What to know before moving to the UK

(Italian version: https://camyinwonderworld.blog/2019/05/30/cosa-sapere-prima-di-trasferirsi-in-uk/)

As you may know mine is a lifestyle and travel blog, so I’m not talking only about travels but also about my life. If you have read the “About me” section (https://camyinwonderworld.blog/about-me/) or previous posts, you’ll also know that almost three months ago I moved from Italy to Scotland with my boyfriend (and my cat) because my grandmother is Scottish and has a house here, even if she lives in Italy, so we can stay in her flat for free (except for the bills, obviously). We moved here because I’ve always loved Scotland since I was a kid and Gabriele liked it, too. He was tired of his job in Switzerland, of not having free time, he was waking up at 5am to go to work and getting back home almost at 7pm, because of the traffic. I, on the other hand, graduated from university last year so I had nothing to lose and was free to go. As I know English quite well because my grandma has always been speaking to me in her mother tongue I’m not having classes, while Gabriele is attending lessons here, four days a week. So, I rented out my home, we got our Minnie ready with all the paperwork and here we are, living this experience. We don’t know how long we are staying, as we are two Geminis we change our minds very quickly… LOL. But I’ve always loved the UK and right now I am looking for a job, while he’s studying English, and when he’ll learn it better he will start looking, too.

I’d like to write this blogpost as a guide. I personally was searching for this kind of blogposts before moving here, so hopefully someone will find it useful. I also have written a blogpost about bringing cats to the UK ( https://camyinwonderworld.blog/2019/04/14/what-to-know-before-bringing-your-cat-to-the-uk/ ) if anyone’s interested. Obviously with Brexit many things will change so please always check on the website of the UK Government for news: https://www.gov.uk/. I will be talking only about my experience.

1. The trip

Regarding the mean of transport that will take you to the UK, we personally decided to go by car because we wanted to have one here. You could use the bus or the train while you’re here but we decided to take the car so that going to do the heavy shopping is much easier, just like going to work or exploring the Highlands with freedom (for my post about our trip to the Highlands click here https://camyinwonderworld.blog/2019/04/03/scotland-my-beloved-scotland/) . The other reason why we decided to go by car is our cat, as a matter of fact we got the ferry from Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, to Hull, in the North of England, where she was accepted.

Our cabin in the ferry: I slept quite well!
On the deck of the huge P&O ferry, in Rotterdam

As far as I’m concerned, pets can only travel by ferry if they are staying in a car. We didn’t want to put her on a plane because of the stress that this would have caused her, but I know that other people have brought their pets with an airplane and all went fine. If you are planning to move to a big city, where the offer of transport is much better (we don’t live in a big city) I would definitely reach the UK by plane without the stress of traveling by car and ferry for 19 hours (1891km).

2. The house

Regarding this point we have been very, very lucky because as I said above my grandmother has a house here so we didn’t need to rent one, we are only paying the bills. Unfortunately I don’t have much to tell you about it, I’m sorry. I know that many young boys and girls who come to the UK usually stay with a relative, a friend or in a hostel for the first weeks, while searching for a flat. I recommend you https://www.rightmove.co.uk and https://www.gumtree.com. Having a place to stay is very important both to open a bank account and to get your NIN. Read on!

3. NHS (National Healthcare Service)

One of the first things that we did once arrived in Scotland was to register with the NHS, to have our healthcare. We went to the local NHS and the secretary gave us a form to fill. Once we filled the form we brought it back to her, along with our passports, and she said that we would receive home a letter with an invite to a free visit. After less than a week we received our letters, we called our local NHS and booked our visits. Attending the visit was easy, I had to bring with me a urine sample. I didn’t need to pay anything at all and next week I’ve got an appointment because I need a prescription.

3. NIN (National Insurance Number)

To be able to work in the UK you need to have the NIN. Getting ours has been quite easy. First I called to book our appointments (they gave me the phone number in a job center nearby, I won’t even share it with you because it’s not the same for everyone, it’s only for this area, but you can easily find yours online). During the phone call you need to say if you’re calling for yourself or for someone else, you’ll explain why you need a NIN (easy one: “I’d like to start working”), when did you arrive in the UK, they’ll ask you to spell your details and they’ll give you a reference number. Be really careful with this as it’s very important, you will have to take it with you at the appointment. During the phone call you will be told of the documents that you’ll need to bring with you to testimony that you are really staying in the UK (a bill with your name on it, the receipt of the Council Tax, evidence of house rental, etc.). We brought some mail that stated our subscription to the NHS and, to be sure, also some old bills with my grandmother’s name on it and a statement written by her, saying that we are living in her place, but they only looked at the NHS papers. So, here’s what you need to bring with you at the appointment:

  • Passport or document with photo on it
  • Reference number (given to you during the phone call)
  • Documents that prove your address
  • Letter that you received at home after the phone call (invitation to the interview)

Finally, the operator proposes a date for the interview and he’ll ask you for the address you’re staying at. It’s really important that you give him the right address because you will need to bring the letter (that they’ll send you home) with you at the appointment. After receiving our appointments confirmation via mail we attended the interview in Glasgow, at the Laurieston Jobcentre. We had a very kind operator asking us a the usual questions (when did we arrive, why do we need a NIN, have we ever been married, do we have children, etc). On the telephone we were told that we had to attend the meeting individually but once there he let us sit at the same desk. When the meeting was over he gave us some papers stating that our NIN would arrive 6 weeks later: usually it takes less but it was a busy period. This paperwork would be useful, he said, if we wanted to open a bank account, it would help us as evidence but he couldn’t assure us that it would be enough.

4. Bank Account

A few weeks ago we went to the local Bank of Scotland offices to request to open bank accounts. A very kind lady received us in her office and asked us a few questions and also if we had some papers as evidence of our intentions and address. I showed her the paperwork that the operator at the Laurieston Jobcentre in Glasgow gave us, along with passports, our NHS registration and old bills with my grandmother’s name, but unfortunately they weren’t enough. She actually told us that we would have needed a bill with our names on it, or a rental agreement, so, we may have been lucky because we don’t have to pay the rent but actually having bills with your name on it is very useful both to have your NIN both to open a bank account. The lady told us that we’ll be able to open a Bank of Scotland account once we start working and we can get them a letter from our employer stating that we’re working with him.

These are the most important things that I thought about, we could obviously talk for hours about moving from Italy to Scotland, the cultural differences, the weather, the different lifestyles, the cost of life… And we will. Surely this won’t be my last blogpost about this theme. If you need anything else please just ask. I would be really happy to help you, if I can.

Have a great Thursday! And follow me on Instagram if you’d like to keep updated with my Scottish life (@camyinwonderwblog) !

xx

Cam

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