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Living in Belfast

Living in Belfast
Living in Belfast

Living in Belfast

Living in Belfast – practical information

We want you make the most of your time living in Belfast. Here you will find lots of helpful information and advice. Can’t find what you need? Please email [email protected] and we will get back to you as soon as possible!

Visa information

We have provided detailed visa information in the ‘Downloads’ section of this page, including registering with the police if necessary.
Following BREXIT, as from January 2021 the following visa information is applicable for EU/EEA/Swiss students:
EU/EEA/Swiss students who study for less than six months do not need a visa
From January 2021, anyone who is in the UK as a visitor will be able to study as much as they want for up to 6 months.
EU/EEA/Swiss students will not need a visitor visa: they can arrive at the border and either show their passport, or enter through the electronic passport gates to be granted entry clearance.
EU/EEA/Swiss students who study for more than six months do need a visa
If you plan to arrive in the UK from 1 January 2021 onwards, you will need to apply for a student visa if you are studying a course which is longer than six months in length.
You will need to complete an application and have it accepted before you arrive in the UK.
You will need to pay an application fee (£348 for students) and have a current passport or other valid travel document.
Most people will be able to complete their application, including identity verification, using a smartphone app. If you can’t access the smartphone app or you don’t have a biometric passport, you may need to go to a Visa Application Centre in your country.
You will also need to pay a fee called an Immigration Health Surcharge. This gives you access to the UK’s National Health Service. Students receive a 25 per cent discount on the usual cost of this surcharge. Details of costs will be available shortly.
You can apply for a student visa up to six months before your course starts.

Police registration – is it a requirement for you?

Citizens of some countries who intend to study in the UK for more than six months must register with the police within seven days of arrival in the UK. Please check your visa to see if this applies to you.  We will advise you of the process on your first day at the school.


We strongly advise students to take out personal insurance to cover for loss of possessions, including laptops and mobile phones, medical expenses and the loss of tuition and other fees if you have to cancel your course or return home earlier than planned. We can arrange a Multirisk policu with GuardMe – prices start at £20 per week.

Cost of living in Belfast

Belfast is a compact, welcoming and inexpensive place to live and study. You can check current cost of living prices here.

Working in the UK

Anyone wishing to work in the UK must first apply for a Skilled Worker Visa.  To qualify for a Skilled Worker visa, you must work for a UK employer that’s been approved by the Home Office; have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ (CoS) from your employer with information about the role you’ve been offered in the UK; do a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations; be paid a minimum salary – how much depends on the type of work you do and the date you got your CoS.  You must have a confirmed job offer before you apply for your visa.

Skilled Worker visa: Overview – GOV.UK (


You should be able to open a basic bank account with a number of different banks. A basic bank account provides easy access to banking facilities for adults in the UK. Additionally, some banks offer a bank account tailored specifically for your needs as an international student. Check out this guide to finding a suitable account in the UK. Here is a full list of banks available in Belfast.

Public Transport

Translink is the main public transport provider in Northern Ireland. You can pay bus and train fares in cash, or you can buy multi-journey tickets online. There is detailed information on the various fares and tickets available on the Translink website.

Driving in the U.K.

The legal age for driving in the U.K. is 17 years of age.  Most car rental companies will only work with clients aged 21 and above.  For more information about driving in the U.K., traffic regulations etc., see the advice from the UK government.

You should also be aware of the Drink-driving limit in Northern Ireland.

Places of worship

Please see here for a comprehensive list of places of worship in Belfast. 

The Belfast Islamic Centre is located near the school, at University Road. 


Belfast is a very safe city. It is a small city with a village atmosphere and the people here are traditionally friendly and helpful. It’s generally a safe place to walk at night, even in small groups. However, you should be cautious when travelling to any city destination to reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of crime. The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) offers the following advice:

Dial 101 for non-emergency assistance. Dial 999 for urgent help


The minimum age for the purchase, consumption and possession of tobacco products in Northern Ireland is 18 years of age. Most enclosed public places and workplaces in Northern Ireland are non-smoking. It is against the law to smoke in these places. You could be fined for smoking in enclosed public places.  Our school building and most of our accommodation options are non-smoking.


The legal age for buying and consuming alcohol in Northern Ireland is 18 years of age. An alcohol unit is not a standard measurement. In Northern Ireland, one unit is 10ml or eight grammes of pure alcohol.

Sexual Health

Your sexual health and wellbeing is important and looking after your sexual health can have a positive impact on your mental and physical health. Being confident about your sexual health can also help in developing positive relationships.

Mental Health

Studying abroad, especially for the first time, can be a thrilling adventure, but it also comes with challenges. It can be easy to lose track of your wellbeing while adjusting to a new culture, attending classes and navigating processes like visas, banks and accommodation. The Take Five steps to Wellbeing campaign is designed to encourage individuals to think about what we can do to look after our own mental health and well-being. Staff at reception in the school are always ready to talk if students need someone – please speak to us if you need to!

If you need to speak to a professional, this Directory of Services to help with mental health and emotional wellbeing in the Belfast area is a good place to start. 

Diversity and Inclusion

Embracing diversity and fostering inclusion are core values at our school. We believe in creating a welcoming environment where every student feels valued and respected, regardless of background, culture, or identity. Through meaningful interactions and mutual understanding, we celebrate the rich tapestry of cultures and perspectives within our student community, promoting empathy, respect, and unity.

Diversity and discrimination | nidirect

Medical treatment

Can international students in the UK use the NHS?
You can find full information about Entitlement to health services here.

Studying full-time for more than 6 months?
International Students in the UK on a student visa are entitled to free NHS care. You will have to have paid a Health Surcharge fee as part of your visa application process. Please note that this must be paid even if you also have private health insurance.  
You should register with a GP immediately when you arrive.  Check here to find a GP near you.

Studying for less than 6 months?
You will not be entitled to treatment except by a hospital in an emergency and should obtain private medical insurance. You should bring any regular medication with you as this medication will be charged at full cost. European students should ensure they travel with their EHIC card. 

The nearest hospitals to IH Belfast with 24 hour Emergency Departments are:

Dial 111 for NHS non-emergency medical assistance. Dial 999 for urgent medical help.

Northern Ireland and Belfast​

Northern Ireland is justifiably famous for its outstanding natural beauty and the friendliness of its people. Belfast is the region’s capital and while it is best known as the home of the Titanic, it also boasts a thriving, modern business sector and a vibrant cultural scene.