  • Able to support yourselves and any dependent without recourse to public funds
  • Both over 18 years old
    For children to join their parents, they must show:
  • The parents are currently settled (or intend to settle) in the UK
  • Parents are able to support you without recourse to public funds
  • Child is over 18 years old
  • Child cannot support themself financially, is not married and is not living away from the parents.

Note that if only one of your parents is resident in the UK, you will not normally be able to join them unless the parent has sole responsibility for you.

For further details about joining relatives in the UK, consult the UK Visas website Partners and Family Members or the nearest British Diplomatic Mission abroad.


To acquire citizenship, there are rigid requirements that must be satisfied. In these complicated matters, it is in your best interest to take professional advice from a solicitor or from an immigration adviser registered by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner(OISC).

    To become a British citizen by naturalization you need to these conditions:
  • Been a permanent resident in the UK for at least one year
  • Legally lived in the UK for a minimum of 5 complete years (with no more than 450 days spent abroad, and no more than 90 days on the year leading up to the application) OR 3 years if you are married to or a civil partner of a British citizen
  • Intend to continue living in the UK
  • Have adequate knowledge of English, Gaelic or Welsh
  • Be of "good character" (i.e. no criminal record)

How to Apply

    Documents required:
  • Passport
  • Nationality identity card
  • Home Office travel document
  • Home Office entitlement card
  • Home Office application registration card
  • Birth certificate
  • Photo driving licence
  • Bank, building society or credit card statements issued to you in the last six months

Applicants apply through Nationality Checking Service, applying through an agent/representative, or through individual applications.

Nationality Checking Service (NCS): The nationality checking service is provided by local authorities like your county council or city council. A local authority can accept and forward your application. They will ensure that your form is correctly completed, and they will copy your documents and return them to you. They will ensure that your application is validly submitted and that the requirements for citizenship are met. However, they will not give you nationality advice. Check for local offices in Scotland.

Applying through an agents or representative: A representative can act on your behalf and offer advice. You should ensure that any representative is registered with the Office of the Immigration Service Commissioner. Original documents should be submitted.

Individual applications: You may apply directly. You must submit either original documents, or a fully certified photocopy of your documents. Guides are available on the Home Office site, but it is a complicated process.

If you are denied a visa you will be notified in writing of the refusal and the reasons for it. In certain cases you will have the right to appeal the decision and as such will be given advice on how to do so. Instead of appealing you can simply apply again, but if the reasons for the initial refusal still apply, your application will probably be turned down again.

Update 8/04/2011


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