Generally when we travel to new countries, it is a common practice to enquire about the country and its culture, with friends, relatives, nears and dears, who already visited the country. What if you do not have anyone unfortunately, what if you do not have chance to meet them when required. This guide is developed to give such information.
The purpose of this document is to make you aware of some regulations, procedures, common practices, lifestyle in UK, etc., which we believe, would help you to kick start your stay in UK.
As part of any travel preparation, the biggest and foremost important thing is luggage. What to carry, how much to carry? The basic things are clothes, medicines, foods, especially if you have got any children, foreign currency to which country you visit, international credit card if you have one. Jackets are important if you visit cold countries, even if it is summer. Now-a-days climates are unpredictable. Furthermore 17 or 18°C are not very cold for those who are used to the weather. But for the first time visitors it is a cold weather. We can always buy nice & cheap Jackets in India. Kitchen utensils are important too, like Mixture Grinder, Rice Grinder, Rice cooker, especially for those, who are planning to settle with their family. Vessels can be bought here. Then medicines are very important. The first week or two is crucial, especially if you are a first time visitor. You can buy some medicines in the chemists but it is always good idea to bring medicines for first 2 weeks.
Then clothes, there is no tailors’ concept here, all the clothes are readymade. If you are lucky you could find a right size and right design for you. It easily works out for causal dress, but formal dress it is hard and expensive too. Food item is not recommended. Indian Spice items, groceries are available all over the world. Some specific item might not be available on particular locations. But generally it is available at all the places. So it is not good idea to carry them for more than a week, or two.
Travel insurance where applicable, enough money for any emergencies would be helpful. If you are catching 2 flights, it is always better to have couple of spare clothes in your hand baggage, in case if there is any problem with your main luggage, which you can not get back for a day or two, in worst case.
In all international airports there are plenty of display screens to guide us to reach our destination. Transit is a word used incase you use 2 or 3 flights to reach your final destination, and you need to change from one flight to another. If you do not need to change your flight, that is called ‘Stop Over’ location. If you are using transit flight and you arrived on your transit country, first thing you need to do is listen for announcements, starting from the flight itself. Once you landed and come out of flight follow the direction to next gate if you know, or there are plenty of display screens which guides on the gate number and terminal number. If anything is not clear, it is always best to ask people, rather go with our own assumptions. Once you confirmed your gate number and terminal number immediately follow the directions to reach the gate of the next flight, without delay. Sometimes you need to take your bags out from your flight 1 to flight 2, you need to confirm the same at your origin, when you check out the luggage.
On arrival of your final destination, you need to follow the signs of exit. Before exit there will be an immigration check, to check whether you have got a valid visa to enter in to the country. If the immigration officer is in doubt, they ask for all sort of supporting documents. Please note visa stamped in your passport does not guarantee to get into the country. You need to convince the immigration officer with all supporting documents. It includes but not limited to your visa approval letter, passport with valid visa stamped, employment letters where applicable, address details on where you are going to stay, any sponsorship letters, and so. Be prepared for that, and bring all the supporting documents.
Once you are through with immigration check, you are through to enter in to the country. The next thing is baggage claim, which is to collect your main luggage which you checked in your origin location. Once you collected your baggage you can follow the exit symbols. Before exit, if you have anything to declare, you can do so, if nothing you can exit through ‘Nothing to declare’ exit door.
Well! you reached your destination, new country, new feeling. Your first intuitive feeling will be to call home and update them that you safely reached. But! how? Calling cards are the answer. In all corner shops, you get international calling cards for £5 to £10. All the calling cards come with both toll free number (0800 xxx xxxx) and local number (020 xxxx xxxx). But you either need your friend’s mobile phone or public telephone bo0th to use the calling card. In some public telephone booths, unfortunately you need 30 pence to call toll free number. If you are staying in a hotel, you can use 0800 xxx xxxx, which is free.
You need to dial this number, which advise you to dial your international telephone number. The international country code for India is +91. If your number is for example 044 1234567890, then you need to dial 0091 44 1234567890. To dial India mobile number you need to use, for example 0091 9876543210
The one of the important things to follow sooner you arrived UK, is registering with NHS. It is free. You need to browse the site nhs-direct.nhs.gov.uk, or ask your neighbors to find out the nearest clinic to where you stay. Once you figured out your nearest clinic, visit them and ask the application form for the new registration. When you submit the filled up application form, they book an appointment with a nurse for you and your family to enquire and enter all your historical medical details in their database. You need to repeat this process for every time you change your address.
For any illness, you need to call your GP (General Practitioner) to book an appointment. NHS appointment is in high demand, so you should not delay to book an appointment, for any long term illness. Usually for children you get an appointment in a day or two. But for adults it takes more time. For emergency, you can visit nearby hospital without an appointment, but waiting time will be longer. Initially these processes might sound like weird, but it works out good once we are used to that.
If your length of stay in UK is more than 6 months, then you need to register in electoral registration. You need to contact your local county council office for the application form. For most of the county councils, the application form will be available online, which you can download, fill up and post it to county council offices. You can google for the application form by giving your county council name. It is important, because it is one of the factors which affect your credit history check.
What is credit history? When you apply for a credit card or personal loan or mortgage, the building society or bank institutes check your credit history, which includes your address details for last 3 or 5 years, past credit history like your past loan and any missed payment details. It is important to maintain clean credit history all the time to easily get a new credit card, loan or mortgage.
Public Transport is different in London than any other parts of the UK. The London Underground also known popularly as The Tube - has trains that criss-cross London in the largest underground rail network anywhere in the world. The Tube is an easy and recommended method of transport in London.
Tube maps are freely available from any station. The Tube is made up of 12 lines each bearing a traditional name and a standard color on the Tube map. To plan your trip on The Tube work out first which station is closest to your starting point and which closest to your destination. You are able to change freely between lines at interchange stations (providing you stay within the zones shown on your ticket). Use the Tube Map to determine which line(s) you will take. Since the Tube Map is well designed it is very easy to work out how to get between any two stations, and since each station is clearly signed and announced it is easy to work out when to get off your train.
The Tube map gives no information on London's extensive over ground bus network and its orbital rail network. Trains run from around 5:30AM to about 1AM. For more information, and journey planner you can refer the below website.
The British railway system is known as National Rail. London's suburban rail services are operated by a large number of independent private companies. Airport Express Rail services are also available to connect the central London. For more information and journey planner, refer the site.
Buses are generally quicker than taking the Tube for short (less than a couple of stops on the Tube) trips, and out of central London you're likely to be closer to a bus stop than a tube station. There will not be any conductors in the buses. You have to buy the ticket from the bus driver when get it into the bus. If you have a day/weekly/monthly travel card bought for London underground, you can use the same travel card in any London buses. So, check out with the bus driver, before you buy a new ticket.
Buses display their route number in large digits at the front, side and rear. The difficulty with buses over the tube is knowing when to get off; while tube stations are clearly marked it is sometimes more difficult to work out where to get off a bus. All bus stops have their location and the direction of travel on them, although by the time you've seen this it can be too late! Bus drivers are usually too busy to be able to tell you. Your best bet is to ask fellow passengers or trace your route on a map. Unlike The Tube one way tickets do not allow you to transfer to different buses.
The same rules apply to buses outside the London. So approach bus driver for any details.
London has two types of taxis: the famous black cab, and so-called minicabs. Black cabs are the only ones licensed to 'tout for business' (ie pick people up off the street), while minicabs are more accurately described as 'private hire vehicles' and need to be pre-booked.
The famous black cab of London (not always black in these days of heavy advertising!) can be hailed from the curb or found at one of the many designated taxi ranks. It is possible to book black cabs by phone, for a fee, but if you are in central London it will usually be quicker to hail one from the street. Their yellow TAXI light will be on if they are available. Drivers must take an extensive exam in London's streets to be licensed for a black cab, meaning they can supposedly navigate you to almost any London street without reference to a map. They are a cheap transport option if there are five passengers as they do not charge extras, and many view them as an essential experience for any visitor to London. Black cabs charge by distance and by the minute, are non-smoking, and have a minimum charge of £2.20. Tipping is not mandatory in either taxis or minicabs, despite some drivers' expectations..... Use your discretion, if you like the service you may tip otherwise don't.
Minicabs are licensed hire vehicles that you need to book by phone or at a minicab office. They generally charge a fixed fare for a journey, best agreed before you get in the car. Minicabs are usually cheaper than black cabs, although this is not necessarily the case for short journeys.
There are two types of bank account for managing everyday money: a basic bank account and a current account. Banks also offer a range of accounts designed for medium or longer-term savings. Savings or 'term' accounts usually pay more interest than basic and current accounts.
Basic bank accounts offer a convenient place to keep money you need for everyday use. You can arrange to have wages, State Pension and benefits or tax credits paid into one. You can also pay in cheques or cash free of charge, and set up 'direct debits' which pay regular bills automatically from your account.
With a basic bank account you get a cash card which you can use at a bank machine to withdraw cash. Some also offer a 'debit card' that you can pay for items with, and get 'cashback'; but with a basic account these will only work if there's enough money in your account.
You don't get a cheque book with a basic bank account, and you can't take out more money than is in the account ('go overdrawn'). For this reason basic bank accounts are useful for anyone worried about overspending.
Current accounts have more features than basic bank accounts. For example, they usually offer: cheque book,
cheque guarantee card (acts as a 'guarantee' so makes cheques more widely acceptable)
debit card (some allow payments without checking your account)
direct debits (automatic bill payments direct from your account)
standing orders (regular set payments from your account to someone of your choice)
BACS (Bankers' automated clearing service) - the facility to accept payments directly into your account (eg from your employer), or for you to make one-off payments to someone else out of the account
overdraft facility - the bank may allow you to go overdrawn up to a certain amount; but you need to arrange this in advance and charges apply (you pay extra charges if you go overdrawn without an agreement)Some current accounts pay interest on money you leave in the account, but the rate is usually low.
Banks offer a wide range of savings accounts. The main differences between them are how quickly you can get at your money, the minimum amount required to keep the account open and the type and rate of interest rate paid.
You pay National Insurance contributions (NICs) to build up your entitlement to certain social security benefits, including the State Pension. The type and level of NIC you pay depends on how much you earn and whether you're employed or self employed. You stop paying NICs when you reach State Pension age.
You pay NICs if you are an employee or self-employed and you are aged 16 and over, providing your earnings are more than a certain level. You stop paying NICs at State Retirement age. This is currently 65 for men and 60 for women but will gradually increase to 65 for women over the period 2010 to 2020.
Your National Insurance number (NI number) is your own personal account number. The number ensures that the National Insurance contributions and the tax you pay are properly recorded on your account. It also acts as a reference number for the whole social security system.
The only people you should ever give your NI number to are:
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)
Jobcentre Plus, if you claim Jobseeker's Allowance
your local council, if you claim Housing Benefit
Entitlement to many benefits depends on your National Insurance contribution record (see 'Benefits that depend on NICs' below) so it's very important not to give your number to anyone else.
You will also be required to provide your NI number if you open an Individual Savings Account (ISA).
If you don't already have a NI number you must apply for one:
To be able to apply you must be:
over 16 years of age
resident in Great Britain (England, Wales or Scotland)
To apply for a NI number you will need to telephone the Jobcentre plus NI allocation service helpline on 0845 600 0643. They will make sure you need a number and arrange for you to undertake an evidence of identity interview.
The interview will usually be one-to-one (unless, for example, you need an interpreter). The interviewer will ask you questions about your background and circumstances. The interviewer may also ask you to fill in an application form.
Shared accommodation is very common for singles. It is basically to share a single/double room in a 3, 4, or 5 rooms’ house, with other tenants. It is easy and quick to find a shared accommodation. It is also convenient if you are looking for a short term accommodation, most of which would require only 2 weeks notice period to vacate. You can search for flat share in the websites like www.gumtree.com
Private renting where you need to contact local letting agents, or news paper, or websites to search for the house/flat to rent. It usually will be a 1 year contract, but after 6 months you and house owner can break the contract, given a month written notice. You need to pay 6 weeks advance and a month rent in advance. If you go through letting agents they also charge administration fees, check out fees and so. The percentage of the amount varies for different letting agents. You need to find out before hand
Both furnished and unfurnished flats/houses are available. White goods will be available on every house/flat. White goods are washing machine, cooker (stove), and refrigerator. The letting agents will notify the utility (electricity / GAS/ Water) suppliers about your new tenancy, it is tenants’ responsibility to pay the utility bills. You can choose your utility providers based on who supply cheaper and good service. You can refer the below websites to compare the various providers and their charges.www.moneysupermarket.com
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