Integration into life in the UK is essential for you to live happily and safely. We have designed this page to cover topics about life outside of work, such as how to contacting emergency services in the case of an emergency, looking for a school for your family, or applying for insurances to cover you if an incident occurs.
In case of an emergency, ring 999, and depending on your need ask for either: Ambulance, Police, Fire Services.
Emergency services in the UK are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and are free of charge.
Medical emergencies that would require you to ring 999 include serious illness and/or major injury that is a risk to life or limb.
If you are in need of urgent healthcare advice, but it is not a life-threatening illness, you are advised to either ring NHS 111, visit a local NHS walk-in centre, urgent care centre or minor injuries unit or to make your own way to your local accident and emergency (A+E) department.
For less urgent healthcare needs, you should consider: self-care at home; contacting your local pharmacist; or visiting or calling your GP.
The NHS 111 service is provided by a team of fully trained staff advisers who will assess your symptoms and then direct you accordingly. They may provide you with self-care advice; connect you to an emergency nurse, dentist or GP; arrange for you to be seen face to face; or send an ambulance directly if they feel it is necessary.
Renting - there is more than one way with which to find a rental property. This can be done via an estate/letting agent, online (using Zoopla, Rightmove etc.), or privately. If you intend to rent directly from the landlord (i.e. privately), ensure that they belong to an accreditation scheme. Your local authority can advise you about accreditation schemes operating in your area. If you decide to rent a property through an estate/letting agent you will be charged certain fees and costs. These will be declared by the agent prior to you agreeing to their services.
Property types that you can rent include houses, bungalows, flats/apartments and rooms in shared houses/a house of multiple occupancy (HMO). This is normally a private bedroom with a shared bathroom, kitchen and living area. The number of tenants in the house will vary.
It is advisable, as it is when buying a property, to view rented accomodation prior to making a decision and/or signing any contract or agreement.
Many landlords have certain rules attached to renting their property. This includes rules about children, smoking and pets. Be sure to check if there are any such rules as it may be that certain rules will impact on your choice of property. Similarly, be sure to check who is responsible for paying the bills associated with the property. This includes gas, electricity, water, council tax and internet services. Some tenancy agreements include these bills in the monthly rental cost.
Once you have identified a property that you would like to rent, you will need to confirm your identity with the landlord and/or agent acting on behalf of the landlord. They will likely want to know your immigration status, your credit history and your employment status. Some landlords may also ask for someone to act as your guarantor in order for the tenancy agreement to proceed. A guarantor ensures rent continues to be paid to the landlord in the case that the tenant is unable to pay.
You will then be presented with a written tenancy agreement. The most common form of tenancy is called an assured shorthold tenancy (AST). Typically, tenancy agreements are fixed for a period of time. This is usually a minimum of 6 months, but more commonly 12 months. You can ask the landlord for a longer period of tenancy if this is desired. Occasionally, a landlord will also agree to a shorter term of let, however this is not normally less than 3 months.
It is important that you read the tenancy agreement carefully and we would advise that you get legal advice if you are unsure of any terms before signing an agreement. You can also seek guidance from gov.uk or Citizens Advice.
A tenancy agreement should include:
- The names of all the people involved in the tenancy
- The rental price and how it will be paid
- Information on how and when the rent will be reviewed
- The deposit amount and how it will be protected by the landlord
- Details of when the deposit can be fully or partly withheld (for example to repair damage caused by the tenant)
- The property address
- The start and end date of the tenancy
- Any tenant or landlord obligations
- An outline of bills you are responsible for
It can also include information on:
- Whether the tenancy can be ended early and how this can be done
- Who’s responsible for minor repairs (other than those that the landlord is legally responsible for)
- Whether the property can be let to someone else (sublet) or have lodgers
If the landlord asks for a deposit, and prior to signing a tenancy agreement, be sure to ask about deposit protection by a government-approved scheme. The landlord should provide deposit paperwork that details the scheme they use and how you get your money back at the end of the tenancy.
If the property is furnished, an inventory should also be provided by the landlord. This lists the items already in the property at the time of renting and the condition they are in. It will be referred to at the end of the tenancy agreement and money will be taken from the deposit to replace or repair any items that have been taken or damaged during the tenancy.
Once you are happy with the agreement, you can sign it. You will then be given a copy of it for future reference along with the keys to the property.
For further information about renting a property, the responsibilities of the landlord and the responsibilities of you as a tenant, please visit gov.uk.
Buying - there are a number of online sites available to make the search a little easier. Commonly used sites include: Zoopla, Rightmove and Prime Location, although there are a number of other sites available. The Midlands also has numerous high street estate agents who can help you identify whether you would like to buy or rent a property, where in the region you would like to live and the size/type of property you are looking for.
When buying or renting a property, it is important that you have the right protection in place in case something should go wrong resulting in damage or destruction to either your property or the possessions housed in the property. Home insurance is a type of insurance product that provides this protection.
There are 2 main types of home insurance:
- Buildings insurance – this covers the cost of repairing damage to the structure of your property and includes walls, windows, roof, bathroom suites and fitted kitchens. It typically insures your home in case of fire, storm, flood, subsidence, burst pipes, theft and falling trees. Accidental damage, normal wear and tear and any legal expenses occurred are not typically covered and require an additional premium. You should have enough insurance to cover the cost of completely rebuilding your home should you need to. Tenants do not need to worry about buildings insurance.
- Contents insurance – this covers the cost of replacing your belongings in your home if they are lost, damaged, destroyed or stolen. It is usually arranged on a new for old basis. Generally, ‘contents’ is defined as the items that you would take with you if you moved home. Similar to buildings insurance, accidental damage is normally an additional premium, as is personal possessions insurance which insures items such as mobile phones, laptops, cameras etc. outside of the home.
When selecting the appropriate home insurance product, be sure to check that you are getting the best quote possible. You can do this by comparing quotes on numerous comparison sites including: Confused.com, GoCompare, MoneySuperMarket, uSwitch, and Compare The Market.
If you plan to own or drive a car in the UK you must be covered by Car Insurance. It is illegal to drive a car without valid car insurance.
If you’re caught driving a vehicle you’re not insured to drive, the police will hand out a minimum:
- fixed penalty fine of £300
- 6 penalty points
The police will decide whether more serious cases are to be handled in court. These may include cases where a driver has never passed a driving test, has given false details or was driving a higher risk vehicle.
A court can issue:
- an unlimited fine
- disqualification from driving
- The police also have the power to:
- seize the vehicle – even if it doesn’t belong to you
- destroy the vehicle
Other costs you may be liable for include:
- a higher car insurance premium in the future
- costs associated with an accident
*Information obtain from www.rac.co.uk
If you choose the wrong class of use on your car insurance, you could find your cover invalidated, so it's worth knowing what they’re all about.
There are three main classes of use to choose from, as well as some further options you’ll need to consider if you regularly drive as part of your job:
- Social only - With this type of cover, the insured car can be used by the named drivers for non-work-related driving only. Also known as social, domestic and pleasure use only. This covers you for normal day-to-day driving, such as driving to visit family and friends or shopping.
- Social and commuting - This provides cover as above for social, domestic and pleasure use, as well as for driving back and forth to a permanent place of work. Travelling to a railway station en route to work, where the car is parked, is usually classed as commuting. Dropping someone else off at their place of work may also be classed as commuting by your insurer.
- Business driving - If the car is being used in connection with work beyond simply commuting, you’ll need a level of business insurance cover: Business use by you - this covers all of the above, plus your business-related driving away from your normal place of work. Business use by you and/or your spouse – this simply extends the cover provided for business driving to your spouse. There are often options to do this for all drivers named on the policy. Commercial travelling – this type of cover may be needed if driving is a permanent aspect of your job, or you're selling goods or services while on the road. You can find out more in our guide, what is business car insurance.
* Information obtained from www.confused.com
If you own and drive a car, you must also ensure the car is taxed to drive on the road. Click here to read about the different types of car tax.
Your initial accommodation will be inclusive of all bills (you will not pay for rent or utility bills for the first 3 months), after this time if you decide to move into rented accommodation you may be responsible for the following bills:
Council Tax - Council tax is a system of local taxation collected by the local authority. It is a tax on domestic property.
All homes are given a council tax valuation band. This band is based on the value of your home on 1st April 1991. A different amount of council tax is charged on each band and each local authority will have a list of domestic property in the area and its associated valuation band. For more information on Council Tax please look at either of these websites - Shropshire Council or Telford and Wrekin Council.
Utility Bills - Utility bills usually refer to the cost associated with using gas, electricity and water at home. They provide detail as to how much of the service has been used and how much you owe the supplier of the service. Typically, utility bills are generated monthly, at a fixed rate and for a set period of time. Water bills, however, are usually charged on a quarterly basis producing 4 bills per year.
It is important to establish utility connections when you first move in to a property (regardless of whether you are renting or buying). The supply of the utility will already be in place in an established home, it will just require you to choose an energy provider and choose the appropriate service for you. When moving in to a new property, you will need to ensure the company providing the utility are charging the bills to you and not the previous tenant or owner. You will also need to provide them with a meter reading taken on the day you move in so that you do not get charged for the utilities used by the previous owner or tenant.
Be sure to find out what tariff you are on and check that this is the best deal you can get. There are numerous comparison sites online that can make this process quick and easy (see the home insurance section for links to some of these sites).
If you are renting, your utilities may be included in your rent. If you are unsure, confirm this with your landlord. If sharing a house with multiple people, consider adding everyone's names to the account so that it is not just one person liable for the cost.
The cost of your utility bills will vary depending on the size of your home and the needs of you and your family. Your bills may also be affected by the weather, with winter typically resulting in increased demands on gas and electricity and therefore, resulting in increased bills accordingly.
TV Licence - If you intend to watch or record live TV programmes on any channel and/or download or watch any BBC programme in iPlayer (whether live, catch up or on demand) you will need to be covered to do so by a TV licence. This applies to any provider you use and any device, including a TV, desktop computer, laptop, mobile phone, tablet, games console, digital box or DVD/VHS recorder.
A standard TV licence costs £154.50. There a number of ways to pay for the licence including as a one-off payment, weekly, fortnightly or monthly.
Income tax is a tax you pay in the UK on your earnings/income. Most people in the UK get a personal allowance of tax-free income. This is the amount of income you can earn before you pay tax, and determines what tax code is generated for you. This tax code is then used to inform your employer how much income tax they should be taking from your pay. Your tax code will normally start with a number and end with a letter – 1150L is the tax code currently being used for most people who have one job. You can check your tax code by looking on your payslip or by visiting the gov.uk website. You will see your income tax contribution (as well as your NI contribution) on your payslip under ‘PAYE’.
Upon starting work in the UK, you may be emergency taxed and given an emergency tax code accordingly. These tax codes are temporary and should be updated as soon as possible. So that the correct tax code can be generated, your employer will require you to complete a ‘starter checklist’ form prior to your first payday. This form is used to gather the necessary information required to generate the appropriate tax code for you.
In the UK, National Insurance (NI) is a system of taxes paid for by employees (and employers). These taxes are used primarily to fund state benefits, including the state pension. The amount of NI contributed by an employee is dependent on how much they earn and will determine how much they get in state pension upon retirement. It will also determine their entitlement to other benefits should they lose their job or suffer from long term illness. An employee’s NI contribution is deducted automatically from their gross wages (together with their contribution to income tax) and, as mentioned before, will be seen on their payslip under ‘PAYE’.
In order to obtain a National Insurance (NI) number, you must have the right to work in the UK. If you don’t already have a NI number, you must apply for one. However, you can only apply for it once you’re in the UK.
You can go directly to the gov.uk website for further information.
You do not have to wait for your NI number to arrive before you start work. However, you must be able to prove you can work in the UK. You should also tell your employer that you’ve applied for one, and give it to them when you have it.
In order to drive whilst living and working in the UK, you will need to obtain a British driver’s licence.
This can be done through the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).
The DVLA is responsible for maintaining the registration and licensing of drivers in Great Britain. They are also responsible for maintaining the registration and licensing of vehicles, together with the collection and enforcement of vehicle tax/vehicle excise duty (VED), in the UK.
You can access DVLA services via gov.uk, or by using their online services.
You can contact them:
Via post: DVLA
Via telephone: General Enquiries: 0300 790 6801
‘Designated countries’ are countries with exchange agreements for driving licences with Great Britain and include: Andorra, Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland and Zimbabwe.
If your licence is obtained from one of the above designated countries then you can continue to drive in the UK without exchanging your licence for 12 months after becoming a resident.
After 12 months, you must exchange your licence to keep driving. You can exchange it up to 5 years after becoming a resident, if it hasn’t expired.
To exchange your licence, you must:
- Order form D1 from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).
- Send the form, a £43 fee and any documents you need (including your driving licence) to the address on the form.
- You should get your new licence within 3 weeks.
You can find out more information about exchanging a foreign driving licence here.
If your licence was not obtained in one of the above designated countries, then unfortunately you can't exchange your licence. However, you can drive in the UK for up to 12 months on your foreign licence.
After 12 months you’ll need to take a theory test and practical test to get a Great Britain issued driving licence.
More information about driving in Great Britain on a non-GB licence can be found here.
We will be taking you to open a UK bank account in the first few days of you arriving in the UK. Here is some information about this process.
The most commonly used form of bank account in the UK is a current account.
Typically, when opening a bank account, the bank will request 2 documents from you:
- The first document is proof of identity, which can be provided in the form of a passport, driving licence, birth certificate or identity card.
- The second document they will ask you to produce is proof of address. This must not be the same document you used to prove your identity and usually includes a tenancy agreement or mortgage statement, recent electricity or gas bill (less than 3 months old), a recent bank or credit card statement (less than 3 months old and not printed from the internet) or a current council tax bill.
Of course, if you have recently moved to the UK, it is unlikely that you will have any of the above documents so banks will accept alternative documents as proof of address. A letter from your employer confirming your National Insurance (NI) number is also acceptable. If prior to arriving in the UK, you secure a UK address, you can also ask your own bank to change the corresponding address on the account. Once you have done this, you can ask your bank to send a bank statement by post to your new UK address and use this as proof of address.
If you are unable to provide documents to prove your UK address, some banks offer international accounts. These banks include Lloyds, HSBC and NatWest. Although designed for non-residents, they are an alternative if you are struggling to obtain any of the documents listed above. Further information about these accounts are available in branch or online via the bank’s website.
The bank industry in the UK is very competitive and there are numerous incentivised accounts available to attract different types of customer. Be aware that being new to the UK means that you have a limited credit history and so opening certain accounts will be easier to do than others. We would advise getting in touch with customer support of your chosen bank to find out what accounts suit, and are available, to you. It should be noted that if you wish to open any account other than a basic current account, you will need proof that you are working in the UK through evidence of a payslip or similar.
Opening times for banks are usually:
Monday to Friday - 9:00-9:30 until 17:00-17:30
Saturdays - 9:00-9:30 until 12:30 or 15:30
Banks in England and Wales remain open over lunch, but many of their counterparts in Scotland and Northern Ireland close for one-hour.
Payments in the UK can be made by cash, debit or credit card including Chip and Pin and contactless payments and Apple pay.
Cash machines, or ATMs, are located in numerous places throughout the region. They are accessible 24 hours a day and allow you to withdraw cash using a debit card for free (mostly). You are able to withdraw a maximum of £250 per day. ATMs also have other functions such as viewing your balance and changing the PIN number for your debit or credit card.
The NHS Pension scheme is one of the most comprehensive and generous schemes within the UK.
If you are aged between 16 and 75, and are working in the NHS, you are eligible for a NHS pension. You will automatically become a member of the 2015 NHS Pension scheme when you start work.
Pension contributions will be deducted monthly (before tax) from your income and will appear on your payslip as ‘Pension contribution x%’. The percentage that you will contribute to the scheme will be dependent on your annual income (or whole time equivalent if you work part time).
As well as your contribution to the scheme, your employer will also make monthly contributions. This amount is currently fixed at 14.3% of your annual income (or whole time equivalent).
There is no limit on the number of years you can be a member of the scheme.
The Normal Pension Age (NPA) of a member of the 2015 NHS pension scheme is currently the same as their State Pension age. Your State Pension age is dependent on your date of birth and gender and can be calculated here. The State Pension age is currently under review and so may change in the future. Please be aware that you can keep working after you reach State Pension age – a forced/default retirement age no longer exists.
Similarly, you can retire before this age, although this must be considered carefully as it will affect your pension amount. There are flexibilities in the current NHS pension scheme that allow for early retirement; more information on these flexibilities can be found in the ‘2015 NHS Pension scheme: Guide for members’.
If you have cumulated at least 10 qualifying years on your National Insurance record upon retirement (they do not have to be consecutive years), you may also be entitled to a State Pension. This would be in addition to your workplace pension. More information on the State Pension can be found at gov.uk.
Further information on NHS pensions can be found here.
Just as you place significant importance on looking after your patient, it is equally as important that you look after yourself. This includes not only your physical health but also your dental and mental health, and that of your family, as well.
It is therefore very important that upon your arrival in the UK you register with both a GP and a dentist of your choosing.
To help find either a GP or dentist in your area the following websites can be useful:
Information on NHS GP services can be found here.
For a dentist: https://www.nhs.uk/Service-Search/Dentist/LocationSearch/3
In the UK, you are expected to pay a contribution towards the cost of your dental care. The amount you will pay will differ depending on whether you are a NHS patient or a private patient. Most dentists will provide both NHS and private treatment so it is important to check whether the treatment you are paying for is NHS or private or a combination of the two.
Currently, costs associated with NHS dental treatment are as follows:
- Emergency dental treatment - £22.70
- Band 1 course of treatment - £22.70 and covers an examination, diagnosis (including x-rays), advice on how to prevent future problems, scale and polish if clinically needed, and preventative care.
- Band 2 course of treatment - £62.10and covers everything listed in Band 1 plus any further treatment such as fillings, root canal work or removal of teeth.
- Band 3 course of treatment - £269.30 and covers everything listed in Band 1 and 2 plus crowns, dentures, bridges and other laboratory work.
Further information on NHS dental services can be found here.
In the UK, there is a charge attached to most NHS prescriptions. This charge is currently £8.60 per item.
If you require more than 3 prescription items in 3 months or 12 items in a year, it would be worthwhile paying for a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) as this will save you money. PPCs are available either 3 monthly, or 12 monthly and charged at £29.10 and £104.00 respectively; this is paid over 10 monthly direct debit instalments.
In some situations, you may be provided with a free NHS prescription. A list of those who do not have to pay is provided on the back of the prescription (part 1) and includes those who:
- Are aged 60 or over
- Are aged 16 or under
- Are between the ages of 16 and 18 and in full time education
- Are pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months
- Have a specified medical condition
- Have been prescribed the medication at a hospital, NHS walk-in centre or hospital clinic
- Have been prescribed contraceptives
For more information about prescription costs, and getting help with these costs, please click here.
Local authorities, often referred to as councils, have a range of roles and responsibilities, including the provision of certain services and representation. The local authority has overall responsibility for the well-being of the area.
For further information about how your local authority works visit the gov.uk website.
There are two main Local authorites in the area:
Citizens Advice provides free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to everyone on their rights and responsibilities.
They help with issues relating to money, benefits, housing, employment and consumer rights.
They can be contacted online (click on the logo to the left of this text), face to face (they are based in numerous places across the region), over the phone(via telephone number 03444 111 444) or via webchat.
In most cases, children arriving from overseas have the right to attend state-funded schools in England. Dependent children accompanying parents entering the UK on a work visa have a right to enter the country to attend a state-funded school.
Click here to read more about applying for a place at school for your child/children
Joining a Union
Being part of a union means that you can work as part of a much larger group over issues that affect your job. This could include things like your pension, working conditions, benefits and wages, and the union can create a contract that becomes legally binding.
There are 3 main Nursing Unions - The RCN, Unison and Unite.
The RCN (Royal College of Nursing) is a membership organisation of more than 435,000 registered nurses, midwives, health care assistants and nursing students. Around 35,000 nursing students are members.
The RCN is both a professional body, carrying out work on nursing standards, education and practice, and a trade union.
UNISON is one of the UK’s largest trade unions, serving more than 1.3 million members. UNISON represents and acts for members working in a range of public services and utilities, whether they’re employed by private companies, public authorities or in the community and voluntary sector. UNISON represents members; negotiates and bargains on their behalf; campaigns for better working conditions and pay and for public services.
Unite is the largest trade union in the UK and Ireland with around 1.42 million members across 20 different private, public and voluntary sectors including manufacturing, public services, transport, food, finance and construction.
In the health sector, Unite has over 100,000 members across all occupations and professional groups.
Whether you choose to go with one of the “big 3” unions or opt for one of the little ones, you’ll find that a Union should offer you benefits whether you are experiencing workplace issues or personal crisis, or if you just want to advantage of discounted products and access to CPD. And of course if you decide that a Union is not for you, just make sure that you have do have appropriate Indemnity Insurance; otherwise, you could find yourself in a whole heap of trouble with no one to help dig you out.
We hope you have found this information useful.
* This page was created using information from Health Education Englands Social Integration page, the original page can be found here.
** any prices quoted are subject to change