Moving To The UK? Get The Paperwork Right!
If you are planning to move to the UK, you may find yourself preoccupied making arrangements for your new job or education course whilst also trying to figure out what to wear in a country where the weather seems to change almost hourly! However, you will need to get your paperwork right as well, otherwise you’ll be stopped at the airport.Anyone with a full and valid British Passport, describing them as a British citizen or a British subject with right of abode, can enter the UK without restriction. The rules for which Commonwealth citizens have right of abode are complicated so don’t make any assumptions without checking the facts against your official documentation.
European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) citizens have previously had the right to live, work and study in the UK for as long as they want without seeking further permission. These people were only refused entry if they posed serious and current risk to the UK public. However, the UK is expected to leave the European Union on 29 March 2019, so these arrangements will change.
Home office advice for EU nationals is updated on the UK government's website very regularly. The rights of EU citizens to live and work in the UK is being negotiated separately to EEA citizens.
If you are a citizen from outside the Commonwealth or the EEA, you will usually need to receive a visa to live in the UK. The type of visa you will need depends on why you want to live in the UK. The UK government's website contains a clear list and explanation of the types of visa possible.
They have also provided a handy tool to check if you need a UK visa.
The visa process can be onerous, and many people have their applications rejected. However, do not be tempted to enter the UK without the correct paperwork, or to overstay a tourist visa. Your chances of being refused entry are high and you risk being deported, after which all future visa applications will be rejected.
National Insurance And Tax Codes
If you are moving to the UK to work, you will need a National Insurance number. Everyone living in the UK receives one through the post shortly before their 16th birthday. If you haven’t got one, you need to apply through the correct government website.
You can only make an application for a National Insurance number once you have arrived in the UK. You may start your new job while your application is being processed. Tell your employer as soon as you receive it; the National Insurance payments they deduct from your wage will then be recorded as your contribution to health and social welfare costs.
Your employer will also ask you to complete tax registration forms; you will then be sent a tax registration number and an income tax code through the post.
Your employer will deduct income tax from your wages and, like the National Insurance deductions, pay them to the government. Your income tax payments will pay for services provided by the government, such as the defense services, courts and prisons, the police, and welfare benefits including housing benefit.
Accessing Free Healthcare
In order to receive free care from the National Health Service (NHS), you must live in the UK.
The first step is to register with a local General Practitioner (GP) surgery and take along proof of your residence. The NHS website will help you find GP surgeries near your home. However, do note that in some areas there are not enough GPs for the residents, so you may be told the surgery books are closed. You will then need to find another surgery.
If you ever need to see a doctor or attend hospital, they will ask which GP surgery you are registered with, and check this on the NHS computer system. Register with a GP as soon as you can, or you will have problems receiving medical care when you need it.
Paying Council Tax
Every resident over the age of 18 must be registered with their local authority. Each property receives an annual bill for council tax, which will be charged on a pro rata basis if you live in the UK for part of the year. This pays for local services, such as schools, streetlights, rubbish collection, food safety officers, care for vulnerable people and road maintenance. The bill is divided between all the people living in the household, and is not paid by the landlord. You can pay annually, but since the bills are often between one and two thousand pounds – or more – most people pay by monthly instalments. If you do not pay, you can be taken to court and sent to prison.
Some people can have their council tax bill reduced if they have a low income or are a student. You can ask for help at the local council offices where you registered. You can also ask for help to pay your rent here. However, the rules for obtaining this help are complicated, and you will need to hand over a lot of evidence about where you live, how much you earn, and who lives with you.
Buying A TV License
Each household must pay for a TV license, either in one annual payment or in monthly installments. You may not have a TV, laptop or any device which can show TV content unless you pay for a TV. The money pays for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). However, you cannot avoid paying the license by not watching the BBC. If no one in the house has paid for a license, an official will visit you and may obtain a warrant to search your premises to examine all your devices.
Drivers with licenses issued in the EU can use these until they reach the age of 70. If you are still living and driving in the UK after 70, you will need to take and pass the UK Driving and Theory tests.
You are allowed to use your valid international driving license for up to 12 months if it was issued in:
• The British Virgin Islands
• The Falkland Islands
• The Faroe Islands
• Hong Kong
• The Isle of Man
• New Zealand
• The Republic of Korea
• South Africa
After 12 months, you must exchange it for a UK driving license. Try to do this within five years of becoming a UK resident; if you wait any longer, you will need to do a driving test.
If your driving license was not issued in the EU or one of the nations listed, you can use your license for 12 months to drive motorcycles, cars and vans. After that, you’ll need to pass the UK driving test and obtain a UK driving license.
Regardless of where your driving license was issued or whether you are staying in the UK for three days or 30 years, you MUST be covered by valid car insurance.
It is your choice whether to purchase third-party cover, which pays out to the other person in the event of an accident, or fully comprehensive which will cover your costs too. Most insurance companies will sell both. You cannot borrow a friend’s car without insurance which specifically covers you, because it is the driver rather than the car which is covered by insurance. To drive in the UK without car insurance is a serious offence; if you are caught, you will get a criminal record even if you are a safe driver.
As part of the car insurance application, you will be asked when the vehicle’s Ministry of Transport (MOT) certificate was issued. This is an annual check of the vehicle which is done in the garage of your choice. The qualified car mechanic will check whether your vehicle is safe to drive, and will advise you of any work that needs to be done.
You will also pay road tax once a year, as a contribution to maintaining the UK roads. The amount due in respect of each vehicle depends on its type and emissions.
The Driving Licence Vehicle Authority (DVLA) and insurance companies share their data with the police. Technology fitted in police cars scan all vehicles and flag up alerts when a vehicle is not taxed or insured. The police officer will then pull the driver over and investigate the matter. Therefore, don’t try to avoid this important paperwork and the associated costs, or you have a good chance of being sent to court.
Safety In The UK
Most people coming to the UK enjoy their new jobs and home, and are free to make decisions within their financial limits. However each year, the police and immigration services discover modern-day slaves living in the UK. Sometimes people do not even realise this has happened to them and do not seek help.
If someone who brought you to the UK or your employer does the following things, you are probably at risk of being manipulated under modern-day slavery conditions:
• Your passport is taken away from you
• You are allocated housing, which you cannot leave
• You are told what work to do and cannot change employment
• Your employer fills out forms and tells you which ones to sign
• Your employer tells you not to worry about filling in tax forms
• Your employer holds on to your wages and only gives you pocket money
If you are being kept in these conditions, you are being made to work for someone else’s financial benefit. It is unlikely you will be given the money you are due, and your name may be used to claim state benefits which other people receive.
Modern-day slaves may also be threatened or physically hurt. Remember, in the UK no other person is allowed to hit you, threaten you or take your money from you – the police and courts take this seriously.
If you find yourself in this situation, call 999 and ask for police help.
You now know how much paperwork is ahead of you just to get yourself registered in your new home and workplace. However, a lot of it can be done online, and after doing it once, everything should work smoothly. You’ll just have to keep up with the annual reminders that will appear in your email box or through the post.
Have you moved to the UK? Share your experience in the comments below, or answer the questions here to be featured in an interview!
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