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Life In London

International students: essential info

By Adrian 16 May 2021

You can find all our COVID-19 content at

There is a quick summary at

We also recommend that you stay up to date with guidance from the UK government and the NHS.

UK visas and immigration during coronavirus

International students - both those already in the UK and students who are planning to move to London for the 2020/21 academic year - may be anxious about travelling and immigration requirements for the UK during the coronavirus pandemic. The following is a list of authoritative resources so you can access the information you need.

UK government: Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for UK visa applicants and temporary UK residents

British Council: Moving to the UK / COVID-19 support for international students

UKCISA: Coronavirus info for international students

You can also contact the coronavirus immigration helpline if you have any immigration queries related to coronavirus (COVID-19). 

Coronavirus Immigration Helpline 
Telephone: 0800 678 1767 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) - calls are free of charge. 


Travelling to the UK

From 17 May 2021, everyone arriving in England from outside the Common Travel Area (UK, Ireland, Isle of Man, and Channel Islands) must:

  1. have proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within the 3 days before departing for England;
  2. book and pay for COVID-19 tests to take after arrival in England (the number of tests and where they may be taken depend on where the person has travelled from);
  3. complete a passenger locator form before arriving at the UK border; and 
  4. follow the red, amber, or green rules relevant to the area where they have travelled from.

People who have been in a country on the red list within the 10 days before arriving in England must book and pay for a quarantine hotel package. Those who have been in a country on the amber list will be allowed to quarantine at a place of their choosing (e.g. in halls) and may end their 10-day quarantine early by taking an additional, paid-for, "test-to-release" COVID-19 test on day 5 of quarantine.

Registration with the police

The requirement for some foreign nationals to register with the police has resumed, following a suspension last year due to coronavirus. If you need to register with the police on your arrival in the UK, it should be written on your entry visa vignette, biometric residence permit or Home Office letter approving your application for leave. 

Please check for the latest information at

Opening a bank account

Having a UK bank account makes life in London much easier, especially during coronavrius, when you are likely to be paying for more products and services online.

The British Banking Association produced this helpful guide to opening a bank account for international students:

The most common type of bank account for international students in the basic bank account. You can find out more about basic bank accounts here:

And this blog post from UKCISA is packed with useful insight:

Further information about higher education

The Department for Education (DfE) has launched a helpline to answer your questions about Covid-19 and concerns regarding your education. You can contact the helpline by telephone and email:

Phone: +44 (0) 800 046 8687 (calls made from overseas will be charged at an international rate which will vary by country.) The helpline is open from 08.00 - 18.00, Monday – Friday. 


Your access to healthcare

Registration with a GP

You need to register with a GP near where you live in London as soon as possible.That way you can receive emergency care if you need it, and access health services quickly and easily. This is especially important if you have an ongoing health condition, particularly one that needs medicine, such as asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, or depression.

You can choose to register with any local GP. The health centre attached to your university is likely to be the most convenient, and the doctors working there will be experienced in the health needs of students.

Find your local GP surgery

If you're planning on staying in the UK as a student for at least 6 months, and you have paid the immigration health surcharge, most healthcare is free of charge through the National Health Service (NHS).

There's more information about getting healthcare as a student on the NHS website:


No charges will be made in the diagnosis or treatment of coronavirus (COVID-19). This applies to everyone:

  1. No charges apply to testing for COVID-19, even if the result is negative, or to any treatment provided for COVID-19 if the result is positive or up to the point that it is negatively diagnosed. The same is true of most other infectious diseases.
  2. No immigration checks are required for overseas visitors that are known to be only undergoing testing or treatment for COVID-19.

The message that COVID-19 testing and treatment is free of charge irrespective of immigration status is accessible in 40 languages in Public Health England's Migrant Health Guide.

The Government have issued specific advice and guidance on the health needs of migrant patients. NHS 111 can help you if you have an urgent medical problem and you're not sure what to do, they have access to translators if you need them.

More helpful info for international students

We think these sites are useful:

Adrian profile picture

Adrian is a medical doctor, the University of London Student Health & Wellbeing Manager, and the Warden of Connaught Hall. He is passionate about advancing equality, diversity, and inclusion. Adrian's interests include fitness, nutrition, mindfulness and insight meditation, medical education, social psychology, and human factors / crisis resource management.
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