How to get an ATAS certificate

All international students and researchers (aside from exempt nationalities) who are subject to UK immigration control and wish to pursue postgraduate study in uk or research in a number of sensitive fields must first obtain approval under the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS certificate).

The topics and research fields are those in which information may be applied to projects that aim to create advanced conventional military technology (ACMT), weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), or their delivery systems. Before they can study or conduct research in the UK, researchers and students in these delicate fields must apply for an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) accreditation.

persons hand stamping approved stamp

An ATAS certificate is not required for students or researchers who are citizens of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA), Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, or the United States of America.

All other researchers and students are required to apply for an ATAS certificate. If you are pursuing postgraduate study or conducting sensitive research in the UK, you must apply. You might also need ATAS permission if you’re applying to take an undergraduate course that includes a master’s year.

When overseas students should apply for ATAS Certificate?

If you’re a new student, you must obtain an ATAS certificate before requesting authorization to visit the UK. You should apply six months before your course begins once you have received your university’s offer. In order to provide applicants with enough time to apply for their visa, an ATAS certificate is valid for six months after the day it is issued. As soon as you receive a conditional offer to study at a UK higher education institution, you should apply for your ATAS certificate (HEI). Before you apply for your UK visa, be sure that your ATAS certificate will not expire.

Already in the UK on the student Visas

An ATAS certificate for the HEI you are attending and the programme of study, including any modules or intended research, is required if you are already in the UK on a student visa. If any of these specifics change, you should determine if you still require an ATAS certificate and submit an application for a new one if necessary.

Make a note of the date when your entry permit into the UK is set to expire so that you have enough time to submit your ATAS and stay permit applications before your existing permit expires. We advise submitting your application at least 4 months before the expiry of your current authorization.


Before requesting a UK visa or permission to enter the country, academic researchers applying under the Skilled Worker, Global Business Mobility, Tier 5 International Agreement, and Government Authorised Exchange channels must apply for and receive an ATAS certificate. Before you apply for an ATAS certified not need to have a final job contract. If you will be working under a standard occupational classification (SOC) that calls for ATAS, your employer will let you know.

Before starting any pertinent research activities in the UK as a guest, researchers are required to get an ATAS certificate. But you don’t have to before you apply for a UK visa (where relevant).

If you want an ATAS certificate in order to enter the UK as a guest, you do not have to obtain it prior to applying for a visa, but you should do so before leaving. Before starting the research, the HEI/research institute must verify the ATAS certificate; if this is missing, you will not be allowed on the premises.


To apply online, you will need:

  • Your conditional offer letter from your Higher Education Institution, details on your program of study in uk or research, including the pertinent CAH3 number, issued by the HEI or research institute only for student applications (HEI)

Additionally, you must submit details regarding:

  • current and prior jobs (if applicable)
  • all articles that have been published
  • You could enrol in optional modules for a taught Masters (if unsure please include all possible modules)
  • your study area and a brief summary (for research degrees and researchers)
  • two referees’ complete names and contact information
  • How will you be supported while in the UK?

A few practical tips to make sure your schedule doesn’t get delayed:

apply online
  • Include the full names of your referees, and sponsors (do not provide only initials).
  • Please provide the contact details for two referees you have known for at least three years, one of whom should be an academic referee.
  • If you have never been employed, select ‘not applicable / never employed’.
  • Ensure that the details of the passport you will use to enter the United Kingdom are provided in full and are accurate.
  • Where applicable, provide research statements as specifically agreed with your HEI/employer and an adequate personal statement.
  • When you extend your application, ensure that the new length of your visit/employment is reflected in the new application. Include the date you submit your ATAS extension application as the start date.
  • Make sure there are no long gaps in your work or school history. If you were unemployed or a full-time parent, be sure to explain this on the form.
  • Please ensure you enter the correct CAH3 code when applying for a course or research area, as you will have to re-apply if you do not include this information.
  • When you have completed your application, please read through your entries carefully before submitting them. Your application will be processed faster if you provide complete and accurate information.
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