Before and after arrival
There is information available for all new students on preparing for arrival in London.
Before you arrive
Welcome event for international students
The International Student Support team host a welcome event for all non-UK students on the first Sunday of the autumn term. Key College staff will be present and you will be able to learn about the services available throughout your time at the College. This year the International Welcome Event will be held on Sunday 30 September.
Certain nationalities are required to undergo a TB screening before applying for their UK visa from overseas. A full list of nationalities required to undergo a TB screening can be found on the Home Office website and a list of approved clinics is also provided.
Travelling to the UK for 6 months or less: Pre-entry TB screening is only required if you are travelling to the UK for more than 6 months.
If you travel by air to London you will arrive at either Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton or Stansted. For more information about the services available any of these airports please visit their respective websites. UKCISA has a useful webpage on passing through immigration control and customs.
Please see the campus maps and information for details on getting to the various Imperial College campuses. As the main South Kensington campus is near the Underground Piccadilly line, it is accessible from Heathrow airport. If you would like to take a taxi from any of the London airports to your accommodation, it can be booked and paid for in advance via the Silver Shuttle booking form.
Prior to beginning your main course of study you may wish to (or be recommended to) undertake a pre-sessional English course at the Centre for Academic English. During your time at Imperial, you can also take advantage of the Centre’s range of courses, workshops, and consultations to develop your academic language and communication skills even further.
- Search the Imperial scholarships database for further information on available scholarships.
- Read about what to expect from UK Culture
- Curious about British culture, customs and traditions? GB Mag have written a series of interesting and often amusing articles.
- Learn about study techniques in the UK at Prepare for Success
- Managing your finances with the International Student Calculator
- Keeping yourself safe during your time in London. Creating Confidence [pdf]
After you arrive
Opening a bank account
When you first arrive in the UK it is important to open a UK bank account. We do not recommend any particular bank or bank account however we have provided some further information on some of the available student bank accounts in our Banks Summary Sheet [pdf]. Some banks even allow you to begin the process of opening your account before you arrive in the UK.
Please be aware that it may take about two weeks to open a bank account at busy times, so you should bring sufficient funds with you to cover that period. It is not a good idea to bring all the money that you think you will need in cash; it is better to use online bank transfers or a banker's draft, for example to pay tuition and accommodation fees. For safety, you are advised not to carry large amounts of cash with you when travelling to the UK.
Standard documents that would be required by most banks to open an account:
- evidence of your identity and date of birth, (e.g. passport or National I.D. card) , and
- bank letter from the Student Hub (the Student Hub is located on Level 3, Sherfield Building)
The bank letter can only be issued if your address details are up to date and correct on our system, so please ensure you check this on your Student e-Service account.
- If you are in the UK on a visa we advise that you request to receive paper bank statements as these would be required for any future visa extensions.
- Refer to our information sheet bank account [pdf] in the UK.
- For further advice regarding bank accounts, please see the British Bankers' Association guide to opening a UK bank account.
- We have created a map of the banks local to the South Kensington area, see our information sheet Banks in the local area [pdf].
Certain international students are required by a condition printed on their visa to register with the police within 7 days of arrival in the UK. Please see our Police Registration page for further information.
Registering with a doctor
All students who require a visa to study in the UK and who will be on a course of six months or longer must pay an Immigration Health Surcharge as part of their visa application. You must pay this even if you choose to purchase additional private health insurance. Payment of the Immigration Health Surcharge will allow access to the UK's National Health Service (NHS) for the duration of your stay. You will not have to pay for hospital treatment, but you may have to pay for some dental treatment and a standard charge for medicines prescribed by a doctor, depending on your income. This also applies to your spouse or civil partner and children. To access this service, you should register with a GP (General Practitioner) soon after you arrive in the UK. Many Imperial College students will be eligible to register at the College’s Health Centre, which also includes a Dental Practice. For those living further away from the South Kensington campus a local GP would be more convenient. See our Find a Doctor webpage for some suggestions.
International students who are studying in the UK for more than six months are entitled to be registered with a GP and will receive primary care free of charge. The College Health Centre will register students here for less than six months where they live within the extended catchment area. We recommend that all visiting, short-term students take out private medical insurance cover.
In terms of secondary care (which may include some investigations), visiting nationals from the European Economic Area in possession of a Form E128, E112 or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or nationals from any state with which the UK has a reciprocal agreement are eligible to receive free NHS care. However they may not be entitled to free treatment for a pre-existing condition or where it is reasonable to delay treatment until the visitor returns home.
Short-term students from outside the EU or from areas where there is no reciprocal arrangement may be charged for their secondary care and are advised to obtain insurance prior to their arrival to cover this eventuality. Those from the EU without the appropriate forms are advised to do the same.
If you would like to access friendly, confidential advice and support for students with a disablity please get in touch with the Disability Advisory Service. The service can also provide screenings and assessments if you think you may be dyslexic or dyspraxic.
Many students worry that they will be lonely or homesick when they arrive at the College. There are many people and services across the College who are here to support and assist you. Our College Welfare and Advice page provides information and contact details for these services.
Please contact the International Student Support team if you have any further queries.