Living and Working in the UK
A handbook for Yorkshire and Humber IMGs, written by Yorkshire and Humber IMGs, it contains a wealth of information specific to our region, including securing accommodation, shopping, transport and much more.
The Savvy IMG
The Savvy IMG (an independent website providing advice and guidance to IMGs) has developed a suite of guidance to support IMGs with acclimatising to living and working in the UK.
Toolkit for International Doctors in Training
Produced by Lead Employer at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, the Toolkit for International Doctors in Training offers a wealth of guidance on preparing for your arrival in the UK, including guidance on opening a bank account, securing accommodation and registering for local services such as a GP and dental practice.
Britain Explained is a resident’s guide to England, Scotland and Wales that offers simple answers to over 700 of the most common questions.
In the case of an emergency, ring 999, and depending on your need, ask for either:
Emergency services in the UK are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and are free of charge.
Medical emergencies that would require you to ring 999 include serious illness and/or major injury that is a risk to life or limb.
If you are in need of urgent healthcare advice, but it is not a life-threatening illness, you are advised to either ring NHS 111, visit a local NHS walk-in centre, urgent care centre or minor injuries unit or to make your own way to your local accident and emergency (A+E) department. The NHS 111 service is provided by a team of fully trained staff advisers who will assess your symptoms and then direct you accordingly. They may provide you with self-care advice; connect you to an emergency nurse, dentist or GP; arrange for you to be seen face to face; or send an ambulance directly if they feel it is necessary.
For less urgent healthcare needs, you should consider self-care at home; contacting your local pharmacist; or calling your local GP to make an appointment.
Opening a bank account
Most people set up a new bank account when they arrive which will make it easier to be paid and to pay for things like food and rent. Keep in mind that most banks require proof of address before you can open an account, which you may not have until after you arrive. Britain Explained provide guidance on banking as well as advice on finances and tax, and more detailed information about opening a bank account in the UK can be found on the Expatica website.
National Insurance and Income Tax
When you work in the UK you will have to pay tax on your income as well as national insurance (NI) contributions which allow you to qualify for certain benefits and state pensions. Most often income tax and NI contributions are taken automatically from your monthly pay, but sometimes there will be different actions you need to take based on your personal circumstances. This guide from the Government website explains how income tax works and this guide explains how national insurance works. Britain Explained also provide more information on tax and national insurance.
Getting a National Insurance Number
In order to obtain a National Insurance (NI) number, you must have the right to work in the UK. If you don’t already have a NI number, you must apply for one. However, you can only apply for it once you’re in the UK. You can find guidance on applying for an NI number on the Government website.
You do not have to wait for your NI number to arrive before you start work. However, you must be able to prove you can work in the UK. You should also tell your employer that you’ve applied for one and provide them with the number when you have it.
The NHS Pension scheme is one of the most comprehensive and generous schemes within the UK. If you are aged between 16 and 75, and are working in the NHS, you are eligible for an NHS pension and you will automatically be enrolled onto the NHS pension scheme when you start work. a member of the 2015 NHS Pension scheme when you start work.
Pension contributions will be deducted monthly (before tax) from your income and will appear on your payslip as ‘Pension contribution x%’. The percentage that you will contribute to the scheme will be dependent on your annual income (or whole time equivalent if you work Less Than Full Time. As well as your contribution to the scheme, your employer will also make monthly contributions.
Further information on NHS pensions can be found online.
Travelling by car
You can travel around Yorkshire and Humber via car on the Motorways and B roads.
In order to drive whilst living and working in the UK, you will need to obtain a British driver’s licence. This can be done through the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). You will also need to check to see if you are liable to pay vehicle tax and you will have a legal obligation to acquire car insurance. You can find more information and access DVLA services via the Government website.
The UK has an exchange agreement with certain counties which permit you to drive in the UK for 12 months using your national licence, before exchanging it for a British licence. To identify if you are eligible for this scheme and find out more information about exchanging a foreign driving licence, please see the DVLA's Driving in Britian on a non-GB Licence tool.
Travelling by bus
There are comprehensive networks of local bus services throughout most areas of Yorkshire, providing an easy way to explore the area. Yorkshire Travel provides impartial journey planning information about all public transport services - buses, coaches, trains and trams, throughout Yorkshire.
If you do not wish to book in advance, many of these buses are fitted with contactless payment facilities so you can pay for travel by card at the point of boarding.
Travelling by train
Yorkshire is well served by the national rail network and is also home to a number of heritage railway lines. Yorkshire Travel provides impartial journey planning information about all public transport services - buses, coaches, trains and trams, throughout Yorkshire. Northern Rail also runs trains across the north, including direct access to the North York Moors, Yorkshire Dales, the Peak District and the coast.
It is important to book your tickets before travelling, otherwise you may receive a fine.
Travelling by plane
The Yorkshire region is served by three airports, providing daily flights to and from many destinations: Leeds Bradford International Airport, Doncaster Sheffield Airport and Humberside Airport. With excellent transport links, Yorkshire is also easily accessible from many other airports throughout the UK, through high-speed train links and an extensive motorway network.
Travelling by bicycle
The National Cycle Network is a network of safe, traffic-free paths and quiet on-road cycling and walking routes. Its 14,000 miles criss-cross the country, linking up villages, towns and cities.
Finding a place to live
Renting or buying a property
When looking for a property, whether to rent or buy, there are a number of online sites available to make the search a little easier. Commonly used sites include: Zoopla, Rightmove and Prime Location, although there are a number of other sites available. Yorkshire and Humber also have numerous high street estate agents who can help you identify whether you would like to buy or rent a property, where in the region you would like to live and the size/type of property you are looking for.
Britain Explained have developed a comprehensive guide to renting or buying property in the UK, which we recommend you read.
If choosing to rent, is important that you read the tenancy agreement carefully and we would advise that you get legal advice if you are unsure of any terms before signing an agreement. You can also seek guidance from the Goverment website or Citizens Advice. For further information about renting a property, the responsibilities of the landlord and the responsibilities of you as a tenant, please visit the Government website.
When buying or renting a property, it is important that you have the right protection in place in case something should go wrong resulting in damage or destruction to either your property or the possessions housed in the property. Home insurance is a type of insurance product that provides this protection.
There are two main types of home insurance:
- Buildings insurance – this covers the cost of repairing damage to the structure of your property and includes walls, windows, roof, bathroom suites and fitted kitchens. It typically insures your home in case of fire, storm, flood, subsidence, burst pipes, theft and falling trees. Tenants do not need to worry about buildings insurance.
- Contents insurance – this covers the cost of replacing your belongings in your home if they are lost, damaged, destroyed or stolen. It is usually arranged on a new for old basis. Generally, ‘contents’ is defined as the items that you would take with you if you moved home.
When selecting the appropriate home insurance product, be sure to check that you are getting the best quote possible. You can do this by comparing quotes on numerous comparison sites including Confused.com, GoCompare, MoneySuperMarket, uSwitch, and Compare The Market.
Some of the hospitals offer on site, or near site, accommodation for staff. This is typically paid for on a monthly basis and taken directly from the person’s salary. However, this type of accommodation is not universally offered, or available. Therefore, to find out if hospital accommodation is available at your place of work, and to get more information if you are interested in staying in such accommodation, contact the hospital directly via switchboard.
Relocation and Excess Travel Expenses
If you meet set eligibility criteria, you may be able to claim reimbursement of certain expenses associated with your relocation. For more information, please see our Relocation and Excess Travel webpage.
Local Authorities and Council Tax
Council Tax is an annual fee that your local authority (council) charges you for the services it provides, like rubbish collection and libraries. Normally you pay it in 10 monthly instalments, followed by two months of not making any payments. How much Council Tax you pay depends on your personal circumstances, which valuation band your property is in and how much the council needs to fund its services. This guide from Money Helper gives more information on council tax. The Government website also provide guidance explaining how council tax works. You can search for your local authority to pay council tax online.
Utilities such as water, electricity and gas are provided by private companies, usually on a contract. Britain Explained give information on how utilities work and Citizens Advice have a guide that provides details of grants or benefits you may be able to access to help pay your energy bills.
Internet access, live and streamed television and mobile telephone contracts are provided by private companies, some individually and some as package deals. You can find guidance on acquiring these services on Britain Explained. If you intend to watch live television (regardless of whether this is on a television or on a laptop or mobile device) you will also need to pay for a TV Licence.
When you arrive in the UK, you should register with a GP practice as this will make it easier to access NHS and social care services. You can search for a list of GP practices in your area online. You should also register with a dental practice but be aware that many dental practices only provide private dentistry services and dental practices which do provide NHS dentistry services sometimes have long waiting lists to join. You can also search for a list of dental practices and details on whether they are taking NHS patients online.
Britain Explained have produced a guide that also gives an overview of how to access healthcare in the UK.
In the UK, there is a charge attached to most NHS prescriptions, although in some circumstances you may be provided with a free NHS prescription. If you require more than 3 prescription items in 3 months or 12 items in a year, it would be worthwhile paying for a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) as this will save you money.
Please visit the NHS website for more information about prescription costs and getting help with these costs.
Schools and Education
In the UK there are state-funded and privately funded schools for primary education (4 years old to 11 years old) and secondary education (12 years old to 18 years old). Britain Explained provides information about the differences between state and private schools. You can learn about school admissions processes in England by visiting the Government website.
There are a number of public holidays (known as bank holidays) throughout the year in the UK (although they differ a bit between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). The Government website provide the dates for upcoming bank holidays. During bank holidays many office-based businesses are closed but many service industry and public sector businesses are still open but may have reduced service or different opening times. Britain Explained has a section on “festivals and events” which explains some other holidays or important times of year that aren’t necessarily bank holidays.
Citizens Advice provides free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to everyone on their rights and responsibilities. They can help with issues relating to money, benefits, housing, employment and consumer rights. They can be contacted online, face to face (they are based in numerous places across the region), over the phone (via telephone number 03444 111 444) or via webchat.