Last updated: 10/08/2023 10:51
Find out what you'll need to bring, which channel to pass through in the customs hall and what to do if problems arise.
Rules and regulations regarding immigration are constantly changing. For further information, please visit the UK Council for International Student Affairs website.
Entering a new country can be a daunting experience, but there are actions you can take to avoid delays at immigration.
Make sure you know what you can and cannot bring with you. There are some goods you cannot bring into the UK - they’ll be seized by customs which could lead to lengthy delays, affecting onward travel.
Items that are banned from being brought into the UK include:
- Controlled drugs
- Offensive weapons e.g. flick knives
- Self-defence sprays e.g. pepper spray and CS gas
- Endangered animal and plant species
- Indecent and obscene materials
- Personal imports of meat and dairy products from most non-EU countries
Food, especially meat and meat products can carry diseases, such as African swine fever. You should therefore refrain from bringing these with you as they will likely be taken away from you. This restriction also applies if family or friends are sending you gifts by post. Please ask them not to send any meat or dairy products.
Another factor that often slows down passengers passing through immigration is not having the right documentation or not having it easily accessible.
Make sure you have key documents to hand when travelling (stored safely in your hand luggage) such as your passport, proof of study (acceptance letter or email) and evidence that you will be living in the UK (residence agreement letter or email confirming your Cardiff address).
We would also advise writing down the travel route you have taken to get to the UK, and whether you have flown direct or indirect.
For example - I flew from Hong Kong International Airport direct to London Heathrow (including flight number). Or I flew indirectly from Hong Kong International Airport (including flight number) via Amsterdam Schiphol to London Heathrow (including flight number).
For more information about entering the UK, visit the UK Border Control's website.
Immigration process at the airport
Even if you already have a student visa, the immigration officer may still ask you to prove that you are a genuine student coming to study with us and that you'll be leaving at the end of your studies.
The Immigration Officer must also be satisfied that you speak English at the required level, without needing an interpreter.
Another part of the immigration process is health control. You might be asked to undergo a brief, routine health check by the airport doctor, which may include a chest X-ray as part of a short medical examination if you don't have a copy of your chest X-ray report with you. The health check will take place in a separate room. Afterward, you will have to return to immigration control.
You should make sure that you have all the correct documents with you in your hand luggage. As long as your documents are in order, you should pass through immigration smoothly.
Problems at immigration
If you're carrying the correct documents you should not have any difficulties. If you do, ask the Immigration Officer to contact us (keep the telephone number with you):
Student Visa Support enquiries
Contact us through Student Connect
Our offices are open from 09:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday.
After passing through passport control, you need to go to the baggage reclaim area. After you have collected your luggage you'll go through the customs hall.
There are two channels:
Use the green channel if:
- You do not go over your allowances
- You are not banned or restricted to enter the UK
- You have been declared using the Online Service for Passengers
- You have been declared using the Merchandise in Baggage Online Declaration Service
- Any cash that has been declared using the online form.
- You have personal goods or cash to declare
- You have commercial goods to declare
- You need to make a declaration.
You may be asked to open your luggage for inspection by customs control. If requested, you must open, unpack and repack your luggage.
Find out which documents you'll need at immigration, how much money to bring, what clothing to pack and more.