Relocating to the UK

We have created guides to introduce some of the relevant considerations when relocating to the UK...

It is no secret that moving can be extremely stressful. The first steps of relocation to a new country can be disorienting.

Fitzgerald & Law have created these guides to introduce some of the relevant considerations when relocating to the UK.

To enter the UK, you and members of your family who travel with you must have valid passports and visas where required. National Identity Cards for citizens of the European Economic Area (EEA) are also acceptable but it should be noted that travel outside the EEA on leave or business may be restricted if you do not have a full passport.

A vehicle that is imported for use in the UK must be registered and taxed as soon as possible after it arrives in the country. The vehicle should not be used or kept on public roads until the registration and vehicle tax formalities have been completed.

Requirements will vary depending on the age of the vehicle, whether it is being imported from inside or outside the EU etc. For more details visit To apply to register your vehicle, visit the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) website.

The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) is the system that allows dogs, cats and ferrets from certain countries to enter the UK without quarantine as long as they meet the rules. In most cases, pets do have to wait for six months before entering the UK.

When you travel into the UK, there are rules about what goods you can bring with you without paying duty or VAT (Value Added Tax). Some goods are banned or restricted by law. For more details, contact us.

If you have children, you may want to bring car seats/booster seats, as you are required by law to use appropriate child restraints for children until either they reach the age of twelve or are at least 1.35 metres in height, whichever comes first. The seats need to comply with the UK safety regulations for child car seats.

There is a wide spectrum of taxation rules with respect to expatriates and how these relate to remittances, bonuses, incentive plans and tax equalisation/protection policies. A carefully structured assignment with arrival and departure meetings not only provides peace of mind but also considerable tax savings.

Contact Kiki Stannard, to discuss your specific circumstances.

To work in the UK, you will require a National Insurance number. You can start work without a National Insurance number; however, you must apply as soon as your day-to-day duties commence.

National Insurance Contributions (NICs) are due in addition to income tax and are usually deducted from your earnings on a monthly basis. In certain cases, an exemption from paying NICs can be obtained.

To apply for a National Insurance number, call Jobcentre Plus on +44 (0)845 600 0643. Lines are open 8.00am to 6.00pm Monday to Friday.

Confirming your identity

As part of the application process, a number of 'identity documents' will be required, so it is advisable to have the following originals (not photocopies) available where possible:

  • valid passport (UK or foreign)
  • national identity card (UK or foreign)
  • residence permit or residence card including biometric immigration residency documents
  • full birth/adoption certificate
  • full marriage or civil partnership certificate
  • driving license (UK or foreign)

Provided your application is accepted, the process from requesting a National Insurance number to the number being issued is up to 6 weeks.

Contact Kiki Stannard, to discuss your specific circumstances.

Most UK banks require specific documentation in order to open an account and the bank's lack of access to your credit history can make the process long and tedious.

Pre-Arrival Banking Tip

Ask your bank in your home country to give you a statement with your temporary address in the UK on letter headed paper so you can prove a credit history to UK banks.

If you have lived in London for less than two years, banks will require your previous address and foreign addresses will not fit into their online form.

EU Voters

For foreign nationals who can vote in EU elections (EU nationals) it is wise to register with the town council immediately upon arrival. Banks, building societies and other credit lending institutions use the electoral register to verify addresses.

Confirming your identity

As a rule, when you go to open an account be prepared to provide copies of your last six months' bank statements and a letter from your employer with proof of your income. Banks will also want proof of identity and of residence (usually a recent utility bill) and they will ask for references.

Opening times

Opening hours are generally 9.00am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday. Some banks open on a Saturday morning but all are closed on Sundays and bank holidays. All major banks have cash machines that operate 24 hours a day. The main ‘high street’ banks in the UK include Lloyds TSB, Barclays, Citibank, NatWest and HSBC.

Bank account types

UK banks offer two basic types of accounts: current accounts (checking accounts) and deposit accounts (savings accounts).

Travellers cheques and foreign currency can be purchased at all major UK banks and post offices in the UK; however, it can require several days' advance notice, depending on the currency. Many post office branches have a foreign currency exchange desk and can offer travellers cheques or cash in currencies such as US Dollars and Euros immediately.

It is important to note that most expatriates will need transformers/adaptors to use electrical appliances in the UK.

There are many suppliers of gas and electricity and they offer a wide range of prices and services. Websites such as and provide price comparisons in your area.

You are unable to choose a water supplier in the UK. Generally, bills are sent to you annually or bi-annually in advance and are calculated on your anticipated usage.

Tap water in the UK is fit for consumption. For more information on water quality, contact the Drinking Water Inspectorate

To operate a television (TV) in the UK, you must purchase a TV License. Licenses are valid for one year. Current license fees are £145.50. Fines for not having a license can be as high as £1,000. One license covers all the television sets at the registered address. For more information and to apply for a license go to

The broadcast format in the UK is the PAL-I system. This system is different from most EU countries, as well as the US and Canada. A DVD player or VCR purchased outside the UK will not play British films unless it is a multi-system DVD player or VCR. DVDs are coded differently for different regions of the world. (US is zone 1, UK/Europe is zone 2).

Most TVs have Freeview built in (or a Freeview box can be purchased without a monthly subscription), which provides numerous free digital TV channels. Alternatively, you can talk to cable and satellite TV companies, such as Sky TV, Talk Talk or NTL to find out what your options are. The website allows you to compare rates. If you are considering purchasing cable & satellite TV and a telephone line and/or broadband, you should consider the many packages available from providers such as Sky or Virgin Media.

The major company that provides telephone lines is British Telecom (BT). You can consult U-Switch to establish which company offers you the best deal. Some companies are only active in certain parts of the country. For free international calls, you may wish to use software (e.g. Skype

Mobile phones can be purchased at the many phone shops around the UK. Stores include The Carphone Warehouse, T-Mobile, Orange, o2, Vodaphone etc.

Mobile phone contracts can be purchased on a monthly or "Pay As You Go" (PAYG) basis.

UK mobile phones operate on the GSM network. Dual band mobile phones work in the UK and Europe. Triband phones work in the UK, Europe and the US. Quadband work on many GSM systems around the world including South America and Japan, subject to operator roaming agreements.

Many UK Internet Service Providers offer a variety of packages - U-Switch and Compare the Market can help you determine the best option for you.

If you are only looking for one-off access, try one of the many internet cafés in the London area or ask at your local library (you will need a utility bill as proof of address).

Your local government levies council tax against your residence for public services. Even if you are renting (from a private landlord), you are responsible for paying this. The amount paid will be based on the value of the dwelling.

To find out in which council your property is valued and to calculate your tax go to and click on council tax.

If you are renting a property, the building structure will be insured by the property owner; however, contents insurance is dependent upon your individual lease/contract. Websites such as Confused and Compare the Market will provide you with the most suitable quotes for your circumstances.

The best way to acquire reliable help will be through personal recommendation. Alternatively, advertise through the local press or on the notice board at your local post office, newsagent or school.

At the beginning of October each year, every household receives a letter from their local council to register for the electoral role. The letter and accompanied leaflet will explain your eligibility and what to do.

A postcode is an important location tool and it is often required by local services. A postcode is made up of a combination of letters and numbers. Each part of the postcode provides systematic information about where the item of mail is heading. From left to right the postcode narrows down its destination.

Post offices are usually open Monday to Friday from 9.00am-5.30pm and on Saturday from 9.00am-12.00pm. For a full range of services visit

Two main rates apply for sending letters in the UK:

  1. First Class: post will usually arrive the next business day
  2. Second Class: post will usually arrive three business days later

You will find a number of small grocers in all neighbourhoods; however, the main supermarkets are Tesco, Sainsbury’s, ASDA, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer.

Most have online services and offer home deliveries for a small charge.

As a resident in the UK, you are eligible to receive medical treatment under the National Health Service at little or no cost.

Registering with a Doctor

Register with a National Health Service General Practitioner (GP) as soon as possible even if you do not plan to use it very often.

NHS GPs accept new patients provided they reside within the surgery’s catchment area. A list of GPs in your area may be obtained from the public library, chemist, health centre, town hall, Department of Health and the Citizens Advice Bureau. has GPs listed by postal code.

To help you understand the health system in the UK visit or

To register, visit a local surgery to fill out a form and supply them with the documents they request, such as proof of address.

NHS Number

Once approved by the GP, you will receive a letter in the post from the Family Health Service Authority (FHSA) issuing you with a Medical Card stating your NHS number and the name of your GP. For expatriates, it is important to keep this card in a safe place because if you are reassigned to the UK in future, your NHS number will not change.

Treatment provided by a GP

A GP will treat everyday ailments and refer you to a specialist if necessary.

Prescriptions are dispensed at either the surgery’s pharmacy or the local chemist. Charges on prescriptions are made per item but are free for people under 18 and over 65 years of age, pregnant women and people suffering from various conditions such as diabetes.

Accidents & Emergencies

In cases of emergency, dial 999 for an ambulance or go to your nearest hospital with an Accident and Emergency (A&E) department.

NHS Walk-in Centres

NHS Walk-in Centres offer access to a range of NHS services, including health information, advice and treatment for a range of minor illnesses (coughs, colds, infections) and minor injuries (strains, sprains, cuts). Most centres are open from early morning to late evening, seven days a week. Experienced NHS nurses run the centres and you do not need to make an appointment.

You can expect to be treated just as professionally and usually more quickly at a Minor Injuries Unit/Walk-In Centre than in A&E. The waiting times are also usually much shorter than those in A&E and teams are led by highly qualified nurse practitioners.

If you are not sure whether your injury is minor and can be treated in a Minor Injuries Unit, contact NHS Direct online, who can advise you and direct you to the most appropriate place for your care.


Medicentres provide a doctor service to people living in, working in and visiting London, either by just walking in or by appointment. Medicentres are private and not part of the NHS. More information about this service, its costs and locations in Central London can be found at


There are two types of hospitals: NHS and Private Hospitals.

Some NHS hospitals offer private treatment; however private hospitals have no A&E department and do not provide NHS treatment.

A list of NHS hospitals can be found at:

Private hospitals can be found at: or

Opening hours are normally 9.00am - 5.30pm, Monday to Saturday, with limited hours on Sunday for emergency prescriptions. If you need medicine outside of these hours, your local pharmacy will display a list of the nearest ones.

Need help?

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to some of the issues which arise as individuals relocate to the UK.

Throughout Europe, there are varying factors to consider depending on the territory. There are many other topical F&L factsheets available upon request.

In all cases, specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances. Contact us for more information

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