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Coming to Cardiff

Travelling to the UK

Cardiff University is located in the centre of Cardiff, which is easily accessible from London airports.

To make your journey to Cardiff easier we provide a free airport pick-up service in September, but if you are arriving outside of the airport pick-up service time it is easy to get to Cardiff on your own.

When to arrive

If you are coming to Cardiff University to start your course in September you should arrive from the 3rd week of September. Our semester dates can be found here:

If you have applied for University Accommodation, you will be able to move into your room in University Residences from 14th September. Once you have settled in to your accommodation you should the start the registration and enrolment process as well as attending the induction and welcome events.

If you planning on living in private accommodation we recommend that you arrive a few days early and book temporary hotel accommodation to stay in for a few days whilst you look for private accommodation. If you have already booked your private accommodation, you will need to arrange the pick up your keys from your landlord in Cardiff.

Choosing the airport

Heathrow Airport

Most of Cardiff’s international students arrive at Heathrow Airport, which is around 18miles/29km southwest of London and around 4 hours travel time from Cardiff. Most international airlines will fly into Heathrow and therefore usually has the most competitive fares.

Bristol International Airport

If you are coming from Mainland Europe, you may find Bristol airport more convenient, as it is 50 miles/80km from Cardiff. If you are arriving during the day, it will take around 2 hours to get from Bristol airport to Cardiff University.

Cardiff International Airport

You can arrive at Cardiff Airport if you fly with KLM airlines via Amsterdam Schipol Airport. Cardiff Airport is only 30 minutes from the University.

Clearing immigration

Even if you already have a student visa, the Immigration Officer may still ask you to prove that you are a genuine student coming to study at Cardiff University and that you will be leaving at the end of your studies.

The immigration officer must also be satisfied that you speak English at the required level, without needing an interpreter.

Another part of the immigration process is health control: you might be asked to undergo a brief, routine health check by the airport doctor, which may include a chest X-ray as part of a short medical examination, if you do not have a copy of your chest X-ray report with you. The health check will take place in a separate room. Afterwards you will have to return to immigration control.

You should make sure that you have all the correct documents with you in your hand luggage. As long as your documents are in order, you should pass through immigration smoothly.

What paperwork do I need to bring?

Make sure you are carrying all your important documents in your hand luggage to show the immigration officer:

  • Passport – remove it from the protective wallet before you present it to the immigration officer
  • Offer letter or CAS email from Cardiff University detailing the course you are coming to study
  • Financial information – evidence that you have enough money to pay your tuition fees and accommodate yourself while studying, letter from your sponsor (if applicable) or photocopies of recent bank statements you submitted with your student visa application
  • University residences agreement (if you have received it)
  • Originals (or certified true copies) of any degree certificate or other documents you submitted with your student visa application
  • Copy of tuberculosis exemption certificate (if applicable)
  • Report of chest X-ray taken in the last 3 months (if applicable)
  • Vaccination certificate or doctor’s letter detailing hour vaccinations

Problems at immigration

If you are carrying the above documents you should not have any difficulties. However, if you do, ask the immigration officer to contact the International Office at Cardiff University (keep the telephone number with you). Monday – Friday 09.00 – 17.00 Tel: +44 29 2087 4432

Customs Control

After passing through passport control, you need to go to the Baggage Reclaim Area.
After you have collected your luggage you go through the Customs Hall. There are 2 channels:

1 – Green Channel
Exit the green channel if you are travelling from outside the European Union and have nothing to declare

2 – Red channel
Exit the red channel if you have goods to declare.

You may be asked to open your luggage for inspection in customs control.  If requested, you must open, unpack and repack your luggage.  You should check before you leave home what can and cannot be brought into the UK and what you might need to declare.  Such information is obtainable from British Embassies and from here.

Declaring money I carry with me into the UK

If you are arriving in the UK from a country outside the European Union (EU), you must declare any cash that equals the value of 10,000 Euros or more to customs officers.

Cash not only means currency notes and coins but also banker’s drafts and cheques of any kind, including travellers’ cheques. You will find the relevant forms to fill out at ports and airports.

For more information, please go to the HM Revenue and Customs website:

Travelling from London Heathrow to Cardiff

By coach

The cheapest way to travel to Cardiff is by National Express Coach. Coaches leave approximately every hour, with fewer coaches leaving during the night.

A single journey from Heathrow to Cardiff is approximately £34 - £45 and takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes.

You can buy your ticket online or at the National Express Booking Office in Heathrow airport. Follow signs for the Central Bus Station from the arrivals into terminals 1, 2 ,3 and 4. If you are arriving into terminal 5, check at the information desk.

By train

Train travel is more expensive than travelling by coach and you will have to change trains.

Take the Heathrow Express train from Heathrow Airport into Paddington Station in London. Trains leave every 15 minutes from all terminals at Heathrow to London. Once at Paddington you take the train to Cardiff. On weekdays the train to Cardiff from Paddington leaves every 30 minutes.

A single journey from Heathrow to Cardiff will be £44 - £138 and the journey time is 2 hours. Tickets can be bought online at (it’s usually cheaper in advance) or at the ticket office at the railway station in the airport.

By taxi

Travelling by taxi is a very expensive option and not advisable. A taxi to Cardiff from Heathrow would cost around £180.

This could be an option if there were a few of you travelling to split the cost but you will not be able to have much luggage.

Travelling from Bristol Airport to Cardiff

By train

Bristol International Flyer bus service is a dedicated bus service that runs every 10 minutes from the airport to Bristol Temple Meads train station, the fare for this journey is £6.

Once at Bristol Temple Meads, the train service to Cardiff Central runs every 30 minutes. A one-way ticket costs around £15.

By coach

The Bristol International Flyer also makes a stop at Bristol Bus Station, where you can catch the National Express coach service to Cardiff.  Coaches run far less frequently than trains, around every two hours and tickets cost around £10.

Travelling from Cardiff Airport to the University

A taxi from Cardiff Airport will cost around £26 and can be hired from the Checker Cars taxi office immediately outside the Arrivals Building or booked in advance, telephone +44 (0)1446 711747 or email

Buses run from the Airport to Cardiff Central Bus Station every 1 - 2 hours Monday - Saturday during the day and every 2 hours in the evenings and on Sundays.

The bus number is X91 and a single journey costs £3.40. The journey takes 40 minutes.

Arriving at Cardiff Central Bus/Railway Station

Both the coach and train drop off at Cardiff Central Bus/Railway Station.

From here it is recommended you take a taxi to your accommodation. This will cost about £5-£10 depending on the distance to your accommodation and how much luggage you are carrying.

There are taxis easily available from outside the Railway station.

They can be quite expensive, so sharing with friends to split the cost is a good idea. Always take a taxi that is registered with Cardiff City Council. Their licence is yellow and should be displayed at the back of the taxi. The taxi driver should also have their licence with their photograph displayed in the taxi. Always find out the price of the journey before you get in the taxi. Always pay for the journey when you have reached your destination, never at the start of the journey. It is a good idea to sit in the back of the taxi behind the driver.

Arriving early or late

Your allocated room will not be available before the recommended date of arrival, so if you intend to arrive in Cardiff before this date you will need to make your own arrangements

Please contact the Residences Office if you think you are going to be arriving later than the recommended date of arrival. Email

Unexpected late arrivals

If you arrive unexpectedly late in the evening or early in the morning and you have not been able to inform Residences of your late arrival, you should go directly to the Security Office next to the Psychology Tower opposite 51 Park Place. The Security Office will then arrange for you to be let into your University accommodation. For more information please see: late arrivals.

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