Find out how to apply for a visa before you study abroad.


Your passport must be in good condition and valid for at least six months after the completion of a trip in most countries. We recommend renewing your passport if yours is nearing its expiry date, or double checking with the embassy for that country’s specific requirements.

You will need to submit your passport to embassies to arrange your student visa. Make sure this is done in good time so it doesn’t disrupt any other travel plans.

UK passport holders planning to study abroad in another European country must carefully check that their passports will remain valid for the full length of their stay following Brexit-related changes.


Most countries require you to apply for a student visa and/or residence permit when you study abroad. You may be exempt if you have an EU passport and you are going to study in an EU country, or you already hold a passport for the country you are going to study in.

Visa application process

The visa application process will vary depending on the country you are travelling to. This will generally include filling out the application, collating supporting documents, preparing financial evidence and paying visa processing fees. You may also be required to attend an interview.

You will need your formal acceptance letter from your host institution before you can apply for a visa. You may also be sent other documents by your host university that you will need for your visa application. 

Fill in the application form in plenty of time. If you need to book an appointment, you should do this as soon as you receive the necessary paperwork from your host university. You can find out details of the visa application form and estimated processing times from the country’s relevant embassy.

Supporting documents

Documents that you may need to provide include:

  • valid passport
  • acceptance letter or confirmation of enrolment from your host university
  • police certificate showing your UK police record
  • medical certificate – some countries require you to complete specific medical checks or to submit a letter confirming your general good health. Expect to pay for any certificates or letters, even if they are completed by your own GP. Request these well in advance.
  • evidence of your UK student status (which Sussex can provide)
  • evidence of your finances, such as bank statements and Student Loan documents. 

You may need to have your UK-produced documents legalised to confirmed their authenticity. There is a charge for this service. 

For visa applications for the US, Hong Kong, Japan and some universities in Korea, students will be asked to provide evidence of financial support at the point of formal application to the host university.

Find out more about financial guarantees if applying to the US or Canada.

Further visa information

For more detailed information, including processing fees, see each country's embassy pages.


Rest of the world

See more from Preparing to go abroad – the essentials