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 moved over 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
Pets – Bringing pets over is complicated. Pets can’t arrive in cabin when arriving into the UK. I believe service dogs can come in cabin and I’ve heard mixed reviews about getting ESAs over in cabin. 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
*I’ve removed the Airpets America link because Jelena is no longer there and when I attempted to hire them to get my dogs back to the US, communication with the owner was absolutely awful. I had zero confidence in this company’s ability to arrange for a smooth return for my dogs, especially mid-pandemic. I ended up working with Pets on the Move Glasgow and those women were absolutely incredible. They stopped at nothing to get my dogs back to Seattle safely and I’ve honestly never been so impressed with a company in my life. I highly recommend Pets on the Move Glasgow.
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 to the UK 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. Something to be aware of is if you ship stuff, there is the possibility that your container will be unlucky enough to get held at the port and selected for inspection. Guess who gets to foot that bill. You! This isn’t super common but it does happen and can cost thousands.
In returning to the US, I used Send my Bag and that worked out really well. I only had ten boxes to send back and it was a relatively inexpensive process. DHL picked up the boxes from my flat in Glasgow and they arrived at my US address a few days later. One box got held up for a week but it still arrived in good condition and there weren’t any holding charges. If I was to move internationally again, this is probably the way I’d go. Send my Bag operates in multiple countries.
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)! Bulb’s 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 if you have good customer service with a utility provider in the UK, I recommend staying put.
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 bummer is if you find a GP you really like, which I did, you may lose them if you move. We had moved not even a mile away from our first flat and were no longer in the service area of my beloved GP. Oh, and if you’re searching for a GP but are only finding “surgeries,” remember that in Scotland 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. 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/).