Questions about your Entry Clearance Visa Vignette Sticker

If you have questions or issues concerning your vignette then read this article to find the answers and guidance you need.

When your UK visa application is successful your passport will contain an entry clearance sticker, also known as a vignette that provides you with an entry window for you to arrive in the UK. This article will hopefully answer any questions or concerns you have about this vignette.

Disclaimer - as per every other article I write, please remember that this information is produced based on my time at BritBound, currently 15 years. My knowledge is gained through assisting with visas and hours of research and calls to the UKVI to get answers to questions they have neglected to address online! I am not the UKVI department and if you are looking for the official stance on a particular issue please contact them directly here (charges will apply).

When is the vignette issued?

When you apply for a visa (and your application is successful) your passport will be returned to you with a sticker inside it. This sticker is called a vignette (not sure why this word), and it is the physical form of your Entry Clearance. Entry clearance or leave to enter (basically the same thing) is the permission that you have been granted to enter the UK. The vignette sticker shows the period of time (entry window) you have to arrive here and collect your BRP.

Who adds the vignette into your passport?

The vignette is usually added to your passport by the VAC (visa application centre), where you went to for your biometrics. Your passport does not usually leave your home country, so whilst the decision for your application is (usually) made in Sheffield (UK), the vignette sticker itself is added to your passport locally.

Is this vignette proof of my right to live and work here?

No, this is just your arrival window. When you arrive in the UK you will need to collect your BRP (Biometrics Residence Card) which is your proof of your right to live and work in the UK. In the past the vignette used to be your visa, this is before they introduced BRP cards. So now the vignette is only relevant for your actual arrival into the UK. You should therefore collect your BRP card as soon as you can.

Where do the dates on the vignette come from?

The ‘Valid From and Valid Until’ dates are issued using your actual visa start date, which is generated from the field [UK Arrival Date] on your official visa application. And then 90 days is added (it used to be 30 days but has been extended since the outbreak of COVID).

So if you entered the 1st April 2022 as your UK arrival date then your vignette ‘Valid From and Valid Until’ dates will be your UK arrival date as per your application form plus (+) 90 days.

Valid From 01/04/22

Valid Until 30/06/22

Entry Clearance sticker

Vignette Dates Issue

Can I enter before the Valid From date on my vignette sticker?

The easiest answer to this is no, you can enter on or after the valid from date. If you enter before this date then you will need to exit again as you will be arriving on a tourist visa. It is also important to remember that you cannot enter the UK as a tourist on a one way flight as you have to be able to evidence that your stay is temporary and you will be leaving again.

What happens if I enter before the Valid From date?

As I mention above, entering before the ‘Valid From’ date on your vignette can be problematic. What I believe happens (because no-one seems to be able to officially confirm or deny this!), is that entering before your visa start date marks your status in the UK as a tourist. As a tourist you can only stay 6 months here and staying longer means you could potentially be deported as an overstayer. I would say this would be highly unlikely as you do have a valid visa, but it would probably cause a lot of stress, so whilst I may say that it is unlikely anything would happen in you doing this, I would definitely say best not to test this theory out! So if you were to do this I would recommend entering and then exiting again so that you can re-enter and be sure that your status has been updated to the class of visa you are on.

Can I be denied entry if I arrive before my official visa start date?

Mmm, now you are asking me something I really do not know. I do not believe you could be, no, but there may be an issue if you try to enter on a one way flight. Nowadays, it is most likely you would be entering through an e-gate and the system would just tag you as entering as a tourist (as I am led to believe through a freedom of information request). If you go via an Immigration Officer (i.e. a human as opposed to the e-gate), then he or she may ask you why you are entering prior to your start date but I cannot see there being any grounds to deny you entry unless they thought you were doing so for illegal reasons.

One way flight issue - I can see this potentially being an issue, if you were not to enter via the e-gate and you had to go via an immigration officer then you may be questioned as to why you are entering on a one way flight. I have always been advised that you can only enter on a one way flight if you have a work visa. But this may not be true now…I will find out.

Can I enter the UK before my vignette start date do some travelling around the UK before my visa starts - is this possible?

As per my responses to the two previous questions, whilst I think it would be okay, provided you left and re-entered I would advise against it because it could just raise questions at Immigration. Saying this however, I know hundreds of BritBounders in the past have arrived here a few weeks prior to their visa start date when they were booked on the likes of Contiki or Topdeck trips around Europe. So I think provided you could evidence that you are departing again and have a reason for your need to enter early, you would be fine.

I want to bring the dates on my vignette forward, to enter earlier how do I do this?

You cannot. Unless you submit another visa application to void out your current one, there is no way to get a new visa start date. To repeat, unless the UKVI have made an error it is not possible to change your visa start date without redoing your application.

I can no longer arrive within the dates on my vignette, what should I do?

You will need to apply for a replacement vignette, I have written an article on how to do this here.

The dates on my vignette are incorrect what should I do?

1)You made the error - If they are incorrect because you made an error with your visa start date then there is nothing you can do to change your visa start date except apply again. You can apply for a new arrival window but this will not change your visa start date.

2)The UKVI made the error - I would advise including a copy of your visa application as evidence of the error they have made along with a covering letter. E-mail them here: EntryClearance.Errors@fco.gov.uk

How do I correct a mistake on my vignette?

If the UKVI have made an error then you can e-mail them about this here: EntryClearance.Errors@fco.gov.uk

Do I need to remove the existing vignette before I apply for a replacement?

No, do not tamper with anything inside your passport. When you apply for a replacement vignette the visa office or handling facility will remove or void your existing vignette before replacing with another.

I have applied for a new passport since my application, do I need to apply for another vignette?

No, you are allowed to carry your old passport showing your vignette. But if you choose to have the vignette moved to your new passport then you can follow the same steps for the replacement vignette.

Have I missed anything or have something wrong, or can you add to this article to improve it?

Help us keep these articles up to date! If you have found anything to be incorrect or you can improve on the information within, then get in touch! Please just e-mail me (Sarah).