Moving to the UK - Everything You Need to Know
Relocating your home, family and business to another country might seem like an insurmountable task but if you have a list of exactly what you need to tackle, then an international move doesn’t need to be a stressful affair.
Of course you can always opt for hiring a relocation agent, but ordinarily those people come with a very expensive invoice so for those of you moving to the UK and want to save yourself a huge amount of money, we’ve compiled a helpful series of posts to get you settled in quickly.
The wonderful thing about Britain is that – unlike some of its European neighbours - bureaucracy is at a minimum, and most things are extremely easy to sort out over the phone or by email. The other pleasing feature is that the people are extremely helpful and friendly (as long as you’re pleasant too!) and there is a good culture of communication so most of your queries can be sorted out immediately.
In order to help you find your way through the British system, we’ve written this series of posts which include such topics as finding accommodation, finding schools and setting up your business in Britain.
We’ve also found the relevant websites to help you choose a doctor, find information on service providers such as internet and phone lines, and how to register to pay your local charges. And we’ve covered everything from removals and shipping, opening a UK bank account, transporting pets, visas, taxes and how to pay your UK television fee.
There are so many things to consider when moving abroad – many of which you don’t even know about until you get there! – but with this comprehensive list you won’t be caught out with any extra fees or nasty surprises.
So let’s get cracking and see how you can start your new life in the UK the easy way….
Relocating to the UK: Part 1 - Renting a Home & Service Providers
Where to live is always top of the priority list because unless you’re happy in your home then your relocation will get off to a rocky start. The best way to find properties is to go on UK estate agent sites such as Zoopla, Rightmove or On The Market. You can type in what rent you want to pay and what locations you’re looking for and they’ll come back with a list of what’s available in that area. Another tip is to google for estate agents in your location of choice and then email them individually with your list of requirements.
Make sure you factor in some extra money to cover estate agent fees. If you’ve seen a property you like and want to stop other people from viewing it, then the estate agent will ask you for a ‘holding deposit’. This can be anything from £100 to £200 which is taken off your rent when you start your tenancy. (A word of warning – this deposit is non-refundable so if you choose not to go ahead with the tenancy then you won’t get your money back. So make sure you’re 100% sure the accommodation is for you, or just simply take the risk of other people getting their hands on it.)
In addition to this, there is a charge of around £100 (depending on the length of tenancy) to write up the contract and a requirement of around six weeks rent for the deposit. In Britain they are very keen on doing “credit checks” - which usually cost between £50 and £100 per adult - to make sure you are not in debt or have any record of non-payments against you. This can sometimes prove problematic for people who have never lived in the UK before as they hold no credit history in the country! However, if you are able to pay at least three months in advance or provide a guarantor in the UK, you can normally get round this difficulty.
Once you get your contract, then you’ll be able to start setting up your services - how to get connected to the gas, electricity and - most importantly for business and family - phone and internet services. (And once you get these, you’ll be able to get a bank account!)
Finding companies to supply you with gas, electricity, water, phones and internet service should be high on your priority list. This is because once you have written confirmation from a utility service, it confirms your proof of address and you’ll be able to navigate the British system much easier.
If you are renting a property, there will normally be utilities already in place so it’s worth asking your landlord or estate agent for the names and details of the suppliers. Very often these utilities will have been blocked or stopped when the last tenant moved out, so you will need to ring up the supplier and get them to reconnect or transfer your details onto them.
If you want to change supplier for any reason, you’ll need to let the agent/landlord know before you make your choice. There are a huge amount of energy suppliers out there – too many to mention! – but the well-respected consumer organisation ‘Which’ has helpfully compiled a list of suppliers which allows you to put in your address and see which suppliers are available in your area and for what cost: http://switch.which.co.uk/energy-suppliers/
You will also need to think about water and waste supplies. Some areas have one supplier who provides water and another who deals with waste (ie: sewage) so you’ll need to check which will apply either through your landlord/agent or by clicking on the UK Water website: http://www.water.org.uk/consumers/find-your-supplier
There is also the matter of phones and internet (especially important if you’re going to be working from home at any point). Most houses in the UK are able to receive cable networks so here is a useful list of cable suppliers and their contact details: https://www.cable.co.uk/providers/
Otherwise, take a look at the ‘Which’ list of things to consider when choosing a supplier: http://www.which.co.uk/technology/broadband-tv-and-phone/guides/how-to-get-the-best-tv-package-deal/how-do-i-get-the-best-tv-package/
And if you get a TV you will also have to pay for a TV licence. British residents who own a television pay around £145 per year for the service. This pays for all the amazing TV and radio shows broadcast from the BBC so it’s well worth it! (and with that you get all the other channels too.) To find out more about TV licencing and whether you’re entitled to any discounts, you can click here http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/
You will also need to set up your council tax payments with the local authority. Council tax is the tax levied for all residents that covers the cost of emptying the bins, keeping the streets clean and providing local community services. You can find out who you’re local authority is and how you can register for council tax by clicking on the link below from the UK government: https://www.gov.uk/council-tax/working-out-your-council-tax
So now you’ve got your services set up and your proofs of address, you will now be able to set up your UK bank account. Click HERE for Part 2 on what UK banks require to open a business or personal account, click HERE for Part 3 on how to find schools and doctors and how to deal with your pets or click HERE for Part 4 on visas, tax, work and how to set up your own business in the UK.
If you've read all the parts in this Relocation series and still require direct information on how to set up a UK business, opening a bank account, finding an accountant, foreign exchange services or visas, please don’t hesitate to email us through our contact page.