Students Staff

Travelling to and arriving in the UK

Before you travel we recommend you read the detailed information regarding customs and travel, including what you can expect when arriving in the UK and appeals, produced by the Home Office. UKCISA and the British Council also produce useful guidance and information that is worth reading. Read the UKCISA guidance for more information about preparing to travel and what you can’t bring into the UK.

There is also information on our welcome pages about the additional requirements due to COVID-19 which include, a government form that you’ll need to complete up to 48 hours before you travel and self-isolation (quarantine) requirements on arrival. UKCISA have also issued useful information for students arriving from the UK's red list of travel ban countries. Please be aware that the rules for international travel to England will change on 4 October 2021, for more information read the Government website. You can sign up for news and announcements from the Government website so you can keep up to date.

When can I come to the UK?

Student visas

When you have been granted your Student visa it will have a valid from date, you can travel to the UK from the date it is valid. If you have an entry clearance sticker in your passport, you must arrive by the date the vignette expires or apply for a new one if you can’t travel until after that date. If you have made an application for a Student visa but do not have the outcome, you must not travel to the UK.

If you have been issued with an entry clearance vignette (sticker) in your passport - you must arrive in the UK during its validity, you must not attempt to enter the UK before the date it is valid from or after the date it expires. If you can’t arrive by the day the vignette expires you must apply for a new entry clearance vignette from overseas. You will have a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) to collect as soon as you arrive in the UK and will have chosen a collection location when you applied for your visa. If you are required to self-isolate, you can collect your BRP once that period has passed. Read our Your BRP page for more information.

If you have been issued with digital immigration status and haven’t got a physical document (an entry clearance vignette/BRP) – Digital immigration status is only issued to some nationals with certain types of visa, this includes some EEA/Swiss nationals issued with a Student visa. You must not travel to the UK before the date your visa is valid from as you would be entered as a visitor and cannot study a full-time course that is longer than 6 months in duration. If you have a Student visa and have digital immigration status, you will not be issued with a BRP..

Pending EU Settlement Scheme applications

If you are awaiting the outcome of an EU Settlement application, please do not travel if you do not have a Certificate of Application or you are granted settled or pre-settled status.

If you were living in the UK by 23:00 31 December 2020 and applied to the EUSS by 30 June 2021 – you are advised not to travel outside the UK/into the UK until you are in possession of a Certificate of Application, confirming you have made a valid in-time application to the scheme. If travel before then is necessary, you may experience delays at the border whilst your application is confirmed. In such cases, where it can be confirmed that the pending application has been made by an EEA citizen or their family member, who was resident in the UK by the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020, they will be granted entry into the UK. Whilst your application is pending you are covered by The Citizens’ Rights (Application Deadline and Temporary Protection) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020. If you do not have a Certificate of Application, we will need your consent to contact the Home Office for confirmation of your right to study.

If you were living in the UK by 23:00 31 December 2020 and applied to the EUSS after the 30 June 2021 deadline – you must not travel outside the UK/into the UK until you are in possession of a Certificate of Application, confirming you have made a valid application to the scheme. You may also be asked to provide evidence that you were resident in the UK by the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020 in order to be granted entry into the UK. if you apply/applied after the deadline of the 30th June 2021, you are not covered by The Citizens’ Rights (Application Deadline and Temporary Protection) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020. This means you require a Certificate of Application to travel and prove any rights you may have in the UK whilst your application is pending. You will not be able to study with us in the UK if you do not have a Certificate of Application or proof of your settled/pre-settled status.

What if I can’t travel into the UK for the start of my course?

You will be able to submit a request to study remotely once you are registered. Please ensure you explain the reasons you are unable to travel clearly in your request, this will be considered by your department and in some circumstances by our International Services Team.

Arriving at the UK border

When you arrive at a port of entry (border) in the UK, your passport and entry clearance/immigration documents will be checked to ensure they are valid. You may also be asked to show other documents to a Border official that show you meet the requirements to be granted entry for the main purpose of your visit to the UK. If your visa/entry clearance is a sticker in an old passport you must bring both passports with you to enter the UK.

Please be aware that if you have a student visa, the Home Office have the right to refuse you entry if, when interviewed by a Border official, you are not able to hold a simple conversation in English without the need of an interpreter. However, interviews will not be held as a matter of routine.

Please note that from the 1 October 2021 you will require a valid passport to enter the UK that should be valid for the duration of your stay. It will not be possible to use an EEA or Swiss national identity card to enter the UK unless you have obtained settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, in this case you may be able to use a valid identity card or passport which is registered on your UK Visas and Immigration account. Read the Government website for more information.

Using the e-gates

Nationals of the Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea or the United States of America (and EEA entering from 1 January 2021)

If you have a biometric passport, you should be able to use the e-gates upon arrival at the airport, however, you may be directed to see a border official instead. You are unlikely to have your passport stamped. Read the government guidance for more information about entering the UK. There is some additional guidance about arriving at the UK border and using the e:gates.

Please keep evidence of your travel into the UK, such as your airline ticket or boarding pass. You’ll need these for various reasons in the UK, including to complete your right to study checks and study with us. To study with us we will need to check your identity and take copies of your passport, entry clearance vignette and BRP (Biometric Residence Permit) if you have one, we will also need to see evidence (electronic or paper) that you entered the UK during the validity period of your entry clearance sticker and record the date you entered on our systems.

If you arrive in the UK before your entry clearance starts you would automatically be entered as a visitor to the UK and will need to leave the Common Travel Area (CTA) and re-enter the UK via the e:gates before you can start your studies. You won’t be able to start your course if you aren’t able to supply us with the evidence, we need of your right to study in the UK and complete your right to study checks with the University. If you travel into the UK via the Common Travel Area i.e. Dublin, different conditions apply but you will still need to leave the CTA and re-enter if your course finishes more than 3 calendar months from the date your entered the CTA, we’ll provide you further advice at registration. Contact our International Services Team if you have already booked a non-refundable flight or have already entered the UK via the Republic of Ireland for advice.

Standard visitor (study for up to 6 months)

If you are a non-visa national coming to the UK to study a course of less than 6 months duration, you may be seeking entry upon arrival at the UK border as a visitor. If you are a national of a country that is allowed to use the e:gates at the UK border and you don’t hold another form of UK immigration permission, you will be entering as a visitor.

Visitors can study during their visit but there are restrictions on the type of study you can undertake, so it’s important you check what visa you will require before you arrange your travel.

Please be aware that those travelling from red list countries can’t come to the UK as a visitor so you’ll need to contact Admissions to see if you would be eligible for a CAS to apply for a Student visa instead, and read our information about Applying for a Student visa.

Read our Visitor route page for more information and the UKCISA guidance.

Problems at the UK Border

If you experience any difficulty with Border Force on entry to the UK you should ask the officer to email the International Services team via international@essex.ac.uk Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. If you gain entry to the UK but have a problem please email the International Services team for advice.