Visiting the UK

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Visiting the UK - SRT rules


Background


This article provides details of the activities that could be undertaken by you when visiting the UK and the potential impact these activities could have on you being considered UK resident, and is summarised in our article titled “The UK Statutory Residency Test (SRT)”.

On the assumption that an individual has not been UK resident for the previous 3 tax years and that the “Automatic Overseas Tests” or “Automatic Residence Tests” are not met, this article considers the “Sufficient Ties Tests” in greater detail.


Family


A family tie exists if you have at any time during the tax year a relevant relationship with another person who is resident in the UK for the same year.

If you have a UK resident spouse/civil partner/common law partner or children (under the age of 18), a relevant relationship exists for the purpose of the SRT.

Family does not constitute extended family or close relatives, for example your brothers, sisters, parents, uncles, aunts, and grandparents. However, there is an accommodation tie issue to be aware of on the occupation of these close relatives dwellings.

Time spent by children (under 18 years of age) in the UK to attend full-time education is ignored as long as the child does not spend more than 21 days in the UK outside of term time.

The definition of a "common law partner" is two individuals agreeing to live together, i.e. a cohabiting couple, who have not formalised their relationship under law, i.e. marriage or civil partnership. Partners can be living together either in the UK or overseas, or both, and still have to consider this test.


Accommodation


An accommodation tie exists where an individual has ‘a place to live’ in the UK which is available to them for a continuous period of at least 91 days in the tax year, and at least one night is spent there. If the accommodation belongs to a close relative, the threshold is 16 or more nights spent there in the tax year.

A close relative for the purposes of the accommodation tie is a:

  • parent or grandparent
  • brother or sister
  • child or grandchild aged 18 or over

They can be your blood or half-blood relative or related through marriage or civil partnership. Adopted children are considered to be your children for these purposes.

Gaps of fewer than 16 days in the availability of the accommodation will count towards the continuous period of availability.

You have ‘a place to live’ in the UK if you have a home, holiday home or temporary retreat in the UK, or other accommodation that you can live in when you are in the UK.

A home can be a building (or part of a building), a vehicle, vessel or structure of any kind which is used as a dwelling by you. It will be somewhere which you can use with a sufficient degree of permanence or stability to count as a home. Examples of what constitutes a home include:

  • having available accommodation to occupy as and when required; and
  • having a right to occupy a dwelling which is partially rented out to a 3rd party.

If a property is let commercially on a permanent basis, without any right to occupy part of the dwelling, this is unlikely to be regarded as available accommodation for a given period. If the dwelling is unable to function as a home, for example, the property is in a state of disrepair meaning it is inhabitable; this is also unlikely to be regarded as a home.

Short stays at hotels and guesthouses will not usually be considered to be an accommodation tie for the purposes of the SRT.

One should be mindful of the potential evidence that the UK Revenue would consider under this tie, for example, regularity of visits, postal address, contribution to the running costs of the accommodation, personal possessions kept at the property, electoral registration, how the neighbours would regard the relationship, etc.


Working in the UK


A working tie exists where the individual works more than 3 hours a day in the UK for an aggregate of at least 40 days in that tax year.

You are considered to be working in the UK if you are being paid for the trip to the UK and the time spent in the UK is for the performance of your employment duties, e.g. attending meetings, conferences or training courses; and/or you are reimbursed for business related expenses, e.g. travelling and subsistence costs which are tax deductable expenses.

Please note that any work you do during your journey to or from the UK is counted as overseas work if you travel by air, sea or through a tunnel under the sea.

For journeys to the UK, the overseas work period ends when you disembark from the aircraft, ship or train in the UK.

For journeys from the UK, the overseas work period starts when you get on the aircraft, ship or train taking you out of the UK.

Therefore, if you are travelling through a UK airport to another foreign jurisdiction, any work performed while you are waiting for your connecting flight out of the UK could count towards a working-day tie if you are performing this work for more than 3 hours. Work could include dealing with various email queries, preparing for a meeting in the destination country, etc.

It would be recommended, where possible, to avoid these transit working hours altogether or ensure they are considerably below the 3 hour threshold so that the working ties does not apply to you.


90-Day


A 90-day tie exists if the individual has spent 91 days or more in the UK in either of the two previous tax years.

Therefore, under the “Sufficient Ties Test” if you have 2 connecting factors you could spend 120 days in the UK in a given tax year. However, in the following tax year the 90-day tie would apply so that you have 3 connecting factors. This would restrict the number of days you could spend in the UK in the following tax year to 90-days.


Days spent in the UK


You are considered to have spent a day in the UK if you are there at the end of the day, i.e. a midnight in the UK. The two exceptions to this rule are:

  • Overnight in transit through the UK; or
  • Exceptional circumstances.

1) Overnight transit through the UK


You can exclude from the day count, a day when you arrive in the UK as a passenger, and leave the UK the next day, and between your arrival and departure you only undertake activities that are related to your passage through the UK. You must not carry out work or social activities during this transit period in the UK.

If you are not present in the UK at the end of the day, that day should not count as a day spent in the UK.


2) Exception Circumstances


You can disregard from the day count, a day spent in the UK due for exceptional circumstances beyond your control, up to a maximum of 60 days. This will usually only apply to events that occur while you are in the UK and which prevent you from leaving the UK, or for visits back to the UK which are beyond your control.

The type of events which may give rise to exceptional circumstances will be, by their nature, out of the ordinary and it is therefore difficult to be prescriptive about what characteristics such an event would exhibit. However, as a general guidance examples of exceptional circumstances include; local or national emergencies, civil unrest, natural disasters, war, illness, or injury.

If you need to support your spouse/civil partner/common law partner or dependent child with illness or injury in the UK, this is also regarded as exceptional circumstances under the SRT.

Life events such as birth, marriage, divorce and death are not regarded as exceptional circumstances. Choosing to visit the UK for medical treatment or to receive elective medical services such as dentistry, cosmetic surgery or therapies will also not be regarded as exceptional circumstances.


Summary


With the growing telecommunications and social media trend, you should be mindful that emails, phone calls, social media post, and account log-ins are all traceable back to a time when these took place, and using specialist GPS software also where in the world the activity was undertaken.

To reiterate the point, it is imperative that you keep good records of your travels to the UK to justify your reasons for the visits, and control any work related matters. The onus is on you as the tax payer to provide evidence should you ever have a challenge from HMRC on your non-UK resident status.

This article is based on the assumption that an individual has not been UK resident for the previous 3 tax years. However, if your circumstances are different please contact us to discuss matters further and more specific to your situation, as there are additional rules if you have left the UK in the previous 3 tax years.


If you have any queries or would like to discuss your tax situation please contact:


Dennis McGurgan



This article has been prepared from the UK Governments announcements, guidance and legislation and could be subject to revision. The publication cannot be relied upon to cover specific situations and you should not act, or refrain from acting, upon the information contained therein without obtaining specific professional advice. Grant Thornton Limited, its directors, employees and agents do not accept or assume any liability or duty of care for any loss arising from any action taken or not taken by anyone in reliance on the information in this publication or for any decision based on it.

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