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How to prepare for pre-departure and arriving in the UK

Learn about the final steps to take before moving to the UK to study.

In this article:

Obtaining your visa

This is one of the first steps in your pre-departure preparation. Start your visa application process soon after receiving your confirmation letter and CAS number from your university. 

You can apply online through the UK Visa and Immigration website. After completing the online application and paying your visa processing fee, you will have to visit the visa processing centre for biometric (fingerprints and photograph) submission and visa interview. 

You might also need to submit to a medical examination from authorised doctors to check for diseases like tuberculosis.

You will soon receive your visa papers after review. You can track the status of your visa online.

For more on this read, ‘How to get a UK student visa?

Packing Checklist

Packing to move to another country can be overwhelming. Have a checklist to make sure you pack all the essentials. This way, you will not miss out on anything that you may need. Some things you will need include:

  • Clothes that suit the UK's weather.
  • Toiletries and personal items.
  • Electronic devices (mobile phones, laptops, etc.).

Also, make sure that you do not have anything that is not allowed on the flight or in the UK. Some of the banned items that you cannot take into the UK are:

  • Weapons such as knives and self-defence spray.
  • Meat or dairy products from non-EU countries.
  • Foods and plant products that aren’t free of pests and diseases, aren’t for your own use, and weren’t planted and grown in the EU.

Note: Keep the permitted luggage weight and charges of your airlines in mind while packing.

Document checklist

Your documents and papers will be checked on arrival to the UK for immigration purposes. Make sure you have the following ones with you:

  • A valid passport.
  • Your flight ticket.
  • Medical test reports, vaccination and X-ray certificates (if you were tested during your visa process).
  • University confirmation letter with the CAS number.
  • Original degree/school certificates.
  • Proof of funds (bank statements, sponsor or scholarship letters).

Sort out your finances

You will be transferring money from your home country to the UK during your stay in the UK. We would advise you to open a bank account on arriving in the UK instead of using your home country’s bank account as it will reduce the transaction costs while you use your credit/debit card in the UK.

Suggested reading: How to open a bank account in the UK as an international student?

Make sure to get enough British currency and travellers’ cheques before boarding your flight to cover your immediate expenses on arrival. If you are travelling alone, about £250 should be enough.

Booking and boarding a flight

The COVID pandemic has changed the way airlines operate. For more detailed information on how to take your next step given the situation, contact our experienced education advisors. 

In normal circumstances, it is advised to compare various airlines and book your flight in advance for lower fares.

If your university offers airport collection services, inform your arrival time and book the service before leaving. If your university doesn’t provide such a service, contact your student guidance faculty and ask for precise directions to reach your place of accommodation. Have their mobile phone number with you to contact them in case of emergency.

Check to see if you have all your luggage and documents before leaving for the airport. Check-in your luggage and go through with the boarding procedure. 

Arrival and immigration process

After landing, you have to pass through immigration. You will find two queues, one for the European Economic Area and Swiss nationals and the other for everyone else. Stand in the correct queue and wait for your turn. A border force officer will check your passport and visa papers. In addition to your visa and travel documents make sure to have the following papers with you:

  • CAS letter (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies). 
  • A letter from your guardian stating their relationship to you.

After checking your documents, the officer will stamp your passport. Lastly, you will have to collect your baggage and pass through customs control.