You’ve got the flat, you’ve scouted the local pub, and you’ve got the job. Now all you need is the dentist. And the doctor. And the bank account. And the driver’s license. And the… okay, okay, we’ll stop now. But we promise, it’s not as bad as it sounds. So no more hyperventilating. Here’s all the info you need to get those boring (but important) tasks done so you can get back to the boozer.
Finding a dentist
Slowly but surely, dentists have separated themselves from the NHS, or even if they are NHS, that only covers the basics so you still have to fork out for any expensive dental treatments. It’s worth going with a private practice anyway as waiting lists are huge for NHS, plus it’s harder to get on top of the list if you’re a non-resident. Forest and Ray Dental Practice (forest-ray.com) is an affordable option in central London that has long been popular with expats due to its easy location and affordable prices. Begin by booking a consultation to see how those pearly whites are doing, but they can cover dental implants, orthodontics and oral surgery.
Registering with a doctor
The NHS provides free health care to all citizens of the UK. However, non-UK residents will only receive free emergency treatment or treatment for certain contagious diseases. So this is where you have to listen up. Get travel insurance with some sort of medical coverage before you leave home. It’s crucial as it will save you from having to fork out dosh if you need to visit a doctor while you’re here. If you’ve been in the country for more than six months you can apply to see a GP for free, but you will need to provide documents of employment or evidence that you’re a student. It is up to the practice whether they accept you or not. Beyond that they can take you on as a private patient, in which case you’ll pay for the appointment and medicine yourself or you’ll have it covered by your personal health insurance. Most people choose to visit GPs in their area, so pay a visit to your local practice and tell them you want to book an appointment. They will tell you which documents they specifically require, and depending on your situation, they will decide whether they can offer you care for free. The NHS website has advice and information for using UK health services as a foreigner, nhs.uk.
Setting up a bank account
Money makes the world go around, so they say, and you don’t want to be out of the running when you move. Setting up a bank account is a huge headache in the UK and you’ll need to do a lot of paperwork. But it can be done. Banks will consider your application on a case-by-case basis but generally you will need to provide at least your passport, proof of address or a utility bill with your name on it (which can be tricky if you’ve just arrived) and a birth certificate or driving license – and sometimes that isn’t even enough. Our best advice is to open up a bank account through HSBC Australia or HSBC New Zealand before you leave home. There’s also always the option of paying an agent like 1st Contact Kickstart to help you set up an account in the UK, 1stcontactkickstart.com.
Transferring your driver’s license
You may not need to drive if you’re in London, but having a car for those epic UK or European road trips is a must. Luckily, you’re allowed to drive on your foreign license in the UK for up to 12 months – just don’t go driving on the wrong side of the road otherwise the po-po will put a swift end to that. Beyond that, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa have a special agreement with the UK that makes the license transfer easy-peasy once you’re a resident. At that point all you have to do is go online and fill out a beautiful questionnaire that will smoothly guide to you to the correct form (it will probably be the D1 form). Download it, fill it out, send it off with a £50 cheque, and voila you can drive in the UK like a true Brit. This golden exchange can only take place up to five years after you become a resident, so if you leave it any longer than that you’ll have to retake your test. And no one wants to do that, do they? gov.uk/exchange-foreign-driving-licence.