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When you arrive in the UK

You’ve made it!

We know you can’t wait to begin your UK adventure – but first, you’ll need to navigate immigration and customs. Be patient, be polite and your feet will be on London soil in no time.

 

Getting off the plane

When you leave the aircraft, follow the signs for “Arrivals” - this will take you to the passport control area.

You’ll find two different channels, each with their own queue. One will be for British or EEA (European Economic Area) passport holders and the other will be for all other passport holders. Make sure you join the right queue, as not doing so will lead to frustration for you and airport officials later on.

Depending on when you arrive, there could be quite a long queue. This could be a good time to catch up on some reading or plan what you’d like to do for the rest of the day.

Going through passport control

When you reach the front of the line, an immigration officer will check your documents. Make sure you have all of the necessary documentation on hand, to prevent holding up the queue and making the immigration officer wait.

You will likely be asked questions about yourself and what you intend to do during your stay in the UK. Immigration rules state that people with no entitlement to reside permanently in Britain must be able to support themselves completely, without relying on public funds. If you are in the UK with a visa that allows you to work, be sure to have the original copy of this document ready.

It is also important to have the address of where you are going to be staying readily available, as you will be asked to complete a card giving these details.

When you reach the front of the line, an immigration officer will check your documents. Make sure you have all of the necessary documentation on hand, to prevent holding up the queue and making the immigration officer wait.

You will likely be asked questions about yourself and what you intend to do during your stay in the UK. Immigration rules state that people with no entitlement to reside permanently in Britain must be able to support themselves completely, without relying on public funds. If you are in the UK with a visa that allows you to work, be sure to have the original copy of this document ready.

It is also important to have the address of where you are going to be staying readily available, as you will be asked to complete a card giving these details.

Baggage collection

After you have passed through immigration control, you will be able to collect your baggage. There will be TV screens showing flight numbers with correlating baggage carousel numbers.

Go to the carousel next to your flight number and collect your baggage. If you are missing anything or your luggage has been damaged in any way, be sure to report this to the lost baggage desk before you leave the baggage claim area.

Once you have your bags, the final step is to clear customs.

Clearing customs

There will be three channels that you can choose from:

  • The green channel, if you have nothing to declare
  • The red channel, if you have goods to declare
  • The blue channel, if you are from an EU country with nothing to declare

Each of these channels will take you into the arrivals lounge, with customs officials present in each to stop anyone entering the UK with forbidden items or an excess of duty free items.

Regardless of the channel you choose, it is likely you could still be stopped by a customs officer and searched. If you are caught with goods that are prohibited or goods in excess of your customs allowances, you risk heavy fines and possibly a prison sentence. Make sure you know what you can and cannot take into the country before you board your flight.

Visit the UK Government’s website for up to date information on prohibited or restricted goods.

Leaving the airport

There are three major routes of transport when leaving the airport at Heathrow: taxi, train or underground. Using a taxi is the easiest option, but also the most expensive.

The Heathrow express is the train that runs from the airport directly to central London and takes about 25 minutes. This is relatively easy to work out and is a mid-priced option.

The cheapest option is to take the London Underground, otherwise known as the Tube. The Tube is London’s underground railway and will probably be the mode of transport you use the most during your stay.

You can buy a ticket from the machine at the Heathrow stop and it will take you straight into central London along the Piccadilly line. This will take about 45 minutes.

Collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card

As from 1 June 2015, all applicants for UK visas will be issued a Biometric Resident Permit card. This card shows your status in the UK and includes your biographic details and biometric information. You will be required to have this card as proof of your right to stay, work or study in the UK.

Why do you need this card?

  • In order to enter and exit the UK you will need to show this card, together with your valid passport, at UK border control.
  • Foreign nationals wishing to be employed by UK companies will need to provide their BRP card as a legally required form of identification.
  • A BRP card is required in order to open a UK bank account.

How do you get this card?

If your visa application is successful, you will be given a short validity visa sticker in your passport along with a decision letter. This letter will provide instructions on when and where to collect your BRP card. The visa sticker is valid for 30 days from your visa start date which is stated on your visa application. You need to ensure that you arrive in the UK within 30 days of your visa start date, while your visa sticker is still valid.

You will need to collect your BRP card from the UK Post office branch nearest to your intended UK address, as stated on your application form. After arriving in the UK, you will have 10 days in which to collect your BRP card. If you do not collect it within this time, you may need to pay a fine, or your visa may be cancelled.

Start your adventure!

The world is now your oyster – get up, get out and explore.

Check out our Before you leave page to get a countdown of everything you need to arrange before you leave. If all went to plan, you can now go to your new home, or a hostel, for the night.

If you’ve signed up for our Kickstart Package, you will be able to navigate London’s transport systems, find a pub in your area and watch a gig before the week is out. As part of this package, we’ll also set up a meeting for you with a local bank, so you can open your UK bank account immediately.

 

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