Things to consider before you arrive in the UK

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Get ahead with finding work, a place to live and opening a bank account before you arrive in the UK

Working and paying taxes

• Visas

If you're not a British citizen, a European Economic Area (EEA) citizen or a Swiss national, you may need a visaVisa
A visa is an official travel document that shows a visitor is authorised to enter a foreign country.
before you can visit the UK. Having a visa doesn't always mean you can work in the UK though. Have a look at our Moving to the UK: your to-do list for information on how to apply and to find out what else you may need to be able to work in the UK.

If you are moving to the UK to work, it is likely that your employer will need you to open a UK bank account in order to pay your salary

• National Insurance

If you're looking for work, starting work or setting up as self-employed in the UK, you have to register for a National Insurance (NI)National Insurance
You pay National Insurance contributions to build up your entitlement to certain state benefits, including the State Pension. The contributions you pay depend on how much you earn and whether you're employed or self-employed.
number. Most people are required to pay NI contributions. There are some exceptions, however; if you are coming from an EEA country that the UK has a social security agreement with, you may be exempt from paying NI. Read Moving to the UK: your to-do list to find out how to apply for an NI number or visit HM Revenues and Customs for more information.

• Tax

When you start work in the UK, your employer will ask you for your bank account details to pay your salary directly into. You'll pay income taxIncome tax
Income tax is a tax on income. Not all income is taxable and you're only taxed on 'taxable income' above a certain level. Even then, there are other reliefs and allowances that can reduce your bill – and in some cases mean you've no tax to pay.
, along with National Insurance, through a system called PAYEPAYE
Most employees' tax is deducted directly from their pay at the end of each week or month. This method of collection is called 'Pay As You Earn', or PAYE.
. If you are self-employed, you will have to complete your own tax return and pay any income tax owing at the end of the tax yearTax year
The tax year in the UK runs from 6 April in one year to 5 April in the next year. So, for example, the 2010-11 tax year ran from 6 April 2010 to 5 April 2011.
. The UK has agreements with many other countries to make sure you don't pay income tax twice. Have a look at our Global Tax Navigator for worldwide tax information.

• Studying

If you're coming to the UK to study but also plan to work, you'll have to pay income tax and NI, as long as you earn enough money. Visit UKCISA for more information and have a look at Moving to the UK: your to-do list to ensure you've got the correct documents to be able to do this in the UK. If you are an international student who is moving to the UK, please visit our International Students page.


When you first arrive in the UK, you may plan to stay with friends or relatives or in temporary accommodation until you find something more permanent. YHA is a good place to start for youth hostel listings and there are many flatshare sites online if you are looking to rent a room.

If you want to rent a flat or house, you will normally be asked to fill out an application form and pay a holding deposit to secure the property. It is likely that you'll then be asked to pay one month's rent upfront as a deposit, as well as your first month's rent in advance. To ensure you've got all the required documents to be able to rent a property in the UK, have a look at Moving to the UK: your to-do list.

Once you've moved into your new home, you'll need to tell utility companies, such as electricity and gas providers, that you are the tenant and responsible for bills. They will then transfer the accounts into your name. You must also let the council taxCouncil tax
Council tax is the system of local taxation used in the UK to help pay for local services such as rubbish collection, schools and libraries. The amount you pay is based on the value of the property where you live.
department of your local council know that you have taken on the tenancy, so that council tax bills can be issued in your name. There are many situations where your council tax bill can be reduced, or where you may not have to pay at all – for example, people living alone get a 25% reduction. You can find out more at the Government website.

Your finances

• Bank account

If you are moving to the UK to work, it is likely that your employer will need you to open a UK bank account in order to pay your salary. You may also be required to show bank statements if you want to rent a property. This is not always as straightforward as you might think, as many banks require you to provide proof of UK address to open an account. This can be difficult to obtain when you first arrive, especially if you are staying with family or friends, or haven't yet received any bills at your new home address.

If you are an existing HSBC customer, you can use our International Banking Centre in your home country to open a UK bank account before you move. The process can be arranged in your own language, which makes it easier and you don't have to worry about bringing all your documentation with you while you travel. You'll get your bank cards and PIN numbers sent to you before you leave, as long as there is enough time and, if there's not, we can arrange for you to pick these up at your new local branch when you arrive.

If you have recently arrived in the UK and require basic financial services and support, visit Basic Bank Account page.

• Borrowing

If you wish to consider arranging an overdraft or applying for a credit card or loan to help you pay for essentials when you first arrive, bear in mind that it will require a credit checkCredit check
A credit check is a search carried out by a prospective lender to help them assess whether a person will be able to pay back any money they are lent.
. Since you'll have no credit history in the UK, it may be difficult to borrow money. However, if you are an existing HSBC customer or you use the International Banking Centre to open a UK account before you move, you may be able to transfer your credit history from your home country, which could make it easier to apply to HSBC UK for credit. We operate in more than 45 countries including Australia, France and Hong Kong, which means you can continue your banking relationship as you move.

If you are an HSBC Premier customer, your dedicated Premier relationship manager will be able to liaise with your local International Banking Centre to help you get started in your new home country, arrange for your credit history to be transferred and provide financial assistance wherever you are in
the world.

Everyday life

• Making phonecalls

Lots of people in the UK don't have landlinesLandlines
A fixed telephone line into a property.
any more, and you may find it just as convenient to have a pay-as-you-go SIMPay-as-you-go SIM card
This is a card that you can top up with money to use to pay for calls on your mobile phone, meaning you don't have to sign up for a contract. You can use a debit or credit card to top up the SIM card online, at cashpoints or in stores.
card or a mobile phone contract instead.

• Insurance

If you have travel insurance, check with your provider whether you will still be covered once you leave your home country. You may have travel insurance with your HSBC bank account in your home country, but when you move to the UK, you may no longer be eligible for this benefit.

Once you arrive, contact your local HSBC branch to discuss your insurance requirements, or visit our online pages for more information. Remember to arrange one-way trip insurance in your home country for your journey to the UK.

• Health

When you arrive in the UK, you will need to register as a patient at your local general practitioners' (GP)General practitioner (GP)
A general practitioner (GP) is a doctor who can provide initial diagnosis of and treatment for medical conditions. For more serious conditions, they can refer you to a hospital or other treatment centre.
surgery. The GP is your first port of call for health problems. The best way to register is to call in to your local GP surgery. Have a look at Moving to the UK: your to-do list to find out what documents you will need in order to register.

Most adults have to pay for their prescriptions, although there are some exemptions. Children under 16, those who are in full-time education and under the age of 18 and people over the age of 60 are entitled to free prescriptions.

To find a dental surgery that accepts National Health Service (NHS)National Health Service (NHS)
The National Health Service (NHS) provides healthcare for all UK citizens, based on their need rather than their ability to pay. It is funded by taxes.
patients, visit and type in your postcode, or call NHS Direct on 0845 4647. Registering for NHS dental care means you receive subsidised treatment, which is cheaper than going to a private practice.

To ensure your healthcare needs are covered, it is recommended that you apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows you to receive state-provided healthcare in EEA countries and Switzerland at a reduced cost or sometimes free of charge.
, which is available only to residents of the European Union. You can apply for an EHIC before you leave your home country – each member of your family who is coming with you will need one. Or, once you arrive in the UK, you can apply for the card directly from the NHS. This is free and the card is valid for up to five years. Visit the NHS website for more information.

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Everyone's circumstances are different and what applies to one person may not be right for someone else. The suggestions above are based on a general assumption of each circumstance and they are not intended to provide advice or recommendation.