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Proof of Continuous Residence in the UK

Last updated: 19 August 2022

If you are being asked for proof of continuous residence in the UK as part of your visa application, you will need to provide evidence that shows you have been present in the UK for a specific period of time and not have been outside the country for too long. The continuous residence requirement states that you must not have been outside the country for 180 days or more in any consecutive 12-month period.

You will need to satisfy the continuous residence requirement if you are applying for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) as a qualifying visa holder who can apply to settle in the UK.

Depending on the settlement criteria you need to meet for the visa you currently hold, you will need to show that you have lived continuously for 2, 3, 5, or 10 years in the UK. For example, for work visas and UK naturalisation, typically you must have remained in the UK continuously for 5 years. For the ILR long residence route, you need to prove 10 years continuous residence.

In this article, we will discuss some of the types of documentary evidence that can be used as proof of living in the UK. It is important to note that the documents we list in this article are the most common forms of evidence accepted by the Home Office. As such, this is not a definitive list, and in some circumstances, the Home Office may accept other types of documents.

Long-term documentation for proof of residence in the UK

Evidence of continuous residence that spans a long period (i.e., long term documents) is preferred by the Home Office as fewer documents make it easier to establish an unbroken period of continuous residence.

The Home Office will ask for enough pieces of acceptable proof of residence documents spanning the whole period required (e.g., proof of living in the UK for 3 years or 5 years). This means that you may only need to provide one long term item of evidence covering the whole period, but in practice, you may need to provide more. Long term documents, also referred to as preferred evidence, may include:

  • A letter dated and signed by your employer confirming the duration of your UK-based employment to date.
  • Annual business accounts if you are a self-employed person.
  • A letter dated and signed from an accredited organisation in the UK confirming physical attendance at a course and the duration.
  • A dated and addressed invoice from an accredited organisation for school, college or university fees for education requiring physical attendance in the UK.
  • A residential mortgage statement and evidence of mortgage payments.
  • A tenancy agreement and evidence of rent payments.
  • An annual bank statement covering a 12-month period showing transactions for at least 6 months in that year (you will need to provide 1 statement for each year required).
  • A P60 for a 12-month period (you will need to provide 1 P60 for each year required).
  • A dated and signed letter from a registered care home confirming the period of residence in the home.
  • Documentation (e.g., an entitlement notification or repayment statement) issued by the student finance body.
  • A dated, addressed council tax bill.
  • Evidence that your employer made pension contributions on your behalf.

The documents provided must span the whole period of residence required, i.e., if you are relying on annual bank statements, you will need to provide one for each consecutive year.

Short-term documents as evidence of continuous residence in the UK

The Home Office will also allow you to provide alternative short-term documents to prove your continuous residence. These are still acceptable but less preferred as more documents of this type are required to establish continuous residence. Some of the short-term documents permitted by the Home Office may only span a 1 month period, so many documents of this type would be needed.

Short term documents, also referred to as alternative evidence, may include:

  • A dated payslip for a job in the UK.
  • A dated bank statement showing payments received or spending in the UK.
  • A dated invoice for work physically done in the UK – note this only covers the month of entry unless the letter states a longer period.
  • A dated domestic utility bill with the applicant’s name and UK address.
  • A dated domestic bill or contract for a fixed line telephone or for a TV or internet service with the applicant’s name and UK address.
  • A dated letter from a GP or other healthcare professional in the UK confirming the applicant’s attendance at appointment(s).
  • A dated letter from a UK government department, a UK public body or a registered UK charity confirming that the applicant has physically interacted with them. Please note this only covers the month of entry unless the letter states a longer period.
  • Other dated letters and documents with a UK address such as utility bills, insurance bills, and home service bills. You must show the applicant’s name and evidence of payment.
  • A passport stamp showing entry at the UK border. Please note this only covers the month of entry.
  • A used travel ticket confirming inbound travel to the UK. However, this only covers the month of entry.

It is important to check the period of validity for the documents you provide. Some are valid for a month from the date of the document, whereas others are valid for the period covered by the document.

What cannot be used as proof of living in the UK

Some documents cannot be used as proof of UK residency. These tend to be documents that are not provided by verifiable, official, or other impartial sources. Documents that cannot be used as evidence of proof of living in the UK include:

  • Character references or testimonials provided by family and friends.
  • Photographs of weddings or other special occasions.
  • Greetings cards (e.g., birthday cards) or postcards you have sent or received.
  • A personal scrapbook documenting your time in the UK.
  • Evidence contained in digital media such as CDs, DVDs, USB media sticks.

Rules around submitting documents as proof of residency

It is important to ensure that any evidence of residency provided to the Home Office meets the rules. Some important points to consider are as follows:

If your name has changed

If your name has changed during your time in the UK (e.g., due to marriage, adoption, change of gender) and your documents show your previous name, you will need to provide documentary evidence linking both names, e.g., a marriage certificate or a deed poll.

The rules also require that those with non-British passports and national identity cards provide documentary evidence they have amended their name in their other passport(s) and national identity cards.

Submitting proof of residence documents not in your own name

The Home Office states that it recognises that some applicants may not have documentary evidence in their own name for various reasons. In this case, they will work flexibly with applicants to help them evidence their continuous residence in the UK based on the documents they have available.

Can one type of document be evidence for the whole 5 year or 10-year period?

The Home Office does not state how many documents you must provide. The key is that you provide as many documents as necessary to cover the period of continuous residence. If you have one document type that covers the whole period, this should be acceptable to the Home Office for the purposes of proving your continuous residence.

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