How much does the Tier 5 Youth Mobility or UK Ancestry Visa really cost?

Why is it so hard to find out exactly how much a UK visa application is going to cost you? Well look no further, we've got the answers right here.. (info and prices relevant for Australia, Canada and New Zealand based applications).

Before you read the rest of this article, say this to yourself, ‘however much this process costs me, it will be worth it!’ Yes, we completely agree with you! Neither the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa nor the UK Ancestry is a cheap visa to apply for. But then it is all about perspective – a BritBounder who was here last year on the Tier 5 Visa said to us, “if you consider it as a payment for an experience that lasts two-years, then actually it is fantastic value”. A very good way to look at it. Adopt this viewpoint!

Frustratingly however, it never seems to be easy to find out the total costs of things like applying for a UK visa. You might find out the occasional fee, but never the whole process cost. I have no idea why, it seems to be treated like a state secret that the UK Government does not want to divulge! But you need to know, how can you start to budget effectively if you don’t?!

So, to help you plan your relocation / travel budget, here are the main costs that you will need to pay for as part of the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa or UK Ancestry application process.

In this article - quicklinks:

Absolute Visa Costs - i.e. You can't get out of them!

Optional Visa Costs

  • BritBound Guaranteed Visa
  • BritBound Visa Checking Service
  • Priority Application Service
  • Primetime Appointment
  • Walk in Biometrics
  • Keeping your passport whilst applying
  • Courier Service
  • SMS Service

Additional Unexpected Visa Costs

  • E-mailing the UK Visa and Immigration Department
  • Phoning the UK Visa and Immigration Department

Full table of costs

Absolute Visa Costs - i.e. You can't get out of them!

Entry Clearance Fee – this is the actual visa application fee, payable to the UK Government

I'm sure you are asking yourself, what exactly is 'entry clearance'? Basically, anyone looking to come to the UK for a period exceeding six month requires entry clearance. When you submit your visa application it will be sent to an Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) to assess whether you meet the immigration criteria for that particular visa. The role of the ECO is to essentially grant or deny you entry to the UK based on the Immigration Rules for that particular visa. The final decision however, will be with the Immigration Officer at your port of entry, though now that the UK has introduced automatic visa controls, it is unlikely you will even see an Immigration Officer!

If you are granted Entry Clearance it will take the form of a stick-in Vignette which will be placed in your passport. This is not evidence of your visa or right to work in the UK, it is your entry window (the time you must enter the UK) and it will only be valid for 30 days following your Visa Start Date – as provided on your visa application.

Your actual visa takes the form of a Biometrics Residence Permit (BRP) which is a small plastic card (same size as a bank card) that you collect once you have entered the UK and this is then your evidence of your right to live and work here for the period allowed on your visa, e.g two years for a Tier 5 Visa. The BRP card includes a microchip which contains two of your fingerprints and a digital photograph.

International Health Surcharge (IHS)

You will need to pay a healthcare surcharge (called the ‘Immigration Health Surcharge’ or IHS) as part of your visa application. This will ensure that throughout your stay in the UK you will have free access to GP and hospital care through the NHS.There will be a small charge for prescriptions and dentistry treatments are heavily subsidised but not free. This should mean that you do not require additional health insurance to cover you whilst living in the UK. You will be asked to pay the IHS surcharge at the same time you pay for your visa application.

Biometric User Fee

Some of the Visa Application Centres (VAC’s) are managed by Visa Facilitation Services (VFS) on behalf of UKVI. When managed by VFS there may be an additional User Fee to pay to use the centre for the processing of your Biometrics and the physical submission of your visa application. The following lists which countries and cities fall under VFS or UKVI.

The VFS offers a wider range of services compared to that of the UKVI but none of the UKVI centres charge for the Biometric testing.

Countries and Cities Managed by VFS

  • Australia
    • Brisbane
    • Canberra
    • Melbourne
    • Perth
    • Sydney

A User Fee OF (£55) Applies for appointments in Brisbane, Canberra & Perth

  • Canada – all VAC’s are managed by VFS
    • Edmonton
    • Halifax
    • Ottawa
    • St Johns
    • Toronto
    • Vancouver

User Fee (£59) Applies for appointments in Edmonton, Halifax, Ottawa, St Johns, Vancouver

Countries and Cities Managed by UKVI (United Kingdom Visas and Immigration)

  • Australia
    • Hobart
    • Adelaide

No user fee for Biometrics at either location

  • New Zealand
    • Auckland
    • Christchurch
    • Wellington

No user fee for Biometrics at any location

Optional Visa Costs - that you may or may not decide to purchase

BritBound Visa Application Assistance – for a guaranteed visa

Our BritVisa team has assisted with the successful process of hundreds of visas over the years. If you are in anyway worried about the visa application process then I would definitely recommend you take advantage of professional assistance. You’ll find it a much more enjoyable application experience when you know that a successful visa outcome is guaranteed. And remember, if your visa is declined you won’t get a refund of your Entry Clearance Fee, and it could be very costly to change your flights (if pre-booked) or any tours you’ve organised. Take a look at our article Should I use a professional visa assistance service to help you decide.

Priority Application Service

This is an additional service that essentially puts your application at the top of the pile (supposedly!!). It will not guarantee a successful visa. The UKVI processing team have a turnaround target of 5 working days for Tier 5 Youth Mobility and 7 working days for Ancestry. You still need to factor in the weekends and postage times for your returned passport.

It is available for purchase online at the time of your visa application submission, through a separate link. It is also payable at your Biometric Appointment at the following centres:-

  • Australia – Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Perth
  • Hobart - only available to purchase online
  • Adelaide - only available to purchase online
  • New Zealand– only available to purchase online
  • Canada - Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Ottawa, Halifax and St. John’s

Keep your passport when applying

If you are going travelling or you need your passport to apply for another visa then it could be a good idea to keep hold of your passport rather than handing it over at your Biometrics Appointment. When a (successful) decision has been made then you will need to return to the VFS centre to submit your passport to enable them to insert your Entry Clearance Vignette (Sticker). To use this service, you will need to provide a photocopy (in black and white or colour) of your entire passport, when you attend your Biometrics appointment. But you can pay them $1 to do this for you there. (According to their website).

NB This service is not available if you are applying for a Priority Visa.

It is available at the following VFS centres.

  • Australia – Available in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Perth
  • Canada- Available in Toronto , Edmonton, Vancouver and Ottawa
  • New Zealand– Not available

Primetime Appointment

This is an additional service where you can attend a Biometric outside of the standard opening hours. By paying this additional fee you have the ability to book your Biometrics Appointment first thing in the morning. You can pay for this at the same time as when you pay your Entry Clearance Fee, which is immediately after you submit your visa online.

Primetime appointments are available at the following VFS centres:

  • Australia – Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney
  • Canada – Available in: Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Ottawa
  • New Zealand– not available

Walk In Biometrics, without prior Appointment.

If you need to travel urgently and cannot get a quick appointment online, or if you have missed your pre-booked appointment, this service allows you to just turn up on a day of your choosing. It is only available in certain application centres:-

  • Australia
    • Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane All working days between 15:00 pm - 16:00 pm
    • Canberra Every Monday and Tuesday between 15:00 pm - 16:00 pm
    • Perth Every Tuesday and Wednesday between 15:00 pm - 16:00 pm and Thursday between 09:00 am - 15:00 pm
    • Hobart and Adelaide – not available as not run by VFS
  • Canada
    • Toronto – Monday to Friday 9:00 to 13:50
    • Vancouver - Monday to Friday 10:00 to 10:30
    • Edmonton - Monday to Friday 10:00 to 10:30
    • Ottawa - Monday to Friday 10:00 to 10:30
  • New Zealand – not available as not run by VFS

For a full list of address for all the Biometric Centres (for the areas listed above), click here.

Courier Service

This is a service where your local VFS centre will courier your returned passport to your home or work address. This is only where the default option is to collect your passport in person. It is available at the following VFS Centres:

  • Australia: Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney only.
  • Canada: Toronto (Fee applies), for Edmonton, Vancouver, Ottawa, Halifax and St Johns it is included as part of the User Fee


SMS Service:

You can pay a small fee to receive updates sent to your phone. This service promises to message you at ‘key stages of the visa application process’ It is available at the following VFS Centres:

  • Australia: Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Perth.
  • Canada: Toronto
  • New Zealand –not available

Note: Having spoken to a number of people who have paid for this service, it sounds like you in fact only receive one message when your passport is being sent back to you...

What we can tell you is that when we assist with applications at BritBound there are only two emails they send out. The first is when they receive your documents and the second is when your passport is being returned to you. Any phone calls to the UKVI help line will provide a costly exercise and rarely produces any helpful information!

Additional and unexpected costs

Trackable Post Service

If you are applying for your visa in New Zealand or Australia (Tasmania and Adelaide only), then you will also need to purchase two envelopes as you will have to post off your passport, application form and supporting documents directly to the UKVI yourself.

You don’t need to use a trackable service for this, but you will also need to include a stamped, addressed envelope for your passport to be returned in. And this should be a trackable service. Your passport will be sent back to Auckland (or if you are in Tasmania or Adelaide then Sydney), so you don’t need it to be an international service, just one that covers New Zealand. You will be given the address to send your applications to when you attend your biometrics. At the time of writing this article the addresses were as follows:

Postal Address in Auckland (for NZ based applications)

UK Visas and Immigration,

Private Bag 115–770,

Shortland Street ,



Postal Address in Sydney (for Tasmania and Adelaide based applications.)

UK Visas and Immigration,

GPO Box 2718,


NSW 2001

E-mailing the UKVI (UK Department for Visas and Immigration)

If you need to contact the UKVI for any reason to find out or ask questions about your visa then you can e-mail them. Email enquiries cost £5.48. You will not be charged for any follow-up emails about the same enquiry. You’ll get a reply to your email within 2 days, except on Saturdays, Sundays and UK Public Holidays

Phoning the UKVI (UK Department for Visas and Immigration)

You can contact the UKVI by phone. Telephone: 00 44 203 481 1736. Monday to Friday, 24 hours. Calls cost £1.37 per minute on top of your standard network charges. Remember if you are dialling from overseas that you will be paying a charge to call internationally.

Table of Visa Fees - Tier 5 Youth Mobility and UK Ancestry

Where there is a UK amount present in the below table, this is because the service is set by the UKVI in Great British Pounds (GBP) and when payment is due the fees will show in local currency at the current exchange rate. Most of these have been sourced directly from the UKVI website. The remaining fees have been sourced from the VFS Website.

Amounts correct as of June 2019 – local payments will fluctuate in accordance with exchange rates set by HOERP (Home Office Exchange Rate Policy)

Absolute Visa Costs

Optional Add-On Visa Costs

If anything is missing or you think there is an error then please let me know, this has taken hours to research and put together!! sarah (at) britbound (dot)

Hope it helps!