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Studying as a Visitor

A globe in a girl's hand

If you are coming to study in the UK for less than 6 months or you need to travel to Durham for a short period (maximum 6 months) as part of a longer course you may be able to enter the UK and study as a visitor, without having to apply for a student visa.

The Standard Visitor route is an alternative to the Student route and is not part of the Points Based System (PBS).

You can study at Durham as a Visitor in the following situations:

  • You're studying on a full-time course of less than 6 months
  • If you are coming to study on a course which is less than 6 months
  • Exchange courses fall into this category
  • If a period of longer than 6 months is required, a CAS may be issued, and a Student visa required
  • You're on a Visiting Research programme
  • If you're studying at a university outside the UK and undertaking a period of research at Durham (not leading to a formal award from Durham)
  • You're a Distance Learning student attending for a short period
  • If you need to travel to Durham to attend supervisory or other meetings, providing the period does not exceed 6 months

Entering the UK

If you're coming to Durham in one of the situations detailed above, you should apply for:

Non-visa nationals not listed can currently enter the UK without a visa. 

Check the UKVI website to see if you need a visa before you travel. If you don't need a visa, you must still meet the requirements and be able to provide the required evidence on entry to the UK if you are asked to. See 'Evidence required', below.

The Standard Visitor route is an alternative to the Student route and is not part of the Points Based System (PBS).

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance (if required)

Your visitor visa letter will tell you if you need to have a permission from the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS). ATAS clearance is not required for the Standard Visitor Visa, however, you must apply as early as possible since you are required to have it before you start your studies.

Apply online as soon as possible and allow at least 6 weeks for them to email your certificate to you.

Please note: ATAS have advised that you may have trouble receiving your certificate if you use a, or email address. We advise that you use a different email address when you apply.

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) - GOV.UK (


Please note that while you are in the UK as a visitor the following restrictions will apply:

  • You can't work
  • You can't extend your stay (or obtain more than 6 months permission in a 12-month period)
  • You can't apply for another visa while you are in the UK
  • You're required to leave the UK before your Visitor permission expires

Evidence required

You must provide the evidence listed on the UKVI website, including a 'visitor visa letter' from your academic department giving details about your study, the University and when you need to attend. You should request the letter from your department well in advance of your visa application or travel to the UK.


Durham University makes every effort to ensure that the information published on this page is accurate. However, the University cannot guarantee the information may not be altered owing to circumstances beyond the University’s reasonable control. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) change in Government policy, or change of law. Any changes will be incorporated into the University’s website as early as possible.