You’ve received your UK Youth Mobility Scheme Visa and have finally arrived in Edinburgh – now what? Along with job searching and flat hunting, there are a few key things you should try to take care of as soon as you arrive. I’ve listed them here, with tips to help you get sorted as quickly and painlessly as possible.
Applying for a National Insurance number
If you plan to work in the UK, you need to apply for a National Insurance number (British social security number).
Call 0845 6000 643 and wait for the application forms to arrive in the mail. When you call, have your postcode and passport handy as they will ask for them. Then fill out the forms and mail them back with a photocopy of your passport and visa. I received my number within 2 weeks or so.
You can work before you have your National Insurance number, but you must let your employer know you are in the process of applying for one.
Opening a bank account
If you want to open an account immediately without any hassle, I would recommend TSB (Bank of Scotland and Llyod’s). They were able to open an account for me on the spot without an appointment, but they do require a passport and proof of address (I used the letter I received with the National Insurance application form).
Finding a flat
If you only plan to stay for a few weeks or months, or if you need accommodations while you search for a flat, you could try Homestay – a website which allows you to rent a room from locals. Rooms are normally rented at a nightly rate, but you could ask for a discounted rate if you plan to stay for a longer period of time.
Finding a job
I would recommend signing up with a recruitment agency straight away, especially if you have reception, administration, call centre, or hospitality experience. I met with two agencies and was placed into a 3 day temporary position in less than a week with the first, and then landed a six week position shortly after meeting with the second agency. If you’re looking for something more long-term, just let them know your preferences, but working a one or two month temporary position can at least provide income while you search for something else.
Of the two agencies I used, I found Blue Arrow to be very professional and helpful, and would highly recommend them. A few other agencies I’ve heard of that may be worthwhile are Office Angels, Manpower, Stafffinders, and Cordant.
Indeed and S1jobs are two helpful job search sites, as well as Gumtree. There are plenty of pub, hospitality, and cafe jobs available as well – especially in August when the Fringe Festival is in full swing.
Getting a UK mobile number
If you already have a cell phone, I would highly recommend unlocking it before you arrive in the UK, and then order a free SIM card from GiffGaff. You can choose from their cheap monthly top-up plans without having to worry about signing a contract. For £10 per month, I get unlimited texts, 500 UK minutes, and 1GB of data.
If you need to purchase a phone, try one of the major carriers, like Virgin, O2, or Vodafone. Their monthly pay-as-you-go plans are very similar for the most part – starting around £20 per month for unlimited texts, 2GB of data, and 500 UK minutes.
Registering with a local GP
To find the GP closest to you, call 0131 537 8488 or search for it online here. Take your passport and proof of address to the office and fill out the required paperwork, and then you should be able to see a doctor within a few days.
They may only register new patients on specific days, so make sure to call the office before you visit.
Buses in Edinburgh are frequent and convenient. You can view route maps and timetables at lothianbuses.com, or download their free app which is quite helpful. If you download the app, you have the option to purchase tickets online and then show the driver your phone when you board the bus.
The cost is £1.50 per ride, or £4 for an unlimited travel day pass – both of which can be purchased on the bus – but make sure you have exact change.
The Ridacard offers unlimited bus and tram travel and can be topped up on a weekly or monthly basis. One week costs £18 and four weeks costs £54.