International Student Guide: What to Expect on Arrival
22 March 2018
Arriving in the UK can be an anxious time for international students, particularly as you make your way through customs and have your visa checked by immigration officials. In this guide, we seek to ease your worries about arriving in the UK, explaining what will happen at the airport and how to arrange onward travel – for a smooth and stress-free university transition.
When the day finally arrives for you to travel to the UK to begin your course, it’s natural to feel anxious about entering the country and getting settled in. But, provided you have all the correct documents and know where you’re going, your arrival should be easy and stress-free, so there’s no need to worry.
To help ease any anxieties you have about the process of travelling to the UK, from the customs process to onward travel, here we offer a guide on what to expect when you arrive – giving you complete peace of mind and helping you to look forward, and not dread, the big moving day.
What Will Happen at the Airport?
Airports can be stressful at the best of times, and especially so when you’re moving somewhere new as an independent student. But as long as you’ve prepared all your paperwork in advance, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about as you arrive in the UK and start making your way through customs.
At your port of entry, UK immigration officers will need to make sure you meet the requirements to enter the country as an international student. Therefore, even though you have already been granted a Tier 4 or short-term student visa, you should bring supporting evidence in your hand luggage to make sure there are no delays in you being allowed entry to the UK.
We’d recommend carrying the following documents in your hand luggage when entering the UK:
- Confirmation of your student visa
- Proof of finances, like a recent bank statement
- Official sponsor letter and confirmation of unconditional offer from the university
- Proof of English language skills, such as an SELT pass certificate
- Address and contact information of your student accommodation
In some circumstances, you may be interviewed by an immigration officer at the airport. This is nothing to worry about, but is something to consider when making onward travel arrangements, as you may be delayed.
For more information on what to expect when arriving at a UK airport, we’d recommend reading all of the relevant travel advice on the GOV.UK international travel portal.
Arranging Onward Travel
Knowing how to get from the airport to your accommodation at the university is the next hurdle you face when arriving in the UK. To make onward travel simpler, we’d recommend looking into this in advance of your arrival in the UK, as leaving it until you get here could make things more stressful.
One of the simplest ways to arrange onward travel is to speak with international admissions team at the university. In some cases, they may be able to arrange travel on your behalf or else provide recommendations on how to get to campus via taxi or public transport. Another option is to speak with your accommodation provider, who will also be able to recommend the best way to get from the airport to your student residence.
Alternatively, you could book a private transfer from the airport to a specific address in advance of arriving in the UK. There are many different airport transfer options available, and you may be able to find a specialist provider with a driver who speaks your first language.
To find airport transfer services and information on getting to and from the airport, we’d recommend visiting the website of your arrival airport – Manchester Airport, for example, has lots of information on onward travel.
Additional Tips for a Stress-Free Arrival
Below, we offer some helpful tips and advice that will make your arrival in the UK that much less stressful:
- Give yourself plenty of time at every stage of the journey to minimise stress.
- Carry plenty of essentials in your hand luggage, including a phone, documents and change of clothing, in case your luggage is delayed.
- Buy a small amount of British currency and carry it with you. This will make it easier to buy food and drink at the arrival airport, and enable you to jump on a bus or take a taxi.
- Check the weather in the UK, as well as the local time when you’re scheduled to arrive – you don’t want to get caught in a classic British downpour without a jacket!
International Student Guide
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