Some international students on postgraduate programmes require an ATAS certificate. You should check if this applies to you as early as possible when preparing to start a course or when extending your visa.

ATAS and Tier 4 visas

If you are applying for a Tier 4 visa and you need an ATAS certificate, you should note that you will need to get your ATAS certificate first, before the university can issue you with a CAS.

ATAS and other visas (non Tier 4)

If you will be studying on a non Tier 4 visa and will be studying on a course that requires ATAS clearance, you will need to provide a copy of your ATAS certificate before your university registration can be completed.

How to check if you need an ATAS certificate

ATAS applies only to international students who need a visa to stay in the UK. For general information about the ATAS scheme see the information on the gov.uk website.

New students

ATAS clearance is required by some postgraduate programmes (it does not apply to undergraduate programmes or foundation programmes.) Your offer letter will advise you if your course requires an ATAS certificate, so please ensure you read it carefully. 

If you are required to make an ATAS application, your offer letter will confirm the HECos CAH code which applies to your programme of study or research.  You will need this code when making your ATAS application. Additionally, if you are a research student, the offer letter will confirm your research summary which you will need when completing your ATAS application. 

Continuing (existing) students

ATAS clearance is required by some postgraduate programmes (it does not apply to undergraduate programmes or foundation programmes.) When you start your studies, you will be able to check if your programme of study requires an ATAS certificate by following the instructions above. If you extend your visa to continue studying on the same programme, you will need to apply for a new ATAS certificate. Each time you apply for a new visa a new ATAS certificate is needed.

If you did not need an ATAS certificate at the start of your studies, you should be aware that if your programme or research changes, your new programme or research may require ATAS clearance. Seek guidance if you are unsure. 

If your course end date is extended for a period of more than 3 months, you must apply for a new Certificate within 28 days of being notified of the change of course end date, regardless of when your immigration leave expires.

Applying for an ATAS certificate

To apply for an ATAS certificate you need to complete and submit an online application form on the Gov.uk website. There is no charge for the application.

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office have provided some helpful guidance on completing the ATAS application form on the main ATAS page, and on a separate guidance page. We strongly recommend that you read this information whilst preparing your application and completing the online form.

The ATAS team state that they aim to respond to all applications within 20 working days from submission, but this can take longer during peak periods. We strongly recommend that you apply for your ATAS clearance as early as possible.

The information on this page is correct at the time of writing. Whilst we try to make sure the information we provide is accurate, immigration policy changes frequently. You should therefore always refer to the official gov.uk website to ensure that you have up-to-date information: https://www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration