You will probably have a reasonably easy entry into the country, since you have a visa. You will need your passport, visa, and any supporting documents (eg: copies of contracts with your employer).
Make sure you have things like your employer's phone number written on paper, not on your phone/laptop. You don't want to have to try charge your phone to get through immigration control!
If you come from a country that requires TB scans before arrival, make sure that you have all that paperwork too.
If in doubt, take anything you could possibly need - but make sure that you've got certified "backup copies" of everything in your home country in case you leave your bag at a stopover!
You first few days
It's going to be a stressful time, but overall you've got to manage a few key priorities. Certain things take a while to organise, so you need to apply for them even if things are a bit crazy.
- Get a mobile phone. For now you will probably need to get a Pay as You Go provider. You don't have any credit history, so you probably won't be able to get a contract.
- Get a "mobile internet" device - look for something called a "mifi" device on Pay as you Go. Note that going to Argos and getting one most likely means you can avoid lots of paperwork that you'd have to do if you went to the mobile provider store. I use an EE 4g mobile device.
Proof of Address Documents
One of the primary problems that you're going to have is the "proof of address" system. In the UK there's no official ID document - so you have to prove your identity with letters from a Bank or Electricity provider written to you at your address.
You this need a place to start getting those mails as soon as possible. The longer you don't have a place to stay, the longer it's going to take to sort this all out.
Short Term Place to Stay
If you have a short term place to stay (family or friends) you should strongly consider using it as a temporary place to address all your correspondence. This will help all the other things move forward more quickly.
- Open a bank account.
- Put in your application for your National Insurance Number (BTW: you used the abbreviation NINO - I've not heard it referred to as that before). You may have to use a temporary address for this, and then change it once you've got a more permanent place.
- Get a Starbucks card - you can then use their wifi for free. You can also use wifi for free at McDonalds and many other places.
While the National Insurance process does not technically have to happen before you start work, some employers and recruiters will want you to have an NI number - it gives them a level of comfort that they can hire you. Further, if you don't have an NI number you may be taxed at a higher rate than you should be.
To get your NI number, you need to apply for an appointment (we did it by phone). You give them your postcode/address, and they will give you a booking at a location near you and a specific time.
They will tell you what to take to the appointment - but the core things are your passport and Visa.
At the appointment they will verify your identity and paperwork. You should then get a letter stating you've applied for an NI number. This may be sufficient to start work. You will then receive a plastic NI card with a unique number on it in the post a few days later. You'll need to give this to your Employer and all future Employers.
Finding a Place to Rent
Ask people at work or friends/family where you should think of staying. It's going to be hard to decide, since you have very little context.
If you're in London, be prepared for a much longer commute. Consider cycling! Also: be prepared to make an offer on a rental on the day. It's a competitive market. There's no real way to "think about it" for a few days - so you'll have to have a good idea of a reasonable price and location going in.
You'll need to take local Council Tax into consideration when budgeting. It varies from area to area - make sure you get it from the Agent when deciding whether to see a place. Try and get somewhere with double-glazed windows and decent insulation, since it'll reduce your heating costs.
If you find a house-share it'll certainly reduce your costs. However it makes certain other things more difficult in the long term - you won't have a Gas or Electricity bill with your name on it. That makes Getting a Credit Score difficult.
Once Moved In
The site moneysavingexpert.com is full of great advice on finding the best deals.
- Take photos of your Gas, Water, and Electricity meters so that you have a record of them the day you moved in.
- If you've not managed to open a bank account or got your National Insurance number, you should definitely apply for them
- Apply for internet. This can take a few weeks to arrive, so the sooner you order it the better.
- Register for Council tax.
- Find the cheapest Gas and Electricity. Change the provider for the house if necessary.
- Register for a GP. Note that some GPs might have rules about whether you can register or not as someone new to the country.
- Apply for your TV license. If you don't have a TV, make sure you notify the TV license authority that you don't have a TV so that they don't write you letters.
- Register your name and address at http://www.mpsonline.org.uk/mpsr/ so that you don't get junk mail. The sooner you do this the better!
- Once your internet/phone number is installed, opt out of junk calls at http://www.tpsonline.org.uk/
Getting On the Grid - Getting a Credit Score
You're in a new country and you have no credit score. Even getting things like a mobile contract can be difficult.
- If you can, register to vote, so that you're on the Voter's Roll. This is the first step to having a credit score. EU citizens can register to vote in EU elections. Commonwealth citizens can register to vote in all elections.
- Find a permanent address where you can put the Electricity and Gas bills into your name.
- Once you've shown a track record of paying your bill, you will be able to start opening up other types of accounts.
- You can track your credit score and similar by ordering a copy of your credit score info for free once a year.