Guidance on how to apply for an ATAS certificate

How to apply for an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate, what's involved in the application process and how long it takes.

If you’re a new researcher or student you need to have an agreed research statement or list of modules with your HEI or research institute. This should reflect the all research you will undertake in the UK.

The ATAS application process is separate to your HEI applications/job offers. HEIs that you applied to will be informed of the result of your ATAS applications.

How to complete the online application form

The online application form has 10 sections. You should complete it fully, with as much detail as possible in each section. The application portal is the same for researchers and students.

ATAS applications with incorrect information will cause delays to processing your application

  • proposed course of study/area of research: the university or research institute you are proposing to study/research at will provide you with the relevant details for this section e.g. in your conditional offer letter or statement of research. They will advise you of the appropriate CAH3 code and give you the correct form of words for the ‘What Will you be Studying/Research Statement’ box. You should use the university’s description here. You will be able to add to this description in the next box: ‘Personnel Statement of Intent’. Add your Head of Department if you are still waiting for a research/study supervisor allocation

  • personal details: details from this section will be included in your ATAS certificate. Complete this carefully and in full, and review it before submitting. If you have served in the armed forces or trained in Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear (CBRN), you should provide details including courses undertaken, relevant roles and, if applicable, years of service. If you have undertaken government funded research, include the funding agency and details of the project. Typos and transposed numbers are regular mistakes in this area and if the details provided do not match the details in your passport exactly, it may affect or delay your visa application

  • spouse: tell us if you are married and planning to bring your spouse into the UK. If your spouse chooses to study or research an ATAS relevant subject while in the UK accompanying you, they will need to apply separately for their own ATAS certificate

  • contact details: make sure your contact details are accurate. The ATAS certificate will be sent to the preferred email address you enter in this section

  • undergraduate/ postgraduate studies: provide as much detail as possible on all previous undergraduate and postgraduate studies you have undertaken

  • other studies: tell us if you have undertaken any other studies you think may be relevant to your application

  • published papers: tell us if you have had any academic or professional papers published, either on your own, or with co-publishers

  • employment history: tell us, with as much detail as possible, of any jobs you have held. You should include jobs that relate to your proposed course of study or research area

  • referees: provide details of 2 referees who have known you for a minimum of 3 years. At least one of the referees must be from the academic sector. If you have work experience, you should include a referee from your employment. A referee from your home country would be preferable, but it is not essential if you have studied and/or worked in another country. Family members are not accepted as referees

  • financial sponsors: provide details of sponsors you have for the funding of your proposed studies. If you are waiting for a funding decision, include this and note the decision is pending. If you are funding your own studies or research, include your name and address in the relevant boxes. If another family member is paying for your studies, include their details

ATAS and visa applications

If your ATAS certificate does not match your university offer, you may be refused permission on the Work or Student route. Contact UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) for advice on visas.

If you’re refused an ATAS certificate

Without an ATAS certificate, you will not be granted permission to study or research in the UK. Applications for other courses and areas that do not need an ATAS certificate will be considered on an individual basis. If you think your application has been treated unfairly you can ask for a review.

When you get your certificate

If your ATAS application is successful, you will receive a certificate by email. You should check your junk folders regularly to ensure the email has not been filtered out. When you receive your certificate, you should:

  • check the details on it are correct and match your offer/research documentation from your HEI or research institute
  • if the details are correct, print the certificate and include it in your visa application documentation
  • contact the ATAS unit at if there are mistakes or inaccuracies

If your visa has expired and you haven’t received your ATAS certificate

It is important that you know the expiry date of your current period of permission to stay in the UK and understand what documentation you need to apply to extend it. You must submit an ATAS application to support your visa application under the relevant route at least 3 months before you need to apply for permission to stay.

Applying for an ATAS certificate does not guarantee it will be issued. If you do not successfully obtain an ATAS certificate, your application for permission to stay in the UK will be refused.

Contact the ATAS team

Email if you have a query about your application. We will not reply to any query on an application that is not at least 20 working days old.

The ATAS team usually works from Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. We aim to answer your email within 5 working days, but this may not be possible during busy periods.

We are unable to provide a telephone service to students.

Privacy policy

Your ATAS application will be held on our secure server. When a decision has been made on your application, it will be shared with UKVI, the Home Office and the HEI you have applied to. We will not share your details with anyone else unless there are sufficient grounds to do so.

For further information, view our privacy notice.

Published 17 February 2015
Last updated 14 May 2021 + show all updates
  1. Updated information for researchers

  2. Update to reflect borders and immigration system changes

  3. updated guidance

  4. First published.