Planning your move to the United Kingdom
No matter where you’re from, you will need a valid passport to enter the UK. From there, the legal requirements for moving to the UK will vary according to your nationality.
There’s a lot riding on getting a successful visa application, so its important to Make sure you choose the right immigration solicitor for you to ensure your best chances of success.
Get a South African Passport
Without a valid South African passport, the UK government cannot issue you with your visa and you cannot travel. It is important to ensure your passport is in date and you allow enough time, probably a few months, for your passport to arrive.
Applying for dual citizenship
The South African Citizenship Act provides for retention of South African citizenship prior to the acquisition of a foreign citizenship.
Many South Africans abroad require official documents for many different reasons. Some of the reasons are to apply for visas, residency, employment or other immigration-related reasons.
In order to move to the United Kingdom, you will need to make sure that you have the correct visas. On our immigration page you will be able to read some articles about some of the different visas which have been written by an immigration solicitor, also an interesting article on the EU settlement scheme and some webinars which offer some helpful information.
There are different visas depending on:
- where you come from
- why you want to come to the UK
- how long you want to stay for
- your personal circumstances and skills
If you want to visit the UK
Apply for a Standard Visitor visa to visit the UK for up to 6 months. For example:
- for a holiday or to see family and friends
- for a business trip or meeting
- to do a short course of study
You can read more about the standard visitor visa here.
Skilled Worker visa
Some information about claiming British citizenship by double descent
BRP Card (Biometrics resident permit)
The BRP is a residence permit, which is a small credit card sized piece of plastic that looks like a drivers licence and holds your biographic details (name, date and place of birth) and biometric information (facial image and fingerprints). It shows your immigration status and entitlements while you remain in the UK.
If your visa application is successful then you will receive an accompanying piece of paper that provides the location of the Post Office where your BRP will be stored, ready for you to collect.
Why do you need a BRP
The BRP is your evidence to prove you have the right to live and work in the UK, and there are several occasions where you may be asked to provide it.
- To open a bank account
- When you register with a GP
- For your national insurance appointment
- Your employer
Applying for British Citizenship
- Check if you can become a British citizen
- Citizenship Guidance
- Apply for citizenship if you have indefinite leave to remain or ‘settled status’
- Citizenship application forms
- Citizenship ceremonies
Find out How Much It Costs to Relocate
You may also have to consider the health surcharge if you are moving to the United Kingdom.
A UK Ancestral Visa, for example, also requires that you pay the UK government your National Health Insurance (NHI) fees for five years, upfront.
Setting up a bank account
If you are moving to the UK or you’ve already arrived, at some point you’re going to need a bank account, which you need for having your salary paid into, and you may want to set up direct debits for various payments that you may need to make each month..
Tax consulting advice and compliance in South Africa
Applying for Jobs While You’re Still In SA
You may want to try applying for jobs before you leave South Africa, and businesses tend to rely on recruitment agencies for their staffing needs, so it may be worth contacting some of these agencies to see what they have available.
At first you may not find your dream job, so have a look at what else is available, until you are able to find something more suitable.
Only start applying for jobs once you have secured your British Passport or work visa
Think about accommodation
One of the big questions that we often see asked on our Facebook group is where is the best place to live in the United Kingdom. So it may be worth doing some research prior to leaving South Africa, to get an idea of which area will be best for you. Taking into consideration where you will work, available schools in the area if you have children. What public transport is available if you are unable to drive.
While you are still in South Africa, it won’t harm to have a look at accommodation available and email the agents to see if you can secure accommodation or to let them know what you will be looking for when you come over.
If possible, try to arrange to stay with family or friends for your first month or two in the UK. This will make it easier to settle, and will be helpful when you are trying to find your feet in new surroundings. Friends or family would be able to possibly guide and support you when you are doing things like arranging bank accounts, looking for accommodation or job searches.
If you have children, you will need to research which schools are available in the area that you choose to settle in. Try and do as much research on this prior to coming over. Its always good to ask for information or advice from friends or family that are already living in the United Kingdom, or join our Facebook group where you can ask questions and get advice and guidance from members who are always happy to share their experiences.
Healthcare is important
Transport when you are in the UK
When you arrive, and if you drive then you may need to look at getting a car. You will find things work different in the United Kingdom when it comes to driving and owning a car. If you can’t drive or prefer not to have a car, there are various other good reliable means of commuting.
Although furniture is fairly affordable in the United Kingdom, and you have many free cycle website available, you may still want to ship some of your personal items or furniture across to the United Kingdom when you move over.
Pets and pet transportation
One of the difficult decisions to make is bringing your pets with you to the United Kingdom. There are things to consider when relocating your pets from another country, and although there are those who are fortunate to be able to do this, there are also those who are unfortunately unable to do so for various reasons.
If you are unable to bring your pets over with you, make sure that they are rehomed where you know they will be safe and well looked after.
Mobiles phones when you arrive in the UK
The United Kingdom has some really good mobile date rates. Getting a pay-as-you-go SIM card for your mobile phone is quite straightforward, and its also a good idea to invest in a power bank for your phone as well.
Setting up home
If you are coming over with just your suitcases, then you will need to set up home when you arrive.
Don’t worry about trying to have everything at first, as long as you have the basics then you can slowly start to build and make it feel like home.
Some of the basics to consider and prioritise on when you start to create a home.
Before leaving, make yourself a list. Below are some basic items that you will need, but you can add to this list.
- Cooking utensils
- Pots and pans
- Iron and ironing board
- Table and chairs
There is so much to do, but instead of getting stressed about it, try and keep a positive frame of mind and focus on your new future in your new country, a country that will be your new home. Over time you will piece together everything you need to have in place, it doesn’t happen over night, its a process, and in time it will all come together.
You will start to approach your leaving day, and prior to that you will be tying up loose ends and visiting family to say goodbye. That is one of the most difficult parts as no one likes goodbyes. But they will be happy for you, and the excitement will help you to handle this sad part of the journey.
The big day has finally arrived, and you may feel a few mixed emotions. Goodbyes at the airport are never easy, but once you have done that it will be time to board your flight. Once you are on the flight, excitement sets in again, and you will settle down for the long haul ahead.
Most people rest on the flight but are not always able to sleep properly (excitement again)
Soon you will hear the captain announce that you will soon be landing in the United Kingdom, which is probably the most exciting feeling of the whole journey so far!
If you are unsure of something or just need a little advice, don’t be afraid to ask people or airport staff. They are a friendly bunch and always willing to help.
The first thing that you will notice is the British accents!
Once you are finished at the airport it will be time to go through the doors, and this is the very start of your future in the United Kingdom.
Rome wasn’t built over night so don’t be despondent if it takes a while to settle and climatize. Remember there are thousands of South Africans living in the United Kingdom. We all started the same way and did the same journey.
Day by day you will start to build your new life and each piece of the puzzle with start to fit and result in a beautiful picture which will be the result of all your hard work, perceverence and determination.