Moving to the UK: Your Preparatory Checklist

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Welcome back to our “Customs With Katy!” International Edition blog feature, where we focus on International customs-related topics for various countries abroad, brought to you by none other than Phillips’ very own Move Manager, Katy Duncan! To continue on from our previous post discussing the Transfer of Residence process when moving to the UK, we’ll now share a very comprehensive preparatory checklist. As you know, there are many factors to think about both before and after moving internationally (never mind locally, long distance, or cross-border), and so here are just four things (as seen in EXPATICA) to think about which will be of paramount importance to you:


Note: this list is not the complete version – only a brief segment. The following tips are paraphrased excerpts from the above noted source:


Moving your belongings

It’s not likely that you’ll have to pay customs duty on your possessions if you’re moving to the UK as an EU citizen from another EU/EFTA country. If you’re not however, you may have to claim a tax exemption and will need to complete a transfer of residence (ToR1) form so customs officers can calculate what you’ll owe. That cost of moving will depend on how you decide transport your belongings, and you have two options available:

  • air freight – this is quicker, but more costly
  • shipping company – if you use a 20ft container, you can usually ship a one-bedroom house full of goods, but if you were planning to include your car for instance, a 40ft container will be sufficient

Bringing pets? You are allowed to bring most pets with you into the UK, so long as they comply with the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). Please visit the government website if you would like to obtain further information. Also see these Relocation options for moving to the UK to determine the most efficient way to transport your worldly possessions.


Immigration and registration after you arrive

The UK is an EU member state, so EU/EFTA nationals can enter freely without the need of a visa. They also have the right to live in the UK so long as they are classified as either:

  • employed
  • self-employed
  • a registered job-seeker

Other nationals can enter and reside in the UK as well without a visa indefinitely, or up to six months. To find out whether or not you’ll require a visa or permit to reside in the UK, you should confirm on the British Government’s website.

If it turns out that you do require a visa or permit, then ensure you apply for the correct type! There are several visa options, and you’ll need to apply through the visa application centre either in your home country or online. Living in the UK for longer than six months? You will need to apply for a bio-metric residence permit (BRP). Now, it is very important to note that just because you posses a visa, it does not guarantee that you can work in the UK – you will need to secure a UK work permit first.

Lastly, if you’re living in a property in the UK, be sure to register for council tax.


Health insurance and social security benefits

Slightly different than many other countries in the EU, State healthcare is funded through taxation instead of insurance through the National Health Service (NHS). This means that healthcare is freely available to all domestic and foreign residents of the UK, apart from a few charges such as dental care. That said, you can gain access to both free primary and secondary healthcare in the UK by registering with a local doctor.

Only staying in the UK for a short time? EU/EFTA residents can access healthcare through their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). If you’re not classified as an EU/EFTA resident, then you’ll have to use private health insurance instead. If you prefer to be privately treated and can afford to do so, private healthcare provisioning exists as well.

Lastly, the Universal Credit payment system is financed through both taxation and national insurance (NI). This is the UK’s social security system, covering many welfare and unemployment benefits, along with statutory sick pay, maternity and paternity pay, state pension, and others. As a foreign resident, you are eligible to attain these benefits, where payment amounts depend on national insurance contributions. To find out the full benefits entitlement, visit the UK government website.


Opening a bank account

Opening a bank account in the UK is relatively straightforward. Each bank in the UK will differ in terms of the documentation they accept, but you will typically be required to present:

  • proof of ID
  • proof of address – you’ll have to open the account once you’ve relocated, unless you were able to secure your address prior to moving and have the documentation to prove it

Keep in mind that if you prefer to create an account before arriving in the UK, you can opt for an International account option which most UK banks have available, but beware of additional charges which include lump sum deposits, minimum monthly transactions, and administration fees.

Once you become a UK resident, many account options are offered with UK banks such as current, savings, and online banking. Current accounts and the use of ATM’s are typically free to use, but watch out for hidden fees and charges. This will have to made clear to you before you decide to proceed.


There are still several tips left! Keep reading through the list, or, read on below…


To review: So, you’ve visited the blog post linked in the above intro and have applied for your Transfer of Residence (ToR), and you’ve booked and are currently coordinating moving to the UK. Awesome progress! Preparing for this move is no small feat. Now, don’t forget to visit the original article we referenced and based this post on as well. You’ve read through only four – the complete preparatory checklist contains a total of 16 items, so make sure you’re fully informed!

For additional cross-border (and international) customs tips, we also recommend that you routinely check our frequent news updates.

As always, until next time, stay safe and stay customs compliant!

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