Arriving in the UK

Motorway in Surrey

When you arrive in the UK, you will need to go through passport control and customs.

Passport control

When you arrive in the UK you will need to pass through passport control, where there are two queues available:

  • One for EEA nationals
  • One for non-EEA nationals.

Seeing an immigration officer

Once you have chosen your relevant queue, you will be required to show your passport (or national identity cards for EEA nationals), and your completed landing card (if you are a non-EEA national, this is supplied by your airline). The immigration officer will check your visa for entry clearance and stamp your passport to show the date that you entered the UK.

Using eGates

You can use eGates if you are from the UK, EU, EEA countries (including Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland) or Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and USA. You must also meet other eligibility criteria.

If you choose to use an eGate, you will not receive a border entry stamp in your passport, so you must ensure that you bring alternate evidence to university registration to show that you entered the country during the validity period of your visa, for example a boarding pass, travel ticket, or booking confirmation. Alternatively, you can still choose to see an immigration officer.

When not to use eGates

You should not use eGates if you are undertaking short-term study or if you are under 18.

If you are travelling from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States of America arriving for short-term study for up to six months, you should not use the eGates and instead should see an immigration officer in order to obtain your short-term study stamp. If you do not receive a short-term study stamp or visa in your passport, you will not be allowed to study in the UK.

If you are under the age of 18 when starting your course and wish to make use of the third-party biometric residence permit collection option, then you will need to see an immigration officer on arrival to obtain a passport entry stamp, instead of using an eGate.


    After immigration, you need to collect your bags from the baggage hall and pass through customs. There are three exits:

    • Blue exit for travellers from the EU
    • Red exit for non-EU travellers who have goods to declare
    • Green exit for those with no goods to declare.

    Unless you are bringing more than your due allowance of tobacco, alcohol or gifts into the UK, you should proceed through the green exit.

    Issues at passport control or customs

    Should you have any difficulties at immigration you can call: 

    • International Student Support: +44 (0)1483 686868 (9am – 5pm, Monday – Friday)
    • University of Surrey Security: +44 (0)1483 682002 (out of hours).

    UK SIM cards

    You will need to provide a UK phone number when you attend main registration. You will also need a UK phone number to register for a number of services in the UK. We would strongly advise you to pick up a UK SIM card in the arrivals hall at the airport.

    Be prepared

    UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) provide information about what to expect when you enter the UK and student arrivals top tips.

    What to expect