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When your visa application is successful, you will be issued a 30 day entry permit in your passport which will enable you to enter the UK. Your actual visa, in the form of a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), will need to be collected on arrival in the UK. Your BRP is the documentary evidence of your UK immigration permission.

How to ensure your BRP is delivered to the University when you apply for your visa

You will be able to collect your BRP at the University but in order to do this, you must enter a particular code, called an ACL code, on your Tier 4 visa application form. For students starting their studies in Lent Term or Easter Term 2017, you should use the code 2HE532.

Using the ACL code

You will need to enter the correct ACL code in the relevant part of the online Tier 4 visa application. In the section ‘Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) Collection’, enter the code in the ‘Alternative Location’ field.

If you do not use this code and instead enter a residential or sponsor postcode, you will be instructed to collect your BRP from the Post Office. However, we advise you to use the University as the collection point unless you plan to enter the UK more than 10 days prior to the start of your course in which case collection from the Post Office may be preferable.

When you enter the code on your visa application the following address will display: University of Cambridge (standard), Collect at the University Centre in Cambridge, C/O BIDMU, Bristol, BS20 7LZ. This is correct and confirms collection in Cambridge. 

You will receive a decision letter following a successful visa application which will outline the conditions of your immigration leave. You will need to bring this letter with you when you collect your BRP.

Entry permit validity

The initial 30 day entry permit issued in your passport will be valid:

  • from 7 days before your intended date of travel, as stated on your visa application form. The earliest the permit can be valid is one month prior to the start date of your course, in line with Tier 4 policy.
  • 30 days from the date of issue if granted after your intended date of travel, as stated on your visa application form.

You must enter the UK during the 30 day validity of the permit. If you are living in College accommodation, you should check with your College when you can move into your room as there may be restrictions on arriving early.

If the permit has expired or will expire before you travel, you will need to apply for a replacement short term entry permit at an additional cost. You will not need to make a full new visa application.

Please note that you cannot enter on your student immigration permission prior to the start of your permit. In addition, you cannot enter earlier than this as a standard visitor (tourist) and then ‘switch’ inside the UK to Tier 4 even if the student entry permit is already in your passport. If you enter the UK as a visitor, you will need to leave the UK and re-enter to activate your immigration permission as a student.

Police Registration

Nationals from some countries have to register with the police after they have collected their BRP. If you are new to the UK and need to register with the police, you will be able to do so when you collect your BRP but you will need to book a separate appointment.

Pre-arrival information and orientation sessions

For further information on some of the practical aspects of living and studying in Cambridge as an international student, see Arriving.

What will I need to bring to collect my BRP?

You will just need to bring your passport with your entry permit enclosed and the decision letter you received with the outcome of your visa application.

Do I need to book an appointment to collect my BRP?

You can usually collect your BRP from the International Student Team at 17 Mill Lane anytime between Monday - Friday, 10am - 4pm. No appointment is necessary but if you are not located centrally in Cambridge, you may wish to email us first to make sure someone will be available at the time you wish to visit our office.

Why does my decision letter instruct me to collect my BRP from the Post Office?

This means you did not select the alternative location on your visa application form by using the ACL code. You will need to collect your visa from the Post Office. The participating Post Office in Cambridge is located at 57 – 58 St Andrews Street and is open 9am – 5.30pm Monday to Saturday. Your decision letter will confirm the Post Office you should collect your BRP.

What about my dependants' visas?

If you are coming to Cambridge with your dependants, you will be able to collect the BRPs for you and your family members. In order to do this, the ACL code will need to be entered in the ‘Alternative Location’ field in the relevant section in your dependants’ application form. Your dependants will not need to attend in person; you will be able to collect the BRPs on their behalf. You will need to bring all relevant passports.

You should be aware that the entry permit issued in your dependants' passports will only be valid for 30 days. If the entry permit is no longer valid on the date of travel to the UK, a replacement will need to be applied for at an additional cost. If your dependants are not going to be joining you when you first start at Cambridge, you may wish to consider advising them to apply for their visas separately at a later stage.

What should I do if there is a mistake on my entry permit or decision letter?

This should be corrected before travelling to the UK by contacting the Visa Application Centre with details of the error. Contact the International Student Team if further advice is required.

What if there is an error on my BRP when I collect it?

Contact the International Student Team for guidance on how to get this corrected.

Do I need to do anything when I have received my BRP?

You will need to take the BRP along with your original passport to your College Tutorial Office as soon as possible and before you start your studies. They will verify and scan these documents to your student record. You will need to present the BRP before you are permitted to start your course.

My entry permit is not valid when I want to enter the UK - what should I do?

You will not be able to enter the UK if your permit is not valid on the day you arrive.

If the entry permit has been issued with the correct validity but your travel plans have changed, you will need to apply for a replacement permit at an additional cost.

If the entry permit has been issued with an incorrect validity, you will be able to get this corrected.

In both cases contact the International Student Team for further guidance.

My course is less than six months, do I need to collect a BRP?

Students applying for a visa for a course of less than six months will continue to receive the visa in their passport and will not need to collect a further document on arrival in the UK.

I am applying in the UK, how will this affect me?

You do not need to follow this process. Your BRP will be sent to you in the post.

I need further clarification, who should I contact?

Please email the International Student Team if further information is required.