Travel information

Last updated 7 October 2021. Here is some useful information to help you plan how to reach Leeds and how to travel to your accommodation once you have arrived in the UK. 

When you plan the details of your journey and travel connections remember to allow time for any delays and queues at immigration control. 

When you enter the UK do not use the electronic ePassport gates, as you will not receive the correct immigration stamps if you enter via this method.  

COVID-19 travel requirements 

From 4 October, there are new requirements in place for people arriving in England because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The rules you must follow depend on whether you qualify as fully vaccinated under the rules for travel to England.

There are different rules if you have been in ‘red list’ country or territory in the 10 days before you arrive in England. Red list rules apply whether you are fully vaccinated or not.

Keep checking before you travel as countries and territories can be added or removed from the red list, and other guidance changes regularly. It is vital that you follow the correct arrival procedure as failure to do so may result in possible delays or fines. In some instances, students may be denied entry at the border.  

You must follow all of the UK government’s travel, testing and self-isolation guidance, and other government and University safety guidance. You must check what these rules mean for you, even if you have received a COVID-19 vaccine.

Choosing a test provider

Please note that lateral flow tests provided on campus by the University cannot be used to meet travel testing requirements. You must book a travel test package through one of the providers listed on the government website

The University and the UK government do not recommend any particular test provider; however, here is some information about the different testing methods and locations available to help you choose the best option for you. We also recommend you do your own research (for example, read reviews) about available providers, the tests they supply and their terms and conditions.   

Please use the filters on the UK government website to filter the list of providers by testing location and method. For location you should select ‘Yorkshire and the Humber’ if you will be based in Leeds. If you wish to use a test centre at Manchester Airport, you should select ‘North West’.   

‘At home’ testing  

You can choose an ‘at home’ option and the test will be delivered to your accommodation. You can leave your accommodation to return your test for processing if there is no one in your household who can post your test for you. If you have to leave your accommodation to post your test, you should follow safer travel guidance and avoid public transport if possible.  

‘On site’ testing

If you would prefer to travel to a testing site, you can choose an ‘on site’ option. ‘Supervised’ means staff will take the sample for you. You can leave your accommodation for your test.

There are ‘on site’ test centres in Leeds and you may wish to search for locations close to your accommodation. If you are only required to take a test ‘on or before day 2’, then you may decide to use one of the on-site test centres at Manchester Airport if you are arriving into Manchester when the  walk-through test centres are open (7am to 7pm).

Contact internationalwelcome@leeds.ac.uk if you need further advice. You should also check with your transport provider(s) and travel insurer. 

Additional advice if you are travelling from or through a country or territory on the “red list”  

You must enter the UK at one of the permitted airports as explained in the government guidance, and you will only be allowed to enter the UK if you are a British or Irish National, or you have residence rights in the UK.  

Guidance from the UK government Department for Education states that "residence rights includes those with an entry clearance or visa that grants such leave, for example, students, holders of existing leave to enter or remain such as those students with biometric residence permits, and holders of EU Settlement Scheme (‘EUSS’) leave".  

UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) has also published useful advice for students travelling from or through countries on the red list. UKCISA recommends that you should carry a copy of the above guidance when you travel. This means that if you are questioned at any point on your journey, you can point to how you fall within the examples of who has residence rights in the UK.  

You can find out about financial support for quarantine hotel costs in the welcome and arrival section of our coronavirus FAQs page.

Before you leave home 

Before leaving home you should: 

  • Keep checking the UK government guidance as this is changing regularly. You will need to book and pay for a travel test package and, if required, a quarantine hotel.
  • Complete the government passenger locator form before you travel to the UK. 
  • If you do not qualify as fully vaccinated, or if you are travelling from a country on territory on the red list, you must take a coronavirus test in the 3 days before you start your journey to England. You will need to present the proof of your negative test before you board to travel to England.
  • If you wish to take part and are entitled to participate in the Test to Release scheme, you will need to purchase an additional test and enter details on your passenger locator form.  
  • Know where you will stay on your first night and for 10 days if you are required to self-isolate. 
  • Know the arrangements for collecting your accommodation key.  
  • Know the 24-hour phone number for your accommodation. 
  • Make sure you have enough masks/face coverings for your journey. 

Many accommodation site offices are not open in the evening, so if you plan to arrive in the evening, contact your accommodation in advance to check how to collect your keys when you arrive. 

It is also essential to carry the University’s Security Office contact details in case of an emergency. You can also check what else you need on our What to bring page

Travelling to Leeds 

Read the UK government guidance on how to travel to the place where you are self-isolating. It is useful to research your public transport options from different airports before you book your flight.   

The University is providing travel and arrival support at Manchester Airport and Leeds Bradford Airport. We also provide a transport service for students who are required to stay in a quarantine hotel. More information is on our Arriving page

If you need to use public transport it is useful to know that tickets are usually cheaper when booked in advance, although less flexible if you are delayed on your journey. 

UK transport providers are putting measures in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find more details on their individual websites. 

You can find train times and buy tickets on the National Rail website. Please note there is disruption expected to train services between London and Leeds in 2021 due to planned engineering works.   

Travelling by coach will often be cheaper than other options. There are a number of coach companies operating in the UK, you can check prices and buy tickets at National Express and Megabus. Please note coach travel with National Express and Megabus is currently limited. Check coach availability on their websites. 

If you will be travelling in London, find out about London buses and the underground. More information about UK public transport is available from Traveline

Airports 

In this section, you can find travel information on four airports you might choose to travel to. Leeds Bradford and Manchester airports are the most convenient, especially if you have heavy luggage and a long journey to reach the UK.

The University is arranging transport to the University from Leeds Bradford Airport and Manchester Airport. We also provide a transport service for students who are required to stay in a quarantine hotel. More information about our airport pick up service is on our Arriving page.  

Leeds Bradford Airport 

Leeds Bradford Airport is around 12 kilometres from the centre of Leeds. As it is a small local airport, immigration queues will often be shorter than other airports. The University provides transport from Leeds Bradford Airport to campus. Alternatively you can take a taxi which can be pre-booked through Arrow Cars. The Uber app also works in Leeds. Buses also run from the airport to Leeds city centre but you are likely to need to take a taxi from there to your accommodation. 

Manchester Airport 

Manchester Airport is around 90km from the centre of Leeds. 

The University provides transport from Manchester Airport to campus. Alternatively, you can travel to Leeds by public transport: 

  • Train: you can get a direct train from Manchester Airport to Leeds train station. The journey will take around one hour and twenty minutes.  
  • Coach: you can also take a coach from Manchester Airport to Leeds Coach Station, which will usually be the cheapest option. The journey will take around two hours. Coach travel between Manchester Airport and Leeds is currently limited. Check coach company websites for more information about availability and to book tickets.  
  • Taxi: the taxi fare from Manchester Airport to Leeds Train Station will be significantly more expensive than public transport. The journey will take around one hour and twenty minutes. You can pre-book a taxi through Arrow Cars. The Uber app also works in Manchester. 

London Heathrow Airport 

London Heathrow Airport is around 320km away from Leeds. 

  • Coach: The coach is usually the cheapest option and the journey will take between six and eight hours. You will need to change coaches at London Victoria coach station. Coach travel between London Heathrow and Leeds is currently limited. Check coach company websites for more information about availability and to book tickets. 
  • Train: There is no direct train from Heathrow Airport to Leeds. This route involves a journey that is difficult with heavy luggage, including changing trains and using the underground. The journey will take around three hours and forty minutes.  
  • Plane: You may be able to book a connecting flight to Leeds Bradford or Manchester Airports 

London Gatwick Airport 

Gatwick airport is around 380km from Leeds.  

  • Coach: the coach is usually the cheapest option and the journey will take between seven and a half and nine hours. You will need to change coaches at London Victoria coach station. Coach travel is currently limited. Check coach company websites for more information about availability and to book tickets. 
  • Train: There are varying routes between Gatwick and Leeds train station that consist of between one and three changes. All take around three and a half hours. 

Travelling to your accommodation 

When you arrive in Leeds you may wish to take a taxi to the accommodation that you have arranged for your first night in the city. There are permanent taxi ranks at the airport, train and coach stations. Alternatively, you can pre-book through Arrow Cars. The Uber app also works in Leeds. 

If you are delayed or have problems with your journey, phone your accommodation before you leave the airport or station. 

If you are not able to contact your accommodation, take a taxi to the University's Security Office where staff are available 24 hours a day, every day of the year. You can also contact the International Welcome helpdesk (contact times and details are on our Arriving page).

Travel safety tips 

  • Keep your passport safe and never give it to anyone except an immigration official. 
  • Do not carry large amounts of cash. Do not leave your bags unsupervised during your journey. 
  • Take out travel insurance. It will not stop something going wrong, but it will protect you financially. 
  • Bring enough face coverings for your journey and keep checking the latest UK government COVID-19 advice and the safety measures on the websites of your transport providers. You’ll need to follow all UK government guidance even if you have received a COVID-19 vaccine. 
  • Check you have packed in your hand luggage your travel documents, essential documents and medication, and contact details of your accommodation and the University Security Office. More information is on our What to bring page. 

Find out more about how we can support you when you arrive