Arriving in the UK

Spending time preparing for your arrival in Plymouth, packing the right things and making sure you understand what documents you'll need and what'll happen when you get here is really important. 

Read our checklist to help and take a look at the advice from the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA).

Ensure your trip to Plymouth goes smoothly by planning as far in advance as you can and making sure you arrange your accommodation and transport beforehand. We're here to help. 

Here's some advice on what to expect when you land in the UK and how to book your travel from the airport to Plymouth.

Most international flights will arrive at London's main International airports - Heathrow or Gatwick. Exeter and Bristol airports are nearer to Plymouth if you're able to book flights to them.

Arriving at the airport 

Do not use eGates

When you arrive at the airport, you may be directed to use the eGates which is a quicker automated way of passing through border control. However, if you use the eGates, you will not get a stamp in your passport and you need this stamp to prove you have entered the UK legally. When you arrive at Plymouth University, we will ask to see the stamp. Without this stamp, you may not be able to enrol on your degree programme. 

Please make sure you see a border control official to get a passport stamp. 

If you are entering with a Short Term Study Visa

It is important you ask to be admitted as a short-term student (rather than as a standard visitor) and make sure they look at your short-term study visa letter from the University of Plymouth (which confirms your unconditional offer and acceptance on the course). Check that the stamp you get in your passport shows you are here as a short-term student.


You'll need to show the immigration officer:

  • your valid passport or national identity card
  • your entry clearance documentation [your entry clearance vignette or Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)] unless you are a non-visa national requesting leave to enter as a short-term student.

You're also advised to carry:

  • your University of Plymouth offer letter 
  • evidence of financial support (your bank statements or a letter from your sponsor).

You may also be asked for evidence of a recent chest x-ray, or the Medical Unit may x-ray you at the airport if you're a national of a tuberculosis-endemic country. Alternatively, you may be requested to make an appointment at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth once you've arrived.


Please make sure you accurately complete your customs declaration on the plane. At customs, you'll find three channels and you should take the route that applies to you:

  • green channel — no goods to declare 
  • red channel — goods to declare (if you are carrying prohibited goods or more than the permitted currency, duty, and tax allowances)
  • blue channel — if you're arriving from the European Union.

Arriving in Plymouth

If you are booked into University managed accommodation (Francis Drake, Gilwell, Mary Newman, Pilgrim, Radnor and Robbins):

  • Arriving on 7/8 September: Between 08:00–23:00 you can collect your keys from the cafe in Portland Square. After this time the keys will be in the security lodge (Portland Square)
  • Arriving after 8 September: Please visit your hall reception to collect the keys between 09:00–18:00. If you arrive outside of this time please call the Hall Volunteer detailed in your arrivals information.
The University campus is very close to both the coach station and the train station, although if you have a lot of luggage you may still need to use a taxi. 

If you are in non-managed halls please check with them for their arrival arrangements. 

If you're arriving for a course that starts in this coming September then we'll send you information emails with more details to help you plan your arrival. You should visit our International Student Orientation programme page. 

If you are coming into the UK and stay more than six months, you should visit our Biometric Resident Permit (BRP) page.

We look forward to welcoming you to the University of Plymouth.

Travelling to Plymouth from London airports

By train:

If you arrive at Heathrow airport, you can catch the Heathrow Express train, which runs every 15 minutes to Paddington Station in London from where you can catch the train to Plymouth. The train journey from London Paddington to Plymouth takes three to four hours.

If you arrive at Gatwick you can catch the trains to Reading station, where you'll join the train to Plymouth. These services are approximately hourly.

Check train timetables and ticket prices

The train station in Plymouth is very close to campus and the city centre, but it's advisable to take a taxi if you have luggage.

By coach:

There are two coach companies (National Express and Megabus) running from Gatwick and Heathrow airports to Plymouth approximately every two hours. The journey by coach is longer than the train but it's cheaper. 

The Plymouth bus station is very close to campus and the city centre, but it's advisable to take a taxi if you have luggage. 

Travelling to Plymouth from other UK airports

Although most students fly in to London there are some other airports that are closer to Plymouth and may be more convenient for you.

Bristol airport:

To get to Plymouth from Bristol airport, you can either travel by coach or train. 

Falcon Service runs hourly coach service on peak times from Bristol Airport to Plymouth. The journey take around three hours.

To travel by train, you'll first need to catch the Airport Flyer Express Link service which connects you to Bristol Temple Meads station, with services every ten minutes during peak times. There are direct trains running every hour during the daytime between Bristol Temple Meads and Plymouth, which take around two hours. 

Exeter airport:

To get to Plymouth from Exeter airport you'll first need to take a taxi or bus to Exeter St Davids train station. There are direct trains running every hour during the daytime between Exeter St Davids and Plymouth, which take around one hour. Check National Rail for timetables and prices. 

The train station in Plymouth is very close to campus and the city centre but it is advisable to take a taxi if you have a lot of luggage.