For the past years, it has been relatively straight forward for Europeans to move to the UK - you didn’t even have to register, all you needed was a passport for border control. Depending on where you were from, you had to tell your home citizens registration office, but that was it. With Brexit, things got a bit more complicated.
If you are from Europe and moving to the UK, here is a guide on what you will need to organise when you arrive in the country.
Once you have a tenancy agreement or other proof showing that you live in the UK, you need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. This ensures that you can stay in the UK once the Brexit transition phase ends on 31 December 2020. Usually, you had to pay £65 to apply for pre-settled status, but in order to support its EU-citizen, the government scrapped the application fee.
Along with your proof of residence, you will need an identity document. That can be either your passport or national identity card if you have one. Although the government website doesn’t tell you so - make sure that you don’t travel shortly after your application. You will need to send your identity document to Liverpool, which can take up to a month as a lot of citizens are currently applying for the status.
So, if you can choose between applying with your passport or national identity card, it’s probably best to take the passport since you want to use the much smaller identity card for your daily use. On this page, you can start your application.
Changing phone numbers can be an effort, especially when you have been using the same one for many years. However, the roaming costs will potentially come back after Brexit. Right now, there is no certain decision yet on whether Europeans will be charged if they use their phone contract in the UK after 2020. If you want to make sure that you won’t pay extra, you should consider investing in a UK phone contract.
If you have a dual SIM smartphone, you can always keep your old phone number. If your European contract is cheap, then it might be handy to keep it if you see yourself travelling a lot between Europe and the UK after 2020.
Otherwise, it’s probably better for your budget to bite the bullet and make the switch to a UK provider.
Along with to a phone contract, you should definitely invest in a new bank account. Particularly if you want to work in the UK, you will need a British account so that your employer can transfer your salary. The good thing about UK bank accounts is that some of them are much easier to handle and more modern than in other countries.
It’s also very common to pay via contactless in the UK. For example, while you need to pay in cash in a lot of places in Germany or other European countries, you can even pay with your phone or smart watch with certain banking apps. You may find yourself getting some awkward looks if you try to use lots of cash in a supermarket. A lot of places don’t even accept a £50 note. Most people just pay by card, even in pubs, for taxis and on public buses as its much faster and more convenient.
The only thing that makes applying for a UK bank account a bit difficult is the proof of address. Unfortunately, your tenancy agreement is not enough. You will need to show an official letter that has been sent to you, for example, an electricity bill. This can be tricky, especially if you just moved to the UK. So, make sure that the household bills are set up in your name.
Another document that banks accept as proof of address is your national insurance number letter. This number is not only relevant for your bank account application, of course. With a national insurance number, you have access to the NHS, which is the health system in the UK. You will also need this number if you want to work in the UK, apply for a student loan or claim benefits.
All you need for your application is proof of your identity, your tenancy agreement, and a bit of patience. First, you will need to call the National Insurance number application line, who will then tell you which number you need to call next that will schedule an appointment at the jobcentre with you.
You will then get a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) which you will need to take to your jobcentre appointment, together with the other documents. At the interview, you will need to make clear why you want to stay in the UK. It usually takes around six weeks until you get your number.
Once you have your National Insurance number, you should register with a General Practitioner (GP). You can technically choose any GP, but sometimes they don’t have enough capacity for people living outside their postcode.
It’s essential to register with a GP as you can only see specialists in the UK with a GP referral unless you go to private clinics. However, they can be quite expensive while the NHS is free.
Right now, British citizens have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) that covers medical expenses in Europe. If you move here before the end of 2020, it makes sense that you get this card, too. However, this card is likely to be invalid after the transition period. Thus, if you want to go home, you might need travel insurance as you can’t access the European health system as a UK resident after Brexit.
The good news is - you don’t necessarily need to purchase worldwide travel insurance as there are insurers who have a cheaper Europe option.
Moving to a different country is exciting and will change a lot, but it also comes with some paperwork. Moving to the UK especially is currently more complicated for Europeans than it used to be. This guide gives you an overview of all the most important things you will need to organise for your everyday life in the UK.
It may sound like a lot, and sometimes you will need to bring some patience. However, with the advice and some hints, the process should be smooth, and your move to the UK less stressful.