On Your Arrival
HOW TO COLLECT YOUR BIOMETRIC RESIDENCE PERMIT (BRP) CARD
Once you are in the UK, you must collect your Biometric Residence Permit Card (BRP) before the vignette sticker in your travel document expires or within 10 days of arriving in the UK, whichever is later.
Your Home Office decision letter will tell you to collect your BRP from either:
- a named Post Office branch (usually the post office on Bridge Street in Belfast); or
- International Student Support in the Student Guidance Centre
Bring your passport or travel document with your vignette sticker in when you collect your BRP.
You must be over 18 to collect a BRP. You do not need to be nominated to collect a child’s BRP if you’re also collecting your own BRP and you are named on your child’s vignette sticker.
- POLICE REGISTRATION
If your entry clearance states that you are required to register with the police, you must do so within 7 days of your arrival in the United Kingdom. If you have dependents (partner, spouse or children) with you and their entry clearance has the same requirement, they must also register within 7 days. Children under the age of 16 do not need to register with the police. When you are registering with the Police you will need the following:
- two passport sized photographs
- a letter confirming your employment
- your passport
- registration fee (a cash payment of approximately £34)
Contact Constable Fiona James (028 9065 0222 extension 22168) to arrange an appointment to complete your Police Registration.
- OPENING A BANK ACCOUNTYour University salary will be transferred into a UK bank account monthly in arrears. To open an account, make an appointment with your preferred bank as soon as you arrive, and check which documents you will need to take with you. Depending on how long you will be staying in Northern Ireland, your chosen bank can advise you on the range of accounts available to you, e.g. a basic bank account, which allows you to deposit and withdraw money and set up direct debits to pay bills, or a current account which offers additional services such as overdrafts/access to credit.
A range of banks are available in Northern Ireland with Danske Bank and Ulster Bank branches located nearest to the main University campus. Due to its international presence many new arrivals also opt to bank with HSBC located in Belfast city centre however, if you will not be resident in Belfast it may be advisable to consider which banks operate branches in your local area. Queen’s is also part of the Santander Universities network.
It is likely that your bank will ask you to provide the following documents:
- photographic identification (e.g. passport/national ID card and/or visa/biometric residence permit)
- evidence of your UK address (e.g. recent utility bills showing your name and address)
- a letter from the University confirming your employment
Providing proof of address in the UK is something which proves difficult for many new arrivals to the country. An alternative method to obtain proof of address in the UK may be to:
- change the correspondence address for your bank account in your home country to your new UK address; and
- request a statement showing the new address for this account (NB You will need an original printed statement - internet versions are not accepted)
If you are arriving with a partner, you may wish to consider opening a joint account in both your names. This may allow your partner to more easily obtain their own debit/credit cards in future as well as begin to establish their own credit history in the UK. Banks will generally require both you and your partner to show proof of address.
Once you have opened your account, the current account switch service can be used to switch current accounts from and to any of the participating banks and building societies.
- TAX AND NATIONAL INSURANCE
Your move to the UK may have implications for your tax status in your home country. The onus will be on the employee to ensure that any such (foreign) obligations are being met, as applicable.
The UK rules governing employees who are not nationals of the UK are relatively straightforward. Employees earning above a certain threshold amount (set by the government) will normally pay Pay As You Earn (PAYE) income tax and National Insurance contributions (NICs) whilst working in the UK. The information provided on the “New Staff Appointment” form received with your appointment pack will determine which tax code should be applied, as per the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) guidelines.
NICs are collected by HMRC through the University’s Payroll system and go towards state benefits, such as the National Health Service (NHS) and the state pension. An employee from overseas, coming to work in the UK will have to obtain a National Insurance (NI) number and immediately start paying NICs in the UK on the same basis as people who normally live and work here. An NI number is a unique identifier (issued by the HMRC) that enables the HMRC to track the NIC payments made for all individuals. All employees of the University must obtain a NI number and notify Payroll as soon as they have it. You may have an NI number printed on the back of your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). You don’t need to apply for an NI number if you already have one, or one is printed on your BRP. If you don’t have an NI number, you will need to request one as soon as possible.
The UK offers access to the National Health Service (NHS), a publicly funded healthcare system, for UK citizens and legal immigrants. If you are a visa national, you may have paid a healthcare surcharge (called the ‘immigration health surcharge’ or IHS) as part of your immigration application, which enables you to use the NHS once your visa application is granted. The NHS in Northern Ireland is called Health and Social Care (HSC).
On arrival to Northern Ireland you should register with your nearest health centre. Your practice (or “surgery”) will then assign a doctor, known as a General Practitioner (GP), who will oversee your routine medical care. There is no charge for basic healthcare, e.g. general consultations at a GP practice or at any NHS hospital (your GP will refer you if you need non-urgent hospital care). If your health centre is closed, you should be able to obtain the 'out of hours' contact number for alternative healthcare during the closed period.
International staff can also register with the University Health Centre at Queen’s as long as they have a passport and, if from outside Europe, a visa valid for minimum 6 months. If the visa validity is less than 6 months, International Staff Support can issue a reference to confirm employment. Registrations are from 10 am – 4 pm Tuesday to Friday and the processing time is approximately 2 weeks.
If you are involved in an accident or suddenly take ill, you may need to go to Accident and Emergency (A&E). The number to call for an ambulance is 999. The ambulance will take you to the A&E at the nearest hospital. The nearest hospitals to the University are: Belfast City Hospital NHS Trust 51, Lisburn Road Belfast BT9 7AB Telephone: 02890 329 241 Royal Victoria Hospital, Grosvenor Road Belfast, BT12 6BA Telephone: 028 9024 0503
Please note that the NHS care does not cover you for healthcare outside the UK and separate travel insurance should be arranged for this. If you are from the European Economic Area (EEA), you should apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which will entitle you to some medical coverage while you are travelling within EEA countries. The EHIC gives valuable protection but it should never be seen as a substitute for travel insurance. Private medical insurance may also be advisable for travel outside Europe.
The NHS offers subsidised dental services. Children receive free treatment, as do people who meet certain other criteria (see if you are eligible here). Some dental practices work in the private sector (i.e. not funded by the NHS), or offer a combination of NHS and private services. It can be difficult to find a good dental practice which has spaces for NHS patients, so it may be worthwhile to ask colleagues or neighbours for recommendations. If you have private healthcare insurance, you should check whether this includes dental cover.
There are no special arrangements with opticians so, as required, you should register with an optician of your choice. You will have to bear the cost of any glasses or contact lenses you might need, however, University employees who use display screen equipment (DSE) may be able to claim back the cost of sight tests.
Landline telephones and Internet
A telephone line with a fixed connection in your home is known as a 'landline'. There may be an existing landline already in your property. To activate an existing landline or to arrange for one to be installed you will need to contact a telephone provider, such as BT, TalkTalk or Virgin Media (note that there are many different providers of telephone and internet services). You can find quotes on websites such as MoneySavingExpert, Broadband Choices, uSwitch, comparethemarket, GoCompare and MoneySuperMarket. It may be cheaper to buy telephone and internet services in combination as a “bundle”, which may also include a TV subscription package.
In the UK you need to be covered by a TV Licence to:
- watch or record programmes as they’re being shown on TV or live on an online TV service
- download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer.
This applies to any provider you use and any device, including a TV, desktop computer, laptop, mobile phone, tablet, games console, digital box or DVD/VHS recorder.
All (UK) TVs since 2010 have Freeview built in, so only require a working aerial to be plugged into the back. If your TV is older than this, or purchased outside the UK, you may need a separate (Freeview) box. Alternatively, subscribing to your telephone/internet services in combination as a “bundle” may also include a TV package.
There are two main types of mobile phone packages:
- With pay-as-you-go you buy a new SIM card to use in your existing phone and top up your credit as needed. If you are bringing a phone to the UK from abroad, you may need to get your phone unlocked to be able to use a UK network.
- With a monthly contract you pay a fixed amount which allows you to make calls, send texts and download data up to an agreed monthly limit. The contract could include a new phone or be SIM only. You will need to provide evidence of your residential address in the UK and bank details to go through a credit check and set up the payments. Some contracts include international calls, but you might prefer to use services such as Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp or Marco Polo to keep in touch with your family and friends abroad.
Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) Networks own and maintain the wires and meters for all households, no matter who bills you for your energy usage.
There are five different companies that supply electricity in Northern Ireland. How much you pay for electricity depends on whether you are on a credit meter or prepay, plus where you are and your usage.
This guide can help explain how energy switching in Northern Ireland works.
If you want to buy something online or sign up to a product, rather than going direct, you may benefit from signing up to a cashback website which may offer returns on your purchases depending on the retailer. Amounts vary.
- DRIVINGDriving rules and regulations vary from country to country. Therefore, it is important to take some time to read the Northern Ireland regulations on driving licences, car tax and registration and insurance responsibilities.
The Highway Code is essential reading for everyone who uses roads in Northern Ireland. The Highway Code is based on the Great Britain version. Although Northern Ireland road safety legislation continues to be brought into line with that in Great Britain, there are some differences. It is recommended that anyone, especially drivers, intending to visit Great Britain should also buy the Great Britain version of The Highway Code. It is also recommended that anyone intending to visit the Republic of Ireland should buy Rules of the Road and note particularly that all speed limit signs in the Republic of Ireland relate to kilometres per hour.
It is compulsory for all occupants of a car to wear seat belts.
A licence is required to drive in Northern Ireland. Before you learn to drive, you must apply for a provisional driving licence If you already hold a valid full UK driving licence and want to add a higher category, you must first apply for provisional entitlement in the category you require.
Depending on the country you come from there are different driving licence requirements for driving in Northern Ireland on a foreign licence.
Registration and Car Tax
If you bring your vehicle with you from your home country, then you may do so for up to six months in any 12 month period provided that it is fully registered and tax paid in the country of registration. If you wish to keep your vehicle in the UK for over six months, you will need to register your vehicle in the UK by contacting the DVLNI.
You have to have motor insurance before you can drive your vehicle in a public place. It protects you, your vehicle and other motorists against liability in case there is an accident. It provides financial compensation to cover any injuries caused to people or their property. You must have at least Third Party Insurance if you wish to drive in the UK.
Vehicles must meet specific technical and safety requirements, and you will have to pay for UK registration. If the vehicle is more than four years old, you will need an MOT certificate showing that the vehicle is roadworthy.