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 email@example.com.
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.