The 6 “must know” things when you arrive in the UK
We believe that everyone lands in the UK with a lot of hopes, and dreams about the academic life in their desired university. In the meanwhile, there are also a lot of challenges everyone faces, including various administration processes. Here, we have found some useful websites that previous students have compiled based on their experiences, and we hope that these can be helpful to you.
You may feel exhausted already after getting off the plane, and just want to get some rest after arriving at the apartment. For new students who have not brought bedding or some household items, ordering from an online supermarket is a good option. Many supermarkets offer same-day delivery, so all you need to do is wait for the delivery person to knock on your door after placing your order. Below are some online supermarket options and usage instructions from The Little Red Book app
1. BRP (Biometric Residence Permit)
How to obtain a BRP card
If you submit your application within the UK, the immigration office will typically send the BRP to your lawyer or directly to you once your application is successful.
If you apply from outside of the UK, you will need to collect the BRP after arriving in the UK. Usually, with the return of your passport after submitting your visa application, you will receive a confirmation letter (Decision Letter) regarding the collection of the BRP card (this paper is called UKVI). You should keep this confirmation letter safe and carry it with you as it may be required upon entry to the UK at the airport. You need to enter the UK with a temporary visa, which is valid for only 30 days. This means that if you are unable to travel within 30 days after obtaining the temporary visa, you must apply for a new one.
Upon successfully arriving in the UK, you must collect your BRP card at a designated location within 10 days of entry. It is important to note that forgetting or failing to collect the card within the specified time may result in a fine of up to £1,000! Usually, the collection location will be a local post office, and you can choose the most convenient location for yourself (if you are a student, it will generally be the office at your university). The location for collecting the BRP card generally depends on the information provided in your visa application, which will also be clearly stated in the confirmation letter.
What to do if there is an error on the BRP card information
If you find incorrect information on the visa page of your passport within 3 months of entering the UK, you should immediately send an email to EntryClearance.Errors@fco.gov.uk, clearly stating which information is incorrect and attaching a scanned copy of your visa page.
If there is incorrect information in the BRP information, you can report it directly to the immigration office through this website: https://www.gov.uk/biometric-residence-permits/not-arrived.
It is important to note that you must report the error within 10 days of receiving the BRP card, otherwise you will need to reapply: https://www.gov.uk/biometric-residence-permits.
When reporting the error, you will generally need to provide the following information:
- BRP card number;
- Your email address and UK address;
- Your full name, date of birth, and nationality (as written on the BRP card).
What to do if your BRP card is lost or stolen
If your BRP card is lost or damaged, you must apply for a replacement within 3 months. Depending on where the card was lost, the immigration office has different time limits:
- If the card is lost within the UK (while you are in the UK), you must apply for a new card within 3 months.
If the card is lost outside the UK (while you are abroad), you will need to apply for a Replacement BRP visa locally first. You usually need to apply for a BRP Replacement visa online: https://visas-immigration.service.gov.uk/country-selection, and the application fee is currently £154. It is important to note that this BRP Replacement visa is not the official BRP card, but a one-time visa that allows you to enter the UK. After successfully obtaining the BRP Replacement visa and returning to the UK, you must apply for a new BRP card within 1 month, which can also be done online: https://visas-immigration.service.gov.uk/product/biometric-residence-permit-replacement-service. If you fail to obtain the new BRP card within the specified time limit, you may face a fine of up to £1,000 or even be forcibly removed from the UK.
2. Police registration
It is compulsory to register with the local police station within 7 days of arriving in the UK, for all Chinese students who come to study in the UK, if you are over 16 years old and reside in the UK for more than 6 months. You only need to register once when you first arrive in the UK, and do not need to register again unless you change your address or lose your registration certificate.
To register with the police station, you will need the following documents:
- Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card
- Home Office letter informing you of your visa status (UKVI)
- Proof of address (rental contract)
- Appointment confirmation for registration
- 2 recent passport-sized photos (can be taken at a nearby photobooth, such as Photo-Me, for £8 for 6 photos)
- £34 fee (some small police stations may require cash, but due to the pandemic, online payment is now available, so make sure you have £34 in your account!)
After registering with the police station, you should first finish the registration process at your university. After that, getting a bank account and registering with a GP (general practitioner) will be important. In the UK, Chinese credit cards are generally accepted, whilst having a UK bank account will be more convenient.
3. Debit Card and Bank Letter
In order to open a bank account in the UK, firstly you need to request a bank letter from your school. After completing the registration process at the school, you can go to the student service center and tell the staff which bank you want to do business with. The staff will then give you a signed and stamped bank letter, which serves as an introduction letter and proves that you are a student at this school and how long your programme is. Therefore, before getting a bank letter, you need to decide which bank you want to open an account with.
HSBC is one of the largest local banks in the UK and one of the most commonly heard banks, with branches all over the world.
- HSBC bank has branches all over the UK, and even in Scotland.
- You can apply for an account in advance, but it only offers withdrawal services.
- HSBC has a high level of security and has been operating for a long time
- ATMs have large deposit slots, making it easy to deposit money.
- Strict application validation when opening an account, and does not accept any short-term visa applications.
- You need to remember a lot of passwords and have a lot of security measures.
- The mobile banking App design is less user friendly, and you cannot manually change the information of the recipient when transferring money.
- Due to its high level of security, the frequency of locking cards is also the highest, which occasionally affects normal use.
Barclays bank is one of the oldest banks in the UK with a history of more than 300 years, and is the second largest one after HSBC.
- You can set up SMS alerts to keep track of changes in your account balance.
- Many student accounts offer shopping discounts, and there are often cashback discounts.
- The maximum short-term overdraft is £2000.
- You can check your PIN code on the mobile banking App, making it easy for those who frequently forget their payment password.
- No branches in Scotland.
- During the pandemic, applying for an account is inconvenient, as you can only apply online, and the webpage often crashes.
Lloyds Bank, also known as the “Horse Bank” because its logo features a horse, is one of the three major banks in the UK and is known for its excellent customer service. It is part of the same group as TSB and Bank of Scotland (BOS).
- The mobile banking app is simple and elegant, and allows for modification of payee information and viewing of PIN CODE.
- The telephone customer service is friendly and wait times are relatively short (although still at least ten minutes, which is considered fast in the UK banking industry).
- Many cashback offers are available when shopping with partner merchants, with a maximum of up to 15%.
- The deposit slots on their ATMs are vertical, making it difficult to deposit large amounts of cash at once.
National Westminster Bank (NatWest)/Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS)
- Can be used throughout the UK, with RBS branches in Scotland and NatWest branches in other regions.
- Simple account opening process, with RBS being the quickest among the four banks introduced earlier, and an easy online application process.
- The card has a very high aesthetic value and is one of the best-looking cards among the ten cards I have.
- Discounts for student accounts, with a choice of Amazon Prime Student membership, National Express Coachcard or T&C’s Card.
- Fewer branches in England.
Next are several well-known online banks: Monzo, Starling, and Revolut. Although they are very convenient, they do not have offline ATMs and can only transfer money to the card. The best way is to first apply for a UK bank card and then transfer money into it.
4. GP Surgery
Google search “Find a GP” and enter your own post code to find a GP near you.
Be sure to choose a GP with high Google reviews, because high-rated GPs will be patient and helpful in solving your problems. You can see the ratings on Google or Google Maps.
Once you find the desired GP, you can make an appointment by phone to register at their clinic. You will need to bring your passport, BRP, and proof of address (such as a lease contract). The clinic staff will ask you to fill out a form that includes some personal information and medical history, including whether or not you have received a vaccine. Some GPs allow online registration, but it depends on the requirements of the GP near your home. Due to the pandemic, some GPs do not accept in-person form filling, so you may need to fill out the form online.
Now you can find the official NHS app in the app store, enter your NHS number, and then contact a nearby GP. After filling out your medical condition online, the GP will make an appointment for a consultation by phone or send a text message. Once you receive the text message, you can wait for the GP to call you. The GP will listen patiently to your medical condition and prescribe medication or schedule tests for you. However, be sure to communicate well in English, as only the NHS 999 emergency hotline provides Mandarin services. Try to describe your condition clearly so that the GP can better help you!
5. Council tax certificate
Council tax is a fee collected by the local council of the area where you reside in the UK. It is used to pay for services provided in your community, such as maintaining street conditions, street lighting, community environment, and park landscaping.
Students are usually exempt from paying council tax, and universities typically provide an electronic council tax exemption that is valid for a certain period. After this period, if your lease has not yet expired, you may still need to pay a certain amount, depending on the information provided by the council in the mail sent to you.
If you fail to pay the council tax, you may be sued by the local council and issued a subpoena, and you may face up to 3 months of imprisonment.
6. Student letter and Transcription
The student letter is only required in certain situations, such as when applying for a Schengen visa. Requesting a student letter from your school is quite simple – just send an email to the admin mailbox of your university. It typically takes an average of two to three weeks to receive it, but this may depend on the efficiency of your school’s administrative processes.
Transcripts are also necessary, and you should request that your school print your grades on paper with the school’s name and seal. Other schools or institutions may not recognize transcripts without the school’s letterhead. Each school has its own policies and procedures for obtaining transcripts. Some schools make it easy by allowing you to go to a designated area to request them, but it is important to confirm the process in advance.