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Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

If you are not from the EEA or Switzerland and are planning to study in the areas of Science, Engineering and Technology for 6 months or more, you may need to apply for clearance under ATAS.


Does my programme need ATAS

  • You can see if you need an ATAS certificate by checking our list at the following link – Programmes requiring ATAS
  • Your offer letter from UCL will state if your programme requires an ATAS certificate.
  • If you are applying for a Tier 4 visa your CAS statement will also state if you are required to obtain an ATAS certificate.

Tier 4 visa applicants who require ATAS

If you are applying for a Tier 4 visa you will be required to provide an ATAS certificate as part of the application process. This is for both new students applying for entry clearance to the UK and existing students applying for an extension in the UK.

An ATAS certificate takes at least 20 working days (4 weeks) to be issued so you need to apply for this well in advance of your Tier 4 application. Please note the current processing time is up to 30 working days due to the peak time of year. We strongly recommend that you apply for your ATAS certificate as early as possible.

An ATAS certificate is valid for use in a Tier 4 application 6 months from the date of issue.

If you are a research student who needs further time to complete your studies please be aware that FCO will now only issue an ATAS clearance for an additional six months and your application for a Tier 4 student visa can only be supported for that period.

You will additionally be required to show your ATAS certificate at enrolment. If you do not have a certificate we will not allow you to enrol on your programme of study.


Non-Tier 4 students who require ATAS

If you wish to study in the UK as temporary migrant (this refers to individuals given limited leave to enter or remain), for example Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 5, PBS Dependant, Asylum Seekers Leave, Family Members of EU/EEA Nationals, which was issued on or after 6 April 2015, you must obtain an ATAS clearance certificate before you will be permitted to enrol on your programme. 

If your visa was issued prior to 6 April 2015 an ATAS certificate is not required, although it will be required if you need to renew your visa whilst you are still studying on your programme.

Please refer to your offer letter from UCL which will state if your programme requires an ATAS certificate. If you do not have an ATAS certificate we will not allow you to enrol on your programme of study.

An ATAS certificate takes at least 20 working days (4 weeks) to be issued so you need to apply for this well in advance of your enrolment date. An ATAS certificate is valid for enrolment for 6 months from the date of issue.


Results and extensions

If you are taking resits or extending your studies you will need to apply for a new ATAS certificate if this alters the end date of your course by more than 3 months. This must be done within 28 days of confirmation of the change of end date. 

Student Visitor Visa

If you are intending on entering the UK using a Student Visitor Visa to take your resits you will now be required to provide an ATAS certificate as part of the application process.

This is because all visa types now require ATAS not just Tier 4. In addition even though the period you will be entering the UK for is less than 6 months your course duration will still be more than 6 months in total.


Student who already have an ATAS certificate

An ATAS certificate is issued for a specific programme with a named university and remains valid as long as the university and/or course details do not change. If you already have an ATAS certificate you will need to apply for a new one if:

  • Your course details change, including the course length

    • you must apply for a new ATAS certificate within 28 days if your programme end date is postponed by more than 3 months
  • The area of research or modules change 
  • You move to another institution 
  • You need to extend your stay to write up your thesis

How to obtain an ATAS certificate

The application is free of charge and is completed online at the FCO website.

In order to apply for an ATAS certificate, you will need to have been made an offer to study at UCL and should not apply for ATAS until you have received your offer letter (this does not need to be unconditional). The offer letter will contain all the information required from UCL to complete your ATAS application.

An ATAS certificate is specific to both the programme of study you intend to undertake and the university you plan to attend. If you have an offer from another university and are undecided as to which offer you will accept you need to apply for separate ATAS certificates.

If you are planning to attend research programmes at UCL, you are recommended to make an early contact with your prospective supervisors, as a brief synopsis of your research proposal needs to be included in your offer letter.

If you are coming to UCL to attend one of the four-year undergraduate, Master's of Research or Master's programmes listed above, you need to visit your departmental website to ascertain what optional courses are available to study, as the optional courses that you intend to take will need to be listed on the online application. Core courses for all the programmes listed above have been passed to the FCO.


You can find further information about ATAS on the gov.uk website.