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Guide to Customs and Immigration

If you travel to the UK by air, you will probably arrive at one of London’s main international airports – Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted. When you arrive at the UK border you will find there are long queues at passport control. One is for European Economic Area (EEA & Swiss) nationals and another is for non-EEA nationals. You will first have to show your passport and entry clearance (visa) if you have one, to a Border Force Officer. When you arrive in the UK, your passport will be checked along with your documents and you may be asked a few questions as you pass through immigration. EEA and Swiss nationals may have to wait as the queues can be very long especially at peak times but you should pass through immigration easily. EU/EEA and Swiss citizens entering with a passport with a biometric chip can use the electronic gates (e-gates). If you have a Student visa to enter the UK then be prepared to answer a few questions about yourself and your intentions during and after completion of your course. We would always recommend that you are polite and patient especially as you may have to wait a long time. When the immigration officer has checked your documents, and is satisfied that you are a genuine student, you will get a stamp in your passport (visa holders only) and will be allowed to pass through to customs.

When you enter the UK on a Student visa, the Border Force Officer must check that you speak English at the required level, without needing an interpreter. They will ask questions about your arrival in the UK but there is no test involved.

We recommend keeping the following in your hand luggage just in case:

  • Passport (containing your student visa) and ID card if applicable
  • Offer letter from University of Suffolk
  • Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) documentation
  • Evidence of your funding – sponsor letter or bank statement used to obtain your visa
  • Details of your accommodation, including address
  • IELTS/English Language qualification certificate (if applicable).

After you have collected your luggage you must go through customs control and join the appropriate queue:

Green channel - if you have nothing to declare

Red channel - if you have items to declare

Blue channel - if you have arrived from an airport within the European Union (EU) where you have already cleared all your baggage through Customs Control.

Now, all you have to do is make your way to Ipswich. Follow our guide to getting here in Article 1 for further guidance!