Travel outside the UK while studying

Check if you need a separate visa to visit European countries while you are studying at Sussex, and check if you need documents to visit countries elsewhere in the world.

Important: Coronavirus (COVID-19) may affect your travel plans. Please read through the University's advice and guidance on travelling outside and returning to the UK.

Who needs a visa to visit Europe

Students from certain countries need a visa to visit a group of 26 European countries. This group of countries are part of an agreement called Schengen.

Not all European countries are part of the Schengen area.

Countries in the Schengen space

Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.

To find out if you need a visa to visit a European country while you’re studying in the UK:

The length of your visa depends on the immigration policy of the country you are applying to visit.

Get a Schengen letter

To support your application, you’ll need a letter from us.

Important: Make an appointment at your chosen embassy before requesting a letter.

If you’re an undergraduate or Masters student, request a Schengen letter. Check our opening and closing times.


If you’re a PhD student, email outlining your travel plans.

If you are an International Study Centre student, we can’t produce a Schengen Visa letter for you. Email


To apply for a Schengen visa, you must have:

  • a passport and BRP valid for at least three months after the expiry date of your Schengen visa
  • a valid passport that has been issued in the last ten years
  • two blank pages in your passport.

If you do not meet one or more of these requirements, you may need to apply for a new passport before you can get a Schengen visa.

Important: If you are a visa national and need to apply for a short-term study visa, you may need a Schengen visa. Apply for a Schengen visa in your home country. This is because of limitations on short-term study visas.

If you are a non-visa national, you might not need a Schengen visa; check with the embassy of the country you want to visit.

Which country to apply to

If you plan to visit:

  • only one Schengen country, apply to the UK-based embassy of that country
  • several of the 26 countries, apply to the UK-based embassy of your main destination – the country where you are spending the most time
  • several of the 26 countries but you don’t have a main destination, apply to the country where enter the Schengen area first.

How to apply

Visit the website of the UK-based embassy of the relevant country to find out the eligibility criteria, fees, application process and required documents.

Call or email the embassy directly if the process is not clear. Contact details for Schengen country embassies [DOCX 124KB].

The application process you go through depends on the country you’re planning to visit.

Most embassies use external agencies to process visa applications. Some may have additional charges.

Type of Schengen visa

You will generally apply for a short stay or travel visa. This is the most common type of Schengen visa. It will allow you to travel for up to three months within a six-month period. A short stay visa will either be single-entry or multiple-entry, depending on your travel plans.

When to apply

You can apply for a Schengen visa up to 90 days before you travel.

Many applications are processed within 15 days, although for some nationalities this may take up to four weeks. Apply as soon as you can because booking your appointment and processing your application can take time.

Documents and evidence

The documents you need depend on the country to which you’re applying.

You’ll usually need to provide the following:

  • passport (or official travel document)
  • your BRP (or entry clearance)
  • completed application form
  • recent passport-style photo(s)
  • visa fee
  • evidence of sufficient funds to complete the trip
  • tickets for your return journey to and from the Schengen area
  • hotel booking, or letter of invitation from the friends or family members who will be hosting you during your trip
  • travel insurance that covers the entire trip.

Your application form will specify the documents you need.

Travelling outside of Europe

If you’re travelling to a country elsewhere in the world, your visa requirements will depend on where you are going, the country you are from and what you plan to do while you are away.

See contact details for all UK-based embassies.

You’ll need a letter from us to support your application.

If you are:

Keeping your documents safe

Only carry your passport/visa with you when it is necessary. See more about keeping documents safe.

Find out what to do if you lose your visa or if it is stolen.

Health and travel insurance

Even if you are eligible for free NHS treatment, you must take out medical insurance if you will be travelling outside the UK during your time as a student.

If you’re going to Europe, you can apply online for a UK-issued European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if you’re studying a full-time course in the UK which is longer than six months.

With an EHIC, you can use state-provided healthcare on temporary stays in other EEA countries and Switzerland at a reduced cost and sometimes for free.

It covers immediate and clinically necessary state-funded treatment until your planned return to the UK.

Important: An EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. It will not cover private medical healthcare or costs (such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, being flown back to the UK or lost or stolen property). Get an EHIC and private travel insurance before you travel.

If you’re travelling elsewhere in the world, you will need travel insurance to cover you for health, security and transport. This forms part of your visa application.

See more from During your studies