Scotland is governed by the same visa rules and legislation as the rest of the United Kingdom. There are a number of special business visa categories to ensure Scotland remains a competitive destination for investment.

If you are from a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA), you will need a visa to live and work in Scotland.

Compared with other major UK cities, Edinburgh has one of the lowest unemployment rates as well as the highest proportion of high-skilled occupations and in 2017, residents had the 2nd highest annual earnings in the UK.

Across Edinburgh and the city region there are several industries with numerous firms ranging from large corporations to small start-ups.

The city is perhaps best known for its Financial Services sector, with nearly 10% of the working population employed in the Finance and Insurance sector.

Edinburgh has also seen rapid growth in its Technology sector. The city's skilled and highly productive workforce has attracted many international companies. There is also an expanding pool of home-grown start-ups and university spin-outs enjoying significant international success.

There are also world-leading companies in several other sectors such as Life Sciences and the Creative industries

Not only is Edinburgh perfectly located, helping meet the growing demands of our global customers – thanks to its fantastic transport links – but it’s such a diverse market, constantly offering new and exciting opportunities.

Alison Sellar, chief executive, activpayroll

Visa and immigration requirements

There are different types of visa and immigration requirements to consider as a business or individual who wishes to relocate to or invest in Edinburgh, Scotland and the UK. 

Depending on the reason for coming to Scotland, there are a number of options open to people who require a UK visa. Some options are short term and allow for visits to Scotland to search for investment and business opportunities, whereas other options are more permanent and allow for longer term permanent relocation of key investors and staff.  

More information on the different UK visa classifications can be found here, along with information on how to apply, processing times and English language requirements.

EU Nationals working in the UK & Brexit

Since the result of the referendum, the UK government has made clear that its first priority in negotiations with the EU is to secure the status of EU citizens living in the UK, and UK nationals living in the EU. 

No EU citizen currently in the UK lawfully will have to leave at the point that we leave the EU. For more information about how EU Nationals working and living across the UK will be affected by Brexit, The UK Government website will be updated with the latest information about the status of EU citizens, and their families, in the UK as the EU negotiations progress.

Starting a business as a non-UK National

When setting up a business in Scotland, you need to register as a private limited company or a UK branch of your foreign company.

Discover more about the different options when it comes to setting up and registering a business in Scotland as a non-UK national here. As an employer in Scotland you are legally required to prevent illegal working and must check a person’s eligibility to work in the UK before you employ them. More information on workforce eligibility and who has the legal right to work in the UK can be found here.



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Investor Support Team

City of Edinburgh Council


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