Making your way to Belfast
It's a big step for international students coming to Queen's, which is why we've gathered together all the important travel information you'll need to make your journey to Belfast as simple as possible.
Arriving in Belfast
When should I plan to arrive in Belfast?
You must plan to arrive at Queen’s in time for the International Students’ Welcome and Orientation Programme which will be from from 14 - 18 September 2016.
Your attendance at the International Students’ Welcome and Orientation is mandatory. If you have an exceptional circumstance that means that you won’t be able to attend you must let us know when you plan to arrive.
When you receive your Tier 4 visa, please check the expiry date carefully. The visa vignette which is issued into your passport will be valid for 30 days and you must ensure that you arrive in the UK before this visa expires. You will be required to collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) within 10 days of your arrival.
What contact information should I have with me when I arrive in Belfast?
First night’s accommodation: address and telephone number International Student Support - 028 9097 3899
Queen’s 24-hour Security Service - 028 9097 5099
What will happen when I arrive in a UK airport?
When you arrive in the UK you will have to pass through ‘Immigration Control’ and ‘Customs’. We recommend that you travel to Belfast directly or via another UK airport (e.g. London Heathrow, Gatwick etc.) and not via the Republic of Ireland (e.g. Dublin).
What will happen if I arrive via the Republic of Ireland?
Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. There are no border controls between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland for your passport to be checked or stamped to give you permission to enter the UK. If you are planning to enter Northern Ireland via this route, please contact International Student Support before you book your ticket.
Once you arrive at a UK airport you will need the following documents to receive official permission to enter the UK:
- Valid passport containing your student visa (entry clearance) where appropriate or
- If you are a non-visa national and have not applied and received entry clearance before arriving in the UK you will need your invitation letter/ Offer letter from the University, showing that you have been unconditionally accepted on to a course and evidence of adequate financial support (i.e. bank statements, proof of receipt of scholarship or other form of financial aid)
- If appropriate you should provide evidence of a recent medical check-up and chest x-ray if these were recommended when you applied for entry clearance.
Carry all of these documents in your hand luggage as you will be asked to show them on arrival at immigration control.
If you have problems with immigration as you enter the UK telephone International Student Support or Queen’s 24 hour Security number after 17:00 and at weekends (Saturday/Sunday).
If you have prior Entry Clearance
Upon arrival at a port of entry to the UK, an arrival date stamp will be endorsed in your passport only if you are admitted with leave (i.e. permission) to enter. This stamp shows the date on which you arrived, the name of the port, and the number of the immigration officer who processed your entry. It is important to obtain this arrival date stamp.
If granted leave to enter at the port of entry as a Short Term Student (STS)
A STS endorsement can only be issued at the port of entry in limited circumstances (non-visa nationals who have been issued with a STS visa letter issued by Queen’s University). The STS endorsement issued at the port of entry will be stamped into your passport when you pass through immigration control. Entry as a STS means you are normally admitted to the UK for 6 months.
To check if you need a UK visa visit the Home Offce website
After you pass through Immigration Control you will collect your luggage from the Baggage Reclaim and will then go through the Customs Hall. Usually there are two routes to go through: look for a green sign if you have no goods to declare; and a red sign if you do have goods to declare. UK custom regulations allow students to bring in personal belongings, e.g. computer for use in their studies, without being liable to pay duty (tax), as long as they take them out of the country again when they finally leave. Food imports into the UK are strictly controlled.
You are not allowed to bring the following products into the UK except from approved countries:
meat and meat products; milk and milk products; fish; shellfish; eggs; honey; potatoes; plants.
For more detailed information please see the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture and Rural Development website: Please consult your nearest British High Commission, Embassy or Consulate for further information on Customs Regulations.
Do I need to declare money I carry with me into the UK?
If you are arriving directly from a country outside the European Union, and are carrying 10,000 Euros/ Great British Pounds (GBP) or more, or the equivalent amount in another currency, you must complete a cash declaration form, available at your airport or port of entry. Cash not only means currency notes and coins but also banker’s drafts and cheques of any kind (including traveller’s cheques).
If you fail to declare your cash or give incorrect or incomplete information on the form, there are financial penalties of up to £5000, or the money may be seized. You should keep your copy of the form safely as proof that you have made the declaration.
Airport Meet and Greet
The Welcome and Orientation Programme is vital so you should plan to arrive in Belfast before it begins. If you arrive at Belfast City or Belfast International Airport during the dates mentioned above, you will be greeted by a welcome team who will provide you with important information and assist you in getting to your accommodation.
Please note - Registration will open in August 2017.
If you do not have internet access you can register by phone: Tel +44 (0) 28 9097 3899.
When you register online you will receive a booking confirmation email and further information including an emergency phone number.
Do I need to register online in advance?
Yes, you must register your details online so we know when and where you are arriving. We also need to know that you are arriving in time for the Welcome and Orientation Programme.
How will I recognise the welcome team?
Look out for the team who will be wearing t-shirts with ‘Welcome to Queen’s’ printed on the back.
What happens if I arrive before 08:00 or after 21:30?
If you arrive before 08:00 either wait for the International Welcome team to arrive or take a taxi to: Elms Village, 78 Malone Road, Belfast.
If your fight is scheduled to arrive in Belfast by 21:30 but is delayed, the International Welcome Team will wait for you until 22:00. After this time, take a taxi to Elms Village, where a staff member will be on duty 24 hours a day.
Taxi fares to the University are approximately £30 from Belfast International airport and £10 from Belfast City Airport.
You can use your cash card at the ATM in the airport.
I am not using the Meet and Greet service – how do I get to the University?
If you do not intend to arrive during these dates you should still tell us when and how you plan to arrive in Belfast and we will send you information about getting to the University. If you arrive outside these times and you have difficulty making contact with University staff, help is available 24 hours from the University Security Office 028 9097 5099. Alternatively you can call to Elms Village reception by telephone at 028 9097 4525 or in person at Elms Village Reception.
To tell us your travel details and to register for Welcome and Orientation please complete the online registration form or contact International Student Support at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Getting to Belfast is easy, especially by air. Most students coming to Queen’s travel via London. Connections between London and Belfast are excellent. London has five airports and Belfast has two.
The flight time is about one hour. As well as flights from London, there are also frequent flights from regional airports in Great Britain such as Manchester etc.
Belfast International Airport
The airport is approximately 32 kilometres from the city centre. There is an excellent transfer bus service which runs every 15 minutes Monday to Friday and is less frequent at the weekend. The journey takes approximately 30-40 minutes and a single fare is about £7.50.
The bus goes to Great Victoria Street bus and train station in the city centre which is a 30 minute walk to Queen’s Elms Village University accommodation. As you will have your luggage with you we would recommend that you take a taxi. A taxi fare from the bus station to Elms Village is about £5.
Belfast City Airport
Belfast City Airport is only five kilometres from the city centre. There is an excellent transfer bus service to the city centre which runs every 20 minutes from 05:45 to 21:25 and a single ticket costs about £2.40. Alternatively you can take a taxi from the airport to the University or to the City Centre and the cost is about £10.
We do not have a Meet and Greet service from Dublin and you will need to make your own travel arrangements to get to Belfast. There is a bus service directly to Belfast from Dublin International Airport on Ulsterbus Goldline Express Service 200 and Bus Eireann Service X1. The cost of a single fare from Dublin to Belfast is about £14 (€16.00).
The currency used in the Republic of Ireland is Euros(€). In Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK the currency is pounds sterling (£).
Arriving by sea
There are three main sea routes from Great Britain to Northern Ireland:
- Liverpool to Belfast
- Stranraer to Belfast
- Cairnryan to Larne.
Please note - We do not have a Meet and Greet service from ferry terminals and you will need to make your own travel arrangements to get to Belfast.