We may be literally on the edge of Europe but Northern Ireland  is easy to reach by boat or to fly into one of its has two larger airports Belfast City Airport (BHD) and Belfast International Airport (BFS)

Both airports are a short, one hour flight from any UK city.

There are direct flights direct to both of these airport and you can transfer from other UK and European cities.

Many international students choose to fly to Northern Ireland from London.

Flight Map showing that there are direct routes from London, Edinburgh, Brussels, Paris, Barcelona, USA and Madrid

Travelling to the UK via the Republic of Ireland

It is always recommended  that, unless you are an EU student, worker  or a student visa holder (studying for a period of 6 months or longer), you arrive in Northern Ireland through a UK port of entry.

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Non-visa national

As a non-visa national, you can normally travel to the UK and apply for immigration permission to enter as a short-term student for up to six months when you arrive in the UK and pass through UK immigration control.  Non-visa national students coming to the UK for a short course often choose to do this rather than applying for entry clearance before travelling.

However, if you enter Northern Ireland (UK) via the Republic of Ireland, you will not have the opportunity to do this because there is no immigration control at the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. You should therefore apply for UK entry clearance (i.e. a Short-term Student visa) in your home country before travelling to the Republic of Ireland.

If, despite this advice, you do enter Northern Ireland (UK) from the Republic of Ireland with no UK entry clearance (Short-term Student visa, you will in most cases automatically have permission to be in the UK only for three months.

The three months’ permission allows you to study, but it will not be enough time to complete your studies.  You are not entitled to extend your stay in the UK as a short-term student, so you will need to leave the UK within the three-month period, then re-enter the UK directly and request immigration permission to enter as a short-term student, for a maximum visit of six months.

Note also that any immigration permission you are given on arrival in the Republic of Ireland is for the Republic of Ireland only and not for the UK.

Visa nationals

If you are a visa national you should not attempt to enter Northern Ireland via the Republic of Ireland.  If, despite this warning, you do so, you must apply for and receive visas to enter both the Republic of Ireland and the UK before you leave your home country.

It is your responsibility to make sure that you have the correct visas to enter both the Republic of Ireland and the UK.

The UK and Republic of Ireland are not part of the Schengen zone.