What to do during the first month in the UK
The first month is crucial for majority of people coming to the UK to work. To find a job is a must. The sooner, the better. Only this way, you can get back the money you had previously invested in arriving to the UK. During this time, many people forget about other essential tasks that you have to fulfil and might make your life easier in future. I am talking about registration at the doctor’s, opening second bank account, registration for elections, or application for the EHIC (insurance) card, among others.
In this article, you can find a list of things that you should not forget and start solving as soon as possible (when you have all necessary materials).
1. National Insurance Number (NIN)
You should have an interview arranged in advance and manage to get the National Insurance Number as soon as possible after your arrival. You can get the NIN within two weeks after your interview, but sometimes it may last up to four or even five weeks.
2. Opening a bank account
Here is how to open the bank account.
In 99 per cent of cases the proof of address, which you get from your landlord, is not sufficient. This kind of document might serve you to arrange the NIN interview. It is necessary to get OTHER documents, be patient and go from bank to bank to get the bank account.
Until you have the letter of National Insurance Number (comes within 5 weeks after the interview), or other proof of address, it is a waste of time to visit the bank. The bank account CANNOT be opened without these documents.
As soon as you get the first bank account and get all complementary letters (information about the account, bank statement, etc.), you go to the bank and open another bank account. Sometimes, you can get into a situation, when your account is simply deleted. You get all the money back, but cannot open another account at the same bank. This does not happen very often, but from time to time this occurs. If you have another account, you save time and concerns too (all accounts are for free).
3. Registration at the doctor’s (GP)
Here is how to register at the doctor’s.
At the first place, ask people in the house, where you are going to live. If anyone is registered at the GP’s and where would that be? The easiest way is then to go there in person, or call the office and arrange a meeting for the registration. In opposite case, you just find your doctor using the above-stated instructions.
There are other tasks that are connected with the registration, in case you would get into troubles:
- Find out, where is the nearest dentist’s, it’s opening hours and above all the price lists of services. Most of you know very well, how painful might toothache be and in case of emergency, you know where to go and what to do. You might find useful tips and advices on various discussion forums or Facebook asking a question and waiting for the response from the community of users sharing their own experience.
- You should have you first-aid kit equipped with all kinds of drugs – painkillers, drugs against fever, stomach ache, grazes. You should also have plasters and so on. To put it simply, you should have everything that might be useful, when you get into troubles or unexpectedly get injured for example while cooking. Bear in mind that the pharmacies and shops around, don’t have to be opened 24/7.
- Write down the emergency numbers, if you or anyone close to you got severely injured.
- Find the closest hospital/emergency. The General Practitioners don’t have their offices opened 24/7. As you know, the injury may happen anytime.
4. Application for the EHIC card
Application for the insurance card.
You need to know your National Insurance Number. Before, it is practically impossible to get the card.
The insurance card is the same as in the Czech Republic or any other EU member state. The only difference is that instead of the “CZ”, there is the “UK” sign in the circle made of stars.
Getting the card is for free.
5. Signing up at the Government Gateway
The Government Gateway enables you to make use of many national and local online services.
Some of the governmental services might require more information, but to found the account you only need:
- name and surname,
- date of birth,
- National Insurance Number,
- email address.
Plus, of course there are other things, such as nationality, British address, password, etc.
Thanks to the Government Gateway, you might follow information on salaries, taxes, national insurance, print the National Insurance Number (if you cannot find it) and many other things.
6. Registration for elections
This section is dedicated mainly to those of you, who are going to spend longer time in the UK and establish connection with the country. It does not cost you anything and you might show that you are interested in the British political system.
Registration can be done only with the NIN as well as other basic information as your name, British address, etc..
7. Blood donations
It is absolutely voluntary to give blood and there is no profit from it (except for a small snack during the donation procedure). Nevertheless, you never know when you or your relatives are in need. Therefore, I would like to call on all of you, who are not afraid of needles and a small loss of blood to register and donate blood.
It is ideal to call the number 0300 123 23 23 and say that you are the first-time donor, who would like to agree on a term of donation.
It is necessary to register and prove your:
- name and surname,
- date of birth,
- British address,
- British phone number,
- email address.
I have been giving blood in the UK since 2010 and visiting a medical centre in the centre of London (5 minutes by walk from Oxford Circuit station):
West End Donor Centre
Address: 26 Margaret St, Marylebone, London, W1W 8NB
There, you can find kind members of staff, everything new, no pressure. It is very important for them to have all the donors feeling comfortably.
The centre is very different from the mobile donation trucks, where you give blood on the street.
8. Registration at the local library
Usually, it is enough to show your ID or passport and some kind of proof of address, for example the letter of National Insurance Number or bank statement.
In many of the UK libraries, you can make use of the free Wi-Fi (sometimes without registration) or print for free as well. Obviously, you can borrow books and magazines etc.
You can find the nearest library using Google search “Public library East Ham” or “Public library Walthamstow“.
Then, you find the website, address of the library and finally you can go and visit the library.
9. Registration at the fitness centre
For the fitness-lovers, you might choose from several types of the centres. They often differ in size, quality of services and equipment, etc.
I would divide the fitness centres in two categories:
a) Local fitness centres sponsored by the local authoritiesAdvantages:
- They are relatively cheap, quite spacious and except for the standard equipment, they also offer swimming pools, sometimes sauna or other premises for activities, such as box, dancing or others.
- They might often be crowded because of cheap monthly tickets.
- You may only pay via standing order and therefore you must have a bank account.
- Sometimes (usually twice a week in selected hours) the fitness is only opened for women and men are not allowed to enter.
b) Smaller fitness centresAdvantages:
- Low prices for the monthly ticket.
- You can pay in cash and therefore you don’t need the bank account.
- In general, the capacities (space, equipment) are more limited.
- Usually, there is a community of frequent visitors and you need to wait for machines and equipment.
As usual, before you sign up, you should check the price lists of other centres around. Sometimes, the monthly entrance is a bit cheaper, but the fitness is always crowded and doesn’t offer the services as the other one, which might be slightly more expensive.