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 if you require one.
If you do need a visa, you should start making enquiries at the relevant embassy as early as possible, because the application process can be lengthy. The average processing time is three weeks, but this often takes longer during busy vacation periods like Christmas, Easter and over the summer.
Importantly, note that most embassies require you to have three-six months visa/leave to remain in the UK remaining in your passport at the end of your trip.
To apply for a visa you will need an application form, which you can usually download from your embassy's website, though application procedures differ.
Some embassies let you post your application to them, while others require you to visit their embassy in London. If your embassy asks you to go in person, make sure you arrive about two hours before the opening time, because they may have a limit on the maximum number of applications they will accept in one day.
You will usually be required to pay a fee for your visa. The cost and processing time also vary between embassies.
You'll find a list of the documents you need on your embassy's application form.
Generally you will need:
- completed application form (available on the embassy's website)
- 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 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 buying travel insurance, and both Endsleigh and the Post Office offer travel insurance for international students in the UK
Different visas you can apply for
Each country has different visa categories, depending on whether you're planning to work, study or visit. If you're coming to work or study, your host organisation may 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 (and not working), the Schengen Agreement enables you to use one visa to enter all the following signatory states:
- Czech Republic
You should normally apply for a Schengen visa at the embassy of the country where you'll spend most time, because it's your main destination. However, if you intend to spend approximately the same amount of time in several Schengen countries, you should apply to the embassy of the first one you will visit.
If you're not sure which visa is correct for you, contact the Student Immigration Service using the Student Services Helpdesk.
Medical insurance and EHIC cards
When travelling abroad you need to make sure that you have medical insurance. Many companies provide this type of insurance, so research your options fully before selecting your insurer and policy, and buying your insurance.
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 European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland as part of your degree, you must apply for a new EHIC card.
A valid EHIC card gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare on temporary stays in all EEA countries. They should provide treatment on the same basis as residents of their country, at reduced cost or, in many cases, free.
The EHIC covers treatment that is medically necessary until the card holder returns home. This includes treatments for pre-existing medical conditions. The card is not an alternative to travel insurance, so it is important to have make sure you have an EHIC and a valid private travel insurance policy 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:
- a passport or travel document, and visa
- an up-to-date letter of registration confirming you're still a full-time student enrolled on a course at a recognised UK institution
- evidence that you have enough money to support yourself and any dependants (such as your last three months' 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.
If you are on a Tier 4 student visa you should also carry your CAS number.
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 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visa curtailment and travel outside of the Common Travel Area
If your Tier 4 visa is curtailed and you leave the Common Travel Area during the remaining time left on your visa, your visa will lapse. This means that if you leave the UK and want to return again, you will need to secure an alternative visa. If you try to re-enter using your Tier 4 visa, you will be refused entry.
Travel to and from the UK in the event of a no deal Brexit
British nationals residing in the EU
On 1 February 2019, members of the European Council agreed that, following Brexit, UK citizens coming to the Schengen area for a short stay (90 days in any 180 days) should be granted visa free travel. This provision would be subject to the mechanism of reciprocity, but EU members are open to introducing it even in case of no deal.
At the same time EU member states have been drafting emergency legislation to prepare for no deal. Some countries plan to introduce a 'grace period' in case of no deal that would either extend for a few months or to the end of 2020, allowing British citizens to sort out their residency status. These states are planning to eventually introduce national schemes that largely resemble the UK settlement scheme.
British citizens living in EU countries are advised to register with the local authorities as soon as possible in order to have a record of their residency prior to Brexit day.
EU nationals travelling to the UK
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, EU citizens and their family members entering the UK after Brexit between 1 November 2019 until 31 December 2020 will be able to move to the UK and live, study, work and access benefits and services as they do now.
EU citizens and their close family members who move to the UK after Brexit and wish to stay beyond 2020 will need to apply for a UK immigration status granting them permission to stay. After Brexit, the Home Office will open a new voluntary immigration scheme – the European temporary leave to remain (Euro TLR) Scheme – to provide a route to apply for this immigration status. Applications will involve a simple online process and identity, security and criminality checks.
Successful applicants to the Euro TLR scheme will be granted a period of 36 months’ leave to remain in the UK, running from the date the leave is granted. This will provide EU citizens who move to the UK after exit and their employers with greater confidence and certainty during the transition period, and ensure that they have a secure legal status in the UK before the new immigration system is introduced from January 2021.
This guidance does not impact those who are eligible under the EU settlement scheme and who might be temporarily absent from the UK on the day the UK leaves the EU.
British students on placement or exchange in EU after Brexit
We recommend that students undertaking placements or study exchanges within the EU during 2019-20 complete the government’s Brexit Checker to get guidance that is specific to their needs.
The UK government has specific pages with guidelines for living in each of the EU member states. Students should read these pages carefully.
Students needing to travel to the EU after 31 October 2019 are strongly encouraged to do the following as soon as possible:
- Register as a resident in the country where they are living
This process will vary from country-to-country so it is important to read the local guidelines.
Having proof of residency could prove useful in the wake of a no-deal Brexit so we highly recommend students follow the advised protocol. British nationals may be required to apply for a new residency card post-Brexit but most countries will be offering a grace period in which the current residency card will be sufficient.
Students travelling outside their destination country after 31 October, for example to return to the UK, are strongly advised to carry their residency card with them along with other relevant documentation (placement agreement, contract, proof of accommodation, bank statements, etc.) in case their status as a resident is questioned at the border on their return.
- Check their passport is valid for travel
We strongly recommend students use the Government's useful passport checker to confirm if their passport will be valid for the duration of their stay in the EU (this is particularly important if they intend to leave and return to their destination county as they may need to have at least 6 months validity on their passport). If not, students should make arrangements to renew their passport as soon as possible.
- Register for local healthcare if eligible
In the event of a no-deal scenario the EHIC card will likely no longer be valid and students may be required to pay for any medical treatment they receive at the point of treatment. All students should have a travel insurance policy that will cover some of these expenses retrospectively so we recommend they check that sufficient cover is in place.
We also suggest students read the NHS guidelines for the country in which they are resident. Students may be eligible to register for local healthcare (and potentially avoid some costs) but may need to be able to demonstrate residency for a qualifying period.