Two students in Bristol city centre

Arriving in the UK

Find out about the documents you will need when you arrive in the UK, and what to expect when you go through immigration and customs.

For more information about what you need to know before and why you arrive in the UK, please read our information for new international students. You can also read the ten top tips for students arriving in the UK from the Border Force.

Arriving at the airport - immigration control

When you arrive at the airport, you will go through immigration control first before collecting your luggage.

Documents to keep in your hand luggage

Keep these documents in your hand luggage:

  • passport (containing your student visa) and ID card if applicable
  • your offer letter from UWE Bristol
  • UWE Bristol Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies documents
  • evidence of your funding – your sponsor letter or bank statement used to obtain your visa
  • details of where you are going to stay.

These must be paper documents (not on an electronic tablet or mobile phone).

The immigration control process

There are usually two main queues: one for nationals of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, and one for everyone else. Make sure you join the correct queue.

A Border Force Officer will look at your passport and check your visa/entry clearance and landing card, which your airline should have given you to complete.

When you enter (or re-enter) the UK on a Tier 4 visa, the Border Force Officer must check that you speak English at the required level, without needing an interpreter. They will ask questions about your arrival in the UK, and there is no test involved.

Before you leave Immigration Control, you should check that your documents have been stamped correctly.

  • If you have a visa or entry clearance, the Border Force Officer should put a date stamp in your passport.
  • If you are a non-visa national coming for a course lasting less than six months and do not have entry clearance, you will be stamped in as a Short Term Student (STS).

After immigration control, you can collect your luggage.

Customs

After you have collected your luggage you must go through customs control and join the appropriate queue:

  • green channel - if you have nothing to declare
  • red channel - if you have items to declare
  • blue channel - if you have arrived from an airport within the European Union (EU) where you have already cleared all your baggage through Customs Control.

If you are travelling to the UK from a country outside the European Union and you are carrying the equivalent of 10,000 Euros or more in any currency (in cash, banker's draft or cheque of any kind) you must declare this at Customs Control. You will find the appropriate forms when you arrive.

You must keep a copy of the completed form as evidence that you have made a declaration. You may receive a very large fine if you do not make this declaration, or if you provide incorrect or incomplete information.

If you are carrying more than the permitted duty/tax-free allowances, or any prohibited items (such as drugs, offensive weapons, food or plants from outside the European Union, or medicines made from endangered species) you must pass through the red channel.

What items you must declare

Read the UK government advice about travelling to the UK: what you can bring, what you can't, what you must declare.

Normally, you should not bring food into the UK. Many of the foods you usually eat at home can easily be found in UK shops. Find out more about bringing food products into the UK.

Even if you pass through the green channel a Customs Officer can ask you to open your baggage for checking.

If you arrive at one of the channel ports you will also have to pass through customs control. If you use the Channel Tunnel, customs control will be carried out either in France or on the train.

You might also want to read the UK Border Force's 10 Top Tips for passing through immigration and customs control on arrival in the UK.

Collecting your Biometric Residence Permit

The Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card is a requirement for all students entering the UK on the Tier 4 student visa.

When you apply for your visa, you must give the Alternative Location Code (ALC) which confirms UWE Bristol as your BRP card collection point. The ALC for UWE Bristol is 2HE567.

You must collect your BRP card within 10 days of arriving in the UK, or you may receive a fine. Your registration information will tell you where on campus you can collect your card.

It is important to collect your BRP card as soon as possible, as you will need it frequently during your first few weeks. After this time we strongly recommend you keep it in a safe place, and do not carry it around with you on a day-to-day basis.

Police registration

People of certain nationalities who come to the UK for more than six months must register with the police. Read more about police registration.

Renting accommodation

If you choose to rent private accommodation in England you must prove to your landlord that you have the 'Right to Rent'. For Tier 4 students, this means showing a passport containing a valid visa or a valid BRP. Read more about this in our guide on 'right to rent' checks.

You may also find the government’s own guidance helpful.

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