The total cost of a UK Ancestry visa

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The UK Ancestry visa fee is about AUD 1,032 > GBP 516. However, you will need to save at least AUD 7,000 before you apply. And, at least half of this amount will need to sit in a bank account, untouched for three months. Many people will need closer to AUD 12,000. 

** Post updated in December 2021. Costs are indicative and are likely to increase over time. **

Before we get into the breakdown of costs, remember that this article only covers the cost of applying for a UK Ancestry Visa.

UK Ancestry Visa & British Citizenship

  • The UK Ancestry Visa is considered a settlement visa. It gives certain British descendants work rights and an opportunity to apply for permanent residency and British citizenship. If you just want an extended holiday, you might want to consider other, cheaper visas.
  • Regarding costs, you will also need to cover more than just the price of applying for the visa. You’ll also need to cover the cost of removals, travel and insurance before you leave, and then the cost of setting yourself up in your new country. There are a lot of surprise expenses.
  • Read Other costs: Before and After Your Move to the UK.
  • Costs will be more accurate for Australians and provide useful insights for other Commonwealth citizens.
NOTES ON CURRENCY & EXCHANGE RATES

In recent times, the Australian Dollar has been worth about half that of the British Pound, and the British Pound has been worth about twice that of the Australian Dollar. 

So, to make it simple, I have doubled all GBP amounts to convert to AUD. For example, GBP 2,000 is worth AUD 4,000 in this article. Conversely, AUD 4,000 is equivalent to GBP 2,000. I’ve included both currencies for each amount.

If you want a more accurate foreign exchange rate, the UK Government uses the exchange rate published at OANDA.

Fees paid to the UK – including the visa fee, Immigration Health Surcharge and fees for UK-issued documents – are in GBP. How much you pay will depend on the exchange rate at the time. 

Savings & Cost of a UK Ancestry visa

How much you need to save before applying for a UK Ancestry Visa will depend on whether you are a sole applicant or taking dependants. For example, a spouse or children under 18.

UK Ancestry visa fee

Apply online no earlier than three months before your intended travel date. For example, apply from 16 March if you plan to travel on 15 June.

  • UK Ancestry visa fee (Non-Points-Based Working visa).
  • GBP 516 > AUD 1,032 per person.
  • This is NOT refundable if your visa application is unsuccessful.

We decided to move to the UK on 1 January 2016 after dreaming about it for more than 20 years. We attended VFS Brisbane to submit our application on Thursday, 24 June 2016, Australian time. This was Friday, 23 June 2016, UK time – the day of the Brexit vote to leave or remain in the European Union (EU). We received our visa decision on Wednesday, 13 July 2016, 19 calendar days / 13 working days later. We arrived in the UK 2 months later, on 12 September 2016. 

Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) 

  • The IHS is 100% refundable if your visa application is unsuccessful.
  • GBP 3,120 for a 5-year UK Ancestry visa, per person > AUD 6,240 per person for the duration of the visa, paid in advance.
  • Pay the IHS before you apply for your visa. You will need to include your IHS reference number on your visa application.

Cost to obtain & prepare your application

Australian passport

  • You will need to apply for one if you don’t have a current Australian passport. If you do, you may choose to renew your passport early to obtain a maximum 10-year validity. 
  • 10-year passport (for persons aged 16 and over): AUD 301 > GBP 150.
  • 5-year passport (for children under 16): AUD 152 > GBP 76.
  • Allow about three weeks to receive a new passport after you lodge your application. You can pay an extra fee for priority service and have your passport ready for mailing or collection in 2 working days.
  • Priority service: AUD 220 > GBP 110.
  • Passport photos: AUD 10 – 20 > GBP 5 – 10.

If you already have a valid Australian passport in good condition, with at least one blank page for the visa sticker, and at least six years remaining, you may decide that will be enough. 

  • We got our Australian passports renewed early to have a full ten years each. This way, we didn’t have to worry about the expense and travel needed to get to the Australian Embassy in London – or hope for a convenient outreach visit date in Edinburgh – during the duration of our visa.
  • Extending your UK Ancestry visa or applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) is stressful. Why worry about the additional costs and bother of first applying for a passport renewal from Australia, followed by a visa sticker replacement from the UK Government, before you apply? Who knows how much a passport will cost in the future? 

‘Enough’ money to support yourself

  • The main cost of a UK Ancestry visa will be saving at least AUD 7,000 – 12,000 per applicant.
  • The main reason for this significant amount is the ‘No recourse to public funds‘ visa condition. This condition prevents you from accessing government money and benefits. Some exceptions to this are access to free state-funded schooling and funding provided by local authorities. If you illegally claim public funds, you risk having any future visa or permit applications refused. You may have to repay any Public funds paid to you. 
  • The UK Government wants you to have ‘enough’ money to support yourself and any dependents.  
  • Generally speaking, to have ‘enough’ money, you should have between GBP 2,000 and 4,000 > AUD 4,000 and 8,000 per person.
  • Read: How much money you need in the first three months (After arriving in the UK) (link coming soon).
  • This money must be in a bank account in your name, and you must be able to access it from the UK. Most transactional bank accounts with a debit/credit card attached will be suitable. 
  • You’ll need three months of bank statements certified a few days before you apply for the visa. It is recommended you make an appointment and tell your bank what you need. Your bank may charge you for this service. 
  • Read about banking in the UK (link coming soon) about how to access your AUD in the UK.

Ancestry documents

  • The other main cost of a UK Ancestry visa is proving your eligibility. A valid application requires a truckload of documents. If you don’t have all of the documents already, you will have to apply for them from the appropriate Australian or UK Authority. 
  • Consider processing times. You may want to pay extra to get documents sooner.

AUSTRALIAN CERTIFICATES

  • Obtain Australian documents from the relevant state/territory government. 
  • Visit Australia.gov.au for links to each state/territory.
  • Official certificates in Australia cost about AUD 50 each > GBP 25.
  • It takes about 5-10 working days to receive the certificate. 
  • You may be able to pay a premium – about AUD 30 extra > GBP 15 per certificate – for an urgent, two-working-day turnaround. 

UK CERTIFICATES

  • You need to register on the General Register Office (GRO) website to get a copy of a birth, adoption, death, marriage or civil partnership certificate in England and Wales.
  • Each certificate costs GBP 11 – 14 > AUD 22 – 28 and will be sent within 4-15 working days. 
  • Remember to add delivery times for UK Royal Mail and Australia Post. Usually about 5-15 working days.
  • The priority service for GBP 35 > AUD 17 will send documents the next working day if you order by 4 pm.
  • There’s a different process for getting certificates in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

CERTIFICATES YOU WILL NEED

  • You will need a minimum of five certificates. You will need more if you are married, have ever been divorced, are adopted or have changed your name.
    • Full birth certificate. For each applicant. A birth extract is not sufficient.
    • Marriage certificate or civil partnership registration – the decorative certificate you got on the day is not sufficient.
  • For the principal applicant claiming ancestry:
    • Full birth certificate for your parent with a UK-born parent
    • Full birth certificate for the UK-born grandparent
    • Marriage certificate for your parents 
    • Marriage certificate for your UK-born grandparents if they were married.
    • Legal adoption papers if you or your parents are adopted
    • Evidence that you’re planning to work in the UK.

Visa Application Centre (VAC) in Australia

  • You will have to pay the UK Government and processing fees. You have greater control over this cost.
  • Book and attend an appointment to submit your documents, and biometrics (fingerprints) and have your photograph taken.
  • UK Visa Application Centres (VAC), known as VFS Global or VFS, are in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Canberra.
  • If you’re applying from Adelaide or Hobart – appointments are at an Australian Department of Home Affairs Office. You can self-upload some documents, and post the others to VFS in Sydney.
  • Commonwealth citizens usually get a decision within three weeks of attending an appointment at the visa application centre, about 15 working days. 
  • If you are balancing the cost of a UK Ancestry visa with the possibility that your application may be refused, you may want to pay for VFS Premium Services, including:

Priority Service 

  • The visa application centre will usually keep your passport to add the vignette (visa sticker). If you need your passport or don’t want to wait three weeks for a decision, you can shorten your wait to five working days by paying a premium to the Australian Visa Application Centre.
  • This service puts your application at the front of the queue at every stage of the decision-making process. Read the terms and conditions carefully. 
  • AUD 460 > GBP 230 per person (June 2016 price)

Weekend Prime Time 

  • AUD 235 > GBP 117 per person (June 2016 price)

Platinum Premium Package

  • AUD 129 > GBP 65 per person (June 2016 price)

We paid for the Platinum Premium Package. We attended without an appointment, and they scanned all of our documents, checking everything was in order. They took our fingerprints and photos, and we drove home. We got regular SMS updates, and a courier delivered our passports back to us, along with shiny new visa stickers. It saved us a 2-hour return trip between the Gold Coast and Brisbane on a precious weekday. 

Cost of professional immigration advice

  • First of all, you need to understand the cost of not using professional immigration advice.
  • The UK Government keeps your visa fee if they refuse your application. The only amount that is refundable is the Immigration Health Surcharge.
  • More importantly, what about the cost of replacing everything you sold? Will you replace all of your possessions, a car, your home, and whatever else you had to sell or give away? At what cost?
  • Do you want to take the risk of not filling in a form correctly? Of not being eligible to apply in the first place? Or not knowing the correct dates to apply by and travel by to suit your circumstances?
  • We increased the cost of applying for a UK Ancestry visa by getting professional advice and support to prepare and lodge our UK Ancestry visas. We weren’t willing to donate our visa fees to the UK Government or sell our possessions only to need them still three weeks later.
  • AUD 200 – 500 > GBP 100 – 250 per person.

Costs of a UK Ancestry visa application (likely to increase over time)

MANDATORY 

  • UK Ancestry visa fee:  GBP 516 > AUD 1,032 per person.
  • Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS): GBP 3,120 > AUD 6,240 per person. 
  • Supporting documents – Bank statements: Evidence of ‘enough’ money to support yourself:  GBP 2,000 – 4,000 > AUD 4,000 – 8,000 per person.

OPTIONAL & EXTRAS

  • Supporting documents – Australian Passport: 10-year passport (for persons aged 16 and over): AUD 301 > GBP 152; 5-year passport (for children under 16): AUD 150 > GBP 75. Priority service: AUD 218 > GBP 120. Passport photos: AUD 10 – 20 > GBP 5 -10 per person.
  • Supporting documents – Ancestry documents – Australian Certificates:  AUD 50 > GBP 25 each. Minimum 5 for the main applicant adds up to AUD 250 > GBP 125 if you don’t have any full certificates. Plus AUD 30 > GBP 15 for each urgent application.
  • Supporting documents – Ancestry documents – UK Certificates:  GBP 11 – 14 > AUD 22 – 28 each. Plus GBP 35 GBP > AUD 70 for priority service. Minimum 1 for the main applicant (ancestor’s birth certificate).
  • UK Visa Application Centre in Australia – Premium Fees: Priority Service AUD 460 > GBP 230 per person. Weekend Prime Time AUD 235 > GBP 117 per person. Platinum Premium Package AUD 129 > GBP 65 per person.
  • Immigration advice and lodgement services: AUD 200 – 500 > GBP 100 – 250 per person.

The real cost of a UK Ancestry visa application

This article outlines the most obvious mandatory and optional/extra costs for applying for a UK Ancestry Visa. Your circumstances will be unique, and you may choose to spend more or less.

  • Costs are higher for the primary visa holder, the person claiming to have UK Ancestry, compared with dependent visa holders.
  • It will cost AUD 7,000 – 23,000 > GBP 3,500 – 11,500 for the main applicant. Most people will need about AUD 12,000 > GBP 6,000 to apply for a UK Ancestry Visa.
  • Have minimum personal savings of AUD 4,000 > GBP 2,000 in the three months following your application.
  • Keep this money in a transactional bank account with an attached debit/credit card.
  • UK Immigration may ask you to prove you have access to these funds.
  • AUD 4,000 – 8,000 > GBP 2,000 – 4,000 will cover initial UK living costs.
  • The cost of the UK Ancestry Visa, the money you are spending for the privilege of this visa, is closer to AUD 5,000 to 10,000 > GBP 2,500 – 5,000 per person.
  • The other AUD 5,000 to 13,000 > GBP 2,500 – 7,500 per person goes towards a faster, more successful application process and a more comfortable standard of living in your first few months in the UK.
  • For a family of four (a couple with two children): AUD 20,000  50,000 > GBP 10,000 – 25,000.

REMEMBER: You will need more money to get into a position where you’re ready to leave Australia and as much money as possible to help you re-establish yourself in the UK after arriving.

Read Other costs: Before and After Your Move to the UK.

Dual Australian-British Citizenship

If you choose to stay on after your five years:

  • Apply to renew your UK Ancestry Visa. Costs GBP 5,000 > AUD 10,000 per person (plus inflation); or 
  • Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). Known as permanent residency. Costs GBP 3,000 > AUD 6,000 per person (plus inflation). A cheaper option for British Citizenship and gets you there five years faster.
  • Apply for naturalisation next year. It will cost you about GBP 1,500 > AUD 3,000 per person (plus inflation) for Citizenship.

Six years to British Citizenship & a British Passport

  • UK Ancestry Visa (5+ years)
  • Permanent Residency (1+ years)
  • Citizenship (6th year)
  • Over the six years, from the time you apply for the UK Ancestry Visa, to the day you get your British citizenship, expect to pay:
    • For an individual: AUD 12,000 – 30,000 > GBP 6,000 to 15,000.
    • For a family of 4: AUD 48,000 – 120,000 > GBP 24,000 – 60,000.
  • This amount will vary depending on whether you use priority approval services, professional advisers and the impact of inflation. 

In my humble opinion, it’s worth it.

Secure a second home country.

Create a legacy for your children.  

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2 Comments

  1. Wow. Great post. I didn’t realise the costs. But it’s worth it. Especially if it’s your dream. We’re saving up now. Not sure when we’ll apply with covid but aiming for 2021.

    1. Hi Zoe. It’s most definitely worth it. After the lockdown eases, I imagine a lot of peeps will resume their plans to move overseas and live in the UK. We’re spending our time in lockdown researching our holiday options.