Pre-departure information

An open suitcase, laptop, passport and other travel items laid out on a floor.

Spending time abroad is an amazing opportunity and one you will remember for the rest of your life. Whether you are an experienced traveller or not, there are some things you need to consider when going abroad. It's essential you attend any pre-departure meetings you are invited to as these will brief you on all the necessary steps and actions you need to carry out before going abroad.

Upcoming pre-departure meetings

You should also read through the following sections to check if you need to take any action.

Travel Insurance

All students undertaking a period abroad approved by the University must take out the free University’s travel insurance. Travel and personal accident cover is available for study related travel which involves an overnight stay, a flight or rail travel. The policy covers exchanges and placements for up to 12 months.

Personal travel can be covered for up to 2 weeks beyond the end of the mobility as long as it takes place within the same country and is within a 12 month duration. The additional time must be included within the start and end dates when registering for the policy. Policy excesses and exclusions (e.g. mobile phones) apply.

Further information and apply for cover

Some host universities require you to take out their own insurance or one which is offered at national level. Partners may will allow their policy to be waived if you can prove that you have sufficient cover, but this is not guaranteed.

Students undertaking work placements in France, Spain or Italy

You may not be covered for Employer’s liability within the workplace due to national employment laws. Check if this applies to you. If so, you will need to seek an insurance policy in the host country to cover you for that item. This is not included in the University of Sheffield travel insurance.

Travel arrangements

You are responsible for making your own travel arrangements. You should not make any bookings until you have been accepted by the host university and you know when you are required to arrive.

Some general advice...

  • What about travelling with other Sheffield students? Find out who else is going to the same destination and contact them as early as possible to make joint arrangements

  • Try to arrive during business hours so that staff/contacts might be available

  • Download a map and some basic directions to print off before you leave the UK - you may not have internet access when you arrive!

  • Find out if there is a “meet and greet” service that you can use

  • If you have pre-arranged your accommodation, make sure that you know exactly when and where to collect the keys

  • If you are planning to drive in the host country check if your driving licence is valid and remember to take out or extend existing insurance coverage

  • Can’t carry everything you want to take? Make enquiries with your travel agent about sending unaccompanied luggage

  • An International Student Identity Card can help you get cheap flights/train fares (and can also be used as photo ID)


Host university housing

  • If it's available, your host university should send you details on how and when to apply. Applying for accommodation may be part of the application to your host university.
  • Apply as early as possible before the deadline and check that your application has been received
  • University housing can be limited in some countries and you may not be guaranteed a room - be prepared that you might not get a place
  • The quality of student housing can vary due to each country's funding systems - try to be open-minded about this
  • It is common outside Europe for university accommodation to offer shared rooms, sometimes with a compulsory meal plan
  • Some universities will offer gender-specific accommodation, which may come with additional rules
  • Talk to students who have lived in the host university residences - ask for their feedback and recommendations

Private housing

  • Your host university/company/school may be able to offer some limited guidance but you are responsible for making your own arrangements
  • Try to start your search before you leave the UK
  • If possible, arrive early to give yourself plenty of time to find something
  • Be prepared that you might have to live in a hotel/hostel for the first week or so
  • Use all available resources and find out which one is most commonly used by local residents
  • Seek advice from incoming or returning exchange students
  • Beware of scams! Don't sign a contract or pay a deposit until you have seen the property in person and met the owner/estate agent
  • Try not to go for viewings on your own and insist on meeting owner/estate agents in daylight hours

Letting your room in Sheffield to another student

If needed, you can advertise your room to other students (including incoming exchange students) via the Smart Move Sheffield student message board. This is a message board that is monitored by the University's private housing bureau, Smart Move Sheffield

Be aware:

  • You must have permission from your landlord before you advertise your room
  • The University cannot be involved in any negotiations/disputes between you and your replacement tenant
  • If needed, Global Opportunities can confirm that a student you are in contact with is indeed an accepted incoming exchange student

Risk assessments

All students who undertake activities abroad which is organised by the University of Sheffield, must complete a risk assessment for each activity. If you are doing multiple activities in the same country (i.e. a study placement and a work placement), you will need to complete an assessment for each activity.

The risk assessment is designed to help you think about potential risks you may encounter whilst abroad and encourage you to think about the steps you need to take to ensure you are safe.  The risk assessment and guidance notes are available on the Insurance webpages, and information will be given about it by Global Opportunities & Exchanges at pre-departure meetings.

Health Insurance

Student European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

A student European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is a special time-limited EHIC for students who are going abroad on a study or work placement that lasts over 6 weeks. If you have a regular EHIC, it will not be valid for your placement abroad.

Students who are EEA/EU nationals and normally resident in the UK and undertaking an exchange in Europe should apply for the student EHIC covering the duration of the period abroad. This entitles you, and any dependants, to state-provided healthcare during your period abroad. If you start studying in an EU country before 31 December 2020, your student EHIC will be valid for the rest of the time you study in that country.

You must apply using a paper application form, which can be found here. SSiD ( can provide you with a letter from the University confirming your period abroad arrangements to accompany your application.

Visa requirements

European destinations

Currently, EU/EEA nationals do not need a visa to travel. However, this may change for UK citizens at the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020. We recommend that you follow the country advice issued by the UK government on their Living In... country guides as well as the FCO webpages.

You need to check if any kind of residence permit is needed for your host country and if you need to apply for this in advance of arriving. This is normally obtained from the local authorities (eg. a local police station). Your host university/organisation should be able to advise you on this.

Non-European destinations

You can only apply for a visa when you have received the official immigration document and offer letter from your host institution. You should ensure that you begin your application as soon as possible after you have received the official paperwork as it can take time for a visa to be issued. Global Opportunities are not qualified to give visa advice and can only signpost you to information. You must contact the host university and the relevant Embassy for visa advice. 

Students currently studying in the UK on a visa

If you are currently studying in the UK on a visa, then please seek visa advice through SSiD.


You must complete your online registration with the University of Sheffield in mid-July even though you will be abroad. Further information is available on the SSiD webpages.

Where you are on a University exchange, you must complete their registration process once you arrive. If you are on an exchange in Europe you should remember to complete any relevant Erasmus funding forms.