You can register and run a UK limited company as a nonresident. But sometimes you might want to visit the UK, it's a safety concern: if you have a company, it might turn out you need to visit to resolve some issue.

What I'm reading is contradictory.

Standard Visitor Visa allows you to "attend meetings", "negotiate and sign deals and contracts", "carry out site visits and inspections" which sounds exactly like a sort of thing a director would occasionally need.

But then it also says you CANNOT "do paid or unpaid work for a UK company or as a self-employed person". That sounds like I cannot carry out inspections for my UK company because now it's working for a UK company?

I'm confused.

Specifics override the general. But which of those is general and which is specific? "You can't work, but you can do an inspection" or "You can do an inspection, but unless it's a UK company".

Is the Standard Visitor Visa suitable in this case? If not, what is the right way to do it?

  • Note: they are two different issues, and there is no need to be compatible. If you register a UK company, you must be sure you can do business with it (so the immigration). Note: a UK citizen can be a non-resident (e.g. expats). Note: also the company may not be able to select you as director (director is an employment, so there are limit on who can be employed). A lawyer may be necessary for such complex cases. -- PS: chairman is different than director. Like owning a company is different to manage it (day-to-day operation) Commented Oct 4, 2021 at 10:04
  • 2
    Directors don’t automatically qualify as employees of a company. They are ‘office holders’ but can also be an employee if they are ‘employed under contract’ by the company. gov.uk/employment-status
    – Traveller
    Commented Oct 4, 2021 at 10:17
  • So the question seems to boil down to: is the company paying you to do this inspection, or indeed for any other function that you perform for it?
    – MadHatter
    Commented Oct 4, 2021 at 11:27
  • Are you the sole director of the company? The only shareholder? If you are effectively the company, then IMHO you need a work visa.
    – Traveller
    Commented Oct 4, 2021 at 11:46
  • Thank you @Traveller , the "office holders" was actually helpful. > If you are effectively the company That sounds like I have less opportunity if I also happen to register a company? Commented Oct 4, 2021 at 12:39

1 Answer 1


To enter the UK as a visitor, you must meet the requirements of Immigration Rules Appendix V, including:

V 4.2. The applicant must satisfy the decision maker that they are a genuine visitor, which means the applicant:

(a) will leave the UK at the end of their visit; and

(b) will not live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits, or make the UK their main home; and

(c) is genuinely seeking entry or stay for a purpose that is permitted under the visitor route as set out in Appendix Visitor: Permitted Activities and at V 13.3; and

(d) will not undertake any of the prohibited activities set out in V 4.4. to V 4.6;

V 4.4. The applicant must not intend to:

(a) work in the UK, which includes:

(i) taking employment in the UK; and

(ii) doing work for an organisation or business in the UK;

V 4.6. The visitor must not receive payment from a UK source for any activities undertaken in the UK, except for the following:

(a) reasonable expenses to cover the cost of their travel and subsistence, including fees for directors attending board-level meetings;

Being an overseas director of a UK company doesn’t inherently make you ineligible to apply for a Standard visitor visa - you can ‘work’ providing the ‘work’ is allowed under ‘Permitted Activities’ and you don’t receive payment for it. It might however make it harder to get approval. For instance:

  • can you demonstrate ties to your home country that are stronger than the ‘pull’ of running a UK-based company? That might be difficult if your UK company is your only/main source of income

  • will you be paid by the UK company during your visit, other than expenses associated with the trip?

  • can you show that your work activities during your visit will be limited to those permitted under AppV?

Source: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/immigration-rules-appendix-v-visitor

Your situation isn’t 100% straightforward, if I were you I would consider getting advice from an Immigration adviser before applying https://www.gov.uk/find-an-immigration-adviser/what-advisers-can-do

  • Thank you sir @Traveller , I think that's the answer I could have hoped for, you're right I need to talk to an adviser for more specifics. Commented Oct 4, 2021 at 15:31

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