Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS)

Last updated 4 January 2024

The Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) is administered by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and applies to certain work and visitor visa routes whereby the role or visit activities in some sensitive subjects will include an element of research at PhD level that could possibly result in the transfer of information, knowledge or technology to military programmes of concern.

Who needs an ATAS certificate?

The ATAS ‘requirement’ applies to the Skilled Worker and Temporary Work – Government Authorised Exchange visa routes. The Researcher must apply for and be granted an ATAS certificate before a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) can be assigned to support a visa application for leave to enter the UK or further leave to remain in the UK.

The ATAS ‘condition’ applies to the standard visitor visa route. The visitor must apply for and be granted an ATAS certificate before commencing any research activity in the UK. An ATAS certificate is not required to apply for a standard visitor visa but it is strongly recommended that the certificate has been granted before the visitor travels to the UK.

An ATAS certificate is required if:

  • The role or visit activities are in a relevant occupation code (see list below)
  • The role or visit activities include an element of research at PhD level in a relevant subject area (see list below)
  • The researcher is not from an exempt country (see list below)

An ATAS certificate is required for new members of staff and visitors applying for leave to enter the UK and current or new members of staff applying for further leave to remain in the UK. Changes to an individual’s field of research / research project, change of job title or duration of contract will require a new ATAS certificate.

Evidence of an application for an ATAS certificate is required before an extension to contract can be processed.

The need for an ATAS certificate can be checked using the ATAS eligibility tool below. 

If an ATAS certificate is required, Human Resources will notify the researcher or visitor.

Occupation code

2111 Chemical scientists

2112 Biological scientists and biochemists

2113 Physical scientists

2114 Social and humanities scientists

2119 Natural and social science professionals not elsewhere classified

2150 Research and development managers

2122 Mechanical engineers

2123 Electrical engineers

2124 Electronics engineers

2127 Production and process engineers

2129 Engineering professionals not elsewhere classified

2311 Higher education teaching professionals;

3111 Laboratory technicians

3112 Electrical and electronics technicians

3113 Engineering technicians

3114 Building and civil engineering technicians

5235 Aircraft maintenance and related trades

Subject area

Subjects allied to Medicine:

CAH02-02-01 - Pharmacology

CAH02-02-02 - Toxicology

CAH02-02-03 - Pharmacy

CAH10-01-06 - Bioengineering, Medical and Biomedical Engineering

CAH02-05-03 - Others in subjects allied to Medicine


Biological Sciences:

CAH03-01-02 - Biology (non-specific)

CAH03-01-03 - Ecology and Environmental Biology

CAH03-01-06 - Zoology

CAH03-01-04 - Microbiology and Cell Science

CAH03-01-05 - Plant Sciences

CAH10-03-05 - Biotechnology

CAH03-01-07 - Genetics

CAH02-05-03 - Biomedical Sciences (non-specific)

CAH03-01-08 - Molecular Biology, Biophysics and Biochemistry

CAH03-01-01 - Biosciences (non-specific)

CAH03-01-10 - Others in Biological Sciences


Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects:

CAH05-01-02 - Others in Veterinary Sciences

CAH06-01-02 - Agricultural sciences


Physical Sciences:

CAH07-02-01 - Chemistry

CAH10-03-07 - Materials Science

CAH07-01-01 - Physics

CAH07-01-02 - Astronomy

CAH26-01-05 - Others in Geographical Studies

CAH07-04-01 - Physical Sciences (non-specific)

CAH07-04-03 - Sciences (non-specific)

CAH07-04-04 - Natural Sciences (non-specific)


Mathematical and Computer Sciences:

CAH09-01-01 - Mathematics

CAH09-01-02 - Operational Research

CAH11-01-01 - Computer Science

CAH11-01-02 - Information Technology

CAH11-01-03 - Information Systems

CAH11-01-04 - Software Engineering

CAH11-01-05 - Artificial Intelligence



CAH10-01-01 - Engineering (non-specific)

CAH10-01-07 - Civil Engineering

CAH10-01-02 - Mechanical Engineering

CAH10-01-04 - Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering

CAH10-01-05 - Naval Architecture

CAH10-01-08 - Electrical and Electronic Engineering

CAH10-01-09 - Chemical, Process and Energy Engineering



CAH10-03-03 - Polymers and Textiles

CAH10-03-01 - Minerals Technology

CAH10-03-02 - Materials Technology

CAH10-03-04 - Maritime Technology

Exempt nationalities







Republic of Cyprus

Czech Republic


















New Zealand








South Korea




United States of America

How to apply for an ATAS certificate

Guidance on how to apply for an ATAS certificate is available below.

Please note it takes at least 30 working days (6 full weeks) for the FCDO to process an ATAS application.

Important information for recruiting managers / administrators

As a sponsor, it is the university’s responsibility to check whether a researcher or visitor is subject to the ATAS ‘requirement’ or ‘condition’ and ensure an ATAS certificate has been granted if applicable. Failure to meet these responsibilities is likely to result in the researcher or visitor’s visa application being refused or unable to start their academic visit, with the possibility of the University’s sponsor licence being revoked. Whereby a researcher or visitor is being sponsored, our internal procedure is to have confirmation that the individual has obtained an ATAS certificate before assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship. 

If your Human Resources contact is unsure whether the research area fits into one of the CAH subject codes listed above, they will contact you for confirmation. 

The Home Office recommends an ATAS application is submitted at least 4 months before an individual’s current permission in the UK expires. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of the FCDO timescales for an individual obtaining an ATAS certificate, ensuring that any fixed-term contract extensions are processed with sufficient time to allow the researcher to apply and receive their ATAS certificate ahead of applying for their visa.