Preparing to arrive in the UK – travel advice

With many students now planning to arrive in London from overseas, Student Support and Wellbeing has put together guidance to prepare for the new COVID-19 reality and if needed quarantine.

Although this is a summary of the guidance, please ensure you also check the UK Government COVID-19 webpages for the latest information.

Content last updated on 5 November 2020.

New national lockdown from 5 November 2020

The UK Government announced that a national lockdown will take place in England from 05/11/2020 to 02/12/2020. People are still allowed to enter England and the UK during this period. The same rules and regulations listed below regarding entering England and the UK and self-isolating apply during this lockdown period.

You must provide your journey and contact details

Students traveling to the UK, regardless of nationality and where they are traveling from, must provide their journey and contact details before arrival.

Students can fill in the passenger locator form from 48 hours before they travel, and will need to show a printed copy or the form on their phone when they arrive in the UK.

You can find more information about this requirement and a link to the form on the GOV.UK website.

The Home Office and Public Health England will use the information you provide to contact you if a passenger on your flight, ship or train, tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).

As a UCL student, you may want to consider booking your flights through Key Travel, one of the UK's leading bespoke travel management agencies that UCL has partnered with to support the travel planning of staff and students with more flexibility and discounts. Read more information and guidance about the Key Travel flight booking tool. 

COVID-19 rules in England and at UCL

Rules in London and England

Countries around the world have different rules in place to minimise the impact of COVID-19. You should therefore familiarise yourself with guidelines for England before you arrive and keep up to date with changes once you arrive.

The main rules that you need to be aware before arrival are:

  • 1m+ social distancing.

  • You must wear a face covering in enclosed public spaces and shops.

  • You must wear a face covering on public transport and in private hire vehicles and taxis, and you should try to avoid peak times to reduce crowding.

The full guidance, which is updated regularly, can be found on the UK Government website. Make sure you read this and look out for updates.

Rules at UCL

At UCL the safety and wellbeing of students and staff is a priority; therefore a 2m social distancing standard is in place and everyone needs to wear a face covering when moving around the campus or when unable to guarantee the 2m distance.

To help reduce crowding on campus, a limit on the number of people allowed to enter UCL buildings will be in place, equal to 25% of usual capacity.

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.

Full information about the public health protection measures UCL is taking to ensure the safety of our community can be found on the UCL website.

Check if you will need to quarantine on arrival

Students arriving from outside the UK will need to quarantine (self-isolate in the place you are staying) for the first 14 days. This means you must not go outside for any reason unless absolutely necessary. You could face substantial fines if you do not adhere to quarantine on arrival if you’re required to do so.

There are some countries where this requirement is not necessary; the full list of exempted countries is on the GOV.UK website. Be aware that this list may change regularly so check before you fly. Please make sure you read the guidance on the website for full information.

Notify UCL that you need to quarantine

If you need to quarantine when you arrive in the UK we encourage you to notify UCL by completing the 'UK Arrival Quarantine Notification' form on askUCL. If you complete the form you may then receive a call from the Student Support and Wellbeing team to check-in with you and ensure you have all the necessary information.

To complete the UK Arrival Quarantine Notification form you must follow the steps below:

  • Step one - Log into askUCL (you must be a student and have completed pre-enrolment)
  • Step two -  Select 'Ask a Question'
  • Step three - Click on 'Log an Enquiry'
  • Step four - In the category box type 'UK Arrival Quarantine Notification'
  • Step five - Complete and submit the form, a copy will be sent to you.

Things to consider and arrange before you arrive if you need to quarantine


Most UCL students live in privately rented accommodation. You need to ensure you have secured accommodation, even if temporary, for your arrival so that you can move into it directly on arrival.

If you are in a shared house, please ensure you visit the UK Government guidance for self-isolation to ensure you all follow all the rules.

If you have secured a place in UCL Accommodation (you have received an offer from us, accepted and paid your deposit), and were unable to arrive between Monday 7- Friday 11 September 2020, we will still be able to support you in quarantine, but you may need to quarantine in temporary accommodation provided by us before moving into your allocated UCL Accommodation. You can find further information on the UCL Accommodation website. Please note that no travel arrangements should be made until you have received an offer, accepted and confirmed your arrival dates.

You can find out more about the procedure and support for you whilst you are quarantining on the UCL Accommodation website.

Keeping safe whilst traveling

Once you arrive at the airport, port or train station, you will need to make your way directly to your accommodation. You should try to avoid using public transport if possible. Taxis, although more expensive, are probably the safest option. We would encourage you to pre-book one and pay ahead of time to avoid any complications when you arrive.

You may find the ‘Getting to UCL’ information on our website useful to plan your journey from the airport.


Make sure you have a bankcard that you can use to pay for transport to your accommodation (if you have not pre-paid) and to buy food and groceries online. 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.

You may want to consider online banking providers, as these allow you to set up your account before you arrive in the UK, with the potential for your new bank card to be waiting for you when you arrive.

More information about banks in the UK is available on the International Support website.

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. You may also want to consider getting a GiffGaff SIM card ahead of time to ensure you have a UK number in your first few weeks. More information about GiffGaff can be found on their website.

Bedding and toiletries

As you will have to go straight to your accommodation, you will not be able to stop at shops to buy bedding, towels and toiletries. Either bring some with you or pre-order them so that they are delivered to your accommodation when you arrive. Retailers such as AmazonJohn LewisArgos, Wilko and IKEA might be a good place to start.

Make sure you also have toiletries for at least a few days. While you can buy them online at Boots, SuperdrugAmazon or other online stores, it may take a couple of days before they are delivered.

Food and groceries

When in quarantine you will not be able to go to the shops. You will therefore need to order your food online.

The main shops in the UK that you can buy groceries and toiletries online from are:

Morrison's offer a Student Doorstop Delivery Scheme, where students can order here for a next day delivery slot for just £2, and pay upon delivery. 

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 in quarantine – 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.

If you develop coronavirus symptoms you should ask for a test online to find out if you have coronavirus or call the national COVID-19 helpline on 119 to arrange one.

You will also be able to access medications online from BootsSuperdrug, Lloyds Pharmacy and others.

What to do if you are worried about the 14-days quarantine requirement

UCL understand these are exceptional circumstances and is offering flexibility for the 2020-21 academic year. If you have a health condition, disability or particular circumstances that make it difficult for you to quarantine for 14-days, or you are worried about your safety and wellbeing on the UCL campus or in London, please contact your department to ask about how your teaching and assessment will be delivered for your specific degree programme  and if you can study remotely from overseas.

Where to find more information, guidance and support

You are strongly advised to read the guidance about traveling to the UK and COVID-19 regulations and regularly check for updates on the UKCISA website, the UCL Coronavirus website and the UK Government website.

The Student Support and Wellbeing team has also put together a range of activities, events and resources to support students during the quarantine period