Airport welcome

Information about our airport welcome service for international and EU students joining UWE Bristol.

Arriving in the UK

Airport Welcome Service

We're excited to be welcoming you to the Bristol student community soon. To help with your transition we’re offering a free coach service from London Heathrow Airport to Bristol.

More information and advice

How can I book the free airport welcome?

  1. Read the information about the Airport Welcome Service before registering.
  2. Book your free airport pick up after you have booked your flight. The dates and booking details are listed on the booking form.
  3. Use the form to register your arrival details even if they are outside of the scheduled pick up dates. It is important that you let the niversity know when you are arriving.
  4. Please check the deadlines for booking your free airport pick up service below.
  5. We will email you on 30 September to confirm we have received your form.
  6. We will email you detailed instructions about your transfer five days before your chosen pick up date.

You must book and provide us with your arrival details by Friday 25 September for pick up dates between Monday 12 and Monday 19 October.

You must book and provide us with your arrival details by Friday 9 October for pick up booking dates between Tuesday 20 October and Thursday 5 November.

Which airport is the free service available from?

The free airport welcome service is available from London Heathrow airport only.

Who can book for the free airport welcome service

The airport welcome service is for new international and European students who start their course in autumn 2020. If you are a returning student or a family member, you will have to make your own travel arrangements. Take a look at the information about independent travel.

Can I book my place on the coach before booking my flight ticket?

No, please book your flight tickets first as we will need your flight details.

Choosing your collection time

Please select a preferred collection time that is at least 2.5 hours after your flight arrives to allow time to get through border control, collect luggage and get to the meeting point. You will receive a confirmation of booking which you will need to use the service.

What support is available if I arrive outside the scheduled dates?

If you are arriving at London Heathrow Airport on a day that we are not offering free pick up, please still register your arrival details using the booking form. We will assist you with travel information and answer your questions about onwards travel to Bristol. Please familiarise yourself with the traveling to Bristol options.

What support is available for students arriving at other airports including e.g. Luton, Gatwick, Bristol? What support is available if I arrive outside the scheduled dates?

If you arrive at a different airport or outside the scheduled airport pick-up days, you will need to make your own plans to travel to Bristol by bus (National Express, Megabus), train or taxi. You can find out more about travelling from London and Bristol airports to UWE Bristol campus online. Details about campus locations and travel options in Bristol are also available. Please read the UK government’s advice on travelling safely in the UK.

Additional support

  • Bus discounts – save £5

As a new or returning international student, you can take advantage of National Express discounted ticket price.

  • Bespoke pick-up

We have partnered with Constellation Group who offers bespoke airport pick up services from Heathrow and Gatwick directly to your accommodation or campus. Find out more.

  • Travel Cost reimbursement

If you travel independently you can apply for up to £20 reimbursement towards your travel costs (valid for the airport to Bristol route as well within Bristol to travel to your accommodation). Please email to request a reimbursement application which you will have to return together with any receipts by 15 of November.

Do I need to book accommodation before booking for the free airport welcome service?

Yes, you have to at least apply for accommodation before booking the free airport service. Please make sure that you arrange your accommodation in advance. It is very important that you find accommodation before arriving in the UK, as the University cannot offer you a room while you search. Please arrange temporary accommodation if needed.

It is your responsibility to let your accommodation provider know when you are arriving, and that you have made arrangements with them to collect your keys and access your room.

If you need advice about UWE managed accommodation, please contact Please check your email regularly for most up to date information. For private accommodation information please contact and read guidance on the SU Advice website. You can also watch previously recorded webinars with advice on searching for private accommodation in Bristol.

If your accommodation is not on our main UWE Bristol Frenchay campus you will have to arrange your transport from the university campus or city centre location at your own cost and can later claim a refund (please check ‘additional support’ section for details). Our staff will provide you with information on how to book taxis.

Where is the meeting point at the Heathrow airport? How will I find my bus?

You will receive meeting instructions with your booking confirmation.

What if I cannot find the UWE Bristol welcome staff?

After booking your space, you will receive contact details and a telephone number that you will be able to call if you need support.

How much luggage can I bring?

You can to bring up to 2 bags or suitcases and one item of hand luggage. Airport, transport and UWE Bristol staff members won’t be able to help you carry your luggage. Please make sure that you can carry and lift your luggage independently while you travel and move from the coach to your accommodation. Please note that you can pre-order and buy essential items online in the UK.

If you know that you will be arriving with a larger luggage please plan alternative travel arrangements. You might wish to check bespoke airport transfers or taxi options.

What are the rules for face masks or face coverings?

Currently you are required by law to wear face covering in enclosed spaces such as shops, banks, airports, public transport. Please check the UK government website for the most up to date information as the rules might change. You will also be required to wear a face mask/covering on UWE Bristol airport pickup service

What happens if I need to self-isolate?

Air corridors with certain countries mean you are no longer obliged to self-isolate when you arrive in the UK.

New arrivals to the UK are required to self-isolate for 14 days unless they are travelling directly from one of the countries listed on the UK Government’s exemption list. To find out which countries are included check the Government website. 

All people entering from all countries are required by law to complete a passenger location form before they travel. This provides the government with details of your journey and, where necessary, the address where you will self-isolate. Please check the details on the government website closer to your departure date and complete it.

You will receive further guidance and information about self-isolation from the university-managed accommodation closer to the date of your arrival. If you will be living in private accommodation, please read the Student Union's accommodation advice. If you are self-isolating and need groceries and other necessities supply, please see the information below.

Please review the latest government advice relating to any countries that you travel through on your way to the UK and government rules around self-isolation.

UWE Bristol also has FAQ webpages where you can find information about topics related to your course, accommodation and student support. 

Where and how can I buy groceries and basic household items?

You have the opportunity to order groceries and other necessities from online shops and supermarkets. Please ensure that you have a suitable pre-paid card or bank account to make online purchases.  

You also might find it useful to pre-order a kitchen, bedding, cleaning, bathroom starter packs. This option is available for all students both living in university-managed and private accommodation. Take a look at the pack you might need.

We also encourage you to ask your flatmates, friends and family for support. More information about support and services on the campus will be provided closer to the date.

There are many ways people can get food or essentials delivered you below are some links you may find useful. You also have the possibility of ordering groceries and other necessities online.

 Supermarkets that offer contactless deliveries are as follows: 

Most restaurants offer contactless deliveries, which can be ordered through the following apps: 

How can I buy food or medicine if I need to self-isolate?

You can order groceries and other necessities from online shops and supermarkets. Please see the section above.

If you are staying in UWE Bristol managed accommodation on Frenchay campus you have an option to order food that can be delivered to your room. All of the click-and-collect boxes below are available to all students. You can find more information and details of the scheme on Student Food boxes webpage.

If you live in private accommodation, we encourage you to do online shopping and ask flatmates and family for support. If that is not possible you might be able to get help with shopping, deliveries, and ready meals from national and local government schemes.

NHS Volunteer Responders

This is a national scheme providing help with shopping for food and essential items, and to collect and deliver prescriptions from a pharmacy.

Contact number: 0808 196 3646

Bristol City Council Volunteer Support

Local volunteer scheme available to those who are self-isolating. Support involves free help with shopping for food and medicine delivery. There is also an option to pay for prepared meal delivery.

Contact number: 0800 694 0184 

What other things should I consider before arriving in the UK?

Further information about arriving, living and studying in the UK can be found on UWE Bristol webpages. 

How can I make sure I’ll be able to use my phone when I arrive in the UK?

Before you leave your home country, check with your existing provider that you’ll be able to use your phone in the UK and that it won’t be ‘locked’ to your home network. Check the costs of using your phone in the UK on your existing network (known as ‘roaming’) – if it’s expensive, make sure you switch off roaming on arrival to avoid a big bill.

It may be more cost-effective for you to buy a UK Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) SIM card than to use roaming on your existing network. Popular UK phone networks include EE, Three, O2, Vodaphone, LycaMobile, and Giffgaff. If you plan to make international calls (rather than call home using an internet-based app such as Whatsapp), LycaMobile and Giffgaff offer cheap international calling. For a comparison of the various UK PAYG SIM deals, visit a UK comparison website.

The cheapest way to buy a PAYG SIM card is online or at a local convenience store or supermarket. If you want to get connected quickly, you can also buy SIM cards at the airport on arrival. If you want to use the SIM card immediately, make sure the card includes some pre-paid credit (known as a pre-paid PAYG SIM).

If you are arriving at Heathrow, you might be able to buy a SIM card at the following places:

  • WH Smiths (Terminals 2,4, and 5)
  • Sim Local (Terminal 2, 3, and 5; and underground in Terminal 2)
  • WeKnow tourist information (Terminals 2,3,4 and 5)
  • From a Prepaid Tourist SIM vending machine.

If you want to contact your family to let them know of your safe arrival, it might be possible to use the airport wifi to do so, but note that airports are likely to ask arrivals to exit the airport quickly as part of their coronavirus safety plans.

UWE Bristol does not endorse any particular service.

How can I access money on arrival?

It’s important that you have some money for your first few weeks in the UK as a combination of cash and access to a credit, debit or pre-paid card. This is so that you can pay for anything you may have to buy (for example food, drink, travel tickets and taxis).

If you are bringing cash from your home country and exchanging it at the airport on arrival or prior to departure be careful as to not exceed any currency limits set by your home country and to declare any cash exceeding EUR10,000 (including in other currencies) at UK customs. Note that the exchange rates offered by airport Bureau de Change are not particularly competitive.

As well as cash, you will also need access to a debit, credit, or pre-paid card. Card payments will be required for online purchases, and most payments in shops (many shops have been moving towards card-only as for payments as a result of coronavirus). 

If you choose not to bring cash from your home country, you can withdraw £ Sterling (GBP) by using your debit, credit, or pre-paid card at an ATM (known in the UK as a ‘cashpoint’ or ‘cash machine’) inside the airport terminal.

Check with your bank in your home country to make sure that your credit or debit card will work in the UK (both at ATMs and in shops) and what fees there will be (if any). Consider opening a pre-paid travel card with a bank in your home country before you depart, or opening a digital app-based bank account.

Note that opening a bank account can take a few weeks and requires you to have proof of a UK address. You can learn more about opening a bank account in the UK on the UWE’s Banking and finance webpage.

Note that traditional taxis usually only accept payment in cash. Taxis ordered through apps such as Uber are paid for using a debit or credit card connected to app.

UWE Bristol does not endorse any particular service.

I cannot find answer to my question. Who shall I contact?

Please email with any questions.

Other arrival options

If you are arriving at London Heathrow outside of the advertised dates, you will need to make your own way to Bristol. See below for information on alternative transport options.