What to do if you need to travel overseas

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Travel outside the UK during your programme

With a valid Tier 4 visa, you can re-enter the UK as often as you like while you are registered on your programme at LSE.   When you ask to re-enter the UK, a Border Force Officer (BFO) may check that you are still registered and studying at LSE.  We recommend that you carry a certificate of registration in your hand luggage.  You can print a certificate of registration from LSE for You and get it stamped at the Student Services Centre. 

If you need to travel during term time and you will miss classes, you will need to obtain permission from your academic department. If you have to leave the UK in an emergency, you can contact us from overseas.

Security when travelling, lost and stolen passports

Most students travel with no problems, but every year we have to advise LSE students whose passports have been lost or stolen when travelling outside the UK.  To make things easier just in case this happens to you, we advise:

  • Make copies of the personal details page and your visa sticker if you have one.  We advise making paper copies and phone photos.  Keep any paper copies in your luggage separate from your passport. 
  • If your visa is on a Biometrics Residence Permit, make copies and take photos of the front and back. 
  • Understand if your travel destination or your personal demographics make you vulnerable to theft.  For example, our experience (which is not a scientific survey) shows that it can be an issue for female Chinese students visiting Paris, Barcelona, Rome and other major western European cities. 

If your passport is lost or stolen when you travel, read our web pages to find out what to do.

Lost or stolen passport|

Travel outside the UK after your official programme end date

If your programme has finished and you have no future studies in the UK, we advise you to avoid travelling out of the UK and attempting to re-enter on your Tier 4 visa during the extra time after the end of your programme.  While the visa itself has not expired, it is important to understand that a Tier 4 visa only allows you to enter the UK for the purpose of starting or continuing your studies sponsored by LSE.  Every time you enter the UK, a Border Force Official (BFO) is required to check that you have the correct visa for your purpose. 

If your programme has formally ended, a BFO may correctly refuse to allow you to re-enter the UK on a Tier 4 visa. 

It is possible that a BFO may accept that you are indeed returning for reasons connected to your studies, for example if you have not yet received your exam results or you are returning to attend your graduation ceremony.  However, this is at your own risk. If you are returning to the UK before your graduation, we advise you to carry a graduation letter as evidence of this.  (Your family and friends can also use this letter if they are applying to come to the UK to attend your graduation ceremony)

Request a letter from registry confirming your graduation date

If you do decide to travel and to re-enter the UK, you could be refused entry.  If you are a 'non-visa national' you may be granted entry as a General Visitor.   (Visa nationals must apply for a General Visitor visa outside the UK before travelling back to the UK so cannot obtain this at the airport).

A General Visitor cannot switch to any other status in the UK.  If you are planning an immigration application in the UK, for example a Tier 4 extension or switch to Tier 2, being admitted as a General Visitor would mean you could not make that application in the UK.

If you are a non-visa national (you can enter as a visitor at the airport), it is a risk to re-enter the UK as a visistor immediatley after the expiry date of your Tier 4 visa.  A Border Force Officer may have concerns that you are not a genuine visitor.

Non-student visa holders

If you have a visa for work, as a family member, or for any reason other than studies, we advise you to always carry in your hand luggage evidence that you continue to meet the conditions and requirements of that status.  

Schengen Visa for European travel

Certain nationalities need a Schengen visa to travel in Europe. The Schengen visa is a single visa for travel in a number of countries in Europe (the UK has not signed the agreement).  Different countries have different rules for applying so the easiest way to find out if you need a Schengen visa and how to apply for one, is to look on the embassy website of the country where you plan to travel.

Most countries ask for:

  • passport
  • application fee
  • evidence of travel plans
  • evidence of accommodation arrangements
  • evidence of travel insurance
  • evidence of your studies in the UK*

Most embassies advise you not to actually pay for your trip until you have obtained your Schengen visa, but some will require evidence of a booked flight)

*Some embassies may require a copy of your Certificate of Registration as part of your application and may specify that it be printed on LSE headed paper addressed directly to the embassy in question.  See the Certificate of Registration| webpage for details and make sure you plan ahead to avoid delays to your application.

Tip! 

If you intend to travel in Europe, apply for a Schengen visa as early as you can. Please note, that it can be difficult to travel at the end of your studies as many countries require you to have between 3-6 months remaining on your student visa for the UK.

For a trip to several different countries, apply at the Embassy of the country where you will spend the most time.  If you are staying an equal amount of time in each country, apply for a Schengen visa at the embassy of the first country that you plan to visit.

Travel to the USA

If you are a non-US national and you want to visit the USA, the US State Department has provided a guide for visitors

US State Department > Temporary Visitors to the USA  |


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