Entering the UK
A guide for entering the UK
What happens when you arrive in the UK?
When you arrive into the UK after the journey from your home country, it's important to understand the process for entering the UK to ensure you enter correctly and legally. Read the following sections for more information.
Passport and Immigration Control
All passengers arriving at UK ports of entry are checked through passport control. When arriving at an airport, follow the signs for ‘Arrivals’ which will guide you to passport control. There are usually two main queues: one for European Economic Area and Swiss nationals, and one for all other passport holders.
ePassport Gates: Nationals from all EEA countries, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States of America can now use automatic ePassport gates at some airports. Your passport must have a ‘biometric chip’ on it and you must be 18 or over. These gates use facial recognition technology to check your identity against the photo in your passport. As Tier 4 students from the above countries who use the eGates will no longer receive a stamp in their passport on entry to the UK, it is advisable that you keep some form of evidence of the date of entry to the UK in case you need to evidence this in the future. Acceptable evidence includes a boarding card, ticket or booking confirmation for travel to the UK.
IMPORTANT: Students entering on Short-term Study Visas must not use the eGates. Short-term students must speak to a Border Force Officer in order to obtain a short-term study stamp in their passports.
Short-term students who use the eGates to enter the UK will not be permitted to study as they have entered the UK incorrectly. Short-term students who leave the port without seeing a Border Force Officer may need to leave the UK and re-enter in order to speak to a Border Force Officer. In order to avoid this, it is essential that short-term students avoid using eGates on initial entry.
Border control Officers: If you are from a non-EEA country (that is not listed above in ePassport Gates) and entering the UK on a Study Visa (Short-Term & Tier 4) you must visit a Border Control Officer to obtain a stamp in your passport. You cannot get a stamp if you use the ePassport gates.
Students who are arriving in the UK for the first time or with a new visa may be asked to show following documents, therefore, they should carry these documents with them in their hand luggage:
- Your passport or travel document with a valid student visa.
- An offer letter or copy of certificate of acceptance for studies (CAS).
- Any previous degrees/certificates mentioned in the CAS.
- Copy of English language test (if mentioned in the CAS).
- Evidence to prove that you have sufficient funds to pay your course fees and maintain yourself (and your dependants if applicable). You can prove this with one or more of the following documents;
- Recent bank statements
- A letter from your bank confirming that you have access to the required funds
- A letter or document to show that you have successfully transferred funds to the UK bank in your own account
- A letter or receipt from the institute to show that you have paid all or part of your course fees
- An official sponsor letter
- Pre departure clearance certificate or country specific health-related certificate.
Be prepared to answer a few simple questions about yourself and your intentions. There is no need to be nervous; the Immigration Officer will just need to ensure that you are coming to the UK for your study and not any other reason.
Please see the ‘Student Arrivals: 10 Top Tips’ information leaflet produced by the UK border agency for guidance on getting through the UK border controls as efficiently as possible.
As long as your documents are in order, you should pass through immigration trouble-free. However, if you need any emergency assistance or advice from us, you can ask the immigration officer to telephone the university on 01792 205678 (keep this telephone number with you).
Once you are clear of passport control, follow the signs to the baggage reclaim area, where you can collect your luggage. Identify the correct carousel using the screen displays; they will show your flight number alongside a carousel number. Occasionally, the luggage can take a little while to come through from the plane to the carousel so please be patient. If any items of your luggage do not appear, find a representative of the airline on which you travelled and complete a lost-luggage form.
Once you have collected your luggage you can proceed to customs. At UK airports there are usually 3 exits/channels through customs:
Red Channel – if you are travelling from outside the EU and have items to declare.
Green Channel – if you are travelling from outside the EU and have nothing to declare.
Blue Channel – if you have travelled from an airport within the EEA so your luggage has already cleared customs at departure.
Be prepared that a customs officer may request you to open your baggage for inspection in all customs channels.
There will be signs telling you what items you need to declare but if in doubt then check with a customs officer before passing through. The British Government has produced an excellent leaflet, which outlines what you can and cannot bring into the UK. Please read it here.
There are very heavy fines imposed and even imprisonment for the illegal importing of drugs into the UK. It is a serious criminal offence, which could lead to deportation.
Once you have cleared customs, then you have successfully arrived in the UK!
Arriving via Eurostar and Ferry
If you have travelled by Eurostar or Ferry, your passport, visa (if applicable) and documents will be inspected at the check-in stage before embarking the vessel. You may also be asked further questions when you arrive in the U.K.
What happens if there is a delay in me coming to the UK to start a new course?
If you have an issue, which is going to delay you in starting your new course, you need to contact your university college/school urgently. They will check whether you will still arrive within the deadline to enrol for your course. If you can only arrive after the enrolment deadline, you may have to make arrangements to defer starting your course until a later date or the following year, regardless of the reason for the delay (e.g. delay in getting your visa).
If the University advises you that it is too late to start your course, you should not attempt to enter the UK on your existing visa. This is because UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will cancel your existing visa and you will need to apply for a new visa to enter the UK to start your course at a later date.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you need visa advice.