International students – what to do when you arrive in the UK

This ‘How to Guide’ is extremely useful for international students that are coming to study at Coventry University from another country. Here you’ll find everything you need to know, from registering with a GP, to opening your personal bank account and more.

Must dos!

GP registration

 female-doctor-and-female-student-smilingWe would advise you to register with a local GP as soon as you get to the UK. The best way to do this is by:

  1. Finding out which GP is closest to you
  2. Contacting the health centre by either phoning or going in to ask if they are accepting new patients
  3. Taking your ID (passport), proof of address such as a bill or tenancy agreement and a student certificate from Coventry University confirming you are a student (you can get this from the online system Moodle or by popping into The Student Centre), or your student ID card (ask the doctor’s surgery what they would prefer) when registering

You do not have to pay to register to see your GP however, if you are prescribed any medicine by the doctor, you may have to pay for this (speak to the receptionist at your GP to find out if you are entitled to any discounts).

Once you have registered with your GP, you will be sent an NHS card. Keep this card safe and take it with you next time you visit your doctor/dentist or the hospital. Don’t worry if your card takes a while to arrive as it can take several months.

Register with a dentist


  1. Find a dental practice near to you
  2. Phone to ask if they are accepting new patients
  3. They will ask you to go in and fill out a registration form which you’ll need to do

If you are aged 18, or 19 and in full time education you may not have to pay for dental costs – but speak to the dentist you register with to find our more.



Get your eyes tested

female-opticians-staff-with-male-studentMost eye care experts advise you to get your eyes tested every 1-2 years. You can either register at the opticians or, search online for free eye tests. Sometimes places such as Specsavers, Boots and Asda give out free vouchers for an eye test. All you need to do is:

  1. Search for a free eye test voucher online
  2. Phone the opticians and ask to book an appointment as a new customer
  3. Explain you have a voucher

You will need to pay for the glasses you choose – prices usually start from £30.


 Open a bank account


You’ll need to open a bank account to ensure your money is kept safe, and to make payments for bills and shopping etc.

UK law requires banks to make checks on new customers who are opening accounts to prevent fraud. Banks require proof of ID for international students such as a signed passport and proof of address (both your home country and UK addresses).

Go into a bank of your choice – there are lots of popular banks in Coventry such as Lloyds bank, TSB, Barclays, Halifax, Santander and Nationwide.


Police registration


Students from certain countries are required to register with the police after they collect their biometric residence permit (BRP) in the UK, and also update their details. This is only if you are new to the UK and do not already have a police registration certificate.

If you applied from outside the UK – then check your visa ‘vignette’ (sticker in your passport). If it says ‘Police registration’ or ‘Register with police in 7 days of entry’ then you must register with the police.

If you applied from inside the UK – check the letter you got from the Home Office when your application was approved. It will tell you if you need to register.


Pop into your local police station to register. Keep the following in mind:

  • It costs £34 to register
  • You need 2 recent passport size colour photographs
  • You need your visa ‘vignette’ if you applied outside the UK, or the letter you got from the home office if you applied inside the UK
  • Take your BRP if you have one

You will then receive a registration certificate from the police. Ensure you tell the police if your details change.

Want to save money?

Get an NUS card


This isn’t essential but, if you buy an NUS card you can benefit from discounts at lots of shops and restaurants! You can buy it online, all you need is a debit card and a recent photo of yourself. There are 1, 2 and 3 year cards available and prices start from £12.





Did you find this article helpful? We hope you did! If you need any more help, feel free to comment below and one of the UnCOVered team members will be happy to help you. We hope you enjoy studying at Coventry University!