Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

Update - June 2020: 

ATAS applications are now being accepted again, following the temporary suspension of the service due to Coronavirus. If you require an ATAS certificate for new or continuing studies for 20/21, please contact VISA as soon as possible. 

What is ATAS?

ATAS stands for Academic Technology Approval Scheme, which has been in place since 1st November 2007 to prevent knowledge used in WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction). An ATAS certificate is a special clearance granted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), authorising study at postgraduate level in some science, technology and engineering subjects.

Who requires an ATAS certificate?

ATAS clearance is only required by some students who are applying for a visa, or hold a visa which permits study (e.g. PBS dependent, Tier 2, Short Term Study) or are applying for asylum. You do not need to apply if you are

  • UK national, a national of the EEA (European Economic Area) or Switzerland and studying at any level
  • studying PGCE or Postgraduate Diploma
  • academic visitor
  • coming to the UK to do research that is not linked to any studies

If you are not an EEA or Swiss national, and are studying at postgraduate level (eg. Masters or PhD)or certain undergraduate level programmes, then you may need to apply for ATAS clearance, depending on the CAH3 code for your course of study (if you are unsure what your CAH3 code is, you should contact Admissions). Visit the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website to find out if an ATAS clearance certificate is required for your course.

Once the certificate is issued, the only time a student should need to submit a new application will be to support a new visa application, the student changes their studies or research during the study period, or extends their studies by a period of more than three months.

How to Apply

Once you have received your offer from Admissions Service you can apply for your ATAS certificate.

You must apply for an ATAS certificate online. There is no charge to make this application. It should take around 30 minutes to complete, and the FCO aims to process applications within 20 working days, but this may take longer during busy periods. You will receive your certificate by email - you should print this to include with your visa application.

You can access the application form online.

You will need to have the following information to hand to complete the online application

  • Passport
  • Your conditional offer letter from your Higher Education Institution (HEI)
  • Information about your programme of study/research including the relevant CAH3 code.

You will also need to provide information on:

  • previous studies
  • previous and current employment (if applicable)
  • all published papers
  • optional modules you anticipate taking in a taught Masters (if applicable)
  • your area of research and a description (for research degrees)
  • full names and contact details of 2 referees
  • how you will be funding your studies
Further information
  • If you are applying for a visa, a print-out of your ATAS certificate must be included with your application. Remember to apply in good time, allowing at least four weeks (20 working days) so that you can get your ATAS before you need to make your visa application.
  • If you are making a new visa application (eg. extending your current visa on the same course of study), you will need to apply for an ATAS certificate again, even if you have already received one previously.
  • If you require more information on ATAS, visit a drop-in session or email us: or GCU London:
  • If you require an ATAS certificate and fail to include this with your application, your visa will be refused.
  • It is advisable not to book travel plans until your ATAS certificate is received.
  • The certificate covers the duration of the CAS (course start and end dates)
  • Any change of course or research area, to a new area requiring ATAS will require a new certificate.