Arriving in the UK


Information for students arriving in the UK who hold a Student visa, including Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) collection, enrolment and checking your visa for errors.

The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) provides advice about how to prepare your travel and arrival to the UK

You cannot travel to the UK until:   

  • a decision has been made on your visa application, and  
  • your visa is issued either in your passport or as a digital immigration status, and  
  • your visa is valid on the date you plan to arrive in the UK.  

Read our guidance if you need advice on how to submit your Student visa application, 

Using eGates at the UK border  

Nationals of an EU country, Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland or the USA can use eGates when entering the UK.  You should always travel with the passport you used to make your visa application. 

If you use eGates you will not be issued with a date of entry stamp in your passport. You will need to keep evidence such as a boarding card or flight ticket to confirm the date you entered the UK. SOAS will need to see this evidence as part of your enrolment.  

Collecting your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)   

You will not need to collect a BRP if: 

  1. Your immigration permission is for less than 6 months as your visa vignette will be valid for the full duration of your permission, or 
  2. You’re an EU, EEA or Swiss national who used the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to confirm your identity as you will have an e-visa/digital immigration status instead. 

Your visa decision email or letter will tell you if you need to collect your BRP and where to collect it within 10 days of arrival in the UK. We strongly recommend that you collect your BRP as soon as you arrive in the UK. You will be enrolled on a temporary basis with the 90-day vignette in your passport, you must provide us with your BRP card before the vignette expires by uploading a copy of both sides (front and back) of the card to the SOAS Student Online Services (OLS) portal 

Under 18s 

If you’re under 18 and need to collect a BRP in the UK, you will need to arrange for an adult to be nominated to collect your BRP as you’re considered a child. It can take up to 5 working days for your nominated adult to be approved by the Home Office. Further information is available on GOV.UK. If you have difficulty nominating an adult to collect your BRP, please contact the Student Advice Service.   

Check your BRP or eVisa for errors 

Our guide to applying for a Student visa provides more information about when your visa should expire, the work conditions you should have as well as information about how to report an error. If you receive a new immigration document as a result of reporting an error to UKVI, upload a copy to the SOAS Student Online Services (OLS) portal. If you need help with reporting an error or receiving a new immigration document, contact the Student Advice Service.

Enrolment and your immigration documents 

Read the enrolment documents required for new students for details about what you will need to provide to enrol on your programme at SOAS. 

As well as enrolling at SOAS there are other important things you may need to do when you arrive in the UK. 

Open a UK bank account 

Consider opening a UK bank account as it may make it easier to manage your money in London. You will need to request a letter issued by SOAS confirming your registration and programme duration, and a copy of your passport and visa. Visit your chosen bank for more information about what they need from you. 

Once you are fully enrolled, you will receive a Confirmation of Enrolment Letter you can also request an enrolment status letter via the Student Information Desk (SID) (login required).

Register with a GP 

You should register with a GP near where you live when you arrive in the UK, don’t wait until you are unwell. 

18+ Student Oyster Photocard 

Depending on how much you use public transport, it may save you money to buy a travelcard using the 18+ Student Oyster photocard. Visit the Transport for London website or a Visitor Centre for more details. 

TV license 

You will need a TV License to watch or record live TV programs. Find out more on the TV license website

Council tax 

As a full-time student, it’s likely that you won’t have to pay towards the Council Tax bill and can apply for an exemption. If you’re living in private accommodation, you will need to inform your local council that you have moved into your accommodation and provide evidence of your enrolment at SOAS. Visit Find your local council website to locate yours. Read any letters you receive from the Council and respond quickly to avoid being fined or brought to court.

If you’re living in student halls, speak to hall staff about whether you need to provide any documents to them or the local council about your student status. Contact the Student Advice Service if you are unsure if you’re exempt from paying or need help in dealing with a Council Tax issue. Once you’re enrolled, you can request a letter confirming your enrolment via the Student Information Desk (SID) (login required).