International, exchange and study abroad students arrival guide

Students taking a selfie by the lake

You are about to join a community of international, exchange and study abroad students from over 140 countries. Find out the essential information you need to know for when you leave home, arrive on campus, and settle into university life. 

Visa requirements

If you require a visa for your studies at Surrey, please take a look at the information below.

Check your CAS carefully and ensure that you apply for your visa in good time. 

Successful Student Visa applicants from outside the EU/EEA will be issued with a 30- or 90-day entry clearance vignette in their passport. You must travel to the UK within the dates specified on your entry clearance vignette and before the last date of registration as shown on your CAS.

If you are an EU/EEA national you will not receive an entry clearance vignette. Instead your immigration permission will be entirely digital and you should follow instructions in your visa decision letter about how to prove your immigration status.

If you need to apply for a visa before travelling, please check your CAS (Student visas) or visa support letter (Standard Visitor visas) carefully and ensure that you apply for it in good time. If for any reason, you do not receive your visa  in time to join the Orientation or begin your studies in-person, please update your online University registration form and contact ieo.incoming@surrey.ac.uk to let us know. 

Please note: 

  • If you are using a Visit Visa to undertake a 1 semester exchange programme then whether you need to apply for it before travelling or whether you will be granted it at the airport will depend on your nationality. For further details, please see our Study as a Visitor advice
  • Successful Student Visa applicants will be issued with a 30- or 90-day entry clearance vignette in your passport and must arrive within the dates shown on that document - if your travel is delayed and you are unable to arrive within those dates please email internationalsupport@surrey.ac.uk as soon as possible.
  • Successful Student Visa applicants from outside the EU/EEA will be issued with a 30- or 90-day entry clearance vignette in their passport. You must travel to the UK within the dates specified on your entry clearance vignette and before the last date of registration as shown on your CAS.
  • If you are an EU/EEA national and have applied for a Student Visa  you will not receive an entry clearance vignette. Instead your immigration permission will be entirely digital and you should follow instructions in your visa decision letter about how to prove your immigration status.

Book a Covid-19 test and self-isolate on arrival 

It is important that you follow the rules on testing and self-isolation when arriving in the UK. 

The rules and regulations for travel to England during the Covid-19 pandemic can and do change often with little or no notice and therefore we recommend that students check the relevant information before travelling and sign-up for automated alerts so that they are aware of any change that might impact their return to the UK. 

I am fully vaccinated 

If you qualify as being fully vaccinated then you will need to: 

  • Complete a passenger locator form before you travel
  • Take a Covid-19 test and return a negative result 2 days before you travel to the UK
  • Book and pay for a Covid-19 test to be taken within 2 days of your arrival in England
  • Self-isolate until you receive a negative result from your Covid-19 test.

I am not fully vaccinated 

If you do not qualify as fully vaccinated then you will need to:

I am travelling from a Red List country

If you have travelled to a Red List country within 10 days of travelling to the UK then you will need to:

Medical information for students from the European Economic Area and Switzerland 

If you are a student from the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland and require medical treatment while you are at Surrey, you will need to provide a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Your EHIC will entitle you to free or lower cost medically necessary treatment in National Health Service (NHS) hospitals, clinics or General Practitioners (called ‘GPs’) during your stay. However, you should still purchase travel insurance with some medical cover. You must apply for your EHIC in your country before coming to the UK. Processing time is typically around 2 weeks. 

Medical information for students from countries with a reciprocal healthcare agreement 

If you are not a resident in the UK but you are from a country that has a reciprocal healthcare agreement with the UK (PDF), you will be eligible for some free medical treatment but you will need to provide evidence of your eligibility and will still need travel insurance with some medical cover. 

Read our medical advice (PDF). 

Before you leave

As an international student coming to study at the University of Surrey, there are a number of things you must do before you travel to the UK.

Students studying in our campus restaurant
International pre-departure checklist
Make sure you complete these actions before you get here.
Student and family in halls
What to pack
It's good to be prepared for living in the UK.

Arrival information

Be prepared for your arrival in the UK and travelling to the campus.

Motorway in Surrey
Arriving in the UK
When you arrive in the UK, you will need to go through passport control and customs.
Student arriving on campus
Travelling to the University
We have great connections to Heathrow and Gatwick airports and offer a meet and greet service to meet you in arrivals.

International welcome and orientation

Information, guidance and support for your first few weeks at Surrey.

Students taking a selfie by the lake
International orientation
We prepare activities and support to ensure you settle in well.
Students shopping in the on-site supermarket on Stag Hill campus
UK arrival checklist
Find out what to expect during your first few weeks when you arrive.