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When your entry clearance student visa has been granted, you will be issued a 90-day entry vignette in your passport, which will enable you to travel to the UK. You must arrive in the UK on or after the start date of the entry vignette to enter on your student visa.

Your actual visa, in the form of a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), will need to be collected after arriving in the UK. Your BRP is the documentary evidence of your UK immigration permission. 

If you apply for your student visa with an EEA or Swiss passport and use the app for the application process, your status will be issued digitally and you will not need to collect a BRP after arrival in the UK.

Collection from the University - using the ACL code

Students starting a course in Michaelmas Term 2024 will be able to collect their BRP from their College, but to do this you must enter a particular code, called an Alternative Collection Location (ACL) code, in the relevant section of your student visa application.

You must ensure you use the correct code depending on your course. The following table explains which code you should use.

COURSE ACL CODE
ADTIS (Academic Development and Training for International Students) English Language Pre-sessional 2HE532
MBA 2HE532
MFin 2HE532
MPhil in Medieval History 2HE532
All courses not listed above (University of Cambridge students only)

Staff and Academic Visitors must not use an ACL code*

2HE622

* These ACL codes and the BRP collection service at Cambridge are for Cambridge students only. Cambridge staff or academic visitors must choose the Post Office as their collection point and must not use these codes. Any BRPs received for staff or academic visitors will be returned to UKVI.

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

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) advises students to select collection from the University rather than the Post Office owing to the high volume of students arriving in the UK at the start of the new academic year.

If you use the ACL code, your BRP will be available for collection at your College in early October. Please note that it will not be available earlier than this. Your College will contact you to make arrangements for collection at the beginning of the academic year.

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 arrive in the UK a week or more prior to the start of your course, in which case collection from the Post Office may be preferable. Note the information in the ‘Planning your travel’ section below on ensuring you arrive within the validity of your student visa.

ADTIS, MBA and MFin students have an earlier start date and those who use the ACL code in their visa application on these courses will collect their BRP at their induction. MPhil in Medieval History students will be emailed by the International Student Office about collection procedures. Students on the Cambridge PGCE are advised to collect their BRP from the Post Office.

When collecting your BRP, you will need to show your passport with your entry vignette enclosed.

Collection from the Post Office

If you do not use the ACL code and instead enter your accommodation postcode in Cambridge or the University’s postcode (CB2 1TN), you will be instructed to collect your BRP from the Post Office in Cambridge: 57 – 58 St Andrew’s Street.

When collecting your BRP, you will need to show your passport with your entry vignette enclosed.

Students starting in Lent or Easter terms should select to collect their BRP from the Post Office in Cambridge (57 – 58 St Andrew’s Street) in their visa application. The decision letter you may receive with the outcome of your visa application will normally confirm the collection point; if not, please check your original application form for the location. You are advised to collect your BRP as soon as possible after arrival in the UK.

Planning your travel and ensuring you enter the UK on your student visa

Before arranging your travel, you must check the dates on your entry vignette and ensure you will not arrive in the UK before or after the validity period.

You cannot:

  • enter on your student immigration permission before the ‘valid from’ date on your entry vignette, or
  • enter the UK as a standard visitor (tourist) before the start of your entry vignette and then ‘switch’ inside the UK to your student visa, even if the entry vignette is already in your passport.

If you enter the UK as a visitor, you will not be able to start your course. You will need to leave the UK and re-enter within the validity of your entry vignette to activate your immigration permission as a student. 

Pre-arrival information

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