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What you need to know about moving to the UK from overseas

What you need to know about moving to the UK from overseas

The United Kingdom has been a popular destination for expats from all over the world for a number of decades due to its strong economy, multi-cultural population, particularly in the case of larger metropolitan areas, and popularity of the English language.

Thousands of people continue to move to the UK every year, and the process is straight forward, but it’s worth talking about a few issues which will help when you make the transition to UK resident. 

Firstly, it’s worth pointing out that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is comprised of not one but four countries which are united in the form of one republic and government.  These countries are England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The reasons for this structure are rooted in centuries of rich history, so depending on where you plan to move you might want to do more homework on the local customs and habits. It is a great faux pas to refer to a Welsh person as English for example, so don’t make that rookie mistake. 

If you’re moving from the EU, you can do so freely at the moment, though this might change if the UK goes ahead with a potential departure, so be aware of possible changes to the immigration process.

First steps:

Non EU citizens will need to check if they qualify for a VISA. The UK runs a point based immigration system, so depending on your reasons for wanting to live in the UK, you should check what category you belong to and what your rights are. 

On arrival:

Finding a place to live

The majority of people in the UK live in rented accommodation so you’ll need to explore that option if you can’t afford to buy right away. There are many websites helping you find rented accommodation but the most popular is or, especially in London where rents can be very high. If you don’t have a financial footprint in the UK, like a credit score, you might be asked to provide details of a guarantor or even six months’ rent in advance so keep that in mind when planning your budget. 

If you plan on working once you’ve arrived in the UK, one of the first things you’re going to have to do will be to apply for a National Insurance number. The process can only be started once you’re in the UK and will depend on whether you have the right to work or study here.  

On arrival you should set up an appointment with your local Job Centre Plus as soon as possible making sure to take identification such as your passport or birth certificate when you arrive for your appointment. Once your application has been approved you will receive your NI number by post and you should notify your employer that you now have, one in order to receive your salary. You are still able to work without a National Insurance number, provided you can prove eligibility, i.e. EU citizenship, but your tax contributions might be incorrect until you have one.  

Opening a bank account

One of the first things you’ll need will be a bank account so this should be your next priority after you’ve secured a permanent address. 

Depending on the bank you choose you will either be asked for utility bills as proof of address or alternatively you can use your letting agreement; this will depend on your chosen Bank’s regulations so check with them first. 

Medical care

The UK, is home to the National Health Service (NHS), which provides free universal health care to all residents regardless of nationality. On arrival you will want to register with a GP in your catchment area who will register you with the NHS automatically and provide you with a NHS number. You will then be able to receive free medical care as soon as you need it. 

Finding a moving partner

Organising an international move can be one of the biggest headaches so it’s important to not underestimate the scale of the project. Make sure to find a relocation provider who will give you the level of service you require, no matter how basic or complicated. The right company will listen to your needs and provide solutions ranging from packing, to storage, to managing all your paperwork, transporting your pets or vehicles or even helping you find a home or school in your area of choice.

If you are moving to the UK from the EU you won’t have to pay customs duties on your personal effects. Arrivals from non-EU countries however, might, so you should complete a Transfer of Residence relief form to inform the Government that you’ll be transferring your normal place of residence from outside the EU to the UK so that they can calculate what you might be expected to pay.

Depending on your available budget you’ll need to think how you want to transport your effects. Options include sea and air from outside the European Union and or by road, if travelling from within the EU. A mark of excellence to always look out for in a relocation provider, is whether they’re FIDI and FAIM registered as well as members of the British Association of Removers (BAR), if UK based, as these ensure that all their members adhere to certain quality standards. 
Speak to us if you have any questions or concerns regarding your upcoming move. Our Move Managers are always available to you and happy to advise you.

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