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Arriving in Belfast

How to get here!

Travelling to Belfast

Belfast is served by two airports: George Best Belfast City Airport and Belfast International Airport which are both linked to the city by regular bus services. Dublin Airport is located approximately 100 miles to the south.

All public transport in Northern Ireland is organised by Translink.

George Best City Airport

  • Located just 3 miles from Belfast City Centre

Getting from the airport to Belfast

  • By Bus: The Airport Express Bus Service (Service 600) operates every 30 minutes Monday to Saturday and every 40 minutes on Sunday from outside the airport to the Belfast Europa Bus Centre adjacent to the Europa Hotel, in the heart of the city. The service, Airport Express 600, operates between 5.30 and 21.25. A single ticket costs about £2.50.
  • By Train: When travelling to the airport by train, you'll want to disembark at Sydenham train station. Translink operates a rail service (06.00-23.00) Monday-Saturday to Central and Victoria Street Stations every 20 minutes. The service is hourly on Sundays (09.00-22.00). Connections are available from Central Station to the rest of the rail network in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. A shuttle bus service operates between the airport terminal and the rail halt at Sydenham. Please go to the information desk and ask for the service. You'll be instructed to wait by the taxi rank where the shuttle bus will collect you.
  • By Taxi: Approved taxis operate from the Airport taxi rank outside the terminal building. Wheel-chair accessible taxis are available. The approximate cost of a taxi to Belfast City Centre from Belfast City Airport with our approved taxi provider is £10.00/£15.00 (including £2 surcharge). All fares are subject to a £2 surcharge). For more information or to book a taxi, 028 9080 9080 or visit the Value Cabs website.

Belfast International Airport

  • Located 13 miles northwest of Belfast

Getting from the airport to the Belfast

  • By Bus: The Airport Express Bus Service (Service 300) operates a regular service on weekdays and weekends. The bus leaves from the bus stop located opposite the terminal exit. The journey takes approximately 30-40 minutes and a single fare is about £8. More information. The bus goes to Great Victoria Street bus and train station in the city centre which is a 30 minute walk to Queen’s Elms BT9 University accommodation. As you will have your luggage with you we would recommend that you take a taxi. A taxi fare from the bus station to Elms BT9 is about £5.
  • By Taxi: The International Airport Taxi Company, official taxi operator for the Belfast International Airport, are available for hire 24 hours a day 7 days a week outside the right hand door of the airport Exit lobby. Only taxis approved by Belfast International Airport are permitted to use the taxi rank. A list of sample fares is displayed in the exit hall of the terminal building. A taxi share scheme to Belfast is available for those who wish to use it. For bookings, contact the Belfast International Airport Taxi Company on 028 9448 4353. For more information and to book online visit

Dublin Airport

  • Located approximately 100 miles to the south of Belfast

Getting from the airport to the City

  • By Bus: Translink operates daily Goldline Express Services from Dublin to Belfast Airport every hour. Services arrive and depart from Zone 10 at Dublin Airport. View timetables. Aircoach services operate from Dublin to Belfast every hour. Services arrive and depart outside the Arrivals area in T1 and T2. View timetables. Bus Eireann Service X1/X2A. The cost of a single fare from Dublin to Belfast is about £15 (€17.00).
  • By Train: Dublin train information can be found at here
  • By Taxi: The taxi rank can be found outside Terminal 1.

Arriving by sea
There are three main sea routes from Great Britain to Northern Ireland: Liverpool to Belfast; Cairnryan to Belfast; Cairnryan to Larne.

Public Transport
All public transport in Northern Ireland is organised by Translink. Visit their website for more information on fares, timetables, journey planners and online ticket bookings. Below is a list of their main services:

  • NI Railways: Northern Irelands train service provider has services running from Portadown, Bangor, Larne, Derry / Londonderry, Portrush and Dublin.
  • Ulsterbus: Ulsterbus is a public transport operator in Northern Ireland and operates bus services outside Belfast.
  • Ulsterbus Goldline: Providing direct services to and from cities across Northern Ireland, including Derry / Londonderry, Coleraine, Newry and Armagh.
  • Metrobus: Providing travel throughout the greater Belfast area.


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Airport Collection Service

We'll Greet You at the Airport

A welcome service is provided at George Best Belfast City Airport and Belfast International Airport.

The service will operate from 8.30-21.30 across Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 January 2020.

Click here to register!

Look out for the team who will be wearing red branded t-shirts!

If you arrive outside of the above hours, you can take a taxi to your accommodation.

Taxi fares to the University are approximately £35 from Belfast International airport and £15 from Belfast City Airport. You can use your cash card at the ATM in the airport.

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I am not using the Meet & Greet service

How do I get to the University?

If you do not intend to arrive during these dates you should still tell us when and how you plan to arrive in Belfast and we will send you information about getting to the University. If you have difficulty making contact with University staff, help is available 24 hours from the University Security Office 028 9097 5099. Alternatively you can call to Elms BT9 reception by telephone at 028 9097 4525 or in person at Elms BT9 Reception.


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Packing guide

Get tips from our students

Packing up to live and study in another country is an exciting (and scary) time. You probably have loads of questions. What’s the weather like? What will I wear when I get there? What should I pack?

Don't worry, our students have put together a guide for you:

Travel guide

Our international student bloggers have been busy putting together some great guides to getting here.

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Arriving in Belfast

When should I plan to arrive in Belfast?

You must plan to arrive at Queen’s in time for the International Students’ Welcome and Orientation Programme.

Your attendance at the International Students’ Welcome and Orientation is mandatory. If you have an exceptional circumstance that means that you won’t be able to attend you must let us know when you plan to arrive by emailing

If you are a Tier 4 visa holder, your visa will be issued as a vignette in your passport. This will be valid for 30 days starting either 30 days before the course start date on your CAS Statement or 7 days before the date you stated on your visa application form as your intended date of travel to the UK, whichever is later. You should check the expiry date of your vignette carefully, and ensure you travel to the UK before this expires.

When you arrive in the UK, you will receive a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) which will contain the details of your immigration permission for the UK. You must collect your BRP within 10 days of your arrival in the UK. If you have selected Queen’s University Belfast as your designated Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) collection point in your visa application form, you will be able to collect this from International Student Support when you are completing your Right to Study Check. 

If you do not think you will be able to travel to the UK before the expiry of your vignette, please ensure you contact International Student Support as soon as possible for advice by emailing

What contact information should I have with me when I arrive in Belfast?'

  • First night’s accommodation: address and telephone number
  • International Student Support - 028 9097 3820 (Office Hours: 9:00am - 5.00pm)
  • Queen’s 24-hour Security Service - 028 9097 5099

What will happen when I arrive in a UK airport?
When you arrive in the UK you will have to pass through ‘Immigration Control’ and ‘Customs’. We recommend that you travel to Belfast directly or via another UK airport (e.g. London Heathrow, Gatwick etc.) and not via the Republic of Ireland (e.g. Dublin).

What will happen if I arrive via the Republic of Ireland?
Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. There are no border controls between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland for your passport to be checked or stamped to give you permission to enter the UK.

If you are planning to enter Northern Ireland via this route, please contact International Student Support on before you book your ticket.

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Things to note


If you have booked your air travel with connecting flights to one of the Belfast airports your baggage allowance should be the same for your entire journey. However, if your flight lands in Britain and you transfer to another domestic airline that you have booked separately you may be subject to a reduced baggage allowance and have to pay additional excess charges.

Please check all baggage allowance conditions (including size and weight restrictions) before you leave home.

You will need to be able to lift your luggage onto connecting road/rail transport and upstairs. Not all private sector or University accommodation has lifts (elevators). Remember when you are packing that by the time you arrive in Belfast you will have carried your luggage a long way. What seems light at home will probably feel very heavy by the time you arrive.

If you need to bring more luggage to the UK, consider arranging to send your remaining possessions to Belfast once you have moved into your permanent accommodation.

Lost or delayed luggage
Sometimes baggage can get delayed and it might have to be forwarded to you. If your luggage is lost or delayed you should contact the information desk at the airport who will take your details and a forwarding address. If you are staying in Queen’s residences, you should give Queen's Accommodation as your contact. Their address is:

Elms BT9
78 Malone Road
Tel:+44 (0) 28 9097 4525

If you are not staying in University accommodation, you should arrange to have your luggage delivered to your new address or to your temporary accommodation. If you are staying in a hostel or hotel, you will need to inform their reception that you are expecting to have your luggage delivered.

Will I need to pay tax on personal goods I bring into the UK?
You can find out whether you might need to pay tax by putting ‘Travel into the UK’ into the search facility on the website

Are there things which I cannot bring in my luggage?
For details of goods which are restricted or prohibited from the UK visit Do not pack any sharp objects in your hand luggage (e.g. scissors, metal nail files) and remember to check the safety rules and luggage regulations of the airline(s) you are travelling with.

What should I pack in my hand luggage?
All important documents should be carried with you in your hand luggage including:

  • your passport
  • original academic qualifications certificates
  • CAS Statement
  • ATAS certificate (if required)
  • proof that you will have the money to pay your fees and to support yourself while living and studying in the UK - please note that this applies to non-EU/ EEA/Swiss students. If you are an EEA national it is unlikely that you will have to prove this.
  • University accommodation contract (if applicable)
  • marriage and birth certificates if you are travelling with family
  • record of travellers cheques and bank transfers
  • health and travel insurance documents (if required)
  • essential medication - mobile phone (if you have one)
  • list of the contents of your main luggage

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Arrival information

Arriving at the UK border

Here are some links to ensure your passage to Belfast is as smooth as possible.

Immigration Control

Going through immigration control at a UK airport:

When you arrive at a UK airport you will pass through Immigration Control where you should present your valid passport and entry clearance visa to the Border Force Officer. We also recommend that you carry in your hand luggage any documents you have showing (1) where you will be staying in the UK, (2) evidence of your finances eg. Bank statement and (3) evidence of your course of study in the UK eg. CAS Statement.

The Border Force Officer will then stamp your passport with the date you entered the UK. It is important that you obtain this arrival date stamp.

Applying for leave to enter at the port of entry as a Short Term Student (STS)
A limited number of students who are coming to the UK on Short-term Study visas can be issued with their Short Term Study endorsement at a UK port of entry without applying for their Short Term Study visa before leaving for the UK. Only students from certain non-visa national countries will be able to obtain their STS endorsement in this way and it is important you check with International Student Support if you would  be able to obtain your STS endorsement at a UK port of entry.

If you do plan to obtain your STS endorsement in this way, you must provide the Immigration Officer with your invitation letter/ offer letter from the University, showing that you have been unconditionally accepted on to a course and evidence that you will be able to support yourself financially during your time here (i.e. bank statements, proof of receipt of scholarship or other form of financial aid). If the Border Force Officer grants you permission to enter the UK as a Short-term Student, your STS endorsement will be stamped into your passport. The stamp in your passport will usually be valid for 6 months, however you must ensure you leave the UK within 30 days of the end date of your course as stated in your invitation letter or at the end of the 6 month period of leave granted, whichever is the earliest.

After you pass through Immigration Control you will collect your luggage from the Baggage Reclaim and will then go through the Customs Hall. Usually there are two routes to go through: look for a green sign if you have no goods to declare; and a red sign if you do have goods to declare.

UK custom regulations allow students to bring in personal belongings, e.g. computer for use in their studies, without being liable to pay duty (tax), as long as they take them out of the country again when they finally leave. Food imports into the UK are strictly controlled.

You are not allowed to bring the following products into the UK except from approved countries: meat and meat products; milk and milk products; fish; shellfish; eggs; honey; potatoes; plants. For more detailed information please see the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture and Rural Development website for more information.

Please consult your nearest British High Commission, Embassy or Consulate for further information on Customs Regulations.

Do I need to declare money I carry with me into the UK?
If you are arriving directly from a country outside the European Union, and are carrying 10,000 Euros / Great British Pounds (GBP) or more, or the equivalent amount in another currency, you must complete a cash declaration form, available at your airport or port of entry. Cash not only means currency notes and coins but also banker’s drafts and cheques of any kind (including traveller’s cheques). If you fail to declare your cash or give incorrect or incomplete information on the form, there are financial penalties of up to £5000, or the money may be seized. You should keep your copy of the form safely as proof that you have made the declaration.

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Get a room


Elms BT1, Elms BT2, Elms BT9 and Queen's Houses offer you the all-important space to live and enjoy student life to the full.

Queen’s currently has over 3,400 places in their student accommodation, which means you can take advantage of the most affordable, purpose-built student accommodation in the city.

Click here to view more information and apply today.

What about accommodation during Welcome and Orientation?

The residential year for University accommodation begins in September. If you are arriving for International Welcome and Orientation, you will be able to apply for a 39 week contract at the start of September.

What about accommodation for my family?
The University has accommodation for married students and families. All requests for University accommodation for families should be made to the Elms BT9 Reception. The University cannot book private accommodation on behalf of students. However, if you need help to find private accommodation please email International Student Support before you come to Belfast and you will be sent details of how to organise alternative accommodation.

If you cannot arrange accommodation for you and your family before coming to Northern Ireland, you are strongly advised to arrive by yourself and make suitable arrangements for your family to arrive later. A student who has been allocated a room in a Queen’s residence is not permitted to share that room with any unauthorised person. The cost of housing for a family is more expensive than renting a room in a house shared with other students.

Can I stay in University accommodation during the summer?
If you have not arranged to stay in University accommodation and wish to arrange your own accommodation in the private sector, you will be able to stay in University residences during the summer months up until the end of August. If you want to stay in University accommodation during the summer you should contact the Student Accommodation Office to discuss this.

What is private rented accommodation?
Private accommodation is not owned or managed by the University. It is owned by a `landlord’ who rents the property. When you rent private accommodation you will sign a contract and have legal obligations. You should be aware that you may have to spend a few weeks looking for somewhere to live before your course or research programme starts.

You can stay in the University residences until 31 August if you come to Belfast early to look for accommodation. Students who have arranged, or wish to arrange, accommodation in the private sector and require accommodation during Welcome and Orientation week, should contact Queen’s University Accommodation Office to check availability and contact International Student Support, who will be able to help you.

Some useful web resources:

Temporary Accommodation

If you are not moving into University accommodation you must book temporary accommodation before you leave home unless you are sure that you can move directly into long-term accommodation on the day you arrive in Belfast.

For hotels or hostels in the University area visit the official visitor website for Northern Ireland.

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IWO Webpage

International Student Support

ISS Webpage