Information for international students

Travelling from overseas to Cambridge at the current time might seem daunting, and we have compiled information below to help you if you are in this position. A key thing to remember is that your College is here to help you. All of the Colleges have procedures in place to support students who need to quarantine upon arrival in the UK, or students who need to self-isolate. You will not be left alone in these circumstances. Food and essential supplies will be brought to a safe drop-off-point, and you will be given clear information on who to contact if you need anything. If you become unwell while at College, there are members of staff who will help you. Please refer to information provided by your College, on your College website or, if you cannot find the information you need, contact your Tutor at your College.

Key information points in College:

  • Your Tutor
  • Porters’ Lodge
  • Tutorial Office

Each College employs a College Nurse who will have regular drop-in times for students who might need medical attention.


Arrangements for students arriving from abroad

UK Government regulations currently require a quarantine period to be undertaken by people upon arrival in the country. Some countries and territories are exempt from this requirement and no quarantine is required for travellers from these areas. (See also: Coronavirus (COVID-19): travel corridors). Note that the list at this link is of countries that do not require quarantine and are exempt from travel restrictions. Details of non-exempt countries (that are subject to the quarantine requirement) and any specific regulations applying to them are also given on that page.

If your country or territory does not appear on the exempt list, you must undergo a period of 14 days quarantine during which you are expected to self-isolate and are subject to specific movement restrictions.

Please make sure you have looked at the website above to check if your country is exempt. It may be that the list of countries changes between now and when you travel to Cambridge (and this can happen at short notice), so please check again before you leave.

Note that if you are travelling from an exempt country, but make a transit stop in, or if you visit a country or territory that is non-exempt in the 14 days before you arrive in England you will need to undergo the 14 day quarantine period upon arrival.

If you are travelling from a non-exempt region please refer to Coronavirus (COVID-19): how to self-isolate when you travel to the UK. This website explains in detail the current requirements.


Quarantine for students arriving from abroad

Students quarantining may stay with family and friends, but most will do so in College accommodation.

The information at Coronavirus (COVID-19): how to self-isolate when you travel to the UK is very extensive. Please consult this website.

The key points from the website are, while in quarantine:

  • You cannot go out to visit public areas
  • You cannot go shopping
  • It is important to avoid as much contact with other people as possible in the quarantine accommodation to reduce the risk of transmitting coronavirus.

If you are in quarantine in College accommodation, your College will arrange for food to be made available to you, usually by delivery to your room during the quarantine period. The arrangements may vary between Colleges and your own College will be able to give you specific details of the arrangements they have made.


Important information for students arriving from abroad

In particular (and before setting out), students from all countries (not just those on the quarantine list) should provide to UK Government, through the Public Health Passenger Locator Form, their journey, contact details and the address where they will self-isolate (if applicable). You can complete the public health passenger locator form from 48 hours before arrival and you must present these details upon arrival in at Border Control in England. The form must be completed online. When you arrive at the UK border you will need to show either a printed copy of the document attached to your confirmation email or the document attached to the confirmation email on your phone.

If you are arriving from within the Common Travel Area (CTA, comprising Ireland, Isle of Man and Channel Islands) and have been in the CTA for the last 14 days before entering the UK, you need not complete the Public Health passenger locator form or self-isolate.

You should pack a face covering or scarf to cover your nose and mouth before travelling. The law requires you to wear a face covering in public in various different types of locations in the UK. All students arriving from abroad (whether required to quarantine or not), should make themselves familiar with UK regulations for face coverings before they travel. The University and Colleges have issued a joint statement on face coverings, which applies to their premises.

When you arrive in England, they should go straight to the place where you are staying. This need not be College accommodation, if for example you are staying or quarantining with relatives. However, if you are not going straight to you College and will quarantine elsewhere you must inform your College of your arrival date and forward to your College a copy of your Public Health Passenger Locator Form.

Government guidance is to only use public transport if there is no alternative. When using public transport, people must wear a face covering and stay 2 metres apart from other people.

Our Finding Your Way to Cambridge (PDF) guide provides an overview of how to get to Cambridge from the main London airports usually used by students when travelling to the UK.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus infection you should not travel.

The most important symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of any of the following:

  • a new continuous cough
  • a high temperature
  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)

If you develop coronavirus symptoms when in transit to the UK, you must tell one of the crew on their plane, boat, train, or bus. They will let staff in the airport, port or station know, so they can tell you what to do when they arrive. Anyone with coronavirus symptoms will not be allowed to travel by public transport and will need to demonstrate that the accommodation where they will self-isolate is safe. You should contact your College once you arrive in the UK.


Healthcare in the UK

Registering with a doctor

Students from overseas who are registered on a course at a University in the UK are entitled to free medical treatment from the National Health Service (NHS). Students must therefore register with an NHS General Practitioner (GP) as soon as possible after they arrive (a GP is primary care doctor who treats patients with minor or chronic illnesses and refers those with more serious conditions to a specialist or to hospital). It will be possible to register with a GP remotely, without having to visit the doctors’ premises. Your College will be able to give you details of how to do this.

For more information, please see International students: healthcare in the UK.

Medical costs and prescriptions

Most healthcare, provided by the NHS in England for international students who are registered on courses of longer than six months’ duration, is free of charge. There is a charge, currently £9.15, for each item of medication prescribed by a doctor. Certain individuals, including those with some chronic conditions are exempt from this charge. If you regularly need several prescribed medicines but are not exempt from the prescription charge you can buy a Prescription prepayment certificate, which can reduce the cost significantly.

Non-prescription medicines are available from pharmacies, which are numerous around Cambridge, and pharmacists are also qualified to give some medical advice.


Dentistry is also available under the NHS, although many NHS dental practices are oversubscribed. Some practices offer private or NHS treatment. Dental treatment, whether provided through the NHS or privately, is currently compromised by the enhanced protective, disinfection and cleaning procedures made necessary by the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that fewer patients can be seen each day.

NHS 111

NHS 111 is a free telephone and online service that can help if you have an urgent medical problem and you are not sure what to do.

COVID-19 and individuals with increased susceptibility to infectious diseases

The UK Government has published guidance to help people understand if they have underlying illnesses that could put them at a higher risk, or even a very high risk, of serious COVID-19 related illness. You can check these links to see if you fall into one of these groups. If so, the University has provided more information on different susceptibility to more serious COVID-19 disease.


Financial Hardship

If you experience financial hardship as a result of measures in place because of the pandemic, or for any other reason, you should contact your College Tutor as soon as possible. Your Tutor will be able to advise you about any support that might be available from your College or the University.


Statement on providing accommodation to students in the event of a local or second lockdown

In the case of a second or local lockdown, the University and the Colleges will as ever be guided by the advice of Public Health England and the country's legislation. Within these limits, Colleges are committed to providing accommodation on a case-by-case basis to all students who do not have any other home to go to. Examples would include care-leavers, estranged students, and UK or international students who cannot travel to their own home town, or country, due to local travel restrictions. Please consult individual Colleges' webpages for further information about their specific arrangements.


Students with disabilities impacted by COVID-related social distancing measures

Please see the University’s information on support for students with disabilities impacted by COVID-related social distancing measures.