How to  Get ATAS Letter for Studying in the UK

    Updated on: 12 Sep 2023

    Did you know that to study certain postgraduate, undergraduate, or research courses in a UK university, you need an ATAS certificate? The ATAS certificate is a prerequisite to getting the General Student Visa (Tier 4) if the course you are enrolling in requires one. Confused what the certificate consists of and what the ATAS process entails? Read on as we list down everything you need to know about the ATAS Certificate. 

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    What is an ATAS Certificate? 

    The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) is applicable to all the international students subject to UK immigration control who wish to study certain ‘sensitive’ subjects in the UK. These ‘sensitive’ subjects deal with the development or delivery of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The scheme requires such students to get their ATAS certificate. 

    Who Needs an ATAS Certificate? 

    This certificate is mainly needed by postgraduate/research students who are enrolling in certain courses in the Science, Engineering, and Technology fields and undergraduate students who take specific integrated master’s courses. ATAS is required for those students whose nationality is outside EEA and Switzerland and have opted for ATAS applicable courses. 

    Why is an ATAS Certificate Required by Students? 

    Since ATAS applicable courses are sensitive in nature, UK immigration law requires students to submit their ATAS certificate details to the visa officials. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) introduced this scheme to stop the spread of knowledge used in the making of WMD. The ATAS certificate plays a major role in visa issuance. The Entry Clearance Officer will demand an ATAS certificate while processing your visa application. If you fail to furnish your ATAS certificate, you will be denied the student visa. 

    What  Does the 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. 

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    How to Check if I Require an ATAS Certificate?

    Whether you need an  ATAS certificate or not depends on the course and university you have applied to. ATAS applicable courses vary from university to university. Therefore, in order to know if you need an ATAS certificate for your course, you need to contact your respective university or check their website. Also, universities often mail the applicants about the requirement for an ATAS clearance well in advance. However, to give you a fair idea about courses that generally require an ATAS certificate, we have listed down the names of ATAS applicable postgraduate courses at De Montfort University.

    • Materials Science
    • Physics (including Nuclear Physics)
    • Mechanical Engineering
    • Aerospace Engineering
    • Chemical, Process and Energy Engineering
    • Materials Technology not otherwise specified
    • Anatomy, Physiology, and Pathology
    • Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Pharmacy
    • Biology
    • Botany
    • Genetics
    • Animal Science
    • Chemistry
    • Materials Science
    • Physics
    • Astronomy
    • Mathematical and Computer Sciences
    • Mathematics
    • Operational Research
    • General Engineering
    • Civil Engineering
    • Mechanical Engineering
    • Aerospace Engineering
    • Naval Architecture
    • Electronic and Electrical Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Artificial Intelligence

    For undergraduate students, those courses leading to master’s qualification like MPhys or MEng normally require an ATAS clearance. 

    An alternative way to check if you need an ATAS certificate or not, visit this website and fill in the details to get your results. Please note that you will need the CAH3 code that is applicable to your course. You are most likely to find this code on your conditional offer letter, or you can contact the institution to know your code. 

    When Should I apply for my ATAS Certificate? 

    Students should ideally apply for the ATAS certificate as early as possible, preferably 6-8 weeks before the beginning date of the course. The FCO takes a minimum of 30 days to process the certificate or even longer when there are peak months (June-September). It is advised that students do not delay the ATAS application process because after receiving the certificate, they will also have to apply for the Confirmation Acceptance Studies (CAS) letter which takes 20 days to process. The visa process itself takes 3 weeks. However, the validity period of the ATAS certificate is only 6 months, and after the end of this period, you will have to re-apply for a fresh ATAS certificate if you do not commence with the visa process by then. Therefore, ensure that you do not proceed with the ATAS application before six months from the commencement date of the course. 

    How to Apply for an ATAS Certificate? 

    If the student finds that the course he/she is enrolling in is an ATAS applicable course, then he/she should be proceeding with the following steps to apply for the ATAS certificate: 

    • Visit this site to fill the ATAS application form.  
    • An online application form will then appear. It will have 10 sections in total which you will need to fill. 
    • Firstly, the application form will require you to fill the details of your proposed course of study. You can find all these details in your university offer letter including the CAH3 code. In fact, the conditional offer letter will also give you the relevant keywords for the “What will you be studying” box in the application form. Students are advised to use only what the university has mentioned in the offer letter. Use this description in the box “Why do you want to study this” too.
    • Next, the application form will ask you to fill your personal details. Fill all the details carefully, and verify at least twice if the details you have entered are correct or not before submitting. Students are likely to make typos in this section. If the details mentioned in the application do not match with those given in the passport, you will be denied the visa. 
    • You will also have to give the details of your spouse if you are married and bringing him/her along with you to the UK. 
    • Then you will need to enter your contact details including your email address. The ATAS certificate will be sent to you on the given email ID. 
    • Provide as much information as you can about your undergraduate and postgraduate studies or any other studies you may have undertaken. 
    • Mention if you have published any research papers independently or with co-publishers.
    • Give details of your employment history. Do mention the jobs that are relevant to your subject of study. 
    • Provide 2 references and their details. The referees should have known you for at least three years from your academic life. However, the referee could be from your work life too, if you have prior work experience.
    • You will also be required to fill in the details of your sponsors who are funding your studies. But if you are paying for the education on your own, you need to give your details. And if a family member is sponsoring your education, you need to fill his/her details. 
    • Submit all these details and your application will be sent for processing. 
    • Once your application is processed successfully, you will receive the ATAS certificate on your email ID that you gave while filling the application form. 
    • Once you download the certificate, make sure all the details mentioned there are correct, and match them with the details mentioned in the conditional offer letter. 
    • Take a printout of the certificate for further references. 
    • In case of any discrepancy, email your grievances to
    • You are likely to get your ATAS certificate within 20 days if your application is accepted. 
    • However, please contact if you do not receive any communication regarding ATAS within 20 days.

    What Do I Need While Filling the Application Form? 

    • Conditional offer letter 
    • Details about your program of study and research plus CAH3 code (important) 
    • Previous academic documents
    • Previous and current employment documents
    • Published papers
    • Optional modules you are planning to undertake along with the master’s program
    • Your area of research and description 
    • Contact details and full names of the referees
    • The funding source for education 

    What are the Additional Tips to Keep in Mind While Filling the ATAS Application Form?

    • While providing the names of the referees, sponsors, and employers, make sure that you give their full names. Do provide the first and last names, and do not use initials. 
    • Please indicate ‘not applicable’ or ‘never employed’ if you have never been employed.  
    • Ensure that all the passport details you will provide are complete and accurate.
    • The research statements and descriptions should be in accordance with what has been agreed upon with the institution of enrolment. Please rely on the information given in the conditional offer letter or the statements communicated to you by the university with regards to the ATAS certificate.
    • The personal statement you will be providing should be sufficient. 
    • Ensure that no long gaps are there in your education and employment background. In case you have one in your employment history, do indicate it on the form. 
    • The CAH3 code should be correct, else your application will be rejected. 
    • To reiterate, verify the information given for any errors or omissions before submitting the application to avoid rejection. 

    How to Apply for the Visa?

    After you have received your ATAS certificate, following are the further steps which you need to take to get your visa:

    • After receiving the ATAS certificate, you will have to apply for the next prerequisite to the Tier 4 visa, and that is the CAS number.
    • To apply for the CAS number, you will either have to contact the university or the university itself will send you the link to start the process.  
    • You will be asked to enter in many details including your ATAS details. You may also be required to send a copy of your ATAS certificate online to get your CAS number. 
    • Once you get your CAS number, you need to go to the UK visa immigration services website wherein you will have to complete the tier-4 application process. 
    • On the application form, you will be asked to fill all the important details including ATAS number. 
    • Pay the required fees.
    • Book a biometric appointment. It is at this meeting that you will be required to furnish various documents including the ATAS certificate. 
    • The home office will contact you and inform you if you have been denied or given the visa. The process usually takes three weeks. 

    Read Also:

    What are the Reasons for ATAS Application Rejection?

    Yes. 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. You can check here what the University of Edinburgh cites as good and bad examples of an application description. 

    What to do if my ATAS Certificate 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.

    Important Points to Keep in Mind:

    • Issuance of ATAS application does not guarantee the issuance of the visa. 
    • There is no ATAS application cost, which means that you can get your ATAS certificate for free. 

    How Can GyanDhan Help You In A UK Visa? 

    Who would have thought applying for a UK visa could involve so many steps! It is indeed true that the application process can get a little intimidating. Which is why GyanDhan seeks to help you with our visa counseling services. Avail our visa counseling sessions for the UK at affordable rates here. You will get a call soon from our counselors. 

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    Also, if you are looking for education loans to finance your higher education in the UK, start by checking your loan eligibility here

    First published date: 10 Jul 2020

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About author

Vishakha Bhagia
Interest in Finance with a flair for writing, Vishakha has written on education loans and the study abroad field for the last two years with articles published in Times of India, Outlook India, The Hindu, and many more publications.

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