Travelling abroad

If you're thinking about travelling abroad, either as a UK national or an overseas student, we can offer information and guidance on visas. However, international students who are on a UK visa need to be aware of specific points, especially when re-entering the UK. Please send enquiries through our online Student Services Helpdesk. An adviser will reply with further information or to make an appointment. 

We can:

  • be a first point of contact for all non-UK visa enquiries
  • provide general information about applying for visas, where to find information and what to check before applying
  • offer information through our online Student Services Helpdesk and appointments when appropriate

We can't:

  • advise on immigration rules of another country
  • send applications
  • be responsible for a student’s application.

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 3 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 3-6 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 2 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.

Find out which visa you need

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. If you're unsure, contact the Student Immigration Service using the Student Services Helpdesk.

The Schengen Visa

If you plan to travel to more than one of the countries listed below and you're travelling for less than 3 months as a tourist (not working), the Schengen Agreement allows you to use one visa to enter all of the signatory states.

These are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

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.

Documents you'll need

You'll find a list of documents required on your application form for the relevant embassy. Generally you will need:

  • photographs
  • completed application form (available on the embassy's website)
  • passport
  • proof of purpose of the visit, for example an invitation letter from friends, conference organisers, job offers, plus bookings and reservations for accommodation or tours
  • evidence that you have enough money to support yourself during your stay (for example your last three months of bank statements - cash is not accepted as proof)
  • visa fee
  • an up-to-date letter of registration to prove that you're a student of the University (you can request this by going to Registration-On-Line - please allow 6 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).

European Health Insurance card (EHIC) if you are studying in the UK for more than 6 months

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.

Apply for a free EHIC.

Re-entering the UK

You don't need to seek advice about re-entering the UK if you meet all of the following 3 requirements:

  • the last time you were given permission to stay in the UK it was for a period of more than six months
  • you will re-enter the UK before the validity of that entry clearance runs out (often 3 or 6 months before the expiry date)
  • your circumstances have not changed since you got that stamp or entered the UK with the entry clearance.

If you do not meet all 3 requirements, please seek advice from an Student Immigration Adviser before travelling outside the UK.

All students should carry the following documentation in their hand luggage when returning to the UK:

  • passport or travel document
  • an up-to-date letter of registration confirming that you're still a full-time student enrolled on a course at a recognised institution (you can request this by going to Registration-On-Line - please allow 6 working days before collecting it from the Student Services Centre in 4 West)
  • evidence that you have enough money to support yourself and any dependants (eg 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.