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The basics
THE UK: Destination Guides

Arrival at the UK border

Arrival at the UK border

Touching down on foreign soil can be both exciting and daunting. It is important that students follow the strict procedures when arriving at the UK Border or entry may be denied.

Here are the documents you need to show the UK Border Office:

  • Passport
  • Landing card

You will be provided with landing cards by the cabin crew onboard. You can also get one when you land whilst queuing up at the UK Border. Make sure to fill up all the information including address of your UK residence.

  • Visa

Make sure you have your UK immigration permission (Visa/Entry Clearance) before you travel to the UK. For more information, read these Information Sheets



  • Medical report, university confirmation letter, place of residence


On arrival

If you travel to the UK by air, you are most likely to arrive at one of London’s main international airports; Heathrow or Gatwick, or the big regional airports like Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh or Glasgow.

Some of these airports are huge and can get very busy. Heathrow is the world’s busiest international airport with over 67 million passengers travelling through the airport annually on services offered by 90 airlines.

Follow signs to find your way out. Do not hesitate to ask for help if in doubt. Be attentive with your hand luggage and make sure they are padlocked.



There are usually two main queues; one for European Union (EU) Passport and Other Passport. Make sure to queue at Other Passport. Waiting times vary but be prepared for a long wait especially during course intake season.


Be alert and friendly

Officers will scan passports and cross-check passenger details to make sure you have the right to enter the UK. They have the right to refuse your entry if you don’t have the necessary documents.

  • Display your proficiency in English – the officer must be satisfied that you speak English at the required level, without needing an interpreter.
  • Be friendly and turn off your phone whilst you are being questioned.


Have your documents ready

Keep your important documents in a plastic sleeve in your hand luggage. This makes it easier for you to retrieve them. Documents must be valid and issued by a government or authority. Examples of travel documents

  • Passport – remove passport from protective wallet before giving it to the officer
  • UK contact – A suitable UK contact including full name, address and a phone number.
  • Completed landing card
  • University details – A confirmation of acceptance for studies from your university (CAS number), medical documentation such as X-ray film and letter from doctor certifying that you are fit and healthy,
  • Declare any sums of cash of €10,000 or more (or the equivalent in another currency)


Prohibited items

  • Food products – Restrictions apply to products made from meat, dairy, fish, eggs and honey, certain fruits, vegetables and plants.
  • Restriction on the amount of tobacco, alcohol and gifts you can bring in the UK.
  • Never bring in counterfeit goods – illegal drugs, firearms, offensive weapons (including swiss army knives), indecent or obscene material.


Check your documents again

Whilst you may be relieved after being allowed through the UK Border, check that the officer has put a date stamp in your passport.



You can now collect your baggage. Look for your flight number and the name of the place your flight departed from on the screens to find out which carousel your bag is on.

If you cannot find your baggage, find a representative from the airline and fill in the lost baggage form.


Customs Control

After collecting your baggage, join customs control. Queue up at the green channel if you have nothing to declare, red if you have goods to declare, or the blue channel if you have arrived from an airport within the European Union (EU) where you have already cleared all your baggage through Customs Control.

Now that the stress is over, you are ready to make your onward journey.

For more information, check the UK Border agency website.

Study in the UK


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