Sunday, February 26, 2006

A Guide To UK

This article was originally written by me for fellow students that were getting prepared to arrive in the UK. I have modified it for the general public. I thought that this article would be useful if it is published for everyone and I decided to share it on Ciao. I would also be publishing this on my website as well.


Upon Arrival

When your flight touches down on the UK airport, you would be required to hand in a filled landing card and show your VISA or also known as UK Entry Clearance to the immigration officer. You can request for a landing card from any of the air stewardess or stewards while flying and fill it up on board the plane. This will save you time or help you kill time while on board. You are required to fill in your personal and contact details while you are in the UK on the landing card. The immigration officer might ask you for further proof or ask you a few questions regarding your reasons of being in the UK. Proofs are like University acceptance letter, job offer letter or so on. If the immigration officer is satisfied, he will stamp your passport with your arrival date. You are now officially in the UK. *Please note that Entry Clearance requirements differ from one country to another. Please check with your local British High Commissions on accurate entry requirements.

British High Commission: http://www.britishhighcommission.gov.uk
Heathrow Airport: http://www.baa.com/main/airports/heathrow
Home Office: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk
UK Visas: http://www.ukvisas.gov.uk


Traveling From the Airport/General Transport Info

If you are arriving in Heathrow, you have many options on traveling to your destination. The cheapest I would have to say is the London Underground or better known as the TUBE. The Tube is also the best way of you getting around London.You can also travel on the Heathrow Express which will bring you straight to the Paddington station which is in Central London in just 15 minutes. If you have a lot to spend, taking a black cab is the most convenient way as it will bring you straight to your destination. Other options are Coaches run by the National Express and also the Hoppa Buses which will bring you to nearby hotels. If you are a student, do make use of the pick up service offered by the University International Office. Please note that the pick up dates may be offered by certain universities and on certain dates only.

Other regional airports do have a variety of transport options.

Heathrow Express: http://heathrowexpress.com
Transport For London: http://ww.tfl.gov.uk
London Underground: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tube
London Buses: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/bus
Coach: http://www.nationalexpress.com

Opening a Bank Account

Getting a bank account in the UK is not as easy as it used to be. It can be quite a hassle and a long procedure. I believe it is so because of the amount of fraud cases it has faced in previous years. What you will usually need for a bank account is proof of address (utility bills), your passport, other proof of id, letter of employment or University letter of acceptance for students. If you find it hard to get a proof of address, certain banks have made agreements with your University to accept University letters as proof of address. Do check with your local bank for details. After opening an account, you will most probably get a debit card which will allow you to make your purchases with it at selected stores without carrying any cash. The debit card is also like an ATM card where you can make redraws from any cash machines mostly free of charge. The major banks in the UK are HSBC, Barclays, Natwest and Llyods.

HSBC: http://www.hsbc.co.uk
Natwest: http://www.natwest.com
Barclays: http://www.barclays.co.uk

Working in the UK

If you are an international student not from a European Union country, you are allowed to work for 20 hours a week. You can work full time during term holidays. If you hold a different VISA, your permitted working hours may differ. A Working Holiday Maker Visa or Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme (SEGS) Visa will allow you to work unlimited hours. You will need an NI number while working. Most employers will help you with the initial procedure of getting a temporary NI number whereby you will have to make an arrangement for an appointment with a Job Centre to get a permanent one. Further information on applying for a permanent NI number will be covered under the topic National Insurance Number.

Working In The UK: http://www.workingintheuk.gov.uk


National Insurance

You will need to call a job centre and provide them with your postcode. They will be able to provide you with the details of which office to contact. You will then be required to call the respective offices to make an appointment for an interview. When attending an interview, do bring along your passport, other ID, proof of employment (company letter, payslips, contract) and two proof of addresses. Please be punctual for your appointments as it may take weeks for you to reschedule another appointment. After the interview, you will be receiving your NI number between 6-8 weeks whereby a NI card with your number should follow in 4 months time.

Inland Revenue: http://www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk


Getting a Job

The best way you can get a job is by registering with agencies. Just register online or visit one of their outlets or offices with your CV. Visiting a job centre would also be a plus. Do a search on Yahoo! for different recruitment agencies. You can also opt to apply directly to vacancies advertised on local papers and media. Do be patient afterwards because the job offers may take some time to come in. You can also opt to take a part time job for the mean time.

Reed: http://www.reed.co.uk
Monster: http://www.monster.co.uk


Calling Home

There are many options for one to call home. You may dial directly from payphones, landline or buy cheap calling cards. Do be aware of scam phone cards which actually make you pay more. Most of this phone cards are distributed for free and promises you free calls. For a safe service, I would personally recommend using Just Dial. It allows you to make international calls for the price of a national call which starts at just 2p/min depending on your service provider. Visit the site for further details:

Just Dial: http://www.justdial.tk
TopUp2Talk: http://www.topup2talk.uk.tt


Traveling

When you are in the UK, do take the time to travel around. You may wish to visit other European countries as well. There are many ads and travel agencies that can help you with your travel.

Budget Airlines
Easy jet: http://www.easyjet.co.uk
BMI: http://www.flybmi.co.uk
Ryan Air: http://www.ryanair.co.uk

Travel Sites
Last Minute: http://www.lastminute.com
Teletext Holidays: http://www.teletextholidays.co.uk
Statravel: http://www.statravel.co.uk


Useful Phone Numbers:

NHS Direct: 0845 4647
Directory: 118 118
International Directory Assistance: 153
Emergency: 999

Useful Websites:

Street Maps: http://www.streetmaps.co.uk
UK Guides: http://www.i-uk.com

I hope this helps, if you have any further questions, just post it on my guestbook and I would be more than please to try and help. You may also if you wish, suggest things that I should cover.

Have A Nice Day!

XXX Bennyong

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