The UK consists of Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) and Northern Ireland. It is a constitutional monarchy with a representative democracy and it has approximately 60 million inhabitants. The UK is one of the European Union’s 27 member states. It has a permanent seat in the United Nation’s Security Council and it is a member of the G8, NATO, WTO and the Commonwealth.
The European Union has made way for closer cooperation between countries and the elimination of national borders, enabling workers to move freely within the Union. However, there are still several things to consider before moving to another country.
Health Care in the UK is free of charge and as an EU/EEA national you have access to emergency care, General Practitioners (GP) and walk in clinics on the same terms as UK nationals.
GP and Walk-in-clinics
It is important to register with your local GP as it is a stepping stone to giving you access to the National Health Service (NHS). When you register you will be given a NHS number which you should quote every time you seek medical treatment. In addition there are a number of walk-in-clinics which do not charge you for their services. However, they do charge for prescriptions which normally cost about £5 each.
Contrasting Sweden, your employer or University will often ask you to provide a medical certificate when absent due to illness. This can be obtained from your GP. Bear in mind that many employers will ask you to provide a certificate even for a shorter absence.
If you need medical advice outside office hours you can call:
NHS direct 24h on 0845 4647
Emergency telephone: 999 or 112
Dental care in the UK is quite expensive and if you are planning to stay for a longer period you might want to consider getting dental insurance. The NHS provides free dental care for unemployed and people living on government subsidies. However, it is not very accessible. In an emergency you can contact Guy’s Hospital Dental School on 020 7188 9282 or call the Dental Medical Emergency Information line on 020 8677 8383.
You do not need any specific vaccinations when moving to the UK. However, there are diseases in the UK which are not very common in Sweden. For instance, if you are planning to study in the UK and move into University Halls you will be advised to take a Meningitis shot, which is usually supplied free of charge. It is recommended that you bring a list of the vaccinations you have already had, especially if you are planning to work within health care.
If you are planning to work in the UK, you will need a National Insurance Number (NI). The NI number is a personal number used to record a person’s NI and credit contributions. It is also needed when claiming social security benefits.
When applying for a NI number you will be asked to prove that you are either working or looking for a job. You will be asked to come to an interview at a Jobcentre Plus where they will check your identity and the accuracy of your claim for a NI number. For information about what documents you need to bring and on how to book an appointment, please visit the Jobcentre Plus website.
Your employer in the UK might ask you to open a UK bank account to which they can transfer your salary. Having a UK based bank account might also be an advantage as most foreign banks charge you for cash withdrawals. If you encounter great difficulties opening an account, a solution might be to contact one of the Scandinavian banks’ UK branches.
As a new UK resident it can be difficult to open a bank account as the bank will ask you for a number of documents which you might not have. It is recommended to find a job and a flat before you open an account. As a student you can ask your University for a certificate confirming that you are studying in the UK.
If you want to open an account, please ask the bank what documents you should bring. Usually they will ask for the following,
- A proof of address (often a utility bill, i.e. gas or electricity bill)
- A passport or ID card/driving licence
- Your latest payslip in order to confirm your income
Studying in the UK
It can be difficult to decide where to study in the UK. Most Universities in the UK have days when they are open to the public and where you can get a chance to find out more about what they do and what their strengths are. If you are unable to visit the Universities you can contact UCAS, which is an information site for future students.
Most Universities in the UK charge an annual tuition fee from its students. For home and EU students the tuition fee is approximately £3,000 per year (education in Scotland is usually free of charge). If you are unable to pay the tuition fee you can apply for grants and student finance from the University or via Student Direct. Please note that student funding in the UK is dependent on your parents’ income.
The UK has an extensive railway network which is easy to use. However, remember to look at the timetables as direct trains are preferable. Furthermore, bear in mind that train fares can be quite expensive. Major London stations include Euston, Kings Cross/St Pancras International, Liverpool Street, Waterloo, London Bridge, Paddington, Victoria and Charing Cross Stations.
The cheaper but slower alternative when travelling around the UK is by coach. National Express works throughout the UK. They also run from the London airports into central London.
There is a wide range of taxi companies and since many of them are private it is sometimes difficult to know if they are licensed or not. Go online and look at the government’s website, cabwise for more information.
Black cab : The black cabs run on a meter and you should always check their starting price. You should also look for the licence which should be visible next to the driver.
Mini-cabs : The mini-cabs are usually the cheapest. Try to find a mini-cab office or call the local office to pre-book. Always agree on a price with the driver before you get into the car. Please note that not all mini-cabs are licensed.
A smooth way to get around London is by tube. Do get an Oyster Card which you can either use as a pay-as-you-go card or as a weekly/monthly travel card. Bear in mind that the London Underground is expensive especially if you do not have an Oyster Card or if you use your Oyster as a pay-as-you-go card. With an Oyster card you can also enjoy discounts and offers on some of London’s tourist attractions, such as two for one on the London Eye and Madame Tussauds.
Oyster Cards can be purchased at any staffed underground station. For more information visit Transport for London’s website.
Safety in London varies quite a lot depending on the area. The best way to avoid trouble is by using your common sense. Do some research and talk to people who know the areas before you go out. Avoid walking through parks and in dark alley ways late at night. Furthermore, if you are alone, be careful and let a friend know that you are home safely.
For further information about specific areas please see the web links.
Finding a Job
Career opportunities are regularly offered on our website, please keep a look out.
Finding a Flat
The easiest way to find a flat or a flat share in the UK is by looking online. You can also register with an estate agent in the area to which you are thinking of moving. Although you might want a central address it is cheaper to live a bit further out. It is also important to remember that bills (e.g. electricity, gas etc) are not usually included in the rent. Ask the landlord how much the bills usually cost and how much the Council Tax is.
It is advisable to bring an adapter as the British plug and socket standard differs from the Swedish. Most British wall sockets have a switch, hence remember to check both the fuse and the switch before you deem anything broken.
A conversion table, Metric-Imperial
Despite the EU standardisation of the metric system the UK has proven rather reluctant in adopting these measures. Therefore it can be useful to have a conversion table of the main measurements.
1 inch 2.54cm
1 foot 30.48cm
1 yard 91.44 cm
1 mile 1.61 km
1 ounce 28.35 gram
1 pound 453.60 gram
1 stone 6.35 kgs
1 pint 568.30 ml
1 gallon 4.54 litres