Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

Updated on 6 June 2024

The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) is used by the UK Government to stop the spread of knowledge and skills that could be used in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction

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You may need to apply for an ATAS clearance certificate if you intend to study a taught postgraduate course or PhD in science, engineering, or technology subjects.

Find out if you need an ATAS certificate

If you need an ATAS certificate you should request one before applying for:

  • your Student visa to come to the the UK
  • visa renewal if you have already lived here

You will also need to apply for a new ATAS certificate if:

  • there are any changes to the course content or research proposal
    • if you are studying a research PhD course, changes include changes other than minor changes to the areas of research or the use of any new research technique
  • you wish to start a new course that requires ATAS clearance
  • you move to another institution

When to apply

You must apply for your ATAS certificate before you can begin your course.

Processing times vary but it can take up to 20 working days for an ATAS certificate application to be considered and approved. At peak times (April - September), processing times will increase and can take 30 or more working days to complete.

We advise you to apply for an ATAS certificate as soon as you receive your ATAS statement from the University.

  • If you are a new student you can apply for an ATAS certificate after you accepted an Unconditional Offer of study. Your offer letter will indicate that you need to apply for ATAS and you will be issued with an ATAS statement. You must use the details provided in your ATAS statement to complete your ATAS application.
  • If you are a continuing student extending your visa, you should contact the International Advice Service at at least three months before your visa expires. If you are eligible to extend your student visa, you will automatically receive an official ATAS statement following your visa extension query.
  • If you are taking resits or extending your studies, you will need to apply for a new ATAS certificate if the end date of your course is extended by more than three months. This must be done within 28 days of confirmation of the change of date.
  • If you are applying for the Doctorate Extension Scheme, you will not need a new ATAS certificate unless your PhD end date has been extended by more than three months since you last applied for Tier 4 visa.

How to apply

You can apply for ATAS through a free, online application process on the Home Office website.

You should follow the instructions carefully before you make the application. Please have the following information to hand for the ATAS application process:

  • your contact details
  • passport details
  • name and nationality of your spouse/partner (if applicable)
  • full details of all previous studies
  • your official ATAS statement from the University of Dundee which includes:
    • taught courses - a list of modules you will be undertaking
    • research courses - a brief research proposal of your intended study. This needs to be a minimum of five sentences in length and explains exactly what you will be learning from your course.
    • all courses - your course CAH3 code
  • full details of any previous or current employment
  • full details of published papers
  • previous ATAS applications
  • full name and contact details of two referees (first name(s) and family name)
    • you must have known both your referees for at least three years
    • at least one of these must be an academic from your country of origin.
  • details of how you will be funding your studies

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office often experience some delays in processing ATAS Certificates. If you are a continuing student and need an ATAS, you are advised to contact the International Advice Service at least three months before your visa expires.

If you have a query about your application you can email . The ATAS team will do their best to answer your enquiry within five working days.

How long is an ATAS certificate valid for?

You must use your ATAS certificate within six months of the date of issue. If you do not, you will need to apply for a new one.

Once you have used the certificate with a visa application, your ATAS certificate will remain valid for the length of the course that it was issued from the course start date to the course end date given on your CAS, plus up to an additional three calendar months of study.

The certificate remains valid as long as your course details and subject area does not change. If your course details do change, or your course end date is postponed for a period of more than three calendar months, you must apply for a new ATAS certificate within 28 days of being notified of the changes in course regardless of when your visa expires.


You should not apply for your student visa if you are not in receipt of an ATAS Certificate from the FCO and if you do apply without providing your ATAS Certificate, your visa may be refused. During your time at the University, if there are any changes to the course content (or research proposal) the FCO will require you to apply for a new ATAS clearance certificate.

It is your responsibility to secure your ATAS certificate before your visa expires.


International Advice Service

+44 (0)1382 385676