ATAS Certificate to Study in the UK

ATAS Certificate to Study in the UK

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If you are enrolling in a STEM course in the UK, chances are you will need an ATAS certificate for a visa. Learn what the certificate is all about, how to apply for it, and other relevant details. 

Rohit Gidwani
Updated on:  20 Feb 2024  | Reviewed By: 
| 20.1K | 5  min read

Navigating the complexities of studying abroad, especially in a country like the UK, often comes with a unique set of requirements and regulations. One such requirement is that international students must be aware of ATAS certificate UK whose full form is Academic Technology Approval Scheme. In this blog, we'll dive into ATAS meaning, the 'what,' 'why,' and 'how' of the ATAS certificate, ensuring you have all the information you need to successfully pursue your study abroad journey.


What is ATAS certificate and why it is required?

The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) is mandatory for international students and researchers, excluding exempt nationalities, who fall under UK immigration regulations and plan to pursue postgraduate studies or research in specific sensitive fields. These ‘sensitive’ fields deal with developing or delivering weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The scheme requires such students to get their ATAS certificate for UK. 

Entry clearance officers (ECOs) will request your ATAS certificate during your UK entry application. Additionally, caseworkers will require your ATAS certificate when applying for permission to stay in the UK. Under UK immigration law, universities cannot allow international students or researchers to engage in ATAS-relevant courses until they furnish the correct ATAS certificate.

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Do you require an ATAS certificate for UK?

It is important to identify early in the study abroad journey whether you need an ATAS certificate. You can identify the same with the help of these things - 

  • list items Whether your course requires ATAS depends on the CAH3* code that applies to your course.
  • list items Your CAS and University offer letter will outline whether your program requires an ATAS certificate.
  • list items If you are a national of the UK, EU, EEA, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea or the USA, you are exempt from ATAS.  

*UK higher education institutions use CAH (Common Aggregate Hierarchy) codes to categorize subject areas. Your institution will provide your CAH code and inform you if you need an ATAS certificate for UK. To check your field’s CAH click here.


What does ATAS certificate contain?

The ATAS certificate will mention the details of the course you are enrolling in and the Higher Education Institution (HEI)/ university or college of enrolment you have applied to for clearance. Therefore, if you have applied for more than one course or university, you will need separate ATAS certificates for each of the courses/universities. 

The ATAS certificate sample is shown below:



How to apply for an ATAS certificate?

Few simple steps that can help you apply for an ATAS certificate successfully are - 

  • list items Visit the official website of the Academic Technology Approval Scheme. You can do this by clicking here.
  • list items On the main page, you will find three options. One will be to choose your CAH3 code. Next will be to answer the question “Are you a taught / research student or are you a researcher?” and lastly to choose your country. Once you fill all these fields you need to click on check. 
  • list items A new page will open that will show whether you need an ATAS certificate or not. In case you need an ATAS certificate it will give you the option to create an account and fill out the online application form.
  • list items The online application form will have ten sections that you are required to fill in as detailed manner as possible. You can use this guide to assist you in completing all the sections which is attached here.
  • list items Once you have completed all the sections of the form you will see a final checklist of all the sections and a submit button. It is advisable to review all sections carefully to avoid errors before submitting the form. 


Tip - You need to apply for an ATAS certificate as soon as you get the offer letter from your university.


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You are likely to get your ATAS certificate within 20 days if your application is accepted. There are some documents that you should keep handy while filling out the application form. These are - 

  • list items University admit letter 
  • list items Details about your program of study 
  • list items Previous academic documents
  • list items Previous and current employment documents
  • list items Published papers
  • list items Optional modules (if any)
  • list items Your area of research and description 
  • list items Contact details and full names of your references 
  • list items The funding source for education   

Point to remember: The ATAS certificate is valid for six months from the date of issuance, and it is crucial to apply for your UK visa within this timeframe. 


Additional tips for ATAS certificate application success

Here are some additional tips that can increase your chances of completing the ATAS certificate application process in one go.

  • list items Use full names (first and last) for referees, sponsors, and employers.
  • list items If you've never been employed, use "not applicable".
  • list items Ensure accurate passport details.
  • list items Align research statements with the institution's agreements.
  • list items Provide a sufficient personal statement.
  • list items Avoid long gaps in education or employment history.
  • list items Verify the correct CAH3 code.
  • list items Check for errors or omissions before submitting to avoid rejection.  

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In conclusion, the ATAS certificate is a vital piece of documentation for international students planning to study in sensitive fields within the UK. Understanding its significance, application process, and key tips for success is essential to ensuring a smooth and successful journey abroad. There might be more questions or doubts related to the ATAS certificate in your mind and feel free to ask the same on GyanDhan’s discussion forum. Here you can get help from individuals that has hands-on experience with the same.

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Frequently asked questions

How much ATAS certificate cost?

There are no charges for getting an ATAS certificate. You will have to pay nothing to get an ATAS certificate. 

Can I have multiple ATAS applications for different universities?

You can submit multiple ATAS applications for different courses/universities at the same time, but each application needs to be made individually.

Which nationalities are exempted from the ATAS scheme?

The following do not need an ATAS certificate:

  • list items Nationals of EU countries
  • list items the European Economic Area (EEA)
  • list items Australia
  • list items Canada
  • list items Japan
  • list items New Zealand
  • list items Singapore
  • list items South Korea
  • list items Switzerland
  • list items USA

What could be the reason for my ATAS application rejection?

Your ATAS application can get rejected, however, it is not a usual occurrence. But if you do not mention your research description and statement clearly and in detail, your application may be rejected. 

What to do if my ATAS certificate application is rejected? 

You can contact the FCO and ask them to review your ATAS application again. Or you could also forward your concerns to the university first. Check the website of the university you are enrolled in or contact their admissions office to know the requisite steps to be taken to re-apply for the ATAS certificate.

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