This page gives students information about the rules and regulations in the UK and what kind of support is available.
- When to arrive in England/at UCL;
- Entering England on a Standard Visitor Visa;
- COVID-19 vaccine;
- COVID-19 rules in England;
- NHS COVID Pass;
- Rules/safety measures at UCL;
- Things to consider before and after you arrive;
- Resources and information for students self-isolating;
- Leaving the UK.
When to arrive in England/at UCL
As a new international student, you want to make sure that you arrive with enough time to settle in before term starts on 9 January 2023. This can include moving into your accommodation, sorting out your UK bank account, registering with a GP, becoming more familiar with UCL's campus meeting people and all those other things that will make your start to UCL life as good as possible.
Therefore, we advise new international students to arrive between 04/01/2023 and 08/01/2023 as this will give you enough time to get everything sorted and feel comfortable before the orientation activities start.
Entering England on a Standard Visitor Visa
If you are coming to UCL to study on a Standard Visitor Visa for study for up to 6 months, and have not secured your visa before travelling, you will need to see a Border Officer to obtain a stamp that will give you the permission needed in order to enrol at UCL. A list of non-visa nationals can be found here.
Please note that if you are a national of an EU country, Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland or the USA all you need to do is enter the UK using the eGates. If you enter the UK through the eGate you will not receive a stamp in your passport and instead will need to provide evidence of your boarding pass or fight itinerary in order to enrol on your programme at UCL.
If you are not eligible to use the eGates but are directed to use them by mistake, please see a Border Force officer before you leave the airport to receive a stamp in your passport.
Current UK Government rules state that people do not need to have received a COVID-19 vaccine to enter the UK. The Government continues to advise people to get vaccinated as it gives the best protection against the virus. All international students in the UK are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination for free, regardless of their nationality or immigration status. This includes international students studying in the UK for less than 6 months.
The following COVID-19 vaccines are currently being administered in the UK:
- Moderna vaccine
- Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine
- Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine
- Janssen vaccine
For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine and accessing it in the UK, please visit the International Students' webpages.
COVID-19 rules in England
We refer to England and not the UK because the rules can differ between the 4 countries which make up the UK. If you plan on visiting Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland, you should refer to their COVID-19 government guidelines.
The UK government has removed all domestic restrictions in England regarding COVID. This means that:
- you are not legally required to self-isolate if you test positive for COVID-19, although you are advised to stay home if you can.
- you do not need to wear a face mask/covering when entering public spaces such as shops, although you are advised to wear one in crowded or enclosed spaces.
- venues and events are no longer required by law to check visitors’ NHS COVID Pass. However, some venues where large crowds gather or are in close contact may choose to continue to check the COVID-19 status of attendees and the workforce to keep everyone safer.
NHS COVID Pass
The NHS COVID Pass is used to show your coronavirus (COVID-19) status with your vaccination records and/or a negative COVID test.
- a vaccine administered in the UK – your NHS COVID Pass lasts for 30 days, but the 30 day period refreshes every time you log in
- a vaccine administered abroad - you will need to book an appointment to have your vaccines administered overseas, added to your NHS COVID Pass. Please note that you will need your NHS number to book the appointment, therefore, you should register with a GP first. For more information on this, please see the UK Government website.
- a negative PCR test or rapid lateral flow test (LFT) – your NHS COVID Pass is valid for 48 hours after a negative result
- a positive PCR test – following any quarantine you need to complete, your NHS COVID Pass lasts 30 days, but the 30 day period refreshes every time you log in (for up to 180 days after you took the test)
For full details of the COVID-19 rules in England, please see the UK Government website.
Rules/safety measures at UCL
At UCL the safety and wellbeing of students and staff is a priority.
Hand sanitising stations have been set up throughout the university so please use them regularly.
In rooms with mechanical ventilation, we have set the systems to supply as much fresh air as possible and we have turned off recirculation modes where appropriate. We are also turning on the systems earlier in the morning and leaving them on later in the evening. This equipment is being regularly assessed and cleaned, with filters being monitored and changed as appropriate.
In spaces without mechanical ventilation, we are ensuring a fresh supply of air by leaving windows and doors open where appropriate. As a result, these spaces may be cooler in winter months and staff and students may wish to wear warmer clothing.
Staff, students and visitors are no longer expected to wear face coverings or masks on campus. In line with Government guidance, we recognise that it is an individual’s choice to wear a face covering or not, whether at UCL or in wider society.
If you are a student but it is not possible for you to wear a face covering please contact the Student Support and Wellbeing team via askUCL and we will advise you accordingly.
Things to consider before and after you arrive
Keeping safe whilst traveling
Once you arrive at the airport, port or train station, you will make your way to your accommodation. There are no restrictions on public transport and there is no longer a legal requirement to wear a face covering. See further advice from the UK Government on travelling safely to control the spread of Coronavirus.
Shops and services are now accepting cash but it would be safe to have a bank card that you can use to pay for transport to your accommodation (if you have not pre-paid) and to buy food and groceries online, incase you need to self-isolate. If you have a non-UK bank, check that you can use your card in the UK and what the commission and limits might be.
Ultimately, having a UK bank account is preferable for living in the UK so you should apply to open a UK bank account as soon as you are in the UK. For some banks, in particular digital banks, you will be able to open an account as soon as you have an address in the UK and could have the process completed by the time you arrive. This however, is not always possible so you should also consider the use of online accounts such as PayPal and Wise which can be used with some supermarkets and services to buy goods online.
Access to internet and phone
We recommend that you have access to internet and a phone that you can use in the UK. If you are living in UCL accommodation and have completed pre-enrolment, you will be able to access the UCL Wi-Fi. If you live in private accommodation, we suggest you arrange for internet to already be set up or purchase a 4G dongle.
Check your mobile provider to make sure you can use your phone from the UK - for example, you may need to unlock your device in advance if you want to use another SIM card. Please check out more detailed information on mobile phone use in the UK on the International Student Support website.
Food and groceries
If you test positive for COVID-19 and choose to self-isolate, you can order your food online.
The main shops in the UK that you can buy groceries and toiletries online from are:
The main food delivery companies are Deliveroo, UberEats and JustEat (these may also do some basic grocery shop deliveries for you). Some restaurants will also deliver to your place to support people self-isolating – look on Google Maps for places near where you live.
Healthcare and medications
If you need any medical assistance, please visit the NHS 111 website or call 111.
Resources and information for students self-isolating after a positive COVID-19 test
Stay in the loop
Podcasts can provide a sense of inclusion and belonging, as well as keeping you up to date and informed across a huge range of topics. At UCL, we have curated our own range of podcasts, or you could check out BBC Sounds for music and talk shows.
Similarly, news platforms are great sources of interesting podcasts: The Guardian, HuffPost, The New York Times and The Atlantic are great sources of diverse and wide-ranging podcasts across many topics.
It’s important to adjust to your temporary situation by managing your time effectively. While it may be tempting to chill out and get started on a Netflix marathon, it is important to create a routine for yourself. This can help to provide structure to your time and separate different commitments like studying, preparing for university, working and relaxing.
Some people will find it useful to create a schedule blocking out periods of the day for certain tasks and activities. Time management or timetabling apps or websites may be useful for this.
Remember that although you’re in quarantine, it doesn’t mean you are on your own. It’s important to stay in contact with your support network of friends and family and you can do this through video and audio calls. You might want to catch up or do an activity together.
The days might start to get a bit more mundane as the time goes on, but there is plenty out there to keep you entertained! This article could be a good place to start. Why not get crafty, learn a new skill or discover some new music?
Take a virtual museum tour and explore a wide range of global museums’ amazing collections. You could explore the British Museum’s collection, travel over to the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, and then to the Guggenheim, New York – all from the comfort of your own room!
Stay informed (but not too informed!)
It’s important to stay up to date with the news, however being constantly alert to it can become stressful and have a negative impact on your mental health. Make sure you take regular breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, and spend time doing other things. If you find yourself prone to constantly opening notifications, why not disable these and change them to Breaking News only? The charity Mind also has guidance on online mental health.
Make sure to keep your body and brain active, even from the comfort of your room. To keep your body moving even in a small space, you could try out some online yoga, fitness classes or pilates. There are many sites and organisations offering both free and paid for classes, you could start with the NHS Fitness Studio.
Your brain is just as important as your body, and supporting your mental health and wellbeing is easy with the support of UCL. Our events have been specially designed to support you during quarantine, to support both your mental and physical health. There are also many apps to support your mental health, sleep and wellbeing such as Headspace and Calm.
There are also plenty of resources from UK charities with expertise in mental health. Try the following websites for a wide range of online resources and advice.
The UK mental health charity Mind provides resources on how to cope with periods of isolation or quarantine.
The charity Student Minds provides support and resources for those with existing health conditions, struggling with social distancing or having experienced xenophobia.
UK charity The Mix provides free, confidential support for under 25s online, via social media channels and mobile.
Anxiety UK have created many resources and advice to support those with anxiety.
OCD-UK have put together advice for those with OCD amid COVID-19.
The UK's eating disorder charity, Beat, has advice for those with eating disorders and COVID-19.
Every Mind Matters
The National Health Service (NHS) has developed Every Mind Matters, providing extensive information about looking after your mental health and wellbeing.
UCL has extensive information and guidance on COVID-19.
The UK Government website provides up-to-date information about regulations and advice around COVID-19.
The International Student Support team are also running International Student Support Drop-in Sessions to answer questions international students may have about life at UCL and in London.
Leaving the UK
You must make sure you are fully aware of the entry rules and regulations of the country you are travelling to.
This may involve providing a negative PCR COVID-19 test 2-3 days before entering your destination country. There are a number of companies in the UK providing this service but one of the biggest is Boots.