Arriving in the UK


What to expect when arriving in the UK

You've secured your place. You've organised your visa. You're all packed and ready to go. But what happens when you arrive in the UK?

Read on and learn what to expect so you can arrive feeling confident and well-prepared.

Arriving at the airport – immigration control

When you arrive at the airport, you will go through immigration control first before collecting your luggage. Don't worry – this is just routine, but it's helpful to be prepared and have the correct documents at hand.

Documents to keep 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).

Nationals of the EEA and Switzerland are permitted to enter using ID cards in only limited circumstances and, if entering on Student Visas or as Standard Visitors, must do so using a passport.

The immigration control process

On arrival, follow the signs to either the eGates, or to speak to a Border Force Officer.

Who can use eGates?

UK Border Force recommend you use the eGates if you are aged over 12 and you are:
  • an EEA or Swiss national travelling on a biometric passport; or
  • a national of the EU/EEA, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland or the United States of America, travelling on a biometric passport and entering the UK to study for more than six months (typically on a Student visa) or you have an entry clearance (a sticker in your passport) for some other purpose which permits study; or
  • a subscriber to the Registered Traveller service.

If you use an eGate, please keep evidence of your date of arrival in the UK, such as your ticket and boarding pass. UWE Bristol staff may ask for it at registration in order to demonstrate right to study.

Who will be interviewed by a Border Force officer?

You must speak to a Border Force officer if you are:

  • a national of any country not listed under eGates above; or
  • travelling on a non-biometric passport; or
  • travelling on a national ID card; or
  • travelling with a child under 12 years old; or
  • a national of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, or the United States of America and you are entering the UK for short term study of up to six months without an entry clearance (a sticker in your passport); or
  • the family member of an EEA national and you are seeking to join them permanently in the UK.

When you enter (or re-enter) the UK on a student 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. 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 other entry clearance, the Border Force Officer should put a date stamp in your passport (unless you use an eGate).
  • 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 Visitor.

After immigration control, you can collect your luggage.


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

If you are travelling to the UK from a country outside the European Union and you are carrying the equivalent of £10,000 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.

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 Student visa unless you used the UK Immigration: ID Check app to upload your biometric data when applying for your visa.

When you apply for your visa, you must give the Alternative Collection Location (ACL) code in order to use UWE Bristol as your BRP card collection point. The ACL for UWE Bristol is 2HE567.

Students will be emailed directly with instructions to collect their BRP by appointment from UWE Bristol. Production of BRPs by the Home Office can be subject to delays, and yours may not be available as soon as you arrive in the UK.

UWE Bristol will contact you as soon as your BRP is available.

If you did not enter the ACL code in your visa application, you should collect your BRP from a Post Office as directed by the Home Office. Please email as soon as you have it to arrange scanning. 

Find out more about BRPs

Police registration

Police registration was abolished on 5 August 2022. The abolition applies retrospectively.

If you have been instructed to register with the police as a condition of your visa, even if it was issued before 5 August 2022, you do not need to register.

If you have previously registered with the police, you do not need to take any action. Read more about existing police registrations.

Renting accommodation

If you choose to rent private accommodation in England you must prove to your landlord that you have the 'Right to Rent'. If you have a student visa, this means either showing a passport containing a valid visa or a valid BRP, or setting up a share code so that your landlord can use the UK government's online checking service.

Nationals of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, or the United States of America, and all EEA/Swiss nationals who have not applied to the EU Settlement Scheme, who enter the UK using an eGate should retain evidence that they travelled to or entered the UK within the last six months. This evidence has to be presented to the landlord, letting agent or host family with their passport as they may not be able to rent without it. This is because they will not receive a stamp in their passport on arrival.

Acceptable evidence of entry to the UK may include a boarding card, ticket or booking confirmation for travel to the UK within the last six months. Any other documentary evidence that establishes their date of arrival is also acceptable. A photocopy, photograph, screenshot or scanned copy of the evidence that includes the traveller’s name and/or passport number is also acceptable.

You may find the government’s own guidance helpful.