MOVING TO THE UK: A BRIEF GUIDE

Spurred by the request of a young reader of this blog, I wrote a very brief guide for EU Nationals who have decided to move to the UK without having a job and would like to know what their first steps might be. Please feel free to chime in and have your say: I’m always ready to modify my text according to your suggestions and additions…

For those who are moving to a British town and have no friends or relatives to host them in the beginning (the vast majority, I’m afraid!), I would recommend to book a room in a local private household for 2 to 3 weeks, to have time to look around, get to know the town and find a steady accommodation. The best website, in my opinion, is www.homestaybooking.com. I used it myself, and worked fine. You only need pay the 10% of the total amount in advance through their website, while the remainder is payable to your landlord once you’re there.

The following step would be to find a room in a flat-share. There’s plenty of websites with ads for rooms (e.g.: www.spareroom.co.uk, www.flatmaterooms.co.uk, www.roombuddies.com, etc.). You will be required to post your ad (it’s free). Please take time to do that at your best: show that you are a friendly, reliable, tidy person, and try to do that in a good English 🙂 Sending emails a few days prior to departure is a good idea to start viewing flats right away on arrival. I would avoid ads by agencies, they normally charge outrageously high fees…

To improve your chances of getting a room (and for all other urgent matters!), you’d better get a UK mobile number right away. I would suggest to start browsing providers’ websites to find the most suitable offer for you (here is a list of all or at least most UK sim providers). When you’re on spot, you can step into a store and get your new sim card! Some providers (like Giffgaff, who don’t have stores) might even deliver it to your address…

Another little hint on the communication side… You’d better open a UK (or English sounding) email account. Dealing with non-English servers may be frustrating when you need to spell the address. I have a “libero.it” email account, and always need to spell: “l-i-b-e-r-o dot i-t” to British people. Now I have a “mail.com” account for them, and everything runs smoothly 🙂 For the same reason, avoid to have your first name written in full in the address, if possible. “m.rossi” is easier to understand and spell than “mario.rossi”…

To open a bank account, what you generally need is your passport and a proof of address. You can ask your host to sign a paper stating that they are lodging you. Anyway, at the bank they will tell you what’s the best procedure to follow. Compared to Italy, the process is smoother and the conditions more favourable. All basic accounts are completely free of charge, and you get a debit card featuring, for instance, free withdrawals at all cashpoints of all banks…

To get your personal National Insurance Number (NINO), just call 08456000643 and answer their questions: name, address, date of birth, why you need a NINO (“I’ve sent applications for jobs, I might need it to start working soon” is a good answer), etc. They will set an appointment for you (generally within a few days) for a short interview at the local Jobcentreplus’ offices. Please make sure you bring your passport and proof of current address, and be prepared to provide the following information: 1. When did you move to UK and whether you have lived there before; 2. Possible other addresses in UK before the current one; 3. Your last address in your home Country before moving to the UK; 4. Your home Country’s personal “fiscal code”; 5. If you are employed or looking for a job.

The interview is nothing to worry about: it’s not inquisitorial at all. You’re a EU National, after all, and this condition entitles you to quite a few privileges! At the end of the interview, the officer will provide you with a statement that you have applied for a NINO. You will receive a letter with your NINO within ten days. Until not long ago, you would have also got a plastic card, but now the card is not issued anymore.

Finding a GP (General Practitioner, i.e. your “family doctor”) is just as easy, and you need one to receive public healthcare. If you go to www.nhs.co.uk, you’ll find the “Health services near you” section in the home page. Provide the postcode of the flat you live in and you will be redirected to a list of GP practices nearby (make sure they accept new patients). All GPs are reviewed by users, and all details about who they are and all possible further information are available online. They are quite strict on areas they cover: if you live too far away, they won’t accept you. Once again, you’ll just need passport and proof of address to register.

As to jobs, there’s no secret recipe! Much depends on your specific skills. If you’re looking for an unqualified job like waiter and similar, they are hardly advertised on websites. Just walk the streets and step into any pub/café/restaurant/shop (whether they seem to be recruiting or not), like generations of young people have been doing over the centuries! Just remember that a national minimum wage applies to all jobs. If your employer offers you less than that, they are being unlawful!

 

PS Please let me know if, according to your experience, there’s something wrong or outdated in this text: I’ll be happy to update it… Thank you.

4 responses to “MOVING TO THE UK: A BRIEF GUIDE

  1. thank you bright italian! your blog has been so very helpful. i am moving with my friend from rome and in fact we are flying there tomorrow to try to find a flat!!! or a place with two rooms… we looked into home stays as you suggested but found it to be quite expensive. in any case, if you feel like meeting up for coffee thursday, friday or saturday, that would be great! but i see you are busy with your italian classes so no worries if you can’t. 🙂 again, thanks a bunch! terianne and frank

    • Hi Terianne! Sorry I didn’t answer before. I hope you have arrived safely in Brighton. Thank you for your feedback about homestaybooking.com. Brighton is quite expensive in itself, I’m sure you’ve learnt that by now… Good luck!

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