Skip to main content

Foreign travel information

Birkbeck is a global institution and supports foreign travel, which can support the education and the experience of students.

Whether travelling as part of your Birkbeck studies or travelling independently, our information and resources can help make the most of your travel.

Read the latest information about coronavirus.

Travel as part of your Birkbeck programme

  • Coronavirus update: The College and our insurers are advising against all student travel to the end of this calendar year. If you were planning to study abroad or travel overseas between now and December 2020, you should contact your lecturer or supervisor for advice and support. Our primary concern is the health and safety of all members of the College community.
  • Birkbeck participates in the Erasmus+ scheme. You should discuss any opportunities with your department in the first instance.
  • Arrangements for international mobility options from 1 January 2021 onwards are yet to be agreed between the UK government and the EU.

General travel advice

  • First check the country-specific guidance and make sure you have the information below on hand before proceeding to the next steps:
    • Check UK Government travel advice.
    • Check whether you need to apply for a visa for the country you are travelling to.
    • Check travel safety advice at Public Health England.
    • Check whether you will need any vaccinations, and visit your GP to discuss.
    • Check your documents: Is your passport valid and does it have enough time left on it for the country you are travelling to? See the government information for latest information for Passport rules for travel to Europe from 1 January 2021.
    • Share your itinerary and contact details while abroad with your family and friends, and make sure that you remain in regular contact with them.
    • You are advised to complete the Travel Risk Assessment to help you plan a successful trip, and to share the document with family/friends.
    • If you are disabled or have an SSP and travelling as part of your Birkbeck course, please discuss your plans with the Disability Office who will help advise on how to plan for a successful visit.

Travel insurance

  • It is vital to make sure that you have travel insurance for your trip.
  • If you are travelling as part of your Birkbeck course, Birkbeck has a travel insurance policy that will insure Birkbeck employees and students who are normally resident in the UK. To be covered by the insurance, you must register your trip.
  • If you are not travelling as part of your course, make sure that you have sufficient travel insurance before you leave.


  • Vaccinations
    • Ensure that you have up-to-date vaccinations to travel to certain countries or regions. Check the NHS’s vaccination advice or discuss with your GP or private travel vaccination clinic, or pharmacy offering travel healthcare services.
  • EHIC (European health insurance card)
    • An EHIC can reduce your medical treatment costs in an emergency and gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare on temporary stays in European Economic Area (EEA) countries or Switzerland.
    • Treatment should be provided on the same basis as it would be to a resident of that country and is provided either at reduced cost or, in many cases, for free.
    • The EHIC covers treatment that is medically necessary until the card holder returns home. This includes treatment for pre-existing medical conditions.
    • Apply for an EHIC.
    • The EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. It is important to have both an EHIC and a valid private travel insurance policy in place before you travel.
    • EHIC cards remain valid during the Brexit transition period, up to 31 December 2020. What happens after that date is yet to be agreed.
    • If you have a study placement that lasts over six weeks, a regular EHIC will not be valid. You will need to apply for a Student EHIC - Birkbeck will supply a letter confirming that the visit is part of your study.

Disabilities or long-term health conditions

  • If you are travelling abroad as part of your studies with Birkbeck, and you have a disability or long term-health condition, you will need a completed risk assessment. This will ensure that you and the College have considered how your condition is likely to affect you during your time abroad, and that appropriate support is in place for you where required.
  • To conduct a risk-assessment, contact your Birkbeck Disability and dyslexia or Mental Health adviser.

Money and contact

  • Make sure you research the country you’re visiting, and plan how you will travel around, access money, and ensure that you have a means to communicate.
  • Money
    • Consider whether you will take local currency with you or if you plan on accessing funds when you arrive.
    • Inform your bank that you will be travelling, to make sure that your bank cards are not blocked.
  • Mobile phone
    • Depending on the country you’re visiting and the length of stay, consider buying a local SIM card. Data use in the EU currently counts towards your existing UK plan, but can be very expensive in other countries. Buying a local SIM may be cheaper.
  • Travel and safety
    • Research the best way to travel in the area you’re visiting. Keep to official transport options and registered taxi operators to stay safe and so that you are not over-charged. Consider downloading apps for local trains and taxi operators before you arrive. Book your accommodation and plan how to get there before you arrive.

Travel checklist

  • Final checklist for the travel documents you need to take:
    • a copy of your insurance certificate
    • any vaccination certificates as appropriate
    • your passport (with sufficient validity)
    • any visa documentation
    • the details of any additional insurance that you have taken out
    • electronic and/or paper bookings for accommodation, travel and activities
    • your completed Travel Risk Assessment.