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What to do when you arrive

Find out what you need to do when you arrive to the UK as a student and how and where you get the information in this article.
© British Council

Pre-arrival information and things you need to do on arrival

We want to reassure you that universities are working hard to ensure that you know what to expect before you travel to the UK and are welcomed and supported on arrival and throughout your time at university. Contact your university for more information and support.

When you arrive in the UK, there will be some procedures you will need to follow. Let’s take a look at some of these.

Travel and arrival information

Due to Covid-19, there are some measures you will need to follow before and after arriving in the UK. The UK has introduced a ‘traffic light system’ for international arrivals, so arrival information will depend on what list your country is on – red, amber or green. Arrival information will also vary between the four nations of the UK – England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The latest travel information can be found in Study UK’s Covid-19 FAQs. It’s important that you speak to your university and keep them informed of your travel plans, as there will be lots of support available to you as you make your journey here.

Police registration

Students from certain countries are required to register with the police within seven days of arrival in the UK. To find out whether or not you have to do so, check your visa, residence permit or entry clearance stamp.

Biometric Residence Permit

If you need a visa to study in the UK, then you’ll probably need to collect your Biometric Residence Permit after you arrive in the UK. You may be able to collect this from somewhere in your university, or from a specific post office, but this will be made clear to you by your university. You should collect this as soon as possible after arriving, but don’t worry if you are isolating on arrival and can’t collect it within the first ten days. Once you have finished isolating, then you should collect your BRP.

Opening a bank account

It’s never wise to carry large amounts of cash about. You’re in the UK for a long period and therefore you’ll need to open a bank account. To open a bank account, you’ll need to provide the bank with your passport, your letter of acceptance from your university/college and proof of address.

If you are required to isolate on arrival to the UK, you won’t be able to open a bank account straight away. We recommend arranging an international bank account or bank card before you arrive in the UK. This will make it much easier for you to buy food and other essentials online.

Registering with a doctor

If you’re studying in the UK for six months or longer, you’re entitled to receive free treatment from the National Health Service (NHS) from the beginning of your stay. This applies to both routine appointments with a doctor (called a General Practitioner, or GP, in the UK) and to hospital treatment. You may have a medical centre on campus. To register with a GP, take your passport, letter of acceptance at your university, and proof of address to the medical centre or nearest GP surgery.

Your GP will be your first point of contact for any medical enquiries. If your GP is closed, or if you are in need of support before you have registered with a practice, you can still access NHS services. You can call 111, which will direct you to the best local service. If it’s an emergency, call 999 or visit your local A&E (Accident and Emergency) department, which manages life-threatening emergencies.

As an international student, you will be able to access the Covid-19 vaccine for free in the UK. Find out more in Study UK’s Covid-19 FAQs.

Here are a few other things that you may need to do while you settle in.


Depending on the type of accommodation you’ve arranged, you may need to buy bedding (eg sheets, duvet, pillows) and kitchen equipment (eg saucepans, utensils). Check on this before you leave your own country, as you may be able to bring some of this with you.

Travel cards

If you’re living away from campus, you can save money on travel by getting the right kind of ticket or card, particularly if you’re traveling regularly. Check with your local bus service. If you live in London, you will save money by using an Oyster Card or a contactless credit or debit card to pay for travel on buses or the Underground – paying with cash is more expensive. For travel between towns and cities, long-distance buses are cheap; trains are more expensive but you can save money by buying a 16-25 Railcard or a 26-30 Railcard.

These are some of the most important things to remember, but there are many other things you need to check on before you travel to the UK.

The Study UK website has pre-departure information for international students coming to study in the UK.

UKCISA has similar advice on its webpages.

The Admissions team at the university you have applied for should provide guidance about what to bring with you. Read that guidance carefully, and if you’re unsure about anything, contact them for clarification.

© British Council
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Study UK: Prepare to Study and Live in the UK

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