Arriving in the UK

It is likely that you will have many questions about coming to and living in the UK. Here is just some of the information that will help you to arrive safely.

What should I pack?


Carry the items below in your hand luggage in case hold luggage is late or lost:

  • Passport
  • Visa and entry clearance documents
  • Your offer letter
  • Proof of your qualifications (final transcript certificates, diplomas etc)
  • Scholarship/funding information documents
  • Travel and health insurance documents
  • Cash, credit cards, travellers cheques
  • Contact details and directions for your accommodation


The weather in the UK is changeable. Temperatures may go down as low as -3 degrees Celcius during the winter (Dec - March) and as high as 32 degrees during the summer (June - Aug). Rainfall is common but most of the time is light.

If you arrive in September, we suggest you bring a sweater and a light waterproof jacket or a small umbrella for the journey. A pair of comfortable, waterproof shoes is also recommended. Agriculture and Equine students are advised to have a pair of wellington (rubber) boots.

There is no particular dress code. In general, students tend to dress informally (jeans, t-shirt, trainers) whilst on campus. Smart clothes are occasionally worn either for recruitment events with employers or at social events such as the Freshers, the Christmas and the summer ball.

Electrical appliances

Electricity in the UK operates on 220 - 240 volts. You should check your appliance manual to ensure it will work in the UK. You may also require a three pin plug adaptor, which can be purchased locally in the UK.

Mobile phone

Check with your mobile phone provider before you travel to the UK. It may be expensive to make calls from the UK back to your home country from your current phone. Pay as you go phones can be bought for as little as £5 although individual call and text charges may be comparatively higher. Pre-pay phones do not require a UK bank account or address so they may be easier to buy if you are waiting to open a bank account. Do shop around to get the best deal before you decide.

Arriving in the UK – Immigration

Please remember when you travel to the UK to bring in your hand luggage all the important documents and information you need, these are listed at the top of this page. 

Have the following numbers handy in your pocket for use in an emergency, for example if you are prevented from entering through immigration or your flight is delayed for several hours: 

Porters Lodge +44 (0)1285 652531 (ext. 2200) or Security +44 (0)7960 031821.

If you travel by plane you will probably arrive at one of London’s main international airports: Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted. 

When you arrive at the UK port or airport you will find that there are two queues for passport control. One for UK nationals and the other for non-EEA nationals. 

You will first have to show your passport and entry clearance (visa) if you have one, to an Immigration Officer. Students from the EU and certain other countries can also use the e-Gates if they carry the appropriate passport. 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.  

If you have a visa, then be prepared to answer a few questions about yourself and your plans/intentions after completing your course. The expected questions are similar to the ones in the BIPF form we asked you to complete when we were preparing your Visa application. Have in your bag the bank statement/financial sponsor letter you used in your visa application and your offer letter from the University. 

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. 

Please check that your passport has been stamped before leaving the desk as sometimes immigration officers may forget to do that and it can cause problems later on. 

Customs Control 

When you collect your luggage you will have to join a queue for clearance through customs. If you have nothing to declare it will be a green channel, if you have goods to declare the red channel. 

Please note if you are travelling to the UK and you are carrying 10,000 Euros/Pounds or more in cash, bankers draft or cheque of any kind you will be required to declare this at customs. Please go to the government website for more information and to complete the form.

The authorities warn that you may face a penalty of up to £5,000 if you fail to declare the cash or you provide incorrect information. 

Please ensure that you comply with the permitted duty-free allowances. If you do and/or you carry any prohibited goods you must declare them by going through the red channel. 

Please visit the government website or contact the British Embassy or High Commission in your country to find out what you are allowed to bring in the UK before travelling. 

Remember: avoid any involvement with drugs, never agree to carry anything into the UK for a third party and never leave your luggage unattended. 


International students should be vaccinated for all of the diseases listed below:

  • Meningitis (MenACWY) 
  • Diphtheria 
  • Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) 
  • Polio 
  • Tetanus - it is particularly important that students whose courses involve practical work on farms have up-to-date tetanus vaccinations

You should also be vaccinated for tuberculosis (TB) before you enter the UK. 

If you are applying for a Student Visa, depending on your country of origin/residence, you might also need to be tested for tuberculosis. 

Ask your doctor about any other vaccinations you might need to travel to the UK. Also, check with your local embassy to find out if you are legally required to get any vaccines before coming to the UK. 

We strongly recommend you get your vaccinations before you leave your home country. If you get your vaccinations in the UK, you may have to pay for some of them. 

If you have evidence of your vaccinations (e.g. International Vaccination Book) bring it with you when you enter the country and during your medical registration at the RAU. 

Using public transport to travel to the RAU 

Public transport in the UK is of a high standard, but can be expensive. Buses or coaches are less expensive than trains but you may have a longer journey time. Taxis are plentiful and convenient but are very expensive. A taxi from Heathrow to the RAU would cost typically about £110 and from Gatwick Airport approx. £150. 

Buses and Coaches in the UK 

Visit: for information and to buy a ticket online. 

  • The cost from Heathrow Airport to Cirencester for a single ticket is approx. £12-£40 and the journey time is approximately 1.30-2 hours
  • From Gatwick Airport to Cirencester a single ticket costs approx. £20-£57 and the journey time is approx. 3.30-5 hours depending on the service
  • From Stansted Airport costs vary between £14-40 and travel time may be between 3.30-5 hours depending on the service

N.B. Ticket prices and length of travelling may vary depending on the service you choose. The above are indicative only.

Follow the signs to Central Coach Station. 

Trains in the UK 


If you arrive at Heathrow or Gatwick you will need to travel into Central London first by train, cross London by Underground or by train (Heathrow Express) and then change again onto another train. 

There are frequent British Rail services from London (Paddington) to Kemble Station (Cirencester), via Swindon. There are also regular trains from Gloucester and Cheltenham, which connect to the main train lines. 

A taxi and bus service is available to transport you the remaining three miles from Kemble Station to the University. 

Travelling from Heathrow Airport 

Heathrow Express and Train: Follow signs for the Heathrow Express. 

From Heathrow, you take the Heathrow Express into central London to Paddington Station. There you can catch a train to Kemble station. 

Underground and train: Alternatively, you may choose to take the Underground (Piccadilly Line – Eastbound and then Bakerloo Line - Northbound) from Heathrow Airport to Piccadilly Circus station and then change to Bakerloo line from Piccadilly Circus to Paddington. 

Travelling from Gatwick Airport 

Coach: Follow the signs to the coach station. National Express operates a coach service from Gatwick Airport to Cirencester via Heathrow Airport. 

Train: Follow the signs for the main line station and buy a single ticket to Kemble. 

The journey may take between 2.30-3.00 hours. Ticket prices vary depending on the time of the day you travel. 

TAXIS from Cirencester or Kemble Station to the RAU: 

Cirencester Radio Cars: 01285 650850 

Kemble Train Station Taxi Service: 0333 8000750 from approximately £11. 

Arriving at the RAU 

If you arrive during working hours make your way to the Registry Office. If you arrive after hours and you have booked accommodation on campus please make your way to the Porter’s lodge (see campus map). 

Collecting your visa in the UK

Students on a Student Visa have a temporary visa vignette in their passport. The standard validity period of the vignette is 30 days (NB this is extended to 90 days during Covid-19). 

Once you arrive in the UK you will have to collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) within 10 days from arriving in the UK. 

For RAU students this will be either the RAU Registry office (and for some the Swindon Post Office). If you have to collect your BRP from the Post office the RAU Registry Office will provide you with information on how to reach the appointed Post Office. 

If you collect your BRP from the Post Office please ensure that you bring it to the Registry Office as we need to make a copy of this and keep it on your student record. If you notice that any of the details on it are incorrect please let the Registry office know so that we can contact the Home Office to do the required corrections and provide you with a new BRP. 

Police registration 

Students from the following countries will need to register with the police and update their details as required: 

Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, Georgia, Hong Kong, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Palestine, Peru, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Stateless or travelling on a non-national document (i.e. Travel Document). 

The police will be on campus during the International orientation week or during Registration and Induction week to enable you to register. If you miss that session please liaise with Registry. Early in semester 1 the University may arrange transport to enable international students to register with the Gloucester police station. Detailed information on this and other Student Visa compliance issues is given in the “Student Visa Compliance Requirements” guide given to you upon registration. 


The National Health Service (NHS) is the UK’s state healthcare system providing a wide range of health care services including appointments with a doctor, hospital treatment and dental care. 

Students are expected to register with the RAU health centre unless you are already registered with another local doctor. Medical cover at the university health centre is provided by the Phoenix Surgery in Chesterton Lane. More information can be found here. 


If you are visiting the UK from the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, you should:

  • Have travel or health insurance that covers the duration of your trip
  • Bring your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if you are eligible to continue using it in the UK
  • Bring your S1 form if you are eligible to continue using it in the UK
  • Bring your S2 form if you are eligible for one
  • Check if you need to apply for an S2 Healthcare Visa

Student Visa Students 

Students on a Student Visa and coming to the UK for more than six months will have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) as part of their visa application fee. This entitles students to access the NHS services free of charge in the same way as a permanent UK resident. This includes the Doctor’s surgery, university health centre or a hospital. You may need to pay for dental and eye/optical treatment as well as for any medicine prescribed. Pharmacy prescriptions carry a standard charge of £9. 

Students from Australia and New Zealand are exempt from the IHS and will be able to access the NHS services free of charge during their studies in the UK. 

Courses less than six months 

If you are not from an EEA country and your course is for less than six months you are advised to take out medical insurance as you will be liable for health care charges you receive in the UK except in a medical emergency and this is limited.

Bank holidays 

Public holidays in the UK are known as “bank holidays”. On these days banks, offices and many shops are closed and public transport is limited. Click here for a full list of the UK’s national holidays.