International students: Before you arrive

As an international student you need to take some extra steps before you begin your studies with us.


Make sure you understand whether you need a student VISA to study in the UK. You can check this information here.

If you need a visa, please see our information on student visas.

What to expect when you arrive in the UK

Knowing what to expect will make arriving in the UK a smoother experience.

Look at Border Force 10 Tips for students (PDF, 243kB) and watch the videos in our playlist to help you through passport control and customs when you arrive at the UK Border.

Important documents you will need

You'll need the following documents when you arrive in the UK. They will be checked at the passport control at the airport and again when you register at the University:

  • Visa decision letter;
  • A printed email with your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number;
  • Bank account statements;
  • Details of your accommodation;
  • Original copies and English translations of relevant certificates and examination results.
  • You must print these documents and they must not be electronic copies on your phone or tablet. You must also keep them in your hand luggage whilst travelling.

Organise travel to the UK

  • You’ll want to book your travel tickets to the UK as soon as possible. You can find the dates for when you can move into your accommodation on our arrivals and moving in pages.
  • Make sure you take out a suitable travel cover and bring these documents with you in case of an emergency.
  • Check your government's restrictions on taking money out of your home country.
  • Check the HM Revenue and Customs website to see what you can bring into the UK.
  • Check your luggage weight against your airline's allowances.
  • If you are arriving late in London, we recommend you make a reservation in a London hotel for your first night.
  • To find information on how to arrive at the University, please see our maps and travel or Getting to Bristol information. 


Health: EEA nationals

  • If you are a resident of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This gives you access to the NHS at a reduced cost or for free. It does not guarantee total care cover.

Health: Non-EEA nationals

  • If you are a national of a country outside of the European Economic Area (EEA), your visa application may include the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). This is a fee you may need to pay to use the NHS. If you haven't already, check to see if you need to pay the IHS towards your healthcare in the UK.
  • If you are taking a short course (a course lasting less than six months) you are not able to access free health care under the NHS. You will have to pay for treatment.
  • You should take out comprehensive medical insurance before you leave home. Find out more from UKCISA about insurance.


  • You should find out what vaccinations and immunisations you need before you travel. This information should be available from your country’s government travel website.

Health documents you must bring

  • Bring details (in English), of any past physical or mental illnesses requiring medical treatment.
  • Bring a full record of past immunisations.
  • If you have a serious illness or are currently undergoing treatment or investigation, bring a doctor's letter in English summarising your medical history. This will help the doctor organise your ongoing healthcare in the UK.
  • Bring your European Health Card (EEA students only) to access hospital treatment.
  • If are bringing prescribed drugs or medication with you, you will also need a letter of explanation from your doctor. If you are bringing prescribed drugs or medication, bring enough to last you at least two months.


Check the opening times of your accommodation so that you arrive in good time. You can find the dates for when you can move into your accommodation on our arrivals and moving in pages.

If you plan to arrive in Bristol before your accommodation is ready, find out where you can stay.


  • Get travellers' cheques and British currency for use during your first few days or weeks.
  • Check with your bank about how to transfer money to the UK.

Undergraduate checklist

There are other steps you need to complete. Read the undergraduate checklist to find out about:

  • registering
  • paying fees
  • other services and facilities the University has on offer. 

Postgraduate checklist

Read the postgraduate checklist to find out about:

  • registering
  • paying fees
  • other services and facilities the University has on offer. 


If you arrive before you can move into your university or privately organised accommodation, you will need to arrange your own accommodation.

Find out where can you stay.

You can find out your arrival date from:


Use #FindYourBristol to tell everyone you're joining us

Join the official Bristol Students' Union (SU) Welcome Facebook group for regular updates and handy tips for new students.

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