Visas and Immigration for study in the UK

Arriving at the UK border

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.

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. If you are a citizen of Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland or the USA, you can also use the queue for UK/EU/EEA nationals to proceed to the e-gates. All other nationals will have to have a border official look at your passport and check your UK visa.

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.

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 if:

  • You have a modern passport with a chip in it
  • You're a citizen of the UK, /EU/EEA, 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 10
  • You're not entering the UK to join an EEA family member

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 will need to therefore keep evidence of your date of entry to the UK (e.g. your flight ticket or boarding pass) as you will need to show this to complete registration with us.

If you are a non-visa national, you may arrive to the UK with no visa and enter the UK via the e-gates as a visitor. This can only be used for short periods of study, for programmes which are less than 6 months in duration. Please see our guidance on studying on a Visitor Visa.

Making sure you have the right immigration status when you arrive to the university

If you are coming to study at the University of Greenwich on a new degree course, it’s really important that you have the right type of immigration status when you arrive to the university to study.  If a student arrives to the UK with the wrong type of status, the university can’t complete the registration for that student.

If you have not received your Student Visa before you travel to the UK and you enter to the UK using the E-gates, this means that you will be in the UK with Visitor status

When you are in the UK with ‘Visitor’ status you

-Can’t register onto a new degree course

-Cannot make an application for a Student Visa inside the UK

Students who arrive to the university with Visitor status, usually have to leave the UK, and re-enter before they can start their degree programme. They may need to travel back to their country of normal residence before they can come back again. This can cost time and money and be stressful, so make sure to follow our guidance before you travel.

Make sure to follow the instructions from the Visa Application Centre and be sure you are 100% certain your visa has been issued to you before you travel to the UK.

Documents you'll need

We recommend that you carry paper copies of the following documents as the border official may want to see them:

  • 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

Important: these should be in your hand luggage, as you will not have your collected your checked baggage by this point.

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

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:

  • Green channel: if you have nothing to declare and you have travelled from outside of the EU
  • Blue channel: if your journey started within the EU and you have nothing to declare
  • 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 can 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. We recommend planning this before you arrive.

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.