Coming to the UK to live and study as an international student can be a daunting prospect, which is why we’ve compiled this page of information to help out.
Internet and phone
As an international student, keeping in touch with family and friends abroad doesn’t have to be costly. Using packages like Skype and Facetime can reduce costs dramatically as they are both free, but you will need internet access. Our section on TV, phone and internet will give you an idea on what sort of package you should be looking out for.
Royal Mail provides postal services throughout the UK. For posting important documents (e.g. passports), you should always use Recorded or Special Delivery from a Post Office. These allow you to track and trace the parcel on the Royal Mail website.
Special Delivery is more expensive than Recorded, but guarantees next day delivery within the UK. It also insures your goods: this is particularly important when posting expensive items, e.g. posting your passport to the Home Office to renew your visa.
To receive post, make sure you have a secure post box. If you live in a block of flats with a communal hallway, make sure that you can receive post securely before having anything valuable posted to you (e.g. bank cards). If you do have problems, it is possible to rent a secure Post Office Box from Royal Mail.
When moving house or flat, please remember to inform those who normally send you letters (banks, university, friends and family), otherwise you will need to pay a re-directing service from Royal Mail.
For those of you living in private accommodation who have not yet enrolled on your courses, you will probably need to pay council tax for the period between moving into your property and beginning your course. See our pages on accommodation pages for more information on council tax.
If you have a television in the UK you are required by law to buy a TV Licence. See the TV, phone and internet page for more details.
If your student visa says that you are required to register with the police, you need to do so within seven days of entering the country. If you are in London, you can go to the Overseas Visitors Records Office, taking your passport, two passport photos, and a fee of £34 (Euros are not accepted). If you are not in London, you must go to the nearest major police station to your home. In some universities, it is also possible to register on campus during registration week.
Whenever you move address, you must take your certificate to be amended at any police station within seven days.
If you are from outside the European Union you may use your driving licence from your own country for the first year you are in the UK only. After one year you must get a UK driving licence.
In an emergency (police, fire, ambulance) call 999 or 112.
Making the most of your time in the UK
To make the most of student life, get in touch with your Students Union. International Students House near Great Portland Street station (London) also organises lots of social and cultural events.
HostUK organise short homestays with UK families for international students. If your university is a member, you can apply to spend a day, a weekend or a holiday (e.g. Christmas) with a family anywhere in the UK.
Our travel section of the website will help you find cheap tickets for train and coach to help you make the most of your stay in the UK.
Remember if you are travelling in Europe you may need a visa. Some countries are under the Schengen visa agreement. If you do plan to travel, first make an appointment to see an international student adviser to check if you need a visa, well in advance of travelling (more than one month if possible). Some courses organise college trips to Europe, but most will expect students to organise their own visas if they need them.