Arriving in Belfast


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.

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 by emailing

If you are a Tier 4 visa holder, your visa will be issued as a vignette in your passport.  This will be valid for 30 days starting either 30 days before the course start date on your CAS Statement or 7 days before the date you stated on your visa application form as your intended date of travel to the UK, whichever is later. You should check the expiry date of your vignette carefully, and ensure you travel to the UK before this expires.  When you arrive in the UK, you will receive a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) which will contain the details of your immigration permission for the UK .  You must collect your BRP within 10 days of your arrival in the UK.   If you have selected Queen’s University Belfast as your designated Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) collection point in your visa application form, you will be able to collect this from International Student Support when you are completing your Right to Study Check. 

If you do not think you will be able to travel to the UK before the expiry of your vignette, please ensure you contact International Student Support as soon as possible for advice by emailing

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 3820 (Office Hours: 9:00am - 5.00pm)

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 on before you book your ticket.

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Looking for accommodation?

Get a room!

Queen’s Accommodation is delighted to announce that we are now accepting applications from Queen's and non-Queen’s students.

Local students starting university or college next month will have the opportunity to live in Queen’s Accommodation – even if they aren’t studying at Queen's University Belfast.

So whether you’re studying at St Mary's University College, Ulster University, Belfast Met or Stranmillis University College or any other further education college you can apply now for one of 3,484 quality rooms in and around campus.

Queen’s students and Non-Queen’s students can view more information and apply today

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Immigration Control

Going through immigration control at a UK airport:

When you arrive at a UK airport you will pass through Immigration Control where you should present your valid passport and entry clearance visa to the Border Force Officer:

We also recommend that you carry in your hand luggage any documents you have showing:

- where you will be staying in the UK

- evidence of your finances eg. Bank statement

- evidence of your course of study in the UK eg. CAS Statement

The Border Force Officer will then stamp your passport with the date you entered the UK. It is important that you obtain this arrival date stamp.

Applying for leave to enter at the port of entry as a Short Term Student (STS)

A limited number of students who are coming to the UK on Short-term Study visas can be issued with their Short Term Study endorsement at a UK port of entry without applying for their Short Term Study visa before leaving for the UK.   Only students from certain non-visa national countries will be able to obtain their STS endorsement in this way and it is important you check with International Student Support ( if you would  be able to obtain your STS endorsement at a UK port of entry.

If you do plan to obtain your STS endorsement in this way, you must provide the Immigration Officer with your invitation letter/ offer letter from the University, showing that you have been unconditionally accepted on to a course and evidence that you will be able to support yourself financially during your time here (i.e. bank statements, proof of receipt of scholarship or other form of financial aid). If the Border Force Officer grants you permission to enter the UK as a Short-term Student, your STS endorsement will be stamped into your passport.  The stamp in your passport will usually be valid for 6 months, however you must ensure you leave the UK within 30 days of the end date of your course as stated in your invitation letter or at the end of the 6 month period of leave granted, whichever is the earliest.


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.

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Arrival information

Arriving at the UK border

Here are some links to ensure your passage to Belfast is as smooth as possible.

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Things to note


If you have booked your air travel with connecting flights to one of the Belfast airports your baggage allowance should be the same for your entire journey. However, if your flight lands in Britain and you transfer to another domestic airline that you have booked separately you may be subject to a reduced baggage allowance and have to pay additional excess charges.

Please check all baggage allowance conditions (including size and weight restrictions) before you leave home.

You will need to be able to lift your luggage onto connecting road/rail transport and upstairs. Not all private sector or University accommodation has lifts (elevators). Remember when you are packing that by the time you arrive in Belfast you will have carried your luggage a long way. What seems light at home will probably feel very heavy by the time you arrive.

If you need to bring more luggage to the UK, consider arranging to send your remaining possessions to Belfast once you have moved into your permanent accommodation.

Lost or delayed luggage

Sometimes baggage can get delayed and it might have to be forwarded to you. If your luggage is lost or delayed you should contact the information desk at the airport who will take your details and a forwarding address. If you are staying in Queen’s residences, you should give Queen's Accommodation as your contact. Their address is:

Elms BT9
78 Malone Road

Tel:+44 (0) 28 9097 4525

If you are not staying in University accommodation, you should arrange to have your luggage delivered to your new address or to your temporary accommodation. If you are staying in a hostel or hotel, you will need to inform their reception that you are expecting to have your luggage delivered.

Will I need to pay tax on personal goods I bring into the UK?

You can find out whether you might need to pay tax by putting ‘Travel into the UK’ into the search facility on the website organisations/hm-revenue-customs

Are there things which I cannot bring in my luggage?

For details of goods which are restricted or prohibited from the UK visit https:// into-uk Or duty-free-goods/banned-and-restrictedgoods Do not pack any sharp objects in your hand luggage (e.g. scissors, metal nail files) and remember to check the safety rules and luggage regulations of the airline(s) you are travelling with.

What should I pack in my hand luggage?

All important documents should be carried with you in your hand luggage including:

  • your passport
  • original academic qualifications certificates
  • CAS Statement
  • ATAS certificate (if required)
  • proof that you will have the money to pay your fees and to support yourself while living and studying in the UK - please note that this applies to non-EU/ EEA/Swiss students. If you are an EEA national it is unlikely that you will have to prove this.
  • University accommodation contract (if applicable)
  • marriage and birth certificates if you are travelling with family
  • record of travellers cheques and bank transfers
  • health and travel insurance documents (if required)
  • essential medication - mobile phone (if you have one)
  • list of the contents of your main luggage
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Packing guide

Get tips from our students

Packing up to live and study in another country is an exciting (and scary) time. You probably have loads of questions. What’s the weather like? What will I wear when I get there? What should I pack?

Don't worry, our students have put together a guide for you.


Travel guide

Our international student bloggers have been busy putting together some great guides to getting here.

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low angle view of the McClay library from the front

How to get to Queen's

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 BT9 reception by telephone at 028 9097 4525 or in person at Elms BT9 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

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 20 minutes Monday to Friday and is less frequent at the weekend. The journey takes approximately 30-40 minutes and a single fare is about £8.

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 BT9 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 BT9 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 30 minutes from 05:30 to 21:25 and a single ticket costs about £2.50. Alternatively you can take a taxi from the airport to the University or to the City Centre and the cost is about £15.

Dublin Airport

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 Bus Eireann Service X1/X2A. The cost of a single fare from Dublin to Belfast is about £15 (€17.00).

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; Cairnryan to Belfast; Cairnryan to Larne.

You must ensure that you enter a valid UK point of entry so your visa can be stamped at Immigration Control.

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