Can you take the IELTS test online for a UK visa?

IELTS test online

The IELTS test from British Council is the most popular SELT test for UKVI visa applications. It’s testing system is widely supported by quality preparation resources, and it’s the most recognisable provider to learners as a result. IELTS is also one of only four testing systems accepted by the UKVI for visa applications from overseas. If you’re taking the test overseas it’s useful to know when you can take the IELTS test online, especially if you cannot easily reach a test centre.

Taking the IELTS test online

Relatively recently, the IELTS test was made available online. This was good news for people around the world needing to prove their English ability for a range of purposes. It meant that testing could be completed at home using a good internet connection, and that travelling to take the test was no longer always necessary.

The IELTS Online test uses the same content and testing system as the paper test. It is designed to be interchangeable with the regular tests, which means that the same preparation methods remain relevant regardless of how you sit the test.

This means the familiar format of listening, reading, writing and speaking testing applies to the online tests too. The speaking test with IELTS online is completed via video calling.

Can I take the online IELTS test anywhere?

As positive as this development is, it does not mean that the test can be taken online in every country yet. Taking the IELTS test online is currently only possible in the following countries:

Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Cameroon, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany, Ghana, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Laos, Macao, Malaysia, Morocco, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Qatar, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine and Zimbabwe.

Are there any tests that cannot be taken online?

There are a number of different IELTS tests which suit different purposes. For example, IELTS academic is a more demanding test pitched at people aiming to study at university level. Conversely, people applying for the skilled worker visa do not require this level of ability and will need to undertake the IELTS general test.

SELT tests for UKVI visa applications are subject to more stringent controls, and it’s still necessary to complete these tests at a test centre. The only currently available online IELTS test is IELTS Academic, which is predominantly for study.

Even if you are applying for a visa for a role which requires an academic level of English ability, it will be necessary to complete testing on paper & in person.

Need help to pass IELTS?

British Council English Online is the official teacher-led course provider for IELTS preparation. Get private one-to-one private coaching from the official provider of the IELTS tests.

Why is the use of online IELTS tests restricted?

Although it would be possible to complete all SELT testing online, it is likely that the requirement for visa-related SELTs to be taken in person is not only a question of technology.

Secure English Language Tests are, as their name suggests, a kind of additional control measure for visas and immigration. This is not without justification, since before they were introduced there was some well-documented abuse of the system that existed at the time.

The requirement for UKVI SELTs to be taken in person is a question of preventing any further abuse, as secure as online testing can be.

This does not mean that SELTs are put in place to prevent migration to the UK, however. SELTs and the IELTS test need not be difficult with adequate preparation, and are only intended to demonstrate the kind of English ability needed to fulfil the purpose of your visa & make some basic contribution to UK society.

Where are the IELTS test centres?

One of the compelling reasons to complete either an IELTS test online or at a test centre is the level of coverage across the globe.

It’s currently possible to find a British Council test centre at over 800 locations throughout the world.

You can view the locations & book your test here.


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