What do European students need to know before travelling to the UK?
It’s easy to come to the UK to study English and most Europeans don’t need to apply for a visa before they travel.
There were some changes when the UK left the European Union, so here we answer some frequently asked questions from European students:
Q. Will I need a visa to study in the UK since it’s not in the EU?
A. Luckily, if you have an EU passport and you want to study a short English course in the UK, it’s just as easy now as it was before.
Many students can study in the UK without a visa for up to six months. This includes anyone from a country in the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland.
If you’re reading this and you’re from another country, you may also be able to arrive without visa to study for less than six months. Check the list of ‘non visa nationals’ on our visa page.
Q: Do students from EU countries need to quarantine on arrival?
A: Normally the answer is no. Vaccinated adults and under 18s travelling from EU countries do not need to quarantine on arrival to the UK. They need to take a Covid test before travel and another after they arrive in the UK. The post-arrival test must be booked before travel and can be taken any time after arrival and before the end of day two. From 11 February, no tests will be required.
Adults (over 18 years) who have not received two doses of a Covid vaccine will need to self-isolate in their accommodation for ten days.
Q. Do I need a passport to travel to the UK?
Everyone now needs a passport to enter the UK. Since 1 October 2021, it is no longer possible to enter the UK with an EU national identity card.
This means students need to plan ahead if they don’t have a passport, to make sure they receive their passport with good time and have a relaxing trip.
Q. Will anyone ask me questions at the border? Do I need any special documents?
Usually the answer is no, if you are over 18 years old and have an EU, EEA or Swiss passport with an electronic chip, since you can use the electronic passport gates. You don’t need to speak to anyone, but you do need to remember to leave the UK within six months of your entry date.
If you’re studying while in the UK, your institution will ask you when you entered, to make sure you are studying within the rules.
Q. Are there additional costs to study in the UK?
Only if you want to study for more than six months. In that case you will need to pay a visa application fee and an additional fee called the Immigration Health Surcharge.
If, for example, you want to study in the UK for 10 months, you need to pay the £186 application cost plus £470 for the health fee. It does mean you’ll get free healthcare in the UK, so may save money in the end.
Q. Can I study for longer than six months?
It is still easy for European students to study in the UK for longer periods, but you will need to apply for a visa and receive it before you travel. The visa application process isn’t difficult, but you need to plan ahead and there are some things to consider.
How long do you want to study? And what types of course do you want to take? These questions affect which visa you should apply for.
If you want to study English language, for anywhere between six months and eleven months, you will need a Short-term study visa. You will need to choose an English course in advance, and when you book the school will give you a confirmation letter to include in your visa application. You can apply up to three months before you want to travel.
If you want to study any other course for longer than six months, at a college or university for example, you need to apply for a ‘Student’ visa. This visa has a few more requirements, including a minimum English language level requirement. You need more time to prepare for the application, as you might need to take a specific English language exam before you apply.
Q. Where can I get help to apply for a visa?
Speak to your chosen course provider and they can help you understand what you need to do in advance. If you want some support with your visa application, or help choosing a course, you can book through a local study abroad agency. They can give you advice in your language to make sure the application process goes smoothly.
To find out more about applying for a visa to study in the UK, visit our visa information section.
This content was last reviewed on 25 January 2022.