Your Guide to Returning to the UK

Life in the UK
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If you are leaving the UK for a short period i.e. summer break, on holiday, or even a visit back to your home country, be must be mindful of your safety whilst travelling. Not only that, but you want to be sure that you'll be let back in to the UK with no issues! 

Team AppUK have, therefore, come up with a guide to things you should watch out for:

Always travel with your passport, visa, and BRP on your person. If your accommodation has a safe, it is advisable to stow away your official documents and carry duplicates when out and about. This is to avoid being mistaken as illegal entrants if you fail to produce your immigration permission.


If you are travelling abroad, you might want to take out travel insurance on your health care and personal belongings. In case of any incidents, the local health care will not be able to treat you if you do not have your passport, as a non-citizen.


Should you lose your passport or visa, immediately file a police report. Then, make your way to the Embassy of your nationality where they will be able to provide you short-term travel letters to re-enter UK. Click here for more tips and advice on what to do if you lose your passport or visa whilst travelling.


Be alert and aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded places. Never leave your bags open or unattended. If you are carrying expensive items such as digital cameras or large amounts of cash, keep them in a safe compartment when not in use to prevent snatch theft and pickpockets.


Avoid standing in one place for extended periods as you will seem like prime target for con artists. If you are waiting for your travel companion, it is advisable to stand with your back against a wall or similar surface. This is so you are out of the way of pedestrian traffic, and prevents someone sneaking an attack from behind you.

When re-entering the UK, it is important to have the following documents on hand and ready to show to immigration at border control when they ask:

- Your original passport.

- Travel visa and BRP – if your visa is separate from your BRP, you should carry both.

- University letter – the letter must show confirmation of your registration at your university and status as a student. A CAS print-out is valid proof if you have a Tier 4 visa and the end date on your CAS is longer than stated on the status letter (i.e. for PhD students).

- Evidence of TB Certificate (if any).

- Police Registration Certificate (if any).

- Evidence of consent to absence from studies – if you are travelling outside of university holiday periods, or given a leave of authorised absence.

- Documents to support new visa application – if current leave is close to visa expiry date.

If you are a final year student preparing to go home or traveling, having finished your exams and/or dissertation, some things to bear in mind:

If you are travelling before your official course end date, you are permitted re-entry under your current visa since you are still a registered student at the university. Fulfilling your academic requirements does not alter your immigration status.


If your course duration was shortened or you have 'early completion', you should not re-enter UK with your current Tier 4 visa after the new date (given in your university email). This is because your status as a student has changed and you no longer meet the requirements of a student from the reported date.

If your re-entry is very close to the end date on your CAS, do expect some questions from immigration at the border control. Avoid mention of work or employment but maintain full honesty in answering any questions. You are recommended to bring, but only show upon request:

- Evidence of your status as a current student (e.g. university letter).

- Evidence of return ticket leaving UK (if any).

- Evidence of purpose for returning to UK (e.g. new CAS/offer letter if pursuing new course programme; email print-out of Graduation Ceremony attendance; print-out of CoS if you have secured a sponsorship for a work visa).

It is advisable, if you are only returning for graduation, to obtain a Visitor (Standard) Visa instead of attempting to enter with your Tier 4 visa. This saves you the need to provide supporting documents. While you are not allowed to do any work, nor switch the visa category to any others, you are allowed up to six months leave to stay in the UK which is longer than the remaining time on your Tier 4 visa. Non-visa nationals can apply on entry as a Standard Visitor, while other nationals need to apply before travelling, but you can apply in any country other than your home country.


Should you insist on re-entry with your Tier 4 visa, which according to UKVI International Enquiry Service is allowed for attending graduation, you are advised to carry in your hand luggage:

- Evidence of your status as a current student (e.g. university letter).

- Evidence of return ticket leaving UK (if any).

- Evidence of Graduation Ceremony attendance (e.g. email print-out).

If you will be returning the UK for further study or work, you will need to present the evidence listed before.


If you will not be returning to UK for further work or study, and the border force officer considers that your circumstances have changed or that you are attempting to re-enter for a purpose other than that for which your leave was granted, your immigration permission can be cancelled and you can be deported; if you are a non-visa national, you may be allowed entry as a visitor instead.


If you are applying for a new study visa while in your home country, you will need your ORIGINAL degree transcript from your university. Ensure you collect the documents before returning home as having them mailed takes 4-6 weeks to arrive. If you have to leave before your transcripts are ready, please double-check on your university system that the home address is correct.  Without your original transcript, you will delay your visa application appointment and you may also miss your new programme start date.

If you have any further questions or queries on anything to do with your visa, and travelling in and out of the UK after you have completed your studies, contact Team AppUK on, or take a look at all our Visa News & Applications articles.


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