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Getting ready to depart

Two young adults sitting in an airport departure hall

Finishing your UK course can be exciting, but it can also be an emotional and hectic time.

On the one hand, your time is taken up with exams and coursework. On the other hand, you need to start preparing for your future – perhaps applying for a job or for further study. And meanwhile, you need to think about packing up your belongings and saying goodbye to your UK friends.

If you start planning early, however, you can avoid the stress. Here are some tips:

  • When leaving, there may be some additional costs you need to pay. Your travel ticket home is likely to be your biggest expense, but don’t forget about costs for shipping home your belongings. If you are having a graduation ceremony there may be costs for hiring a gown or suit, buying official photos and going to a ball or party.

  • Make sure you settle any bills you need to pay and cancel any payment subscriptions.

  • Notify your doctor, dentist, bank, and your academic department that you are leaving – try to let them know as early as you can. In some cases there may be paperwork or procedures you need to complete.

  • If you have a police registration certificate, you may need to inform the police you are leaving. Check with your student adviser.

  • For your accommodation, notify your hall of residence or your landlord that you are leaving. They will check for damage before they return your deposit. For most contracts, you have to let them know a certain number of days, weeks or months in advance. Your accommodation provider should specify the period of notice.

  • If you pay council tax (see www.gov.uk/council-tax/full-time-students), let your council know you are leaving.

  • If you are paying for utilities (gas, electricity, water, etc.), contact these suppliers a few weeks before you leave. Let them know the date you are leaving the property, and arrange for a final meter reading to be taken. You will then receive a final bill.

  • You might be able to receive refunds for payments such as your car tax, TV licence, telephone line rental, travel cards, utilities and council tax if you are leaving before they expire. Contact the suppliers to find out.

  • If you have been working in the UK and paying income tax, you may be entitled to a tax refund. Contact Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs for details on how to claim an income tax or national insurance refund.

  • If you have recently (within three months of your departure date) bought items in the UK which you will take back to your home country outside the European Union (EU), you might be able to claim back some of the Value Added Tax (VAT), under the VAT Retail Export Scheme. Find out more about VAT refunds.

  • Book your travel tickets early to ensure that you get a seat and find the best fares. Try the internet (Skyscanner is a useful resource) or specialist student travel agencies and compare prices for the best deals.

  • You may have accumulated lots of belongings during your studies. Airlines have size and weight limits for luggage. Check how much you can take – excess luggage can be expensive. Sending your luggage home by rail or ship can be cheaper, but make sure you choose a company with a good reputation. Ask friends or your student adviser for suggestions, or consult the British Association of Removers or the British International Freight Association.

  • You may wish to give a forwarding address to your friends, your Alumni Association and any societies that you have joined. You can also arrange for the Royal Mail Redirection Service to forward your UK mail to your new address. There is a fee for this.

  • If you haven’t been home in a long time, you may feel a little lost at first when you return. For example, you might feel you have changed a lot during your UK studies, but your friends and family might expect you to be just the same. Equally, your friends and family may have changed too.  Visit the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website for advice on coping with reverse culture shock.

For more advice on preparing to leave your UK course, please visit the UKCISA website.