Customized London Pre-Departure


Studying abroad comes with a lot of steps and can be overwhelming at times. Use this checklist to make sure you aren’t missing any important steps and you have an understanding of what you must complete prior to departing. We will send you e-mail notifications for when to begin/complete these steps. Complete these items as soon as you receive notice from CAPA or your home institution.

Apply for a passport
Notify CAPA if you have academic accommodations at your home university
Notify CAPA of concerns about managing your health
Register with STEP (US citizens only)
Apply for UK Visa (Interns only, we will send detailed instructions)
Photo for ISIC (By time you depart to bring to London)
Book a flight (Sooner rather than later to avoid expensive fares)
Share flight details with CAPA when requested (3 weeks prior)
Complete CAPA registration for courses (3 months before program)

In addition to the items above that must be completed as programmatic requirements, the following is a list of other to-dos that you should be taking care of prior to departure.

Apply for scholarships
Create a budget
Notify your bank that you’ll be out of the country
Meet with your academic advisor to plan coursework for the program and for the semester you return to campus
Talk to your doctor about prescriptions and maintaining your well-being abroad
Review the Pre-Departure website in entirety
Attend an orientation (in-person through your university and CAPA webinar)
Join CAPA Facebook group
Consider if you’ll bring a smart phone or leave it
Download relevant apps
Obtain local currency
Purchase travel items
Begin learning useful phrases in language
Think about housing for return to US
Check in periodically with home campus study abroad office
OTHER (vote, register, taxes, what else to be taken care of from a distance?)

Passports and Visas


Register with the US Department of State (US Citizens Only)


All international travel requires a valid passport – without one you will not be allowed to fly to or enter another country. To study abroad, your passport must be valid for at least 6 months AFTER the end of the program. If you don’t already have a passport (or your passport will expire within 6 months after the program), you need to start the process to obtain a passport immediately. US citizens can check the US Postal Service website for more information about the passport application process.

We recommend:

  • Upload a copy of your passport to your CAPA application.
  • Leave a copy of your passport with a trusted friend or family member at home.


Non-Internship Students: If you are only taking classes, you do not need a visa. Instead you will receive a UK entry letter.  It is critical that you have this letter with you every time you enter the UK. Do NOT pack it in checked luggage.

Internship Students: If you are participating in an internship you need a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa.

  1. We will send you your visa instruction about 55 days prior to leaving. Apply for the visa immediately upon receiving these instructions!
  2. Next you will need to go in person for a biometric scan.
  3. Finally, you will mail the following to the UK consulate:
    1. Final application
    2. Passport
    3. Various supplemental documents (CAPA will provide the list of materials about 55 days before you depart.)

NON-US Citizens: Please note that you many have a different visa process than US citizens. It is VERY important that you bring this to the attention of your CAPA Program Manager as soon as possible. While we cannot advise you on situation specific requirements to submit your application under these circumstances, we may be able to point you towards the appropriate resources.

Students with a Criminal Record: Please note that there could be complications to your visa process. It is VERY important that you bring this to the attention of your CAPA Program Manager as soon as possible.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call our Student Service hotline at 1-800 793-0334.

Register with US Dept. of State (US Citizens Only)

For your safety, please take a moment to visit the website below and register your information by clicking on “Create an Account.”


  • U.S. embassies and consulates assist nearly 200,000 Americans each year who are victims of crime, accident, or illness, or whose family and friends need to contact them in an emergency.
  • Provide assistance and information when there is a:
    • Personal emergency
    • Natural disaster
    • An act of terrorism
    • Civil unrest strikes during your foreign travel
  • By registering your trip, the embassy or consulate can locate you when necessary.

Registration is voluntary and costs nothing!

Booking Your Flight

Purchasing your Ticket
London’s Airports


You should book your flight to arrive into London on the first day of the program as indicated in your CAPAcket.

For example: If your program runs from March 1 until April 13, that means you are to arrive in London ON the 1st, and depart ON the 13th.

We do NOT recommend that you book a one way ticket into the country in which you are studying, as this could result in you being denied entry.

If you arrive into London before these dates or stay in London beyond them, your housing will not be available and you will be responsible for your own accommodations.

Internship Students: Additionally, if you have had to get a UK visa because of your internship, please note that you cannot arrive into London before the date indicated on your visa, or stay in London beyond the date on your visa. Once the program has ended, you can leave the UK, travel to mainland Europe, and then re-enter as a tourist, but the same does not apply before the start of the program.



Check-in: 9:00 am until 5:00 pm at your residence/homestay on your arrival date

Check-out: 10:00 am on your departure date 

It’s advised to pick an overnight flight that arrives into London in the morning, rather than a daytime flight for which arrival arrangements will be trickier, and you are likely to get into London late in the evening.

If your flight arrives in London earlier than 9 am, you will still have plenty of time to make it to your residence.

  • For example: If you arrived at 7 am, between going through immigration, collecting your luggage, and traveling to your housing you are still not likely to get to central London until 9 or 10 am.
  • For example: If you arrive at 5 am, we would recommend waiting at the airport and grabbing breakfast, so you will arrive at your residence after 9 am. If you arrive at your residence before 9 am, you will need to wait before you can access your apartment.

If your flight arrives after 5 pm, CAPA will be in touch you with you separately to advise you on what you should do.

Purchasing your Ticket

There are a number of options out there for finding discount airfare, and even more options if you are a student/under 26. It’s important to be aware that the least expensive plane ticket will generally also be the least flexible. Be prepared to pay high fees to change your return date, and even higher fees should you need to change your outgoing date. and

These companies offer airfare deals especially for students. Often they are able to contract specific rates with the airlines that are not published for other travelers. Additionally, some of these fares have more flexible approaches towards changing your return date, in case you decide to stay on after your studies.

**Traveler’s Tip: It never hurts to get an agent from both companies on the phone, as occasionally they can find even better deals.,,,,,, and

These are all search engines that allow you to sift through offers from numerous airlines and consolidators to check for the best deal.

**Traveler’s Tip:

  • Check the airline’s website after finding a good deal on these websites. Sometimes you will be able to get a better schedule at the same price, or find an even better discount. Airline websites can surprise you with a good deal from time to time and it never hurts to check.
  • Remember that booking airfare over the phone will usually carry a surcharge, but if you feel more comfortable talking through the investment, it can be worth it.
  • Look for travel predictor apps and websites – they can give you an idea as to where prices are going to go in the next few weeks – such as if prices are expected to rise, drop or stay the same. It’s not error-proof, but if you are deciding when to take the plunge and purchase your ticket, it can be helpful.

London’s airports

Most international flights will bring you into Heathrow or Gatwick. London also has four additional airports. We will provide you with instructions for getting from the airport to your accommodations from whichever airport into which you choose to fly. Ultimately, either Heathrow or Gatwick airport is perfectly fine to fly into. You can also look at our Getting Around section to find out more about how to get to and from the airport.


You’re probably beginning to wonder how you can fit everything you need into just a couple of suitcases and are trying to figure out what you need to take care of before you leave. Here are some tips on what to pack and what to do before leaving for your semester in a convenient PDF format.

CAPA London Packing List

CAPA London Documents List

Important Note: You will want to look into the baggage restrictions for the airline you are taking. Some airlines will allow you to check two large suitcases for international flights, but you definitely want to find out the size and weight restrictions so that you don’t end up having to pay extra for heavy baggage.

You can also watch this Vlog by Melanie to get more great tips!




Best Things to See Near the CAPA London Center by London Resident Director, Claire Kibblewhite:

Best museum: Plump for Leighton House Museum, on the edge of Holland Park, recommended by Adrian Murphy as “gorgeous” and by Mai Moon as “a truly amazing place featuring stunning Middle Eastern and North African interiors and art”. It’s the former home and studio of Victorian artist Frederick, Lord Leighton which became, over 30 years, his “private palace of art”.

Best green space: Holland Park wins this one with multiple recommendations, including its Kyoto Garden, peacocks, black rabbits and ecology centre.

Best street markets: Portobello Market and Golborne Road market for local character and variety

Best place to see fringe theatre: The Royal Court on Sloane Square

Tips for Packing and Living in London by CAPA Vlogger, Chad Berry:

Top Free Activities in London by London Resident Director, Claire Kibblewhite:

1 . Free Museums

2 . Park Life 

  • Relax on Wimbledon Common where you’ll find ponds, a nature trail and a windmill.
  • Go deer-spotting in dreamy Richmond Park.
  • See the Prime Meridian line for free at Park Vista.
  • Burn off some calories by jogging around Hyde Park, which covers 350 acres (142 hectares).
  • See the Peter Pan statue at Kensington Gardens.
  • Watch the pelicans being fed every day at 2:30pm at St James’s Park. Also look out for water birds, owls, woodpeckers and bats.

3 . Must-do London

  • Watch the daily Changing the Guard ceremony outside Buckingham Palace.
  • Follow in the footsteps of The Beatles by crossing the famous Abbey Road zebra crossing that’s featured on the eponymous album cover. 
  • Watch Tower Bridge open. See continuous images of the 19th-century landmark on our live video feed.
  • Meet the stone lions at Trafalgar Square.
  • Explore Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park with it gorgeous parklands, waterways and striking venues.
  • Take a selfie in front of the bright lights of Piccadilly Circus.
  • Listen to the chiming of Big Ben.
  • Watch the gate-closing ritual, the Ceremony of the Keys, at the Tower of London.

4 . Great Walks

  • Take a stroll along the picture-pretty South Bank.
  • Follow the towpath through tranquil Little Venice to discover a slew of waterfront cafes and pubs.
  • Walk across Millennium Bridge from St Paul’s Cathedral to Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe.
  • Take a shady walk amongst the 35,000 monuments of Brompton Cemetery, including one of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst.
  • Escape the city in the ancient woodland of Highgate Wood.

5 . Historical London

  • Check out the mysterious London Stone at 111 Cannon Street. Legend says the stone was part of an altar in a temple built by Brutus of Troy.
  • See the remains of London’s Roman amphitheatre in the basement of the Guildhall Art Gallery.
  • Visit Southwark Cathedral, the oldest cathedral church building in London.
  • Marvel at how living rooms in England have changed since 1600 at the Geffrye Museum.
  • View the London Wall, the remnant of the Roman wall which was built in AD 200 and once formed part of the eastern defences of Roman Londinium.
  • See what London’s streets looked like in days gone by with Museum of London’s app.

Have Questions?

CAPA Pre-Departure Services Team

+1 (800) 793 0334


Ready to Take the Next Step?

Request Info