What should I bring when moving to the UK to study?

Photo of travellers in an airport

This article about what to bring when moving to the UK was updated by the Great British Mag content team on 5 September, 2019

Moving to the UK to study is an exciting time, but it can also be overwhelming and scary. The last thing you want to be worrying about is what to pack, so we’ve put together a list of what you should bring with you – and what you should leave behind.

Documents

The most important thing to bring when moving to the UK is the appropriate paperwork. If you do not have all your documents, you may be denied entry at the border. Keep your paperwork in your hand luggage so that you have access to it at all times.

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Valid passport
Valid short-term visa vignette or UK entry clearance
Completed landing card
Plane, train, bus, or ferry ticket
Your Biometric Residency Permit (BRP) decision letter, which sets out the leave granted and explains the BRP collection process in the UK
A printed copy of your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). This document includes your CAS number
A printed copy of your letter of acceptance from your university *
Originals (or certified true copies) of any degree certificates or technical qualifications *
Printed evidence that you have enough money to pay your tuition fees and living costs while you’re in the UK, These might include recent bank statements, proof of scholarship, or a letter from your sponsor *
Vaccination certificates
X-ray certificates

*As long as the UK remains part of the EU, EU students have freedom of movement, which means that they are not required to bring printed copies of university acceptance letters, degree certificates, or bank statements; however UKCISA strongly recommends that they do.

Personal items

The British climate is often cool and damp. Make sure that you bring appropriate clothing, including:

  • A warm winter coat
  • A waterproof coat
  • Several pairs of warm socks
  • An umbrella
  • Jumpers
  • Jeans
  • A warm hat, a scarf, and gloves or mittens
  • Shorts, t-shirts, and sandals
  • Summer hats & sunglasses, and
  • Swimwear

If you forget to pack something, or can’t purchase it in your home country, you will be able to buy it in the UK.

It is better to leave priceless items, like expensive jewellery or sentimental keepsakes, at home. A good rule of thumb is that if it would break your heart to lose it, you should not take it abroad.

You may also want to bring a small reminder of home such as photographs or a stuffed toy. Homesickness is very common whilst studying abroad and being able to pull out a tangible reminder of home can be very comforting.

Electronics

You should bring your laptop, tablet, mobile phone, headphones, e-reader, and other lightweight things that are difficult to replace. Don’t forget to pack all the charging cords.

Bear in mind that you may need to bring plug and power adapters in order to use British outlets. The UK uses type G plugs and 230 volts at 50 hertz.

You should double-check whether your electronics are equipped to deal with British voltage. If they are not, you must not plug them in without using a power adapter, otherwise you could melt your electronics or start a fire.

Many electronics are cheap in the UK. It’s better to leave things like hair dryers, hair straighteners, and rice cookers at home and buy new ones in the UK. That way you can save room in your suitcase for things that you won’t be able to easily replace, like your favourite sweatshirt or your hiking boots.

Academic supplies

You will want to bring a laptop while studying in the UK. You should also bring a backpack that is big enough to store your laptop and other supplies such as books, notebooks, an umbrella, and a water bottle.

Academic books are often heavy and expensive, so buy them second-hand or get them as ebooks.

Don’t pack smaller items like notebooks, planners, pens, and highlighters. You will be able to get them for free during Freshers Week.

Food

What food you are allowed to bring into the UK, and how much you are allowed to bring, depends on whether you are entering from inside or outside the EU. Be sure to check the Home Office’s website before you fly.

The UK is very multicultural, and you will most certainly find shops and supermarkets where you can buy ingredients and treats from back home and restaurants serving up food you are craving.

Money

It is best to order British cash or traveller’s cheques before you leave your home country. Be sure to tell your bank when and where you are flying so that you will be able to withdraw money from UK ATMs.

You should carry enough money to cover all your immediate expenses, such as:

  • Customs charges
  • Transportation fares (trains, cabs, etc.)
  • Emergency expenses

If you are travelling by yourself, you probably won’t need more than £250; but if you’re travelling with family, you should bring more.

If you are renting a flat in the UK, you should have enough money to pay the deposit. A deposit is typically one month’s rent, but it can be quite a bit more.

You should not bring large amounts of cash into the UK. If you are travelling to the UK from outside the EU, you will have to declare amounts of €10,000 or more (or the equivalent in another currency). In this instance, cash includes:

  • Notes and coins
  • Bankers’ drafts
  • Cheques of any kind (including travellers’ cheques)

Even if you declare large amounts of cash, customs officers can sieze it if they have reasonable grounds to suspect a crime. If you do not declare amounts of cash of or exceeding €10,000, you could face a penalty of up to £5,000.