Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)


ATAS is a certificate issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) which gives you security clearance to study certain subject sensitive subject areas in the UK. The subjects are those where students’ knowledge could be used in programmes to develop Advanced Conventional Military Technology, weapons of mass destruction or their means of delivery, for example, certain science subjects such as mathematics, engineering, technology or medicine at a postgraduate level (including most integrated Masters courses such as MEng, MPhys, MSci).

If you are intending to study a subject that has been flagged under the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS), you will be required to obtain a clearance certificate before you can study in the UK. 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 your course.

The requirement for ATAS is not limited to the Student visa category. You will also need ATAS if you are going to study your course using other time-limited visa such as Dependant visa, work visa, Standard Visitor visa, or you are an asylum seeker or refugee. You will also require ATAS clearance if you have pre-settled status under the EU Settlement scheme and you do not have an exempt nationality. You will not require ATAS clearance if you have indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

If you are a national of any of these countries, you are exempt from the requirement to obtain ATAS clearance even if your subject area is flagged under the ATAS scheme:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • Croatia
  • Republic of Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United States of America

If you will be applying for a Student route visa you must obtain an ATAS certificate before you apply for your visa. An ATAS application is free of charge.

You should submit an online ATAS application as soon as possible after receiving an offer from your School. You do not need to wait until your offer is unconditional to apply for your ATAS certificate. You must list all your course modules or a summary of your research in the application – you can obtain this information from your School or department; taught students in the Faculty of Science end Engineering can also view the information online. If you are applying for or transferring to an integrated Masters programme that requires ATAS you only need to list the modules for the integrated Masters year.

Please note that late applications will result in a delay in obtaining your visa. If you do not obtain an ATAS certificate before you submit your Student route visa application, your application will be refused.

If you already have a visa that permits study, you are still required to obtain ATAS clearance before starting your studies or research. For information about ATAS, to check the list of courses and to access the online application form, go to the FCO website.

The ATAS team aims to process applications within 20 working days of the submission of a completed application. During busier periods the process can take longer so make sure you submit your ATAS application as early as possible.

‌‌ Guide to completing the ATAS application form

If you have submitted your application for ATAS clearnce and it is pending approval, you can contact the ATAS team and ask that application is reopened for you to make the necessary changes before submitting it again for approval.

If your ATAS clearance certificate has been granted but some of the information is wrong, you should contact the ATAS team for advice on whether the information can be changed or if you need to make a fresh application.

If your ATAS clearance certificate has expired, no changes can be made and you will need to apply again for ATAS clearance.

If you require a visa to study, you must use your ATAS certificate in your student visa application within 6 months of the date it is issued. If you do not, you will need to apply for a new one. Once you have used the certificate with a visa application, your ATAS certificate will remain valid for the length of the course for which it was issued, from the course start date to the course end date given on your CAS plus 3 calendar months.

Your ATAS clearance certificate remains valid as long as your programme of study does not change and your course end date is not postponed for a period of more than 3 calendar months. If the content of your course will change, for example you wish to take a module not covered by your ATAS clearance or your research direction changes, you must apply for a new ATAS Clearance Certificate within 28 calendar days of being notified of the changes in course, regardless of when your visa expires.

If you obtain a new passport after having received your ATAS clearance certificate with the previous passport number on it, where there is time, you are advised to e-mail the ATAS team at the FCDO by email with a scanned copy of your new passport and ask for a new ATAS certificate to be issued showing your new passport number. If there isn't enough time, you are advised to submit your visa application with both passports.

ATAS clearance is specific to the programme of study and institution.You should submit an ATAS application for each course where ATAS applies. You can submit as many ATAS applications as you hold offers.

If you decide to change course after you have obtained ATAS clearance you will need to apply again for clearance using your new course details. To study on an ATAS flagged course in the UK, you must have valid clearance for the correct course and institution.

If you intend to change your course or change the scope or direction of your research, you should not register on the new course or start the new area of research until you have obtained a new ATAS clearance certificate. If you are switching from a course which does not require ATAS clearance to one that does (e.g. switching from BEng to MEng), you must obtain ATAS clearance before you transfer to the new course. In all cases you should contact your programme administrator who will be able to provide you with information you will need for your application, for example the relevant CAH3 code, module list for taught students, or agreed reserch statement for students undertaking research.

A new ATAS certificate is required if you extend your course by more than 3 calendar months. If you are on a Student visa (formerly Tier 4) the extension is calculated from the course end date on your previous CAS. You must apply for a new ATAS certificate within 28 days of the course extension being applied to your student record and you must provide your School with evidence that your ATAS application has been made.

If you don't provide evidence of having made a new ATAS application within this 28-day period you will not be permitted to continue studying and you must interrupt your studies until you can provide a new ATAS certificate in full.

ATAS refusals are very rare. If your application for ATAS clearance is refused please contact us immediately so we can advise you further

There is a lot of information and guidance available on the ATAS website, including frequently asked questions and information on what to do if your ATAS application is delayed.