just arrived in the UK, arriving in the UK, youth mobility visa
Just arrived in the UK? | Photo: Vaughan Leiberum via Flickr

The stress is over. You have successfully received your passport and vignette allowing you to call the UK your temporary home. Your flight is booked, you have a place to stay while you hunt for flats, everything is organized. Well, there are still a few things you need to do before you are officially a UK resident: open a bank account, get your National Insurance (NI) number, and register with the National Health Service (NHS).

I’ll be covering those three tasks in this post, but keep an eye out for upcoming posts about looking for a job and finding a flat. In case you’ve gotten ahead of yourself, trying going back to this post about how to get a youth mobility visa (for Canadians).

The Essential Youth Mobility Visa Handbook
 Why waste time sifting through 10 different resources when you can get it all in one place? The Essential Youth Mobility Visa Handbook: Everything Canadians Need to Know about Getting the Visa and Moving to the UK contains 56 pages of useful information that will help you make your dream of moving abroad a reality!

Get it now!


Opening a Bank Account

Barclays PIN Sentry
What is it? It’s a PIN Sentry reader.
Photo by Kal Hendry

There are two options for opening a bank account: open an international account in Canada with HSBC before leaving or open an account upon arrival.

A lot of people have emailed to ask whether it is possible to open a UK account prior to arriving. The short answer is not really. I spoke with my partner’s father who is an accountant to see if he could open one on my behalf. Essentially, he could but I would still have to go in person to provide my identification so it really wouldn’t have sped up the process.

Research all of your options before arriving. I was recommended Nationwide because they have the best rates, but other banks include Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds, Barclays, the Co-Operative Bank, Santander… After researching, I opted to go with Barclays because they are quite good with new arrivals opening accounts – many banks require a utility bill or other proof of address, which I did not need for an account with Barclays. Also, they are part of the Global ATM Alliance which means I could access them through Scotiabank in Canada and vice versa.

What You Need:

  • Passport with work permit
  • Your face
  • A token amount of money to deposit (if you want)
  • Telephone number and address mail can be sent to


  1. Book an appointment. I was able to do this over the phone from Canada so that I had an appointment immediately upon arrival. I had read that there can be a delay on getting an appointment so I did it early.
  2. Go to your appointment, fill out form with your account manager
  3. Wait for your card and PIN to arrive in the mail

My bank account was available on the spot and I was able to deposit money immediately. I was given a sort code and account number which meant I could give it to my employer, if needed. The sort code is a 6 digit number, similar to the transit number in Canadian accounts.

If you don’t have an address for sending mail to, opt for online statements. You will also have to arrange to pick up your PIN Sentry reader from the  bank. The PIN Sentry was totally new to me – it looks like a little calculator and you put your debit card into the machine, enter your PIN and it gives you a unique code allowing you to sign in to your online banking. You also need it for making any bank transfers, where you follow the same process.

I must say, banking in the UK is so much easier than in Canada (and France!). Most things can be done online and there is none of this business of void cheques and other nonsense that wastes your time. It’s also a simple process to make international bank transfers.

Update It appears that Barclays is being extra strict about bank account documents. A few friends and readers have recommended Lloyds instead!

Now that you have a bank account, you technically have proof of address – most places will accept a bank statement as this document. So the next thing to do is:

Pay those taxes!
Pay those taxes!
Photo by agrilifetoday

Apply for your NI Number

Your National Insurance number is similar to the Social Insurance Number (SIN) you receive in Canada. It’s used for administering the UK’s social security system as well as some tax purposes. You need to provide it to your employer when you start working. Don’t worry if you need to start working before you receive the number, your employer will provide you with an emergency tax code, which means they will deduct a preset amount of tax that is likely be higher than you would normally pay (unless you have a crazy high salary – go you!). It will be accounted for on your next paycheques.

What You Need:

  • Photocopy of passport
  • Photocopy of work permit vignette
  • An address you can receive mail to


  1. Call Job Centre Plus (0845 600 0643). Have your passport and work permit to hand because they ask you for the details.
  2. Wait for the application package to arrive. They send you a pack of forms. You fill them out, send them back with the accompanying documents to the Job Centre.
  3. Attend interview (if requested). I was not asked to have an interview, but they do ask some people to come in.

You must have arrived in the UK before applying as your work permit must have been validated. The form is also quite intensive, so make sure you fill them out carefully. There are a lot of pages and some of the questions don’t apply to everyone.

I sorted this out within my first days of arriving in London and by the time I had a job, I had my NI number. It was delayed because of a backlog of applications, but once I called to check on it, they were quite helpful. I was able to start paying the correct amount of national insurance on my paycheques and the right amount of PAYE (Pay as You Earn) tax.

This is a relatively simple process, so don’t overthink it.

NHS hospital
In need? There is help indeed.

Register with NHS

Once you have your bank account and NI number, registering with the NHS is easy. Don’t worry about not being covered on your arrival. The NHS provides emergency services to anyone – I actually had a problem with my eye soon after arriving and was seen at the Moorfields Eye Hospital a number of times.

What You Need:

  • Proof of address (utility bill, bank statement, etc.)
  • Passport with visa


  1. Find out where your local General Practitioner (GP) surgery is. It is based on where you live – in London, it is the specific borough. Go there with your proof of identity and address and tell them you would like to register.
  2. Fill out the forms provided. I received one from the practice and one from the NHS.
  3. Return them to the GP office

Based on a question I received, you should be aware that technically, you may pay fees to use the NHS (except emergencies) until you are either:

1) Employed or self-employed and paying National Insurance; OR

2) You have been living here for more than a year.

GPs can use their own discretion to register migrant patients but you may be subject to fees for health services.

This is directly from the application guidance document:

The Department of Health regulations currently allow Youth Mobility Scheme participants to be exempt from charges for NHS hospital treatment after they have spent a period of 12 months in the United Kingdom. They will also be exempt during periods of employment (including self-employment) in the first 12 months of their stay, but not during periods in that first 12 months when they are not working. Information on entitlement to free hospital treatment can be accessed via the link: www.dh.gov.uk/ 

  • The above has probably changed now that there is the Immigration Health Surcharge.

It took a couple of months before I received the physical card with my number on it, but there is a national system that has the details in there so you don’t need your card with you at all times. Most Brits probably think I’m crazy, but I think the NHS is awesome! Everything is straightforward,family planning and sexual health services are covered, and the waits to see specialists aren’t that bad. Of course, I’m used to OHIP wait times…

* * *

Honestly, these things are actually quite straightforward and there is no need to worry. Finding a flat and a job…now that’s a different story! Also, if you’re ever concerned or have a question, just call someone. I’ve actually found people to be really helpful. Except the Royal Mail who lost my birthday card. I’m not so happy about that.

Update  The Royal Mail did not lose my birthday card. They delivered registered mail without having anyone sign for it and my flatmate doesn’t have the mailbox key…but I did get my birthday card 🙂

102 thoughts on “Arriving in the UK on a Youth Mobility Visa”

  1. Hi Alyssa, thanks for such an informative blog! Just wondering if you (or anyone else reading) may know if there is a timeframe/deadline by which you MUST submit all documents to the home office after the biometrics appointment, or schedule a biometrics appointment after applying online? The reason I’m asking is that I’m in the midst of finishing my online application and paying for that, but then realized that as I will need my passport for when I travel in December and so will be unable to send that off with all the other documents… So i was wondering if i could apply and pay, and either:

    a) only schedule my biometrics appointment in January when I return
    b) schedule my biometrics in Dec before my trip and then send off all the documents in Jan when I return (I’ll be gone on holiday about 15 days…)


  2. I just went through the process of getting settled here so I thought I would provide info about how I did everything for anyone in the same situation too:

    1) NI number: I called the Job Centre phone line and gave them some personal info (date of entry, passport info, etc) so they could start the process. I called them around August 15 and they gave me an appointment to come in for an interview for September 7. Luckily this was the day after I was due to arrive in the UK but they didn’t have anything earlier, so keep in mind it may take a while to get an appointment. At the appointment, I simply showed them all the same info I have over the phone, they processed it, and told me my NI number would be in the mail within 6 weeks. If you have a job lined up, they will need the NI number but don’t worry if you start working before you have it – HMRC can assign you an emergency one (your employer will sort this out on your behalf). Once you eventually get your NI number you just give it to your employer and they take it from there. I got mine about 4.5 weeks after the interview. How I would have done it differently: I was in the UK in July just visiting; had I known it would take so long to get the NI number, I would have applied then so that it was sorted out by the time I started work. (Note that I already had my biometric permit back in June, you cannot apply for your NI number until you have it.) Which brings me to…

    2) Bank account: Easily the most annoying thing I dealt with in terms of moving. You cannot open a bank account here without proof of address, and there are limitations on what that proof can be (see your potential bank’s website for the list). Generally they are bills or things like that, sent to your address with your name on it. Well, if you have just moved you likely don’t have any of these documents. One option is to use the documentation from the Job Centre with their NI number on it (acceptable for the banks) but it takes 6 weeks to get that paper in the mail and I needed a UK bank account sooner than that. The bank wouldn’t accept a letter from my employer stating my address either (some employers have gone through a process with the government to give them permission to do this but my company hadn’t – you can check with your bank to see if your company is on the list.) I wasn’t going to be added to my apartment lease yet so that wasn’t going to work, so the next best get was to put our council tax bill in my name. I was moving in with my partner so this was manageable, but if you are staying in a hostel or something this won’t work of course. However, when we tried adding me to the council tax bill online it kept asking for my NI number which created a chicken/egg problem. Don’t be like me and stop there! After getting sufficiently frustrated a couple weeks later, we called the council and were able to get me added that way. Within 4 days I had an updated bill mailed to me in my name that the bank accepted as proof of address. So you just need that proof and ID (passport etc). And I agree with Alyssa about booking an appointment, it’s a longer process to open an account than it is in the states. At your appointment, they will print out your sort code and account number (what you can give to your employer for direct deposit of your pay) and then your debit card will come in the mail a few days later, then a few days after that, your online banking details. Note than it’s a lot more high security than in the states and if you want to be transferring money in/out of your account online you’ll need a pin sentry as noted above (I’m currently waiting for nine to arrive). I did all this through Barclays.

    3) Credit card: credit cards are not as widely used in the UK as they are in the states. I tried to apply for credit card through Virgin money once I had my bank account opened but was denied due to no credit history in the UK (annoying because I have stellar credit in the states). So I decided to hold off until I establish some credit, which you can do by getting bills on your name. The easiest one to do is putting the council tax on your name and setting up direct debit, which I had done when getting it for proof of address above. (You could also do other bills like electricity, water etc). Again this won’t work if you are living somewhere temporarily. Second, I got a UK phone number and set up direct debit to pay that monthly as well. This is a good option if you can’t add yourself to any bills. I am going to reapply for a credit card in a couple months and I think I’ll be successful then.

    4) Mobile: Relatively simple; just go to your provider of choice (I did O2) and ask for a monthly SIM (assuming you already have a phone you want to keep using). They’ll need your address (not formal proof just the info) and UK bank details for direct debit (so set that up first). You’ll walk out with a UK number in about 30 min. Note than they do a credit check when deciding whether to open an account for you but it must be pretty lax because I “passed” with zero UK credit history.

    5) Doctor: If you have any prescriptions that you need to get established early on or other health issues, you’ll need to register with a doctor. The NHS fee you paid will cover your care during your stay. I started this process early by going online to look up where I was eligible to go (it’s based on post code). Then I called that office and explained that I was recently relocated, needed to set up routine prescriptions, and had a temporary visa. The office took care of everything for me. One note is that for the first month I didn’t have a UK phone number but had to provide one so I gave them my partner’s – who they ended up calling non-stop every time they needed to get a hold of me. I had given them my US number but they couldn’t figure out how to call it (ugh). So unless you really urgently need to get set up with a doctor, wait until you have your phone number sorted. Eventually they sent me a letter asking me to provide a copy of my passport and biometric permit so they could comply with some regulations and to make sure I didn’t get charged for it care.

    Hope this is helpful to someone!

  3. Hi Alyssa,

    Just a question. Have you come across anyone who was able to collect their BRP earlier than stated on the letter?
    I just received my passport back with the vignette and decision letter.

    My vignette starts from 15th Nov which is going to be the day I arrive. But the BRP collection will only be available from 22 Nov and I will only be in UK for 4 days from 15th to 19th Nov. Reason is I am doing a Europe trip and London is my first stop before moving on to Europe.

    I thought we have to collect it within 10 days of arrival and being only available to collect from 22 Nov which is 7 days after arrival would be a bit strange.

    I am desperate for some help as i have booked and paid for tickets which I can’t change the dates for…

    Many thanks!

  4. Hi Alyssa, My daughter has secured a job as a teacher in London. She applied for the Tier 5 visa. She received her passport back with a 30 day visa stamp inside. Does that mean that her application has been approved and she only needs to pick up her BRP at the post office she designated on her application. She is leaving on Monday and just found out today (Thursday) that her boyfriend also received a letter saying that his application had been approved. My daughter never received that letter. From what I’ve read online, it seems she only needs that letter to know which post office to pick up her BRP, and that she can actually pick that up without showing that letter. Do you think she will be safe to go without having the letter in her hand?

  5. Hey Alyssa,

    Your blog has made my application and move so much easier, so thank you for all the juicy info.

    I wanted to write this here incase anyone is struggling with the same problem, the BANKS! No bank allows you to open an account without proof of address, except for monzo . It’s new and so very good with keeping track of your spending (it’s an app) so there’s no physical bank yet. It was so easy setting up an account as I only needed to prove my identity by taking a photo of my passport and then a video of myself saying a little sentence, then I got my card a couple of days later in the mail. There’s also monese which is similar and doesn’t require proof of address, I just chose to go with monzo as its really good with setting budgets and the app is super friendly.

    Only thing is, it doesn’t accept transfers from international banks, so I couldn’t send my money straight from my bank. Cash isn’t possible either, the only way is to transfer the money from a UK bank account, so I transferred my international money to my friend’s account (who lives in the UK and has a UK bank) and then she transferred it to my monzo, alternatively its also possible to give my friend cash to put in her bank then transfer it to my monzo.

    Hope that helps 🙂

  6. Hi Alyssa!
    Question- I’m considering opening an international bank account with HSBC here in Toronto before moving to the UK in two months (on a YMS scheme). Why did you decide to open one in the UK, and are there any benefits to it? It seems to me that an international account would be easier to open and give you peace of mind- but I could be mistaken!

    1. Hi Alisa – At the time, opening an account wasn’t as difficult. It’s also better for establishing residency and more straightforward for paying bills and the like.

  7. Hi Alyssa,
    I just found your blog, it reads in a ‘homely’ manner and is informative, which is the kind of thing I really need right now. I’ve been in the Uk for 6 weeks (feels alot longer) and am frustraited beyond all belief at trying to set up here.
    I’m waiting for my NI number to come through. But that is the only thing that has been easy so far. Job hunting will always be a pain, but not having a job is making my househunting pointless as no one wants to deal with me when I tell them I’m self employed. But I also cant get my self employment number thingy till I have my NI number…
    This big paper trail goes back into not being able to get a bank account set up. Barkleys, Lloydds and TSB all require a utility bill now.
    I’m stumped on what to do, thinking about going home at this rate.

    1. Hi Guida – yasss I know the struggles of being self-employed abroad. If that’s the case with bank accounts, I may have to start recommending people open HSBC accounts in Canada (though you can try bringing in your NI number form when you get it?). You can also try the ‘smaller’ banks – the Co-operative or Nationwide for example.

      As far as flat hunting, I was asked to show invoices for six months or a tax return (the agent saw my email signature that said freelance, and I had to explain I had a job). Even though I had a job, I had to show three months’ payslips. Luckily, I had them because I had been subletting for a few months. So that’s my recommendation – try subletting and you can refer to this post for details. Of course, moving around a lot is not ideal so try Gumtree and look for a private landlord rather than someone who rents through an agency.

      Getting set up is hard, but it can pay off in the end! Good luck 🙂

  8. Hi Alyssa,

    Thanks a lot for the information, they are super helpful!
    I had my YMS visa approved and am landing in London in a month.
    Luckily, I just got a job offer this week and am really excited!

    I still have a couple of questions:

    1. Does it make sense to use my company address for NI application and then address proof for bank account opening? I have an airbnb for a few weeks and I would like to find a more permanent place in these weeks. But these things take time and I would like to get a bank account asap so that I can get paid.

    2. I am recovering from an ACL reconstruction surgery and need to attend physio regularly, can I get that in the UK with the NHS? Will it cost a lot?

    Thank you very much,

  9. Hello! Thanks so much for you blog, definitely made this process less stressful. Filling out my application in the next few days. I will be living in the UK with my boyfriend( he is a British citizen) . Should I put in my application that I am staying with a “friend” or is putting down I’m going to be with a boyfriend frowned upon??

    Thank you !

  10. Thank you SOOOO much for this “Bible” of a post on Tier 5 YMS. I applied 10 days ago online, had my appointment 2 days later, and received my approved visa and passport back in hand only 7 days later. Thank you for being a voice of CHILL-THE-EFF-OUT anytime I started to get panicky. Can’t wait to move there in 6 weeks! xo

  11. Hi Alyssa,

    Just wondering if things have changed since you wrote this entry? On the Uk gov site https://www.gov.uk/tax-come-to-uk its saying that you don’t need to pay NI if your country has a bilateral agreement. It says Canada does and that I need to ask the social security authority in your country for the document or certificate. Can you clarify on this? Kind of confused.

    Thanks in advance 🙂


    1. Hi Justine,

      You don’t need to pay National Insurance or get a number if you have either:
      – […]
      – a certificate from a country that has a bilateral agreement on social security with the UK

      Ask the social security authority in your country for the document or certificate.

      You must have a certificate from the Canada Revenue Agency. Generally, only employers apply for this certificate. If you are self-employed you can also apply for this certificate. It’s called a “certificate of coverage”.

      You need to pay NI unless your Canadian employer has arranged otherwise.

  12. Be careful with the NHS – I’ve been here a year and a half (working since the day I arrived), had not registered with a doctor because I haven’t been to a doctor in many years and thought I wouldn’t need one. This weekend I had a bit of a run in with a tree, and wanted to see a doctor to find out if I have a concussion, only to be told that I am not covered by the NHS during the last six months of my visa, and therefore that the doctor will not see me.

  13. Hi Alyssa,

    Your blog is amazing! I have some questions for you about this particular post.

    About bank accounts:

    1. You mention we should supply, at our appointment, an address which mail can be sent to. What if I don’t have one yet? I’ll be staying at a hostel or an airbnb as I search for a flat. Can I put a temporary one (i.e. the hostel or airbnb) and change it later? I see you say that we can opt for online statements but for the appointment itself we need an address.
    2. After my appointment, I need to wait for my card and PIN to arrive in the mail. Is this comparable to a debit card and PIN number in Canada?
    3. Is the sort code and account number (provided to the employer) in the place of a void cheque in Canada then?

    About NINo.:

    1. We again need an address we can receive mail to. Is it best to wait until I have a flat before getting my NINo.?
    2. You talk about “paying the correct amount of national insurance on my paycheques and the right amount of PAYE (Pay as You Earn) tax” — is this automatically done or do you need to do it yourself?

    About NHS:

    1. Is an example of a general practionier (GP) surgery Barnes Surgery (http://www.barnessurgery.co.uk/)? So comparable to a family doctor in Canada?
    2. Examples of boroughs are Haringey, Barnet, Hackney, etc., right? Again, I won’t know which one I’ll be living in. Does it really matter which one I choose (i.e. does it necessarily have to be my local one and, if so, can I change it once I find a flat and/or move)?
    3. You received one form from the practice (so, in my example, Barnes Surgery) and one from the NHS — how did you receive the form from the NHS?
    4. Should I get additional insurance on top of NHS (I understand I may have to pay some fees at some point(s) as you mentioned)?

    Thank you for your time 🙂

    1. Alyssa – your blog was SO helpful. I’m currently all settled in in London with a flat (and some awesome flatmates) and a job (that i LOVE). I’m so glad I decided to take a leap of faith.

      I wanted to pay it forward by helping you out with the above.

      Mona, to answer your questions:
      1. You need a permanent address to open a bank account. Certain banks (Lloyds is the first that comes to mind) all people from certain nationalities (Canadians for sure) to open bank accounts with just a passport. Do a Google search for “major banks in the UK” and find out the requirements for each.
      2. Yes
      3. Similar, I believe

      1. NIN is similar to a SIN, highly personal and confidential. If you don’t already have a job and can wait until you’ve found a permanent flat, I suggest holding off (it can easily be intercepted by someone and used for identity fraud). If you do have a job, your employer can assign you an emergency tax code number which taxes you at a higher income bracket but still allows you to work. After you get your NIN, you can apply for tax refund and get back the balance of money that they took off your paycheques – this allows you to work for up to 3 months without an NIN.
      2. Tax is taken off by your employer. If you’re self-employed (which you shouldn’t be if you’re on a Tier 5 Visa), you’ll need to do this yourself.

      1. Yes.
      2. Yes, you have to register to a GP that is in your neighbourhood — GPs can refuse to accept new patients who do not live in their service area.
      3. Google! 🙂 🙂
      4. Up to you!

      1. Hi Chris,

        Thank you for your reply! 🙂

        I have 2 questions about your answers.

        3. Google! — Do you know which particular form she’s referring to? There are thousands of NHS forms on the web.
        4. Up to you! — I’m confused on what the NHS actually covers. If I knew, that would help me make my decision. Many official websites are inconsistent with one another. What are your thoughts on this?

        Thank you!

        1. Hi Mona,

          The surgery will give you the forms you need when you go to register.

          The NHS essentially covers everything that isn’t cosmetic. I got physiotherapy while I was there, went to an eye clinic, etc. The only thing you generally have to pay for are eye exams (though they were covered by my work) and the dentist, which if you see an NHS dentist only costs around £18 for a check up with X-rays and around £40 for a hygienist to clean your teeth. You can also go with private care if you wish, but that’s separate.

  14. Hi,
    I was just curious . What ID did you used when you would go on a night out? did you always have to bring your passport out with you? Or can you use your Biometrics card. When I was there on holiday
    I was always asked for a passport.

  15. Hi Allysa!,

    First of all I want to thank you for not causing me to pull all of my hair out and going totally insane with so many questions that you have answered with your blog. Honestly.. thank you so much

    Secondly, For the NHS.. do you have to register it even tho I’ve received my passport with sticker on it?.. when i arrive im going to get my permit right away.. but you still need to register even tho i’ve got it?

    Thirdly. You’re awesome

  16. Hi Alyssa,

    Just wondering what your view is on “UK starter pack” type schemes.
    Are they just money spinners or do you think they are legitimately worth the cost? It looks to me as if they are trying to exploit young people.

    1. Hi OJ,

      Welllll… Personally, I wouldn’t use them. But it just depends what you want out the experience. If you’re going for a short time, have the money to spend, and/or prefer not to have the stress and insecurity of trying to find a job, a flat, and getting all of these administrative tasks done…then go for it. I hope that helps!

  17. Hey Alyssa,

    Thanks so much for this amazing blog. It has helped me tremendously in moving to the UK. One quick question. I moved here with my boyfriend who has a job at the university, but I am still actively looking for work. Can I still register with the NHS before I get a job? Like do I need to register to have a card for emergencies and stuff as well. Also if I would like a GP but do not yet have a job do you know how much the fees are, or where I could find them. Thanks so much

    1. Hi Nicole,

      You don’t have to wait anymore because of the IHS fee you now have to pay. I should update the post.

      1. Hi Alyssa,

        Does this mean I can register now with the NHS even without a job? And still have a GP? Just need some further clarification. Thanks again 🙂

  18. Hi Alyssa,

    Just wanted to drop a huge THANK YOU to you and your blog. My husband and I are newlyweds from Canada and shortly after we got married, had a chance to move abroad. The entire time we were applying for the Tier 5 I was reading your blog and it’s made the move much smoother knowing there are answers here, and also people who have gone through the same process. We’re here now (in Bristol) and have been for a month, so far so good!

    Looking forward to reading more 🙂

  19. I arrived last week in the UK via Dublin…there was no border control/immigration at the airport so nobody took a look at my visa. Any idea if there’s anything I need to do? My visa was issued before the May 2015 changes.

  20. Hi Alyssa, you have been a great help with your guides! Thank you so much for making my life easier! One thing though, is the NHS different from insurance? Is it correct that the NHS is just healthcare and covers my health issues? If so should it be wise to get insurance?

  21. Taylor,
    Did you end up sorting the situation out? I have a similar problem soon to arise. My visa starts on October 1st but I arrive around 10 hours before it starts. What did you have to do to sort the situation out?

  22. Just wanted to say I very much appreciate that you’ve taken the time to write your experiences up (as I’m sure everyone else reading is as well). So far, you’ve been a much more useful, or at least accessible, source of information than the various government websites, and have definitely made the process so far a lot easier. Clearly, the people complaining about there being too many immigrants have never tried to fill out the paperwork!

    Thank you! 🙂

  23. my visa folder did not come with a letter regarding my biometrics and now ive been here three weeks and still do not have any information and the home office is doing nothing at all. is there any advice anyone can give me please at this point i am desperate

    1. Hi Taylor, sorry, I don’t know as this wasn’t a ‘thing’ when I applied. Some people aren’t being issued the biometrics – you just have to look at whether you have a vignette or not.

  24. Hi,

    Thanks for the blog! Do you know if the tier 5 visa is exempt from council tax when paying for rent? Thanks!


      1. Do you know if you can claim council tax, with the rest f your taxes when you leave?

  25. Hi alyssa!

    I have recently arrived in the UK on my Tier 5 visa but arrived one day earlier than its start date. For example I arrived in the UK on the 19th but my visa doesn’t start till the 20th. when I went through immigration at the UK airport I was told that they would have to issue me a visitors visa and I would then need to call the HOME OFFICE to have them change my status but that has turned up a dead end.

    If there any help anyone can give me? I don’t want to have issues come six months saying ive been in the country longer than I’m allowed, I also want to work here and can not do so without an active visa.

    I have also not received an email regarding my biometrics card of any kind.

    Any information on either of these issues is greatly appreciated!

    Thank you!


    1. Hi Taylor,

      It’s not an email, it’s a letter in the package returned to your with your passport. You’ll only have it if you applied after May 31, 2015. For your visa situation… I think try a police station? I’m not sure. A search of the UKBA website or gov.uk should help.

  26. Hi Alyssa,

    I’m finally in the UK! First step is opening a bank account, which I’m finding challenging. I’ve so far been to NatWest and HSBC. My biggest hurdle is the proof of address. I am living with an uncle right now but (of course) they won’t accept a verbal assurance that I live in this address.

    Would you have any advice on how to proceed?

    I talked to NatWest and they said an option is to have my bank send me my statements through this address, but I was wondering if you have other options.


    1. Hi Abram,

      Apply for your NI number and use the letter they send you as proof of address. Lloyd’s and Barclays are generally good about the proof of address thing as well.

  27. Just a note for getting a bank account, for those of you heading to Scotland: RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) only requires a passport to open an account. Just ensure you also have a contact number and address.

  28. Hi Alyssa!!
    I’m I the UK now on the youth visa. You stated about picking up biometric permit and no body seems to know what that is! I ask some of my friends but they have no idea. I have already called the NI and they will send the documents to fill within 10days. Do you know where and who to contact to get the biometric. As it says I have to get it within 10 days of arriving in the UK. Thanks so much

  29. Hi there,

    Love your blog – very useful. I’m leaving for the UK to work with a summer camp (so employed for the summer) is the Health Insurance information you posted still valid and do you know what is covered or how I can find that out should I need an more complicated services (ie surgery or accident, repatriation back to Canada). Trying to decide if I need to purchase additional health insurance before I leave (blue cross, CAA etc).



      1. is repatriation in the case of accidental death? is that what’s being discussed here? just making sure

        also: with the new health surcharge fee (i don’t know what i paid for exactly), do we get additional coverage, meaning we don’t need to purchase any health insurance? or was the NHS always available in case of emergency, and you’re otherwise covered if you’re employed, or after the first year…? in which case, what exactly is the health surcharge fee for and do i really need to buy health insurance? did YOU buy health insurance?

        thanks : )

  30. Thanks so much for this blog! I must have read your article on applying for the youth mobility visa 10 times; I couldn’t find nearly as much info anywhere else including on the government websites. I’m just applying for a job in the UK and it needs me to fill in my “National Insurance Number” so I googled it and your blog pops up and saves me again! Thanks for all this great info 🙂

    1. I’m glad it’s been helpful — I know I could have used it during my “moving to the UK” process 🙂

  31. Hello Alyssa ,

    I am leaving for the Uk in a few days with my youth mobility visa , this post has been very helpful
    but my question to you is , at the airport borders was there anything specific you needed other then your passport and visa … did you need to show bank statements . I have the money required but I am considering bringing travellers checks to put in my uk account , will they still be valid or do they not check your account when you arrive

    Thank you

    1. I answered this elsewhere: they can ask you but it doesn’t mean they will. Key takeaway: Better to be safe than sorry. Travellers cheques will count.

  32. Hi Alyssa,

    Thank you so much for all the effort you’ve put into sharing all this info with us! While researching is always important, there’s a certain comfort in hearing someone else’s first hand experience.

    My question is around finding and renting a flat in London. I’ve been looking through your site as you mention above that there would be a future post around this particular hurdle, but I just can’t seem to find it…maybe I’m missing it somewhere?

    I’d love to get your insight into the following questions, if you could:
    1) Which areas would you suggest for newcomers on a budget that would have easy access to public transit? Areas to avoid?
    2) Which website would be best for looking for flats? I’ve been browsing Zoopla but I’m not sure if this is what locals use as most flats seem to be furnished.
    3) We’ll be moving with our pup, have you had any experiences or have any suggestions around looking for a flat with a pet?
    4) Do landlords typically expect a specific lease length? I see that most flats list a price per week.
    5) Normally, how much are you expected to pay for a flat when you take possession? Would you only pay for the first month/week rent? or first and last? or first plus deposit? or first and last plus deposit?
    6) What other tips do you have for us London-bound Tier 5ers? Anything to watch out for?

    Thanks again and kind regards

    1. Hi Ana,

      Yeah…I keep meaning to do that! I probably should. Soon! I’ll answer your questions as best I can:

      1) It could be anywhere… You just want to look outside of Zone 2, essentially. It also depends what you’re looking for. You can share with three people and have no living room and have a nice place for cheap. Or you can live in a dump but have it all to yourself. I think this is why I haven’t written the post — there are too many variables for me to really write a good, comprehensive post!

      2) Spareroom (and flatsharing site) and Gumtree (like Craigslist)

      3) No experience, except that I know it’s not easy! You can find a place that is okay with them or negotiate cleaning the flat and making any repairs. You can also check out this site: Letswithpets.org.uk

      4) Every landlord is different. Some want a minimum of 3 months, others (especially if you’re dealing with agencies) will expect a 12-month lease with a 6-month break clause.

      5) Deposits vary. You might pay a month, you might pay 6 weeks, you might pay nothing if it’s a private landlord. Standard is first and last month.

      6) Nothing I can think of off the top of my head! Just use common sense, don’t do anything you wouldn’t do back home.

  33. Hi Alyssa,
    I’m moving to the UK with my existing employer under the YMS. When I am applying for a bank account as well as NI, do you think it would be okay for me to put down the London office address + phone number until I settle in somewhere?

  34. Hey Alyssa,

    I just wanted to let you know Barclays is no longer opening bank accounts unless you have a utility bill. They suggested i apply for my NIS number, drivers license or have my bank send me a statement. They would not except a letter from an employer or a summary of my accounts printed off in Canada and stamped by the bank even though it had my England address on it. They advised they have changed their policies and are quite strict. Good news is Lloyds WILL just take your passport with your visa in it so I’m going with them. Just thought you should know.

  35. Alyssa, thank you for all your help during the application process now that I have my visa and flights booked (leave in 10 days) I have a question about banking. Is the process you outline of opening a bank account with whichever bank pretty easy? I had a friend suggest to me to open a bank account with HSBC here before I leave, as they have banks in the UK and allow you to open a UK account (I assume like you can open a U.S. account with pretty much any bank here) before you leave. Do you think this might be an easier process? Or more work in the end by starting the process over here? Are you familiar with how common HSBC is over there?

  36. Hi Alyssa,
    I have been contemplating applying for a YMS but I am a little bit nervous about the whole process and was wondering if maybe our situations may have been similar. So I live in Toronto, and I met this amazing guy while I was visiting London in March. My plan is to go back in June and see how things go between us. If all goes well, we have both decided that I would be the one to make the move. This is something that I would absolutely love to do, considering I’ve been itching for a life change for quite some time now.

    However, I don’t want to go there and twirl my thumbs all day. I would love to maybe do some courses, and of course I would need a job. My concern is when and if I apply, what would I say my reason for going would be? Would honesty be the best policy in my case? Would I tell them that I met someone and we want to give it a shot? Also, would I need to have a job lined up? I need to figure all of this out and I have no one to talk to about it. Please help!


  37. Hi Alyssa,

    I’ve previously commented on your other article about obtaining the YMS visa, and am happy to say it all went smoothly and I arrived here in the UK last Friday!

    I had a question about opening a bank account. I went into my local Barclays branch today and the teller informed me that unless I have a regular in-flow of cash going into the account (basically, pay cheques from a job), I can’t open a current account with them. I am on the job hunt now, so no regular pay cheque yet, but I need to deposit the money I brought with me and open an account. I know you opened your Barclays account before you were employed here, so may I ask what type of account you have? Was the teller just being lazy and failed to inform me of options for another account I could use? She said I could open a savings account only, and that does not come with a debit card for making purchases.

    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Lyndsay,

      Welcome to the UK! It’s best to see a bank manager, so call the general Barclays number and book an appointment to open an account. I just have a basic current account and they didn’t ask me about paycheques… Probably just a lazy/misinformed teller!

      1. Hi Alyssa,

        Alright, I’ll take a look for the general number. They do seem to require a proof of address document as well, separate from my passport, so that may be an issue as well… We’ll see!


      2. Just wanted to follow up (in case anyone is searching these comments for advice) and say I went with TSB in the end. It was all fine with just the passport. Would recommend them 🙂

  38. Hi Alyssa,

    Thanks for the blog, very helpful. I’ve been trying to call the embassy and email them for questions but nobody replies and they are not accessible at all. I did the WHV for Australia and New Zealand before and look to do the UK in June or September.



  39. Hi Alyssa,
    Quick question re: the NI number application.
    What is the difference between the UK Visa insert in the passport itself and the work permit vignette you refer to above? Just curious because the only paper work I currently have is the passport itself with the approved VISA pasted inside.
    I leave for London a week tonight – cannot wait!!!! Thanks again for all your help.

  40. My situation was a bit tricky as I had been in the UK on a post study work visa and already had a job in the UK. My work offered to sponsor my visa, but that would mean only being able to work for them, which frankly wasn’t an option.

    To apply for the visa, I had to return to Toronto. I almost applied within the UK (and would have had my application refused) before reading this blog…so thanks again Alyssa. I sent my application in on the 27th of March, booked an appointment for the 1st of April, received an email stating my visa had been issued on April 7th, and could pick it up April 9th.

    So the whole process took about 2 weeks. This also was with the ‘Priority service’ (USD170), which it seems was a waste of money now, as 2 weeks seems to be the average turn around time.

    Now I’m back sitting at my work desk, legal for 2 more years in the UK 🙂

  41. Hi Alyssa, I just have a question about when you applied for you NIN – is there a number that you can use until your official document arrives in the mail? (for example, when you apply for a SIN, you receive a printout with your number until your card arrives).

    1. Hi Stephanie,

      Your work will assign you with an emergency tax code and will take a photocopy of your visa. You will just have to give them the NIN when it arrives. The Jobcentre won’t give the number over the phone. Hope that helps!

  42. Hi!
    I am thinking about applying for this, but I had one question! How difficult is it to find a job? And should I look for one before applying, or after applying? or when i reach to UK?

    Sorry, I’m just trying to do some thorough research!

    Any help would be appreciated!

    1. Hi Sim,

      How long is a piece of string? It’s really dependent on a lot of things – the field you’re looking for a job in, your experience, where you will be living, etc. It took me six weeks to find a job in digital marketing in London, but most people say I was really lucky. My partner is from here and he’s still only doing an internship.

      You can look before or after, but if you look before, you should know that employers may expect you start immediately. I will be writing a post about this soon, so keep an eye on my blog!

  43. Hi Alyssa,

    I was wondering how the Address will work for me when opening a bank account since i will be moving constantly until i find a place.. also… how is the job market?


  44. Alyssa!

    I am thoroughly enjoying your blog. I studied abroad when I was in University and always wanted to live abroad for longer than month or so…sigh.

    So I’ll live vicariously through you! Just wanted to let you know!

    1. Thanks, Britt! There’s nothing stopping you if it’s something you really want to do 🙂

  45. Great post. You definitely had a knack for simple and entertaining writing, Alyssa. I’m heading to London myself in a few days, also on Tier 5. Hope to hear more about your journey ahead.

  46. Dear Alyssa, your blog is saving my life!
    I’m sending my application in a month (the damned £1800….!!! ) and I’ve read your post on how to get the said visa about 57 times. Now that i’m pretty sure how the application works, I started freaking out about allllllll i’ll have to do once i get there….and then I remembered your blog and boom! You answered ALL my questions…!!!!
    So thank you for taking all this stress off my shoulders!!!
    Cheers!! xo

    1. Hi Judy,

      Haha, I do what I can! Thanks for stopping by again and I’m glad it helped!

      1. Hello 🙂 I’ve applied for the youth mobility visa and was wondering if you need to complete the VAF9 personal details form or is that only necessary if you’re submitting an application from Cuba, North Korea and Zimbabwe? It’s a bit tricky on the website. Thanks so much!


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