London is an incredible city to live in, and your time here will give you plenty of opportunities to explore. Getting around has never been easier, and our two largest campuses, Mile End and Whitechapel, are well connected to the rest of the city, UK, and further afield. Mile End campus is just five minutes’ walk from two Tube stations and several bus routes stop right outside campus.
On either campus, you’re just a short journey away from Oxford Circus, Leicester Square, King’s Cross Station, and the rest of London’s amazing sights. If you’re going abroad, London City Airport is just over 30 minutes’ away on public transport.
Moving to a new country can be a daunting experience; below you can find useful information to help you with your move and understand more about the United Kingdom
Before travelling to the UK there are three key things to think about are:
- How you are going to get to London?
- Finances for your first weeks?
- Where will you live when you first arrive?
How you are going to get to London?
When planning how you will be travelling to the UK you will need to consider what is an appropriate time before your start date.
- You should not book your travel before your visa has been confirmed.
- You should not travel to the UK before the start date listed on your entry clearance as this will invalidate your visa.
If you are on a sponsored visa you will need to arrive in time for the start date listed in your Certificate of Sponsorship. The Home Office requires that all new workers must start work on the date stated on their CoS, and the University is required to report any late arrivals. If you are unable to arrive in time for this date, please report this to HR. If you do have to change your start date, please be aware that a delay longer than 28 days may affect your ability to enter the UK.
Travelling to London
London has five International Airports and one International train station. The closest airport is London City Airport – just five miles away, which offers regular flights to UK and other European cities.
Heathrow, Gatwick, City, Luton, and Stansted are all within easy reach of Queen Mary. All have train or Underground services that will allow you reach Central London within an hour.
If you are coming from Europe, you can also travel by train into Kings Cross St Pancras via the Eurostar. It offers services from France, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
Finances for your first weeks
You will not be able to open a UK bank account until you have moved to the UK. Therefore, you will need to have enough money in the short term to pay for your transport, short-term accommodation, food and personal expenses.
You will be able to use your home bank or credit card in the UK but be aware there may be charges associated with foreign transactions. Alternatively, you may wish to bring British Pounds or Travellers Cheques with you. It is best to avoid changing money at the bureau de change at airports and railway stations due to the high commission fees.
Queen Mary pays salaries on or around the 24th of each month (except in December). If you do not have a UK bank account before your first payday we will be able to pay you via cheque instead.
You may be entitled to relocation expenses in accordance with the University Relocation Policy.
Where will you live when you first arrive?
We strongly recommended that you arrange short-term accommodation in advance of your arrival in London. Arranging accommodation for your first 4 to 8 weeks will help to minimise the stress of your relocation. It will also give you an opportunity to get to know London before committing to longer-term rental.
At this time, all those travelling to the UK must quarantine for 10 days on their arrival.
You can find the latest travel guidance on the UK Government's website.
To assist new staff in their move to London, Queen Mary has a limited number of flats that are available to be booked for periods of up to three months. Flats are only available on the Mile End Campus. More information about how to book these flats is available online.
All passengers arriving at UK ports of entry are checked through passport control by Immigration Officers to establish their identity and nationality.
If you are arriving in the UK with a work visa then you may be asked to prove your identity to satisfy the Immigration Officer that you still meet the requirements of a working visa. Please make sure you carry your passport and visa, CoS statement from Queen Mary, and your bank statement or sponsor letter in your hand luggage.
Citizen of the EU, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein will be issued with an electronic visa and therefore do not need to collect a physical document.
If you are a non-EEA national you will be issued with an entry clearance and a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).
- The entry clearance will be in your passport allow you to enter the UK.
- The BRP will be ready for collection on your arrival in the UK. You will have 14 days from your arrival to make the collection.
Failure to collect your BRP may lead to a fine of up to £1,000.
Collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)
If you are an non-EEA national you will need to collect your BRP once you have arrived in the UK.
Your decision letter will tell you the date from which your biometric residence permit is expected to be available, and the Post Office you must attend. This earliest collection date is based upon the date on which your vignette started.
The University does not offer an alternative collection location.
You do not need to make an appointment to collect your BRP.
When you attend the Post Office branch you must bring with you the passport which contains your 30 day visa. You should also bring your decision letter with you, if possible, as it will help the Post Office staff to locate your BRP quickly.
You must do this before your vignette expires or within 10 days of arriving in the UK, whichever is later.
We strongly encouraged you to collect your BRP before you start work. If you start before you have your BRP we will be able to evidence your right to work with the short validity vignette in your passport. However, you will also need to bring your BRP to HR as soon as you have it.
You can find up to date information on your BRP on the Home Office website.
Register with the Police
If you are from one of the following countries, you will need to register with the police:
Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Palestine, Peru, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Yemen.
The requirement to register with the police will be stamped in your passport and you must register within 7 days of arriving in the UK.
How to Register
To register, you will need:
- one passport-sized photograph;
- proof of residence;
- £34 for the registration fee.
The Overseas Visitors Records Office (OVRO) is the place to visit in London. Their address is:
323 Borough High Street, London, SE1 1JL.
Additional information about the OVRO can be found on their website.
National Insurance Number
In the UK, National Insurance is a compulsory deduction from your pay that funds the state provided pensions, health, and other government benefits. As an employee, you will need to have a National Insurance (NI) number so that the UK tax authorities can record your income tax payments and National Insurance Contributions.
You should have a NI number printed on the back of your biometric residence permit (BRP).
If you do not have a National Insurance number, you must apply. You can only apply for it once you are in the UK.
You can start work before your National Insurance number arrives.
You should apply for an NI number as soon as you arrive in the UK and begin work at the University. You will need to telephone Job Centre Plus, the government agency responsible for NI, to arrange an appointment on 0845 6000 643. You may be required to complete an application form or to provide information over the phone before the interview is scheduled.
After the interview, you will receive your NI number in the post. Once you know your NI number, you should inform the Payroll Office immediately so they can update your records.
Opening a UK Bank Account
Most UK bank accounts are free but many banks offer premium accounts with additional services, for which you will have to pay a monthly fee. When opening a new account some banks may require a deposit to enable you to open an account. Some accounts pay interest, although usually at a lower rate than a deposit account.
When you open a bank account, you will receive a debit card with which you can withdraw money from a cash machine owned by your bank or other banks at no extra charge. You can also use it to pay at most shops by using your PIN (personal identification number). If you lose your card or you think it may have been stolen contact your bank immediately.
You can find more information on banking in the UK on the Government’s Money Advice Service.
What to bring when you register with a bank
It is essential that you open a UK bank account so that you can receive your pay from the University. Different banks will offer different terms and conditions. You are likely to need the following documents to open an account:
- Proof of Identity
- Evidence of your previous address
- Evidence of your UK address
- Proof of Employment
If you require a reference, please contact your HR Administrator who can arrange one for you. You can find a list of HR contacts online.
Queen Mary have a Santander bank branch on campus at Mile End. If you wish to open a bank account with them please visit the branch, it is located near the Village Shop and the canal. Other local banks are listed below:
- Barclays - 92 Bow Road
- NatWest - 154 Roman Road
- HSBC – 465 Bethnal Green Road
- Barclays - 240 Whitechapel Road
- NatWest - 331 – 335 Whitechapel Road
- HSBC – 75 Whitechapel Road
Charterhouse Square and West Smithfield
- Barclays - 89 Charterhouse Street
- NatWest - 134 Aldersgate Street
- HSBC – The Helicon, Moorgate
Lincoln’s Inn Fields
- Barclays - 58 Southampton Row
- TSB - 296-302 High Holborn
- HSBC – 31 Holborn
You can use a website such as http://www.moneysavingexpert.com to compare different types of bank account from different banks.
A number of UK banks offer Sharia compliant bank accounts, more advice on which banks offer these services can be found here.
The Bank of China has branches in the UK including in London. More information about branches can be found on their website.
The National Health Service (NHS) is the publicly funded national healthcare system in the United Kingdom. It provides treatment, free at the point of delivery, to anyone resident in the UK for longer than six months.
You can find an overview of the services provided by the NHS here.
Though the NHS provides universal healthcare you will need to register with a doctor to enable you to access the majority of services.
Registering with a Doctor
Once you have found long-term accommodation you will need to register with a doctor in order to access healthcare services. General practitioners (GPs) provide local NHS primary healthcare services. Your GP can provide you with advice and medical support or refer you on to other NHS services that you may need. You can find details of local GP here.
There are a number of options available for out of hours medical treatment, depending on the severity of your ailment.
- For medical advice, the NHS runs a treatment helpline 111;
- Your local pharmacist can assist with minor illnesses such as colds and infections;
- There are minor injuries clinics for non-emergency injuries; and
- Accident & Emergency departments for emergencies and / or severe medical needs.
You can find details of all of your local medical provisions on the NHS website.
999 is the official emergency number for the United Kingdom, but calls are also accepted on the European Union emergency number, 112. Emergency operators answer all calls. The following services are available via this number Police, Ambulance, Fire Brigade, and Coast Guard.
NHS Walk-in Centres
These give quick and easy access to care for minor injuries and complaints, and are often open outside normal surgery hours. You don’t need to make an appointment or register to receive care at a walk-in centre, and treatment is free to all UK residents.
There is also the option of Private Medical Insurance; this will allow you to access medical and dental care outside the NHS. Comparison websites can provide you with an overview of the available provisions.
Using a private healthcare provider will not entitle you to a refund of the Immigration Health Surcharge.
You can register with a dentist in the same way as you register with a doctor. You firstly need to find a dentist in your area. You then need to ring them and check that they offer NHS treatment and ask them to put your name on the list.
You can also contact NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 to ask them which dentists in your area are accepting NHS patients.
You will need to tell the dentist your NHS number if you have one.
If you need an eye test you can make an appointment with an optician of your choice. You will have to pay for these unless you have diabetes or glaucoma. You can find an optician in your area via the NHS website.
The University provides free eye tests to staff who use Display Screen Equipment (DSE) on a regular basis; this is carried out through a voucher scheme operated by Health and Safety.
Further information on how to obtain a voucher for a free eye test can be found on the University's website
There are many pharmacies/chemists in London - some of them are open late and can provide expert help by trained professionals on a wide range of health issues. You can find more information on Pharmacies on the NHS website.
Income Tax is paid on earnings, pensions and benefits. It is only paid on income over your tax- free allowance; almost every UK resident can receive a certain amount of income per year that they do not pay tax on. This amount changes yearly. Any income you receive above this amount is taxable and the rate of tax you pay varies depending on your income. Up-to-date information on income tax rates is available at: www.direct.gov.uk.
All employers in the UK automatically deduct income tax from your pay using the Pay As You Earn system (PAYE). Your tax rate is calculated by the tax code the University. Your tax code is visible on your pay slip. If you think you are paying too much or too little tax, you need to contact Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) immediately as you may have been given the wrong tax code. They will be able to advise you and change your tax code if necessary.
National Insurance contributions
You will pay National Insurance contributions if you earn above a certain amount and are under the state pension age. This is a compulsory tax and it is automatically deducted from your wages.
Goods and services taxes
When you purchase goods or services one or more taxes are included in the price you pay. Valued added tax (VAT) is paid everywhere in the European Union (EU) and is normally included in the price you see. The standard rate of VAT, like any tax, can change; it is currently 20%. There are certain items that you pay a reduced rate of VAT on; these include children’s car seats and gas and electricity for your home. The reduced rate of VAT is 5%. You do not pay any VAT on basic food items, books, newspapers and magazines, children’s clothes, and items provided in special circumstances, for example, equipment for disabled people.
Fuel duty is paid on petrol, diesel and LPG gas. This is included in the price you see.
Excise duty is paid on alcohol and tobacco. This is included in the price you see.
Queen Mary University of London has a number of pension schemes available to its employees. You will be automatically enrolled on the appropriate scheme relevant to your position. You can find further information on our pensions website
A proportion of your wages will automatically be paid into the scheme by the University
Country code: +44
International calls: Dial 00 followed by the country code and phone number
Time zone: Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) or British Summer Time (BST) during daylight savings (GMT +1)
Currency: Pound Sterling (GBP, £)
- Coins: 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1, £2
- Banknotes: £5, £10, £20, £50 (The £50 note is rarely used and may be met with extra scrutiny)
Voltage: 230v AC. (The UK uses 3 pin Type G plugs)
Understanding the United Kingdom
You may have noticed that there are a lot of terms used to describe the UK and they are used interchangeably which can cause confusion.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is a sovereign county composed of the nations of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It is formally referred to as the United Kingdom, or the UK, however, it is often informally referred to as Great Britain.
Great Britain and Ireland together with the Isle of Man, and the over six thousand smaller isles are often collectively known as the British Isles or Britain and Ireland.
- Great Britain is the larger island composed, of the nations of England, Scotland, and Wales.
- Ireland is the smaller island, composed of the sovereign country of the Republic of Ireland, or Ireland, and Northern Ireland.
- The Republic of Ireland is not a part of the UK.
- The Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey, and the Isle of Man are not part of the UK, they are crown dependencies. However, together with the UK and Ireland they form an area known as the Common Travel Area.
The UK has no internal borders, this means you will be free to travel to any of the nations of the UK and the crown dependencies. Non-EEA nationals may however, require additional permissions to travel to the Republic of Ireland. EEA nationals are free to travel to the Republic without additional permissions.