If you're a student in the UK on a student visa or a Tier 4 visa, it's important to be aware of certain information before travelling abroad as there may be limitations or additional visas that you need to obtain. Please note that on 5 October 2020, the UK government changed the immigration route for students. What used to be the ‘Tier 4’ route has become the ‘Student’ route.

Travelling during your course

You may need a Schengen visa to visit other countries in Europe. Read more about Schengen visas.

Please take very great care of your passport and Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) while you are travelling. Each year many students are pick-pocketed or lose their BRP when travelling. You will not be able to travel back to the UK until you have a replacement passport and then apply for a ‘replacement BRP’ visa to allow you to re-enter the UK. The new visa takes time and costs £154. Meanwhile you will be stuck outside the UK and this may affect your course attendance. Once you get back to the UK you will need to apply for a new BRP within 1 month of your return and have to pay a fee for this application. This also takes time.

Read about what to do if you lose your BRP.

If you have applied for a student visa in the UK and are waiting for a decision you can not travel outside the UK or your student visa will be cancelled.

Travelling after the end of your course

If you will be travelling out of the UK after your course has ended you will be travelling in the period at the end of your student visa now known as your post-study period (previously called a wrap-up period).

Most students on a degree course that lasts longer than 12 months will have a student visa which expires 4 months after their course end date.

Your official course end date will have been given in your Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) when you applied for your student visa.

It was previously confirmed in the Tier Policy Guidance that once your sponsor has confirmed your studies are complete you enter the post-study period and can ‘enter and leave the UK’ during this time. Although this guidance has not been added to the new Student Policy Guidance the Home Office has confirmed that the advice remains the same.

However, you must be aware that if you do travel during your post- study period, on your return to the UK Border Force Officials may ask you questions about what you will be doing in the UK and how long you will remain in the UK.

If you are questioned, you must be clear that you have returned to the UK to complete one of the following activities as detailed in the policy guidance.

  • Work full-time in the UK, if your conditions of leave permit you to work and your course has ended
  • Study in the UK 
  • Study related activities including graduation
  • Visit areas in the UK 
  • Apply to remain in the UK under an appropriate alternative route (eg Graduate Immigration Route, or Tier 2 (General) visa which will be replaced by Skilled Worker route on 1 December 2020)

You should be prepared to show with evidence that you will be completing one of the above activities and that you intend to leave the UK before your student visa expires or apply for another relevant type of visa in the UK. If you will be applying for another visa you may be asked to provide appropriate documentation which demonstrates that you are able to apply for this visa.

You should also carry evidence that you will be leaving the UK before your student visa expires eg a plane ticket, if you have it.

The Border Force officer should allow you to return to the UK whilst you have a valid student visa but can refuse entry if they feel you are not returning for a reason listed above.