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【The Standard】Smooth sailing through border

Helpful Tips


Following on from my column about how to choose the best guardian, I’d like to highlight one issue that shows the importance of the role.


According to some British boarding schools, an apparent tightening of security at border control has caused issues for international students flying to UK airports on their own.


In particular, some overseas students under the age of 18 arriving in the UK alone and with no adult scheduled to meet them at the airport, have been delayed and questioned at border control.


With the exeat weekend and Easter half-term break just a few weeks away, it’s important that parents, agents and guardians are aware of the correct procedures to follow when booking flights for students under 18 flying to the UK alone.


There are several steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of your child being held up at border control.


1) Speak to your preferred airline about their policies and conditions in relation to minors travelling alone, and whether your child is likely to encounter delays at border control.

2) Ask the airline if they would recommend you book your child on the flight as an unaccompanied minor, in order to avoid delays upon arrival. From what I’ve been told by some of the boarding schools I work with, most of the students who have been held up at border control weren’t registered on their flights as unaccompanied minors.

3) Write a signed letter confirming that your child has your permission to travel alone, and ensure they carry it on their person while travelling to the UK. Make sure you include names, dates of birth, passport numbers and full contact details for both parents, as border control may wish to speak to you to confirm that your child is traveling alone.

4) Arrange for your child to carry an official letter from their chosen boarding school, confirming they are registered as a student and that, after landing in the UK, they will be transferring directly to the school. Some schools have already written these letters in preparation for the exeat weekend, but if you haven’t been advised about this as yet, contact the admissions registrar to request a letter.

5) Plan how your child will be getting from the airport to the boarding school. Many schools offer a safe and reliable airport pick-up service, but if your son or daughter will be making his or her own way to school upon arrival at the airport, book a train, coach or taxi in advance and make sure your child is aware of the journey route and any necessary connections.


This will help your child to feel confident and secure upon arrival in the UK, while also ensuring they will be able to answer any questions from border control regarding how they plan to travel from the airport to their school.


School admissions teams or house parents are usually more than happy to assist you in placing travel bookings.


Hopefully, if you follow my advice, your child will pass through UK border control without any hold-ups.



Mabel Chan is a principal consultant at Britannia StudyLink.

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