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Moving to the UK?

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It’s an exciting time when you move to another country and there’s a lot to look forward to, whether you’re moving for work, study, joining your partner, or starting a new life with your family. We’ve put together some tips for a smooth journey from your current home to your new one in the UK.

What to do before you come to the UK

Get a National Insurance number (NINo)

If you’ve decided to move to the UK, you will have probably already thought of the kind of visa you will need to be able to work. However, if you are unsure, you should check your visa requirements (opens in a new window) and the kind of visa you will need to apply for.

Everyone working in the UK needs a National Insurance number (also known as a “NINo”). It helps the government keep track of how much you’re paying in tax and contributions.

If you have a biometric residence permit, your NINo should be printed on the back. Otherwise you can apply for a National Insurance number here (opens in a new window).

Find somewhere to live

If you want to rent a room, you can check specialist websites, which provide searchable listings of rooms and flat-shares. You should be able to go into detail with your search, for example if you need a parking space or a household that accept pets.

For flats and homes to rent or buy, most UK high street estate agents have their own websites. For details, search the town or city where you’ll be living with ‘estate agents’. Of course you can visit them in person once you arrive in the UK.

Arrange to pay your bills

Once you’ve found somewhere to live, you will need to arrange to pay your gas and electricity bills (opens in a new window) if they aren’t included in your rent. You can visit comparison websites to find the best deals.

You will also have to register for council tax (opens in a new window) – a local government tax on your home to pay for services provided in your area. Different councils charge different amounts, so you will need to take this into consideration in the overall cost of living in the UK.

What to do once you arrive in the UK

Open a bank account

Before opening a bank account, you will need to prove your address and identity. So you’ll need your passport, driving licence or identity card (if you’re an EU national).

If you haven’t found anywhere to live yet, a bank may accept a letter from Jobcentre Plus (opens in a new window) confirming your National Insurance number, or a letter from your employer, as long as it’s less than three months old.

If you’re coming to the UK to study, many banks will accept a letter from your University’s admissions office confirming your address.

Register with a doctor

You should register with a doctor (also known as a GP or general practitioner) in your area. If you don’t have private health insurance but you have a National Insurance number you can search for a National Health Service (NHS) practice (opens in a new window) near you and ask about joining.

You may also want to consider registering with an NHS dentist (opens in a new window) as children under the age of 18 are entitled to free treatments. Or you can find a private dentist in your area if you prefer.

Arrange car insurance and vehicle tax

If you plan to own a car in the UK, you will need to have a valid driver’s licence, car insurance and tax your vehicle (opens in a new window) before you start driving.

Do you need broadband?

If you want broadband, for example to use the internet, stay in touch with your family via video calls or stream TV from your home country, you can search for the best package for your needs using comparison websites.

Using your mobile phone in the UK

To find the best SIM cards or mobile phone deals in the UK, you can search comparison websites. If you decide to use a phone from another country in the UK, you may have to pay extra charges such as roaming.

Get a TV Licence

Many people new to the UK may overlook the TV Licence. But alongside a bank account and a National Insurance number, a TV Licence is a UK living essential for most people. It gives you legal permission to watch and record live TV on any channel and download and watch BBC programmes on BBC iPlayer, and helps to fund BBC programmes and services.

Even if you’re only staying for a short period you should definitely check if you’ll need one, and buy one if you do.

Please tell us if you think you don’t need a TV Licence.


When do you need a TV Licence?

Under UK law, you and anyone living at your address must be covered by a TV Licence to:

  • watch or record programmes in the UK – broadcast from anywhere in the world – as they’re being shown on TV or live on an online TV service, or
  • download or watch any BBC programmes on iPlayer.

No matter how many people you live with, you only need one licence, which will cover any device, service or provider you use, including:

  • TV sets (including smart TVs)
  • DVD, Blu-ray and VHS recorders
  • Laptops and desktop computers
  • Tablets, mobile phones and other portable devices
  • Digital boxes or PVRs (such as Sky, Virgin Media or BT TV)
  • Games consoles
  • Media streaming devices (such as Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku and Now TV)
  • Freeview, Freesat or YouView

The above still applies even if you’re not a British citizen, and regardless of where you’re originally from. It doesn’t matter if you only watch or record programmes broadcast from outside the UK. You’ll still need a TV Licence.

If you’ll be renting when you come to the UK, read our advice for tenants and lodgers. The law also still applies if you are coming to the UK as a student – whether you live in private accommodation or student halls.

A business or organisation needs to be covered by a TV Licence if staff, customers or visitors watch or record live TV programmes on any channel, or download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer. You cannot use a residential TV Licence to cover a business address. It must be a separate licence.

How do I pay for a TV Licence?

A TV Licence costs £150.50 a year. Find out about ways to pay. You could pay less for your licence if you are aged 74 or over, or registered blind. If you’re aged 75 or over, you may be able to apply for a free licence. Find out more about reduced fee and concessionary licences.

What happens if you don’t get a TV Licence?

If you don’t have a TV Licence, enforcement officers can be authorised to visit your property. If they find you have been watching or recording live TV programmes on any channel or device, or downloading or watching BBC programmes on iPlayer, without being covered by a licence, you could face prosecution.

The maximum penalty is a £1,000 fine* plus any legal costs and/or compensation you may be ordered to pay.

*The maximum fine is £2,000 in Guernsey.

Need TV Licensing information in another language?

If you would like more information about a UK TV Licence, this is available in a number of different languages.

General information about TV Licensing is available in other languages: