Transferring money to the UK
You should make sure that you have sufficient funds at your disposal when you arrive in the UK. Opening a bank account might take some time, and you will probably need to make some advance payments, for example the deposit and the advance rent, before you can move into your rented accommodation.
Your bank in your home country may be able to advise you on how to transfer funds to the UK if you have not yet opened a UK bank account. There are also many specialist companies that provide money transfer services, such as Western Union.
Traveller’s cheques may be another option. A traveller’s cheque is a special cheque that you can purchase in your home country and then exchange it for local currency when you are abroad, often free of charge. Traveller’s cheques are available in Pound Sterling, US Dollar or Euro, and can be used in banks, Post Offices, bureaux de change, some shops, hotels and restaurants.
Most shops in the UK accept credit cards from other countries. You should check the terms and conditions outlined in your credit card agreement, as you may incur fees for using your card abroad.
Opening a bank account before you move to the UK
It is advisable to give some thought to your banking arrangements before you move to the UK.
Opening a bank account in the UK is not straightforward if you move from abroad. However, some of the major UK banks, such as HSBC, NatWest and Santander, provide global services which may enable you to open a UK bank account before arriving in the UK. However, the requirements differ from one country to another.
Opening a bank account when you are already in the UK
Your monthly salary from the University of Portsmouth will be transferred into a UK current account. A current account is a private bank account for the everyday banking services that individuals need.
To be able to receive your salary you need to have a current account within the UK. At present, there are legal restrictions on opening a bank account from abroad. However, if one or more of the major UK banks also operate in your home country via their global banking services they might be able to help. If this proves impossible you should open an account as soon as possible after your arrival. It is advisable to make an appointment with the bank of your choice and mention that you are employed by the University.
You may be required to provide the following documents:
- your passport
- proof of employment (for example, your employment contract)
- evidence of your UK address (for example, your tenancy agreement or a utility bill)
Your bank will specify if any other documents are needed.
Once you have opened your bank account, you may need to retain your bank statements for immigration or other purposes.
High Street Banks
‘High Street’ banks are major retail banks that offer banking services (e.g. current accounts, credit cards and loans) to ordinary people and not just businesses, and have a widespread presence across the country.
Disclaimer: The University does not endorse any of these banking providers.
Banking services in the UK
Once you open your bank account, your bank will normally issue you with a combined cash and debit card. The bank may offer you a credit card, or you may have to apply for this separately.
The cash card allows you to withdraw money from cash machines (also called ‘ATMs’ (automated teller machines), or cash-points). Usually you will be able to use any bank’s cash machine free of charge. If a fee is charged this should be flagged up before the beginning of the transaction.
The debit card allows you to spend money from your current account without having to use cash or write a cheque. This is sometimes also referred to as a ‘Maestro card’. If you make a purchase with your debit card you will often be asked whether you want any ‘cashback’ or ‘extra cash’. You can then ask to receive some cash which will be debited to your card. Sometimes there is a charge for this service.
You may wish to protect your possessions against damage or theft. Go to the Citizens Advice Bureau website for more details.
In order to find insurance quotes you may wish to look at comparator websites, such as MoneySuperMarket, Gocompare.com or comparethemarket.com. Your bank may also offer special deals on insurance cover.
Income Tax and National Insurance
Your move to the UK may have implications for your tax status in your home country. However, the UK rules governing employees who are not nationals of the UK are relatively straightforward. Employees earning above a certain threshold amount (set by the Government) will normally pay PAYE (‘Pay As You Earn’) income tax and National Insurance contributions (‘NICs’) whilst working in the UK.
General information can be found on the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) website. New employees (from overseas) should complete the ‘Starter Checklist’, also available from HM Revenue & Customs. This is designed to be completed online. The completed form should be printed, signed and sent to the Payroll team. The information provided on the ‘Starter Checklist’ form will determine which tax code should be applied, as per the HMRC guidelines.
However, if you are seconded to the UK, i.e. working wholly or partly in the UK, whilst remaining employed by an overseas employer, you should complete the ‘Expat Starter Checklist’ form instead. This form is also designed to be completed online, then printed, signed and sent to the Payroll team. The information provided on the ‘Expat Starter Checklist’ form will determine which tax code should be applied, as per the HMRC guidelines.
National Insurance (NI)
All working individuals in the UK aged 16 and over and below the state pension age, and earning above a certain threshold amount (set by the Government) need to pay National Insurance Contributions (NICs). NICs are collected by the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) through the University’s Payroll system and go towards state benefits, such as the National Health Service (NHS) and the state pension.
An employee from overseas, coming to work in the UK will have to obtain a National Insurance (NI) number and immediately start paying NICs in the UK on the same basis as people who normally live and work here. A NI number is a unique identifier (issued by the HMRC) that enables the HMRC to track the payments made for NICs for all individuals. All employees of the University must obtain a NI number and notify their department as soon as they have it, so that Payroll can be informed.
Details on how to apply for a NI number can be found on the UK Government website. If you need further advice in relation to NI, please contact your Departmental Administrator in the first instance who may then refer your query to the Payroll department.
Disclaimer: Please note that the University does not endorse any of the external websites listed above, or elsewhere in this guidance.