Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

ATAS is a certificate issued by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) which gives you security clearance to study certain subject areas in the UK.

These subject areas relate to where the knowledge gained may have an application in the development or delivery of weapons of mass destruction, for example, certain science subjects such as mathematics, engineering, technology or medicine.

An ATAS certificate will be required as part of your visa application if you intend to study a subject area in the UK that is ATAS attracting. Without this certificate, your visa application will be refused.

You might also need a new ATAS certificate if your circumstances change once you have started your course, for example, if your course duration is extended for more than 3 months, or, if the area of your research change during the course.


How to Apply

Please ask your School in the first instance for the CAH3 code for your research/programme and whether it is normally ATAS attracting. Then you will need to select your nationality and if you are a student you would need to select the option 'Taught/Research Student' for undergraduate/postgraduate/PhD students. With all of these details, you can then use the FCDO ATAS webpage to check if you require an ATAS certificate. If you require any further help, please contact the IST and include your confirmed CAH3 code within your online enquiry so we can confirm this for you. 

Get a statement from the University

If you have checked your CAH3 code given by your School, and you need to apply for ATAS, then you should request for your Research Statement from the University. This will formally confirm your research topic and CAH3 code for you to use in your ATAS application.

Continuing students need to request this from the Online Shop.

Once you have your statement from the University you can make your ATAS certificate application online to the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO). This should take no longer than 30 minutes to complete.

For new students this is usually sent with your offer letter. If you don't have this statement, and need an ATAS certificate, please contact your Admissions Officer, listed on your offer letter.

Receiving your certificate

You will need to wait for your application to be processed and for your certificate to be emailed to you. Average waiting times for ATAS at present range from 4 to 7 weeks.

When to Apply

You can apply for an ATAS certificate up to 9 months before the starting date of your course. Early applications are strongly advised.

An ATAS certificate is valid for 6 months from date of issue, which should allow you plenty of time to apply for your Student Route visa. You can apply for a Student Route visa up to 3 months in advance of the start of your course. This means you can apply for an ATAS certificate up to 9 months before the start of your studies. You should apply for your ATAS certificate as early as possible from the moment you are made a conditional offer to study at the University of Birmingham.

Do I need ATAS?

You only need an ATAS certificate for specific types of study and research at postgraduate level and above. (This also includes MSci/MEng level). An ATAS certificate is issued for a specific course at a specific university and is only valid for 6 months, so there may be cases where you need to apply for a new one.  

From 6 April 2015, the requirement for ATAS has been extended to all adult temporary migrants undertaking ATAS attracting studies or research regardless of their visa category. This means that students/researchers applying for a visa other than the Student Route will also need to apply for ATAS.  

From 6 July 2018, if you are studying a course that requires ATAS then you will need to obtain ATAS clearance regardless of the length of course. You will need to obtain this clearance before you make the Student Route application (either as entry clearance or permission to stay).

If you are coming to the UK under the Standard Visitor oute in order to study relevant courses for up to six months (study duration less than 6 months), you will also need to apply for ATAS clearance if it is required for you (This only applies if you are 18 or older when applying for immigration permission or will turn 18 before the permission expires). This is not a requirement for you if you are coming to the UK under the Child Student Route. 

ATAS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

See our ATAS FAQ Guide for help with understanding the ATAS requirement and how to prepare for your ATAS application.


New students

If you need an ATAS certificate, you will usually get a statement with your offer letter confirming that you need ATAS and telling you what to do next. 

Continuing students

Changing research area or modules

You will need to apply for a new ATAS certificate if your course or research requires ATAS and you change area of research or modules of study.

Changing course

You will need to apply for an ATAS certificate if you want to change course and the course you are changing to requires ATAS. You need to do this even if you already have an ATAS certificate for your current course. 

Changing university

You will need to apply for a new ATAS certificate if your current course requires ATAS and you want to move to another university.

Extending your visa for further study

If your course requires ATAS and you need to extend your visa to continue with your studies, you will need to apply for a new ATAS certificate. Further details are available on the ATAS website.


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