First things first
Once you have arrived there are certain things you need to do, they include purchasing an Oyster Card, opening a bank account so your pay can go in to, finding accommodation, applying for a National Insurance Number and registering with a doctor/dentist.
If you are going to use the extensive London Transport system then ensure one of the first things you do is to get yourself an Oyster card – it works out much cheaper to have one of these cards than buying tickets as you go. This electronic smart-card can be topped up and used on the Tube, overground rail, the bus network and the Thames River boats. You can buy one at a Tube station, some convenience stores and online.
It will cost you £5 when you first get your Oyster, but this deposit is refundable on return. Then you top it up with cash which will be deducted every time you swipe it for a journey. You can top up in a number of ways including at the Tube station ticket booths, self-service machines or online. Or you can set your Oyster to be topped up automatically from your bank account whenever it falls below a certain balance.
To explain why it is essential to get yourself an Oyster Card – Zone 1 journeys on the Tube cost £2 with an Oyster but it costs a hefty £4.30 per journey when you pay with cash on the day. A trip on the bus would cost you £1.35 with your Oyster Card and £2.30 in cash without an Oyster Card. So you see, having an Oyster Card will save you loads of cash on your travels.
More info can be found on our Transport page and also at www.tfl.gov.uk.
Open a bank account
If you didn’t do this from home, you will need to open a bank account. It is harder for overseas travellers to open a bank account in the UK as you will need to show proof of your identity, a reference letter from your bank at home, proof of address (such as a bill, phone bill, etc., or a letter from the hostel/hotel where you staying) and proof of employment.
Most employment agencies will give you a letter to state that you are working for them and you can take this to show the bank.
The major banks to open an account with include HSBC, Lloyds TSB, Natwest, Barclays and the Bank of Scotland. There are also building societies but as they are offering the same services as the banks they require similar paperwork.
Register for National Insurance (NI) number
If you plan to work in the UK you will need to register for a National Insurance Number. Once you have this number, it is yours for life. It plays a very important role in your existence in the UK. National Insurance provides for the use of the National Health Service (NHS) facilities you might use as well as unemployment/social security benefits and state pensions. Employers will require you to have this so they can take the appropriate amount out of your salary.
You need to apply by phone for a National Insurance number.
National Insurance number application line
Telephone: 0345 600 0643
Textphone: 0345 600 0644
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Register with a doctor and dentist
Not all doctors in the UK will offer a free reciprocal medical service. Therefore, if you want treatment from a National Health Service (NHS) doctor it is wise to register as soon as possible. If you wait until you are actually sick you may have to ring around to find a doctor who will treat you. By registering before you are sick means when you are sick you have somewhere to go. You will need to register with a doctor as a new TR (temporary resident) on their books.
You are required to register with a doctor who practises in the area in which you are living. To find out about this, ring the FHSA (Family Health Service Authority) and they will send you a list of GPs in your area. Ring Directory Enquires for their number. Libraries can also supply you with a list.
Once you register with a doctor your medical history will follow you wherever you go. You are required to sign off from your old doctor before signing on with a new one. If you decide to change doctors, the new doctor will request your file from the old doctor.
You may wish to register with a dentist also. To qualify for treatment by an NHS dentist you need to be registered with a doctor. Everyone in the UK pays for dental treatment, however NHS dental patients pay a reduced rate.
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Once you get these things sorted out you can begin to do what you came for,
to live, work and play in London & the UK.
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