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Living in the UK: A Checklist for New Arrivals

Moving to a new country can be a daunting and stressful experience. Here, we outline an essential checklist for all new arrivals to the UK to ensure that you can settle into your new home as quickly as possible.

For help and expert advice on your move to the UK or for any other immigration matter, contact us on 0333 305 9375 or reach out to us online today.

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Are You Planning to, or Have Recently Moved to the UK?

If the answer to this question is yes, then it’s likely that you will be busy organising and thinking about how to best adjust to life in the UK.

Moving to a different country is no small task, and can involve a large number of small, yet important, errands that must be completed in order to facilitate a successful move.

These can include registering with various necessary organisations, purchasing a few essential items, and ensuring that you have a reliable network of support in case things happen to go wrong.

In this article, we will outline a few essential things that we recommend all new arrivals to the UK complete in order to start their new life as smoothly as possible.

Looking for further advice and assistance with your move to the UK? IAS’ immigration lawyers can assist with every step of the process, including helping you to adjust to your new home and finding key resources and support to help you settle in. Call one of our advisers on 0333 305 9375 or reach out to us online for immediate help today.

If you have any questions about UK immigration, our team is happy to assist.

Moving to the UK: A Checklist of Essentials

If you’re moving to the UK, then below is a list of things that all new arrivals should find helpful when settling in.

1. Ensure You Have Your Biometric Residence Permit

A biometric residence permit (BRP) is an essential document for all newly-arrived foreign nationals who will be living in the UK long-term. It is a physical card that shows key information such as your identity, your immigration status, and whether you’re entitled to public funds or not.

You may need to produce your BRP to prove your right to stay in the UK when requested, or when registering for certain official services.

BRPs will either be sent to you in the post or you will have to collect them from a local Post Office, depending on your circumstances. You will normally be told in your visa decision letter how you can obtain your BRP.

Always make sure to keep your BRP safe and secure, and apply for a replacement as soon as possible if it gets lost or stolen.

Note that BRPs are set to be phased out at the end of 2024. After this, the UK will switch to electronic ‘eVisas’ instead. You may already have an eVisa – if not, then you will be contacted later in the year with more details about the switch.

2. Apply for a National Insurance Number

A National Insurance (NI) number is a unique code that belongs to only you. It is essential for anyone who wants to work in the UK, and in order to claim certain state benefits.

If you already have a BRP, you may already have an NI number. If so, then it will be printed on the back of your card.

If you do not have an NI number yet, then you can apply for one via the gov.uk website.

Note that you may still be able to start working in the UK before receiving an NI number if you can prove that you have the right to work in the UK.

Your NI number is tied to your identity and will not ever change. Make sure to keep it safe and do not share it with anyone who doesn’t need to know it; you may be asked to share it with certain groups such as official government departments, your employer, banks and your local council.

3. Register for Council Tax

Almost everyone in the UK aged 18 or over must pay council tax.

Council tax is a fee that you pay to your local authority (the council) that goes towards funding local services. It is normally paid in monthly instalments for ten months of the year. In Northern Ireland, council tax is instead known as ‘rates’.

How much council tax you will have to pay depends on the property you live in and your personal circumstances. Certain groups of people may be exempt from council tax or be eligible to receive a discount, so it is worth checking if you might be eligible for one of these before registering.

For instance, full-time students at university, student nurses and certain apprentices are exempt from paying council tax.

Most councils will have information on their website on how to register and pay for council tax.

You must pay your council tax. You may be prosecuted and even imprisoned if you do not pay council tax.

6. Register With Your Local GP

Being able to access healthcare while in the UK is crucial in case any health issues arise.

For this reason, you should register with your local GP (general practitioner) as soon as you settle in the UK. Your GP will normally be your first point of call if you need to speak to a doctor or have any minor medical treatments or examinations carried out.

Anyone who will be staying in the UK for 3 months or longer can register with a GP.

Registering with a GP will be one of the things covered under your immigration healthcare surcharge payment, so you won’t have to pay anything extra to register.

You may, however, need to pay for certain medical prescriptions or for dentist appointments and dental work.

You can contact your local GP practice or visit their website to learn more about how to register.

4. Open a UK Bank Account

It is highly recommended that you open a UK bank account if you will be staying here long-term.

Opening a UK bank account to use to manage your finances will potentially make it easier to secure a place to rent and to make the process of receiving payment from employment easier.

You may also find it easier to manage your UK bank account if you prefer to visit a physical branch and speak to someone in person regarding your finances.

Note that you will first need to obtain proof of a UK address in order to open a UK bank account. This can be anything from a utility bill, letter from the council, GP practice letter, or a letter from your employer.

5. Purchase a UK SIM Card for Your Phone

While living in the UK, it is likely you will heavily rely on your phone to send and receive calls and texts, as well as using it when out and about to help navigate your new area.

Depending on your current phone plan, you may wish to consider buying a dedicated UK SIM card to help make using your phone in the UK easier.

You probably won’t need to unlock your current phone or purchase a dedicated UK phone as long as your phone uses the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) standard.

SIM cards are sold in many small and large shops across the UK, or can be bought directly from mobile providers.

7. Find Local Support Groups and Services

Adjusting to life in a new country can be difficult, especially for those who have left friends and contacts behind when moving.

For this reason, it may be worth looking into local support groups and services that may assist you with various matters.

For example, Citizens Advice is an organisation that assists with various legal, housing, financial and consumer issues. There are local offices all across the UK.

In addition, your local council may provide advice to help you settle in to the UK and navigate local services. There may also be a range of local charities, organisations, helplines and groups that can offer help for recent arrivals.

It may also be worth searching online for local groups for migrants from your specific country or area, or for further support in your first language, if it isn’t English.

Being able to find the right support to help you settle into your new home can be an important part of any move. As well as helping you sort out the details of your new life here, it can also provide emotional support and reassurance that you are keeping on top of things.

If you require further advice or assistance regarding your stay in the UK, IAS’ immigration specialists can help resolve your queries quickly and professionally. Call us on 0333 305 9375 or reach out to us online today.

We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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