Sports Visitor Visa


As a sportsperson you may need to travel to other countries to take part in various sporting events. For example, as a football player you may come to participate in a pre-season football match in the UK.

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One of the issues which is often forgotten is checking to ensure you have a valid visa to enter the country where the event is held.

The Sports Visitor Visa is for nationals of countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. Therefore, if you are national from these areas you will need a valid visa to enter the UK.

Can I apply for a Sports Visitor Visa?

You can visit the UK as a ‘Sports Visitor’ for any of the following reasons:
  • Competing in a specific event, tournament or series of events as an individual competitor or as part of a team - events such as charity events, exhibition matches and friendly matches
  • Joining an amateur team as an amateur sportsperson - provided that you do not receive any payment except for travel and expenses
  • Taking part in a promotion such as a book signing or television interview
  • Negotiating a contract or discussing a sponsorship deal
  • Taking part in a trial
  • Doing a short period of training either as part of a team or as an individual

You can also enter the UK on a Sports Visitor Visa if you are:
  • A part of the sportsperson's technical or support staff and you are attending the UK with them for the same event or series of events
  • An official attending a sporting event or series of events, eg an umpire or referee

Am I eligible for a Sports Visitor Visa?

To apply, you must demonstrate that you:
  • Are aged 18 or over
  • Intend to visit the UK for no more than 6 months
  • Intend to leave the UK at the end of your visit
  • Have enough money to support and accommodate yourself without working or help from public funds, or that you and any dependants will be supported and accommodated by relatives or friends
  • Can pay the cost of your return home or onward journey
  • Are not in transit to a country outside the 'Common Travel Area', ie Ireland, the UK, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands

Are there any restrictions while I am in the UK?

During your stay in the UK, you cannot:
  • Take paid or unpaid employment, produce goods or provide services, including the selling of goods or services directly to members of the public
  • Undertake a course of study
  • Marry or register a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership
  • Receive private medical treatment

What if I fail to apply for my visa?

If you fail to get a visa when it is mandatory, then you could be refused entry into the UK. This will in turn affect your team who will not be able to compete as planned - possibly resulting in negative and unwelcome attention for you all.

Therefore, it is important that you obtain immigration legal advice as soon as possible, to ensure that you meet the criteria, have all the necessary paperwork and can successfully enter the UK to participate in your chosen sport.

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