Passports and visas

It is essential that you have a valid passport and obtain the correct visa (if required) to study at your host institution.


To study abroad, you must have a valid passport that will not be in need of renewal while you are abroad. Ideally, your passport should still have at least 6 months validity when you return to the UK. If you do need to renew your passport, please allow sufficient time to do this as it will usually cost more to do it last minute. 


If you are an overseas student (Tier 4 visa holder) planning to study abroad, or a home student planning to study outside of the EU, it is likely you will be required to obtain a visa for your studies. Your host institution should be able to offer you some guidance with this, please check their website in the first instance. Tier 4 visa holders should also read through the guidelines below. In certain countries, whether or not you are an EU natioinal, you will need to apply for a residence permit once in the country. The relevant embassay and/or your host institution should be able to advise you on the requirements.

Please be aware that the responsibilty of obtaining a visa lies with you, the Study Abroad Team are not trained to provide visa advice.

Guidelines for Tier 4 Visa Holders 

How do I find out if I need to apply for a visa for my Erasmus/Study Abroad programme?

Use the List of Foreign embassies in the UK on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website to find the website for the UK-based embassy of the country where you will be studying. The embassy's website will tell you whether people of your nationality need to apply for a visa in order to study there. You should also seek advice from the Study Abroad Team at UCL.

My visa will expire while I am undertaking a programme abroad – what should I do?

You should ensure that your visa does not expire before you will need to return to the UK. If it does, then you should make arrangements to extend your visa in the UK before you leave. Please note that this will mean that you will have to submit your passport with your application, so make sure you leave enough time for your application to be processed and your documents returned so that you can travel. Details of how to extend your Tier 4 visa are detailed on the Current Students website. You cannot apply for an extension to your visa more than three months prior to the expiry date of your current visa. If your visa expiry date falls more than three months after you leave the UK but before you intend to return, this will be a problem. Please alert the Study Abroad Team at UCL as soon as possible if this situation arises.

What happens if I need to extend my Tier 4 visa as a result of doing a programme abroad?

You will not be able to extend your visa if this will result in you having exceeded the maximum time limit (or 'cap') set by the UKBA. This usually means that you must not have spent more than five years with immigration permission as a Tier 4 (General) student, or as a pre-Tier 4 student. In some circumstances the limit is extended to six years. Please refer to UKCISA’s information about the 5-year cap for full details. It is important to note that you continue to have valid immigration permission as a Tier 4 student during your time abroad on an Erasmus or study abroad programme. This time is likely to be included in the UKBA's 5-year cap calculations if you subsequently apply for further leave as a Tier 4 student. If you think that the extra year might take you over your 5-year limit, please talk to the Study Abroad Team about this.

Should I keep a photocopy of my passport/BRP?

You should keep a copy of your passport, including your visa sticker, or your BRP, in case they are lost or stolen.

Should I have evidence of my Student Status?

Before you go, the Study Abroad Team will provide you with a Statement of Student Status to take away with you. This is useful in case you are required to prove your status if you need to replace your passport or BRP when you are abroad. If you need another copy while you are away, please contact studentstatus@ucl.ac.uk.


What happens if my passport/BRP is lost or stolen while I am abroad?

Report your passport and/or BRP card lost or stolen to the local police and obtain a police report. You may need this to apply for a new passport and you will need this to apply for a replacement visa. If your visa was in the form of a sticker in your passport you will need to apply for permission to return to the UK.

Contact your embassy to obtain a temporary passport to return to the UK. Embassies have different processes to enable you to travel so contact your embassy to find out what you need to do.

Apply for permission to return to the UK. What you need to do depends on whether your visa was a sticker in your passport or a BRP card.

Replace a sticker in your passport

You will need to complete the Tier 4 application form and apply again for permission to return to the UK in the same way that you applied for a visa to come to the UK. You will have to pay the full application fee but you do not need a new CAS. You may need to show that you are still a student at UCL. Ideally this will be an original letter from UCL. You can read the internal guidance on the UK Border Agency website: UK Border Agency Entry Clearance Guidance Basics. Remember, you do not need a new CAS and you do not need to show financial documentation unless this is requested. You will need your police report and evidence that you are still a UCL student (Statement of Student Status).

Replace a lost BRP card

You must email BRPLost@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk immediately. Your card will be cancelled and you will need to apply for permission to enter the UK by completing the VAF9 application form and applying at the British Embassy. Check details about what you should include in the email and how to apply for permission to return to the UK on the UK Border Agency website: UK Border Agency Applying for a Replacement BRP. When you return to the UK, you will then need to apply for a replacement BRP.