The UK government published a guide for Ukrainians arriving in Britain: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/welcome-a-guide-for-ukrainians-arriving-in-the-uk/week-one-guidance-for-ukrainians-arriving-in-the-uk. It is in English and has not yet been translated into Ukrainian. Please read it carefully. Here we outline the key points.
First things you need to get are the following.
1. Your biometric residence permit, BRP. This plastic card confirms your immigration status in the UK and allows you to return to the UK if you travel abroad without reapplying for visa. BRP is also your proof of identity, same as your passport, or even better because people in the UK are more familiar with it. If you acquire a British driving license, you can use that as your identity and proof of address document (more on that below). If you don't drive, you can get a Provisional licence which allows you to learn to drive and is also an id proof.
2. Proof of address or any document confirming your name and address. It can be your British driving license or provisional license, bank statement (including electronic) or most commonly electricity/water/utilities bill with your name on it. When you first arrive you probably won't have any of it, but you can ask your employer or host to write you a letter confirming that you live at your current address. It is not an official document, but in some situations it will be acceptable.
3. Bank account (current account): you will need a bank account to receive benefits, wages or one-off payments. To open a bank account you will need proof of address.
- Many banks will accept a utility bill with your name on it confirming your address. However, some will ask for more documents, such as council tax bill, water bill or TV license. This is standard for new immigrants in the UK. Opening an account can take a month or longer till you acquire all necessary documents.
- Some banks may accept a letter from your host or relative. Make inquiries with the banks.
- One of the most convenient banks is Monzo, and it is also one of the most immigrant-friendly. Metro Bank is also known to be good to immigrants, however their online banking is not great. Digital banks (Monzo, Starling) are easier when it comes to opening an account, but if you require help it is better to talk to a person in a bank branch (Metro, Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC, NatWest). You can also consider Revolut: even though it doesn't yet have a banking license in the UK the functionality does not seem to be affected.
- You can open an account online or in person, in which case it will be done on the spot if you have all supporting documents ready. The bank card will arrive by post within 5 days and a separate letter with your PIN code will arrive in a few more days.
- If you apply online, be prepared to upload your photo and a copy of your passport. Processing your application can take up to 7 days.
- A guide to opening a bank account for Ukrainians in the UK: Ukrainian Refugee Account Opening
- For bank transfers within the UK you will need only to give your name, sort code and account number. All this information is on your bank card.
4. The UK phone number. You will need to make calls and be able to receive them. If you haven't bought a SIM at the airport, you can buy it in a shop or online on Amazon with the help of your host.
5. National Insurance Number, NIN або NINO. You will need the National Insurance Number to be employed, open a bank account and receive benefits. This is a tax number, it is illegal to work without it and it can affect your visa status in Britain. First you need to get your BRP, then NIN.
6. Healthcare. You will need to register with your local GP and receive an NHS number to receive medical help if needed. Your GP is your go-to doctor (for children too) with any non-emergency conditions. You need to register at your address. Find your GP Practice here: https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-gp.
What you need to know about healthcare in the UK.
- You can only book an appointment with a specialist doctor via your GP.
- If you have an emergency, you need to go to the A&E, accidents and emergency. You will have to queue there for a doctor to see you. Please be advised that severe cases will be bumped up the queue even if you were there first.
- There are also trauma centres for broken legs, arms, etc.
- You can call 111 and ask any health-related questions 24/7.
- There are many sites with GP ratings: https://gp-patient.co.uk/. You can check the ratings of the nearest GP practices and check whether they accept new patients.
- All healthcare in the UK is free, but you may need to wait a long time for treatment.