Find out how to get the right visa to travel abroad.
Find out if you need a visa to travel
Visas are issued by the UK embassy or consulate of the country that you wish to visit. You'll need to check the embassy's website or contact the embassy to see whether you require a visa.
If you do need a visa, you should start making enquiries at the relevant embassy as early as possible, as the application process can be lengthy. The average processing time is three weeks, but this can often be longer during busy vacation periods (for example, Christmas, Easter and over the summer). It's also important to note that most embassies require you to have three-six months visa/leave to remain in the UK still remaining in your passport at the end of your trip.
To apply for a visa you will need an application form. Most embassies now have application forms that can be downloaded from their website. Note that application procedures differ between embassies.
Some embassies allow you to post applications to them while others require you to visit the embassy in London in person. If the embassy does require you to go in person, you will need to arrive around two hours before the embassy opening time as many embassies have a limit on the maximum number of applications which they will accept in one day.
You will usually be required to pay a fee for the visa. The cost of the visa and the processing time also varies between embassies.
You'll find a list of documents required on your application form for the relevant embassy.
In addition, you will also need:
- an up-to-date letter of registration to prove that you're a student of the University. You can request this by registering as a student. Please allow six working days before collecting it from the Student Services Centre in 4 West.
- medical insurance (this can be obtained when purchasing travel insurance - both [Endsleigh and the Post Office offer travel insurance for international students in the UK).
Different visas you can apply for
Each country will have different visa categories depending on whether you're going to work, study or visit. If you're going to work or study, your host organisation may be able to advise you about which visa you'll need. The embassy or consulate's website will also be able to help.
The Schengen Visa
If you're travelling for less than three months as a tourist (not working), the Schengen Agreement allows you to use one visa to enter all of the signatory states.
- Belgium -Czech Republic
- the Netherlands
You should apply for a Schengen visa at the embassy of the country which:
- you will spend the longest amount of time in (your main destination); or
- you will visit first, if you'll be spending about the same amount of time in each Schengen country that you visit.
If you're not sure which visa is correct for you, contact the Student Immigration Service using the Student Services Helpdesk.
When travelling abroad, you will need to make sure that you have medical insurance. There are a number of different providers of this type of insurance. You should research your options fully before selecting the policy you are going to apply for and who your insurer will be.
European Health Insurance cards
If you are planning to travel to other European countries you can apply for a European Health Insurance card (EHIC). If you already have an EHIC card and are going to study or work in the EEA as part of your degree, you must apply for a new EHIC card.
A valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) gives card-holders the right to access state-provided healthcare on temporary stays in other European Economic Area (EEA) countries or Switzerland. Treatment should be provided on the same basis as it would be to a resident of that country and is provided either at reduced cost or, in many cases, for free. The EHIC covers treatment that is medically necessary until the card holder returns home. This includes treatments for pre-existing medical conditions.
The EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. It is important to have both an EHIC and a valid private travel insurance policy in place before you travel.
Re-entering the UK if you have a UK visa
All students should carry the following documentation in their hand luggage when returning to the UK:
- passport or travel document, and visa
- an up-to-date letter of registration confirming that you're still a full-time student enrolled on a course at a recognised institution
- evidence that you have enough money to support yourself and any dependants (e.g. your last three months of bank statements, or a letter from your sponsor confirming that they are continuing to sponsor you).
If asked, you will also have to satisfy the immigration officer that you intend to leave the UK at the end of your studies, or demonstrate that you are going to make a further immigration application'.
Tier 4 students should also carry their CAS number with them.
If you intend to return to the UK on a Tier 4 visa after your course has finished, please seek advice from a Student Immigration Adviser.