Arriving at the airport or border can be an exciting but also nervous experience. Below you can find all the information you need for your arrival at the UK border and to ensure you get through passport control quickly and easily

Arriving at the airport

When you arrive at an airport in the UK, you will need to pass through immigration control. There will usually be two queues: one for nationals from the UK/EU/EEA, and one for everyone else. When you get to the front of the queue, a border official will look at your passport and check your UK visa if you have one.

UKVI have published a helpful international student arrival guide which tells you what to expect at the border. They also have a guide to faster travel through the UK border.

Using the e-gates 

Some students may be able to use an e-gate to enter the UK. This may be quicker than standing in the queue to see a border guard.

An e-gate is an electronic passport control that will read biometric information from your passport chip and use facial recognition technology to identify you. This means you do not need to see a border guard.

You can use the e-gates to enter the UK in the following circumstances:

  • You have a modern passport with a chip in it
  • You're a citizen of the UK, the EU, Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland or the USA
  • You're not travelling with a child under the age of 12
  • You're not entering the UK to join an EEA family member
  • You're not entering the UK as a Short-Term Student, by getting a stamp at the airport (see below)

If you use the e-gates to enter the UK, your passport will not be stamped. This means that you will not have an official record of the date that you entered the UK. You should therefore keep evidence of your date of entry to the UK (for example your flight ticket), because may need this later on. Keep this evidence safe and remember that you may need to refer to it several years later.

Short-Term Study Visa

You should not use the e-gates if you want to get a Short-Term Study Visa at the port of entry. In such circumstances, you will need to see a border guard to have your passport stamped. It is very important that you tell them that you are entering the UK to study and show them your offer letter. The stamp in your passport should clearly show the words 'Short Term Student' or similar. If it doesn't, you may not be able to study in the UK.

If you have applied for a Short-Term Study Visa in advance, and have a vignette (sticker) in your passport, you may be able to use the e-gates if you meet the above criteria.

Documents you'll need

We advise that you carry the following documents in your hand luggage as the the border official may want to see them. We recommend that you carry them in paper form where possible, rather than electronically.

  • Your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)
  • Your offer letter from the university
  • Recent bank statements
  • Details of your accommodation (such as a tenancy agreement or confirmation of a place in halls)
  • If you are under 18 years old, a letter from your parent(s) or legal guardian(s) giving you permission to study in the UK

The border official may ask you some questions, and once they are happy they will stamp your passport.

Please note that you will not have your luggage with you at this point, so all your documentation must be in your hand luggage.

Collecting your bag

After you have had your passport checked, you can collect your baggage. You will need to check the screens to identify the correct carousel. Please make sure you pick up the right bag! If you have a lot of baggage, there should be free trolleys available to help you transport it.

If your baggage does not arrive, please speak to a member of airport staff. You may need to fill in a lost baggage form. In most cases, if your bag is missing it will be delivered to you in a few days.

Going through customs control

When you have your luggage, you must pass through customs.

There will be 3 routes through customs control:

  • The green channel if you have nothing to declare and you have travelled from outside of the EU
  • The blue channel if your journey started within the EU and you have nothing to declare
  • The red channel if you have goods to declare

You should only use the red channel if you have goods to declare:

If you have goods to declare, you will need to fill in a form and give it to the customs officer. Please ask for assistance at the airport.

How to get to the University of Greenwich

Once you have passed through customs, you'll need to continue your journey to campus.

Please note that the university does not offer an airport pickup service so you will need to make your own way to campus. If you are arriving during the International Welcome Programme we may have university representatives based at the airport to help you with your journey at certain times of the day. This does not apply at other times.

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