I’m taking a moment here to deviate a little from my usual ramblings. This post is specific to those wanting to move to the UK and/or who are in the process of moving. I’m setting up a “links” page but since that will provide lots of random non-moving related links I wanted to provide a post that picks out the more useful links for any of you looking to move across the pond.
Visas – First things first, if you haven’t already determined your visa route you will want to do that now.
The types of visas: https://www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa
The visa we came here on (edit: this visa no longer exists, in this link you’ll find a link to the Global Talent visa that has replaced this visa type): https://www.gov.uk/tier-1-exceptional-talent
Attorneys – Once we decided on a visa route we contacted an attorney for a professional opinion. Our attorney was amazing! Even though she thought our chances of getting the endorsement and visas were low she and her paralegal didn’t half-ass the application, they made Ryan’s application for endorsement look way better than we ever could have done on our own. We also hired their help with the actual visa apps once the endorsement came through and I’m so glad we did. The visa app was quite difficult and because of her and her paralegal our visa app looked great, got approved quickly and we had no problems whatsoever. Our attorney was Alison Hunter who is a partner at Wesley Gryk Solicitors.
The attorney we used: https://www.gryklaw.com/
Pets – Bringing pets over is complicated. Pets can’t arrive in cabin when coming into the UK. I believe service dogs can come in cabin but please note emotional support animals don’t meet that criteria (mine are considered ESAs in the states). Some people elect to fly with their pets in cabin into Paris and drive over from there to avoid flying their pets in cargo and some take a cruise ship over. After a significant amount of research I determined the safest and least difficult path for my dogs was to fly them as cargo (they go in a separate area of cargo that is pressurized and temperature regulated like the main cabin is). We hired a pet travel company to make the flight arrangements and assist us with our paperwork. While we still had to do a lot of legwork to get the dogs ready, I was so grateful to have their expertise on our side. I was also greatful for our agent, Jelena, who answered every single question no matter what time of day. Jelena talked me down from a few potential meltdowns. Even after all of the research I had done there were still a few small things I would have missed that would have landed our dogs in quarantine had we not hired the extra help. Here’s some links:
Laws and Regulations: https://www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad
The pet relocation company we used: http://airpetsamerica.com/ (check out their FAQ page)
National Insurance Number – You will need to set up an interview to get your National Insurance Number after you arrive. Make sure you call the number listed on the actual government website as there are several services that claim to help you get your NIN and charge you a fee, this is not something you need to pay someone to help you with. The process is very easy and you’ll be able to manage it on your own:
To get your NINo: https://www.gov.uk/apply-national-insurance-number
Shipping – If you’re shipping anything over there are plenty of companies to choose from. We used Sunset International Shipping and all of our stuff made it over just fine. Our shipment arrived late but not one single thing was damaged. Also, the moving agent we worked with was prompt in addressing my questions and helped us throughout the process. There are many decent companies out there, this is just who we landed on and it worked out well.
ToR Number – If you are shipping anything, including bringing pets, you’ll want to apply for Transfer of Residence relief (getting you ToR number). This is important! You can mail in your application or email it.
EIN Number – We had to apply for an EIN (Employer Identification Number) in order to ship our belongings. I thought this seemed silly but the explanation I was given was that it’s used to mask your SSN, protecting your SSN essentially. You only need this if your shipping value is above $2500 (this was the value in 2018 anyways).
Finding a Home – Searching for a place to live can be difficult but Rightmove was an extremely useful tool in our search. I recommend installing their app on your phone, if you can. Just a quick tip, don’t email the letting agencies, CALL THEM! By the time most agencies bother to read your email they’ll have already rented out the place you’re interested in. Zoopla was a secondary app that I also used. As a side note, some people suggested Gumtree as a search tool and I honestly didn’t find it to be terribly helpful.
Utilities…UGH – When it comes to setting up utilities you’ll be surprised to learn that there are an insane number of gas and electric companies to choose from, it’s overwhelming and I have been through three so far. Bulb is a green energy company and is the most competent utility company I’ve encountered. AVOID E.ON, they are absolutely horrendous (see my “Enter the Ombudsman” post)! My referral link for Bulb is below and we’ll both save £50 if you use it. I initially didn’t include the referral link when I wrote this post but at this point they are one of the few reliable companies I’ve dealt with and I wholeheartedly recommend them. Their rates are super reasonable and I just like the way they operate as a company. Apparently, it’s normal to change utility providers annually. I’ve been told that’s how people get the best savings on utilities, but after our awful experiences with previous providers we will be staying with Bulb.
Utility comparison link: https://www.comparethemarket.com/utilities/
TV Licence – You might very well need a TV Licence, even if you don’t have a tv. They are very serious about this here and will investigate you if you claim you don’t need one, which is fine if you don’t actually need one. Really, it sounds silly, but it basically funds the BBC, I’m cool with that… not that anyone asked me.
TV Licence info: https://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/check-if-you-need-one
Healthcare – Register with a General Practitioner (GP) if you qualify for NHS under your visa. Even if you go the private healthcare route, I believe you still need to register with a GP (or at least one of the private care websites I visited mentioned that). The thing that’s a bummer is in Scotland you can only register with GPs that serve the area you live in. I really like my GP but if we happen to move a few streets over I may have to find a new one. Oh, and if you’re searching for a GP but are only finding “surgeries,” remember that over here a surgery is just a doctor’s office… yeah, this one got me at first.
More info on registering with a GP:
Telephone Preference Service – This link is similar to the “Do not call” service in the US. Once you get your phone number I’d recommend registering it with this company. You’ll still get scammer calls on occasion (a lot from Leeds) but this should stop legit solicitation calls.
I’m sure I’m forgetting several useful links but will add them to this post as I remember them. There are some links I didn’t post, like phone companies, internet providers, banks, etc. I didn’t include these since the providers we chose may not be the best service for you since some are location dependent. I will say to avoid BT (cable, internet, phone) since I have heard nothing but horror stories about that company. All links in this post are the ones that I used and found helpful, this is not an all-inclusive list though (I must have looked at around 40 or 50 different links about travelling to the UK with dogs). Lastly, for the legal stuff (visas, moving regulations, etc.) make sure you’re viewing the actual UK government’s website for the most up to date and accurate info (https://www.gov.uk/).