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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. You will need to collect your BRP from either the University or the Post Office as outlined below. 

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 in Michaelmas Term 2022 will be able to collect their BRP from their College, but in order to do this you must enter a particular code, called an ACL code, in the relevant section of your student visa application.

You will need to 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 other courses (University of Cambridge students only) 2HE622

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. The decision letter you receive with your visa application may provide the collection location details as the University's Student Services Centre but your BRP cannot be collected from there. It must be collected from your College, who will contact you to make arrangements for collection at the beginning of the academic year. 

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.

The ACL code is for use by Cambridge students only. Staff and academic visitors will need to select collection of their BRP at the Post Office in the visa application.

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. However, we advise you to use the University as the collection point unless you plan to arrive in 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 collecting your BRP, you will need to show your passport with your entry permit enclosed. 

Students starting in Lent or Easter terms should select to collect their BRP from the Post Office in their visa application. The Post Office in Cambridge is 57 – 58 St Andrew’s Street. 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.