As Soon As You Arrive

Open a bank account

As soon as you arrive in the UK, you will need a bank account to be paid, get cash or make payments. The process of opening a bank account for expats has improved in the last few years, but still presents some challenges, in particular related to providing a proof of address. A letter from your employer in the UK confirming your UK address is an essential tool to speed up this process.

In order to open a UK bank account you must provide:

  • Valid proof of your identity: Passport, National Identity Card, National Driving Licence
  • Current proof of your UK address: this could be more difficult, but the following documents may be acceptable: a letter from your employer in the UK confirming your UK address, tenancy agreement, utility bills

Other useful documents are:

  • a proof of your previous or permanent address in the country you are coming from
  • a reference letter from a bank or financial institution you have an account with in that country
  • a document showing that money will be paid into your account regularly (a job offer or a pay slip)

Remember that banks will normally only accept original documents, not copies.

The process might take two to three weeks before the account is open and ready to use.

Before opening a bank account, it is better to “shop around” as not all banks make their decisions using the same criteria and offer the same products.

Get a mobile phone number

Getting a mobile phone is definitely one of the priorities once you arrive in the UK. Whether you need a new phone or just a UK number, you can choose between many mobile operators and networks. Large retailers like Carphone Warehouse often offer the best deals.

To choose the right plan you should consider:

  • pre paid (pay as you go) or contract
  • coverage
  • pricing and services

To buy a pay-as-you-go you don't need a bank account or credit history; it can be slightly more expensive than a contract, but it is a good way to start if you don't have a UK bank account yet, and it can be later be moved to a contract, keeping the same number. All you have to do is visit any of the mobile phone shops.

If you prefer a contract, shop around for the best deals on UK mobile plans. Mobile phone service providers in the UK are very competitive and are always offering deals to customers that undercut their rivals.

To apply for UK mobile plans on a contract you will be asked to provide:

  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of address in UK
  • Bank details
  • Proof of employment (or acceptance letter)

Coverage is also very important as sometimes there are areas of London where the signal of a network is absent or very poor. Once you have found where to live, it might be worth to check the network coverage in that area.

The offer is wide and understanding the pricing plans of the various providers can be a challenge. Each operator offers several different plans and options and comparisons are difficult. Comparison websites (Compare the Market, Confused.com, USwitch, or Handset Expert) can help.

Register with NHS

Anyone who is ordinarily resident in the UK (i.e. lawfully living and settled in the UK), including full time overseas students and work permit holders, are entitled to free medical care under the NHS. The main point to remember about the UK health care system (both private and NHS) is that the General Practitioner (GP) is always the first point of contact, even for children.

Register with a GP as soon as you have a permanent UK address.

To find an NHS GP surgery near you, visit the NHS website, www.nhs.uk NHS GP surgeries have their own geographical boundaries, so practices will only accept patients living in the catchment area. Before registering with your surgery, you may want to ask neighbours for recommendations, visit a couple of surgeries, and inquire about opening hours and services offered.

In order to register, call or visit your GP surgery. You may need to present photo identification, such as your passport or driving license and proof of your address, such as a recent council tax bill or utility bill.

If you are not registered with a doctor but need to see one, you can receive emergency treatment from any GP surgery. If you need treatment for more than 14 days you will need to register with that GP surgery as a temporary or permanent patient. You can register as a temporary resident if you're in the area for longer than 24 hours but less than 3 months.

If your application to become a temporary patient is refused, you can still receive emergency treatment for up to 14 days.

Book your 1-1 with FOCUS

As a member you have the opportunity to have a 1-1 session with a member of the FOCUS team that gives you the opportunity to discuss any initial concerns around navigating UK life- finding doctors, tax advisors, driving instructors, etc. and get personalised advice. The meeting can be done either at our office in Central London, over the phone or Skype , whatever it is easier for you.

Contact us to book your meeting.