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Moving Guide To UK  Tools & Guides E-mail Print 
About UK
Working In UK
UK - Visa
UK – Bank Accounts
UK – Tax
UK – Driving Licence
UK – Healthcare
UK – Insurance
UK – Cost of Living
UK – Education
UK – Electricity

About UK

UK, the birthplace of Newton, Darwin, Shakespeare and the Beatles; Home of the World's Largest Foreign Exchange Market, destination for the World's Richest Football Club - Manchester United. UK is an autonomous island country of the name United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island, popularly known as UK or Britain and most often abbreviated as UK.

It consists of four constituent countries-England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland. London is its Capital. Now, let us have a quick look about some of the important facts about UK:

Capital:London
Official Language:English (de facto)
National Anthem:God Save Our Gracious Queen
Government:Constitutional Monarchy and Elected Parliament.
Size:244, 820 sq. km.
Currency:Pound sterling (£)
Calling Code:+44
Economy:6th Largest in the World and 5th Largest in Europe.

There is no constitutionally defined official language in UK. Over 70% of the population speaks English. Hence, English has become the de facto official language. Other languages spoken in UK include: Welsh, Irish, Scots, Gaelic and of course the British Sign language.

Although at times, the meaning of the words, British and English are inter-changed and are also often used synonymously but in reality, they differ a lot in their meaning. English refers to the people from England whereas British can be used for anyone who is from England, Scotland, Northern Island or Wales.

UK had 14 overseas territories and it had ruled over more than quarter of the total world’s land surface thereby making it the largest empire in history. As a result of this huge colonization, the influence of UK’s language and culture can be seen in countries like India, South Africa, Australia, and also in Canada and United States of America.

They generally carry a strong sense of class and the distinction between various classes was almost rigid. But in the last decade people from different backgrounds have an access to higher education, and the mobility between upper class and lower class has increased.

British are generally known for their stiff upper lip and “Blitz Spirit” and their preference for norms. They have various sets of norms, like Greeting, Dining, Business and most of the British prefer to adhere to it. Like:
  • A Formal Handshake is the most common form of greetings
  • Because of its rigid class distinction, lower class person is introduced to a higher one and also a younger person to an older one
  • The British, unlike many Europeans, like entertaining people at home
  • They observe strict Table manners, which is generally “Continental” in nature
  • You are expected to remain standing unless you are requested to sit
  • Toasts are given only at Formal Meals
  • If you finish your food, indicate that by laying the fork and the spoon parallel on the right side of the dish
  • If you are in a business meeting, shake hands at the beginning of the meeting and also at the end
  • Courtesy titles, or Mr., Mrs. and Miss are used with the surname
  • Business Meetings generally have a clearly defined purpose, which also include an agenda

Working In UK

An US citizen with a valid US passport can come to UK and stay there for six months. If he or she wishes to stay there longer or work in UK then he has to get an appropriate visa. The other ways are that you either marry a UK citizen or get sponsored by any UK company.

City University, the Top Ranking UK University for employment offers equal opportunity in Recruitment & Selection of employees in UK. You can also contact them in this matter:

Telephone: +44 0 20 7040 5060.
Address: Northampton Square, London, ECIV0HB.
E-Mail: enquiries@city.ac.uk

Employing workers who are not eligible to work in UK is a criminal offence that has financial penalties and can also lead to imprisonment.

Work Permit

Work permits are required to employ people who are nationals of other European Economic Area (EEA) country and are entitled to work in UK.

You can not come to UK to look for job. It is illegal to job hunt in a tourist visa. You have to get a work permit from a sponsoring company.

If a company sponsors you to work in UK, your work permit is valid only for that company and only for that job. Even if a company wants you to interview in person, you need a special visa to get into the country for the purpose of interviewing.

If you change positions within the company or change companies, you have to start the process all over again and get a new work permit for the new job. If the company eliminates you from the job, you are not only out of job but also out of country.

International students over the age of 16 can take part-time work for up to 20 hours per week during their term time or can take full-time vacation work.

For further enquiry regarding work permit in UK, you can log on to: www.workingintheuk.gov.uk

UK - Visa

UK has sturdy Immigration Laws, which are obligatory. Before you board the plane make sure that you have all the necessary Visas & Documents or else you will not be allowed to get into the country.

If you are not a British citizen you need entry clearance to enter UK. Based on the types of entry, it has three categories:

European Economic Area: Those who are coming under this category, they do not need an entry clearance to enter UK. European Economic Area (EEA) includes all EU countries in addition to Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Swiss nationals.

Non-visa Nationals: The commonwealth citizens only require an entry certificate while going to work or settle in UK.

Visa Nationals: Need a visa for entering the country for any reason.

You will also need a visa if you belong to any one of the following three groups:
  • If you do not have a nationality and is therefore considered as stateless
  • If you hold a non-national travel document.
  • If you hold a passport that is issued by an authority that is unrecognized in UK.
Recently, 10 countries have been added to the list whose national require Visa while staying for more than six months in UK. They are: Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, SAR, South Africa, South Korea, Singapore, and US.

Depending on your nationality, purpose of visit and country location, you will get the entry clearance. For more information, you can log on to: http://www.ukvisas.gov.uk/en

Generally, visas are issued for a maximum period of six months. If you require a visa to stay in UK for more than six months, you must leave the country and apply for a new visa. A multi-entry visa will save you from lot of trouble.

Where To Apply

Application for entry to UK should be made at any British Diplomatic Post in your country of residence. You can refer to http://www.ukvisas.gov.uk/en

How to Apply

For applying for visas in UK, you generally need the following things:
  • A Visa Application Form, which is generally collected free from the nearest British Mission.
  • A Valid Passport or Travel Document.
  • 2 or 3 recent passport sized colour photographs (45mm x 35mm).
  • The visa fee, which is generally paid in local currency.
  • Supporting documents that are required for the visa category you are applying for.
  • A Work Permit (if you are working).
  • A letter of acceptance from a University (if you are a student).
  • Proofs of your qualification that is your diplomas, certificates and references.
  • A bank statement in order to show that you will be able to support yourself and your family during your stay in UK
Types of Visa
  • Fiancé Visa:With a fiancé visa one is allowed to enter UK with the purpose of changing status, which is, getting married. It is a single entry visa and is valid for six months. Once you enter with the visa it is valid for six months, during which you will get married. You can not accept an offer for employment with this visa.
  • Spouse Visa:This is a multiple-entry visa. You can leave the country and can come back. This is valid for one year. With this visa you can be legally employed by an employer in UK.
  • Student Visa:for this you have to show that you have been accepted in a recognized full time degree course in UK.
  • UK Working Holiday Visa:You are eligible to apply for this visa only if you are a citizen of a commonwealth country and are aged between 17 and 30 years. The visa is valid for 2 years.
  • UK Ancestry Visa:You are eligible to apply for this visa only if your parents or grand parents are born in UK. This visa is valid for 5 years.
  • Tier 1 (General) Highly Skilled Workers Visa:This is designed to allow highly skilled people to come to the United Kingdom to look for work or self-employment opportunities. It is generally valid for 3 years, during the end of which you can extend it.

UK - Bank Accounts

Opening a bank account in UK is not a very straightforward thing. You just can not walk into a bank and open an account. The bank will probably turn you down.

UK Bank Accounts have some special default features. One of them is that your Debit Card is also your “Cheque Guarantee Card” The shops are more likely to take this as it is guaranteed by the bank that it will not bounce up to a certain limit.

Another is that, all the accounts have some level of automatic over-draft protection. For these two reasons, opening a bank account in UK is considered as a credit event.

As there is no personal credit history, the bank relies completely on references and introductions. A reference from your previous bank would be sufficient to persuade them of your creditworthiness. So remember to arrange for your reference from the bank when you are moving to UK.

UK - Tax

When you come to live or work in UK, you have to pay tax. But the amount depends on how long you will be in UK and also if you intend to live permanently. There are separate norms for entertainers, teachers, sports people, students, Irish citizen and Irish Income.

The tax in UK depends on whether you are a resident, ordinarily resident or domiciled in UK. Discussed below are some of the conditions of all the three above mentioned cases:

Resident
  • If you stay in UK for more than 183 days or more in a tax year, you automatically become a resident for that tax year.
  • If you stay in UK for more than three years or more or have intend to live in UK permanently.
  • You will also be considered as a resident of UK if you are in UK for an average of 91 days or more in a tax year, which is calculated for over a minimum of four consecutive tax years.
Ordinarily Resident
  • If you are a resident of UK for year after year, you will automatically be considered as ordinarily resident of UK.
  • You automatically become a ordinarily resident of UK, if it is clear that you intend to stay here for more than three years.
Domiciled
  • Your domicile is normally acquired with birth.
    You need to pay tax in all the above cases. You will pay income tax on your income from:
  • The work that you do in UK
  • UK Pensions
  • UK Investments
If you are UK domiciled, you need to pay tax on all your overseas income. You will also get a 10 per cent discount from the amount due on overseas pension.

The tax rules for UK resident seafarers are again different from the prevailing tax structure. To get more information about this particular kind of tax, you can either log on to http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/cnr/seafarerstax.htm or Call on: +44 (0) 29 2032 5045.

While Leaving or Coming To UK

If you move out of UK to live or work, you might still need to pay UK Tax. But it is only paid for your income in UK. If you pay a tax do remember to get a complete Self Assessment Tax return.

The Non-Resident of UK

You will be considered as a non-resident of UK if you belong to any one of the categories listed below:
  • If your visit to UK is less than an average of 91 days in four consecutive tax years or if it is less than 183 days in a year.
  • If you leave UK and go abroad permanently or if you are absent in a full-time job in UK for a whole tax year.
If you are leaving UK remember to inform it to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). Your tax office will give you form P85 to get any tax refund if you become a non-resident. They will also let you know if you still need to complete a tax return.

If you become a non-resident you do not need to pay UL tax on your overseas income. If you are a non-resident and work partly in UK, you need to pay tax on the part o your earnings. Your tax is usually calculated depending on the number of days you worked in UK and the number of days you worled abroad.

There are also certain rules for certain employees. There are special rules for:
  • Crown Employees
  • Seafarers
  • Entertainment & Sports People
  • Oil & Gas Workers
  • Students
Check with the tax officer if you belong to anyone of the above category.

Tax On Pension

If you are a non-resident you will pay UK tax on your UK pension that includes your State Pension. You may not need to pay tax if the country you are leaving has a double taxation agreement with UK.

Check with the tax officer if you belong to anyone of the above category.

Tax on UK Rental

If you are a non-resident and you get rent from UK property directly, then your tenant must deduct UK tax at the Basic Rate.

Tax-Free Personal Allowances

If you are a Commonwealth citizen, including British or a European Economic Area (EEA) citizen or a current or former crown employee, you will get tax free personal allowances to reduce the amount of due UK Income Tax.

UK - Driving Licence

All foreigners and travelers those who have driving license in their own country are allowed to drive in UK for 12 months without obtaining a British driving license.

If your driving license is issued in a European Economic Area, that is all EU countries plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, then you can drive in UK as long as your driving license is valid.

If you have a license from one of the so-called designated countries, then you need to exchange your license in UK to drive for more than 12 months. The designated list of countries includes countries like: Australia, British Virgin Islands, Barbados, Canada, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland and Zimbabwe.

If you hold a driving license that is not issued from any one of the above listed countries, then you have to sit for British driving test and then only you can exchange your license for a British license.

Foreigners those who are permanent residents of UK do not need to pass the driving license test. They can exchange their license. For this, they need to collect an application form known as D1 form from any British post office and send it to the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA):

DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1BT.

UK - Health Care

The public health provider of UK is known as the National Health Services (NHS). The services that are included under NHS are: Hospitals, Family Doctors, Specialists, Dentists, Opticians, Chemists and also Ambulance Service.

All the services provide by NHS are not free of charge. Unless exempt, the patients have to pay for fixed costs for their prescriptions, sight tests, dental treatment and NHS glasses. The hospital treatment, medical consultations and ambulance services, however remain free.

NHS: Eligibility

The principal groups that NHS provides free or subsidized medical treatment to are:
  • Those who have the right to stay in Britain and who are currently the resident in Britain. This excludes those Britons that are living abroad.
  • Anyone who has been the resident of UK for the previous year.
  • Students or those who are on courses longer than 6 months.
  • EU Nationals.
  • Anyone with a British work permit.
  • Nationals of countries with a similar health agreement with Britain are also eligible to treatment from NHS, but the exemptions of charges are limited only in case of emergency care.
Private Health Care

Private medical treatment in Britain is among the best in the world. With London as its center, it has developed some of the world’s most skilled specialists. Most of the people, within the country go for private in order to avoid the long waiting list of NHS for non emergency and non-urgent treatments. Among a quarter of all the operations are done privately.

There is almost no difference between in quality between the private and NHS doctors. In fact, for most of the cases you expect to see the same doctor in both the places. The difference will be how quickly you are treated and when you get the appointment. v If you wish to use private health care, it is advisable to take an insurance policy from a specialist health insurer, like BUPA or PPP. Many employers also provide their workers with private health insurance.

UK – Insurance

Car

To get your car exported and insured in UK is a huge process and is also expensive. You have to pay import duties in UK along with the cost for shipping. But you need to be cautious about one thing: if subsequently need to return to US, your car insurance will be very expensive as there will be a discontinuity in your car insurance history.

So to prevent this, you should bring an official driving history from UK, so that you can prove your continued good driving record and insurability.

Medical

UK has wonderful system of Medical Insurance, known as: National Health Service (NHS). Do all your research before you become sure that you can avail this service. Generally, other than British Nationals, nobody is eligible to get this service.

If you are on a fiancé visa, you are not eligible for NHS other than in cases of emergency care. On a spouse visa, it is possible to avail this service, but the process for applying it is very complicated.

So until you get a NHS it is wise to carry on with the medical insurance that you have from your US employer. If you are from other country, it is wise to continue with the medical insurance that your employer offers.

Pet

If you are travelling in UK with your pets like Dog, Cat, Rabbit, Exotic Mammal, Birds or even reptiles, you can get all of them insured to avoid the expensive vet bills. To know on this, you can log on to www.phapet.com.

UK – Cost of Living

UK has been known to hold a supreme world power for the past two centuries. Although the two world wars have devastated its economy from time to time, but it still continued to be one of the most wealthiest, influential and powerful country of the modern era.

The cost of living in UK also varies from the lifestyle of the person and also the location where he / she is living. Some provinces and countryside of UK offer cheap and affordable living while the cities, especially the busy metros are suitable for those with higher salary and privileges.

London is one of the three command centers for commerce and international business. Hence, cost of living is definitely high in London. Even within London, there is a division, living in North or South of London is cheaper than living in the east or west of London.

Food & Drinks

The cost of food and drinks are comparatively high as compared to other European nations. Most of the goods in UK are charged with value-added tax or VAT. An average Briton spends 200 to 350 euros every month on goods. Groceries are available in supermarket and are possibly the cheapest of the things.

Meat products in UK include: Pork, Beef, Lamb and Venison. Poultry products such as Chicken, Goose or Duck are also available. Eggs, Fruits, Vegetables, Herbs and Spices are available in most food shops at high rates. Fish and Seafood are expensive and are especially imported.

Varieties of Crab, Tuna, Shrimp, and Prawns range from 40 to 80 euros on an average. Wine & Beer are usually imported from Germany, France or Italy. There are also locally made wines. There is little difference in price between the imported and local type of beverage. But quality wine or beer those are imported are really expensive.

Clothing & Accessories

Shopping in London is quite expensive, clothes and accessories. The markets are generally flooded with several branded items and designer labels. All these items generally carry a hefty price tag.

Home appliances, electronic gadgets and trinkets are usually imported from Japan and it costs higher after the tax is added.

The cost of cars is also higher in UK when compared to other European countries like Italy and Germany where it is made. Most of the items available in UK are slightly highly priced than anywhere else in the world.

Housing Cost

The cost of housing in UK is consistently rising for the last decade at an average rate of 1.1% every year. Apartments located in downtown are expensive while the price of the suburban apartments is also quickly increasing. Rental rates for a one bedroom apartment in UK vary from 200 to 300 euros every month.

The cost of bigger apartments with services like swimming pool and other amenities can reach up to 2,000 euros per month. Apartments with yards are also available in suburban areas with a rent from 500 to 1,500 euros.

There are also certain cheap accommodations available in remote areas with from 80 to 150 euros a month. Cheap accommodations generally exclude all utilities.

Owing property in UK is restricted strictly to citizens only. Expatriates can own land provided that they have changed their citizenship or have legal implications, like marriage or diplomatic documentation. Tax on any house or building indicates the property management and right to ownership as well as maintenance of that building.

Services Cost

UK is one of the most advanced countries in the world. Hence, telephone and Internet services along with other services like cellular phone services are ensured to be of the top quality. The rate of Internet is around 15 euros every month while the rates of telephone depend on the consumption.

Transportation in UK is also well-organized. Train Stations, Bus Stops and Airports are usual terminals for the locals and the expatriates and are reasonable rates. During any time of the day one can travel quickly between various destinations.

Health Care Cost

Health care is another significant service offered by the country. More than 10 per cent of the country’s GDP is spend in healthcare facilities.

Employment Costs

Business, Commerce, Trade, Stock Exchange and Tourism constitutes the bulk of the financial support of the country. Currently, the rate of employment in UK is 96% which is one of the highest in the world. One of the nation’s strength is the even distribution of jobs between the rural and urban areas.

UK – Education

This section is especially important for those who are moving to UK with their children or for those who are planning to continue their studies in UK. Education is an important part of British life. Education is free and compulsory in UK for all children between 5-16 years of age.

Children's education is usually divided into two stages. They begin with primary education at the age of five and continue until they are eleven. Then they move for secondary education that last for sixteen, seventeen or eighteen years of their age.

UK universities are constantly rated among the best in the world. The duration of a master degree course is 1 year to 2 years in regular mode and 2 years to 3 years in part time mode and the course fee is £7000-00 to £8000-00 on an average.

If you aspire to continue your higher studies in UK you have to get additional scores from IELTS or TOEFL. There are over 800,000 international students currently enjoying the benefits of UK education.

How To Apply

You can apply either through educational consultants that are scattered throughout the world. You will get an application form from them. Fill up the form and submit it to them. They will take care of the rest of the job.

The UK Universities also conduct days inside and outside UK every year. You can also enroll yourself through one such open day.

You can also directly log on to the websites of the different Universities and post your attested certificate copies. For more information, Click Here.

UK – Electricity

UK has completely a different electrical standard than US or other countries in terms of voltage, current available, physical plugs and also frequency. There is a lot of information that you need to consider here.

The best way to deal is to find a store that deals primarily with the sales of all foreign electronic goods. You also have to get hold of a friendly salesman, who can explain you the ins and outs of power conversion. But such shops are listed only under the "Export Shops" in the Yellow Pages.

Let us take a quick look at the four major difficulties you will find in using US electrical materials in UK:
  • The voltage, in US, it is 120V, but in UK it is 240V.
  • The frequency, in US it is 60Hz but in UK it is 50 Hz
  • The number of watts the product draws, this differs from one product to the other and
  • The plug on the Power Cord.
In order to use your US electrical items under UK current, you need to buy a transformer. The transformer will change the voltage of the current from 240V to 120V. From there you may plug-in a US style power strip and provide current to your products.

Next, you need to find out how many watts your transformer is providing. The more wattage required by the electrical items, the bigger the transformer you require. Add up all the watts that each and every of your components will draw when turned on simultaneously and add an extra 20-25 extra watts for a good measure. Suppose, you need three stereo components drawing 30 watts each, then get a transformer that delivers about 120 watts. Do not try to draw more than the upper limit of the transformer. This will be a risk for your health and the health of your electronic components.

The next thing to consider is the frequency of the products. Transformers do not provide a conversion of US 60Hz to UK 50Hz. But that does not matter. The only electrical products that need your concern in this matter are the products that contain motors, like things that run fan, spin wheels etc. But in the electrical motors, you will find two types of electrical products. One is synchronous motors that are affected by frequency mismatch. When such a motor, made for 60Hz receives 50Hz, they run at 5/6 speed. You will generally find this type of motor in hair dryer or power drill.

The DC motors are not affected by the frequency mismatch as the motor runs on DC. There are also differences between the power plugs and jacks in US and UK. There is only one type of plug that is commonly used in UK, that is, the three prong plug, larger than US three-prong equivalent.

But despite all the precautions, it is wise to leave some of your appliances in US while coming to UK because they may not work, or even if they work that will be for a short time. A list of such things:
  • Hair Dryer
  • Kitchen appliances with motor blenders, like: Food Processors, Coffee Grinders
  • Any other item with a high speed motor, like, Power Drill.
  • US made LP Record Turntables or Cassette Decks, as they may contain synchronous motors.
  • American-bought TV sets, Video Cassette Machines and also the cassettes that are made to play on them.
  • Digital Radios, like Car Radio or Hi-Fi Tuners.

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