Do international students need to register at the police station?

When you are new to the UK as an international student there are some very important things you must do.

First of all, you must collect your biometric residence permit within ten days of your stated travel date. If your flight to the UK is delayed, for instance, this does not increase the deadline for collecting your BRP, so make sure you get it in time.

When you travel to the UK, you should get a sticker in your passport – this is called a visa ‘vignette’ and if you are from certain countries, including China, it is likely to say on the sticker that you must register with the police.

You only have seven days in which to do this – so if you travelled on time, the deadline for this will be even sooner than the deadline to collect your BRP.

When you register with the police, you should be given a certificate. You will need to keep this safe for the entire time you are a student in the UK, as it gives you certain permissions:

  • To prove that you are registered.
  • To tell the police about any change in your personal details.
  • To apply for permission to stay in the UK for longer.
  • To return to the UK if you travel abroad at any time.

You can get a replacement if you lose your original certificate, but you will have to register all over again in order to get one, and that will also mean paying the registration fee again.

What do I need to register?

There’s a list of things you need to take with you to the police station when you register:

  • Your passport.
  • Your visa ‘vignette’.
  • Two passport photos (in colour).
  • Your BRP.
  • Your approval letter from the Home Office, if you applied for your visa while already in the UK.

You will also need to be ready to provide the police station with lots of personal information, which they will put on record:

  • Your name.
  • Your gender.
  • Your relationship status.
  • Your date of birth.
  • Your country of birth and nationality.
  • Previous nationalities (if applicable).
  • Your UK address.
  • Your most recent non-UK address.
  • How you arrived in the UK, and where and when.
  • Your passport or ID card details.
  • Limitations of your visa including its duration.
  • The name and address of your university.
  • The name and address of your employer, if you have one.

It’s a long list and the police can ask for other information not already listed here – and if any of your details change, for example because you move house, you will need to inform the police again.

Am I exempt?

Finally, there are some situations that can make you exempt from needing to register with the police, for example if you have a family member who lives in the European Economic Area – although this may change after Brexit.

You are also exempt if you have dual nationality with a country that does not have to register, if you have permission to remain in the UK permanently, if you are a private servant in a diplomatic household, or if you are a seasonal worker in the agricultural industry.

There are some other exemptions too, such as if you are married to a British citizen. Clearly not all of these will apply to students – but it’s worth recognising that there are quite a lot of different reasons why you might not need to register with the police, even if you come to the UK from one of the countries on the list.

Which countries need to register?

That list in full, correct at the time of writing, includes:

  • Afghanistan
  • Algeria
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahrain
  • Belarus
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Cuba
  • Egypt
  • Georgia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kuwait
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Moldova
  • Morocco
  • North Korea
  • Oman
  • Palestine
  • Peru
  • Qatar
  • Russia
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Tajikistan
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Turkmenistan
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Ukraine
  • Uzbekistan
  • Yemen

If you are a stateless individual who has travelled to the UK or you hold a non-national travel document, you may also need to register.