Arriving from overseas
Working at Portsmouth
This page will help you if you're coming to work for the University from overseas – from how to get your visa to finding somewhere to live.
For all information you need on current UK Visa and Immigration Service (UKVI) requirements – for both new and existing non UK/EEA staff – please email firstname.lastname@example.org and request a copy of our 'Applying for a Visa' guidance.
Further information on visas and working in the UK can also be found at the UKVI website.
For a short stay (up to 3 months)
There are many places in and around Portsmouth that offer short-stay accommodation. The Visit Portsmouth website provides accommodation information for visitors.
Renting (for up to 6 months)
If you rent accommodation, you'll enter into a contract with a landlord (usually through an estate agent – see 'Finding a property' section below), known as a tenancy agreement. This agreement sets out the basic terms of the rental, such as the amount of rent, the length of the tenancy and other mutual rights and responsibilities between you and your landlord.
Depending on the arrangement, you may also be liable for utility bills, such as gas, electricity, water, telephone and Internet bills and council tax.
Long-term rentals (over 6 months)
In the UK, a tenancy is usually agreed for a fixed period of time, with the opportunity to renew your agreement after this period expires. Your rental will normally be an ‘assured shorthold tenancy’ for a fixed term, typically lasting 6 or 12 months.
Your rights and tenancy agreements
Familiarise yourself with tenants’ rights in the UK, as these may be significantly different from those in your home country. You should sign your tenancy agreement before you move into the property and you should check it very carefully before signing it. Don't sign the tenancy agreement if you don't fully agree with its terms or if you don't fully understand it.
If you're in doubt, you can get advice in person from the Citizens Advice Bureau, which has branches throughout the UK.
A landlord may also ask you to sign an inventory, which is a list of all the items found in the property (furniture, kitchen items, and so on).
Check that it's correct and that any existing damage to these items is included in the document before you sign it. Make sure you get a copy of the document too.
If your landlord doesn't provide an inventory it's best to make one yourself and send a copy to the landlord. This can prevent later disputes about the contents of the property.
Rent is almost always paid in advance in the UK. Payment of a deposit, in advance, is also standard practice, but always ensure you get a receipt. You may also have to pay agents or letting fees.
Your landlord is under a legal requirement to put your deposit into one of the Government-backed Tenancy Deposit Schemes. This ensures that your deposit is protected if your landlord refuses to refund it without a good reason or makes unreasonable deductions. Every scheme provides a free dispute resolution service.
Choosing where to live
Where you choose to live will depend on your personal preferences and circumstances. You may want to take into consideration the following:
- Commuting time (how long it will take you to reach your place of work)
- Public transport links
- Car parking facilities
- Your proximity to hospitals and any other services that are important to you
- The relative expense of renting or buying in different areas of the city, or in areas further afield
Your colleagues may also be able to give you useful information about Portsmouth, and other matters such as schools, childcare, cost of living, public transport, commuting times, shops and other facilities.
Finding a property
There are various ways to find suitable accommodation. In most cases, you can use the services of an estate agent (see below).
Our Student Housing pages only provide accommodation information for students, but you can still find plenty of useful links there that can help you find the right accommodation in Portsmouth, including:
- The Portsmouth News (the local newspaper) hosts information about available properties
- Once you arrive, The Noticeboard often has accommodation advertised by members of the University
- Online property search websites, including Nestoria, Rightmove, SpareRoom, Your Move and Zoopla
Generally, properties will be advertised by an estate agent. This is a registered person or company that arranges the selling, renting or management of properties. Estate agents act on behalf of, and are paid by, the seller or the landlord.
Agents who specialise in renting are sometimes called 'letting agents'. They deal with administration, rent, contracts and property repairs. You might never meet the person who owns your property. This is standard in the UK.
Council tax and utilities bills
Council Tax is a system of local taxation collected by local authorities and is used to pay for local services such as street lighting, road maintenance, rubbish collection and some education and social services.
Most people have to pay Council Tax on the property they live in, although you may qualify for a discount or be exempt from paying altogether. Council Tax has to be paid directly to the local council.
Utility bills (gas, electricity and water)
In the UK, the tenant is normally liable for utility bill payments. The costs for gas, electricity and water may differ between providers. When you move into the property check and write down the gas, electricity and water meter readings. You should also do this when you leave a property.
Check with your landlord whether the property is currently being supplied with electricity, gas and water. If not, you should make supply agreements with the providers before moving into the property. You can find a provider on price comparison websites.
You will usually get a bill every 3 months, although you can also pay for your bills by monthly direct debit from your bank account. Make sure you take a reading regularly (e.g. monthly) and tell your providers when you move out so you don't overpay.
In the UK, you'll often need to show a recent utility bill as proof of residence. If you buy or rent a property together with a partner it's advisable, where possible, to sign up to providers under both of your names.
Telephone and Internet
If you rent a property you'll normally need to pay for telephone bills and for an Internet connection.
There are many different providers of telephone and Internet services. You can find quotes on comparison websites.
Registering in the UK
Registering with the Police
Your entry clearance or work permit will normally tell you whether you need to register with the police. Where this is the case, you must register within 7 days of your arrival in the UK.
To register with the police, follow the advice outlined on the Hampshire Constabulary website.
Registering for healthcare
You should register with your local doctor (a ‘general practitioner’ or ‘GP’) soon after your move to the UK. You can find out how to do this on the NHS Choices website. There's also information on how to find an NHS dentist.
Getting medical care if you aren't registered with a doctor
If you're not registered with a doctor but require a medical appointment, you can get treatment from any local GP practice (medical practice) within 14 days of arriving in the country.
GP practice opening hours can vary and they're normally closed over the weekend.
Emergency medical services
The telephone number for emergency medical care services in the UK is 999. If you urgently need medical help or advice but it's not a life-threatening situation, call 111, the NHS out-of-hours non-emergency service.
Being on the electoral register entitles you to vote in elections and referendums in the UK. To register to vote you must be over the age of 16 and be British or a national of an EU or Commonwealth country.
Transferring money to the UK
Make sure you have sufficient funds when you arrive in the UK. Opening a bank account might take some time, and you'll probably need to make some advance payments – for example, a deposit and the advance rent – before you can move into your accommodation.
Your bank in your home country may be able to advise you on how to transfer funds to the UK if you haven't opened a UK bank account yet. There are also many specialist companies that provide money transfer services, such as Western Union.
Traveller’s cheques may be another option. These are special cheques you can buy in your home country and then exchange for local currency when you are abroad, often free of charge. Traveller’s cheques are available in Pound Sterling, US Dollar or Euro. You can use them in banks, Post Offices and bureaux de change, and in some shops, hotels and restaurants.
Most shops in the UK accept credit cards from other countries, though your bank may charge you a fee for using your card abroad.
Banking and insurance
Opening a bank account in the UK is not straightforward, but some of the major UK banks, such as HSBC, NatWest and Santander, provide global services that 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're already in the UK
We'll transfer your salary into a UK current account. A current account is a private bank account for everyday banking services.
To get 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 isn't possible you need to open an account as soon as you can after you arrive.
You may need to provide the following documents to open a current account:
- 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 tell you if you need any other documents. Once you've opened your bank account, you may need to keep your bank statements for immigration or other purposes.
You may wish to insure your possessions against damage or theft. Visit price comparison sites to find the right insurance for you.
Income tax and National Insurance
If you're a University employee, complete the HMRC ‘Starter Checklist’ form.
If you're seconded to the UK (remaining employed by an overseas employer), complete the ‘Expat Starter Checklist’ online form. You'll then need to print this, sign it and send it to our Payroll team.
You can find general information about income tax from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
National Insurance (NI)
All working people in the UK aged from 16 to the state pension age, who earn above a certain threshold amount (set by the Government), need to pay National Insurance Contributions (NICs). These go towards state benefits such as the National Health Service (NHS) and the state pension.
You can find out how to apply for a National Insurance (NI) number on the UK Government website. If you need further advice about NI, please contact your Departmental Administrator. They may then refer your query to our Payroll department.
Special rules apply for employees coming from the European Economic Area (EEA) or countries the UK has reciprocal agreements with. You can find out more on the HMRC website.
Childcare and schools
Full-time compulsory education applies to children aged 5 to 16 years (although children will often begin school at the age of 4). If your child was born on or after 1 September 1997, they'll need to remain in some sort of education or training until their 18th birthday.
The UK Government’s Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) is responsible for regulating and inspecting schools and other childcare providers. It produces inspection reports every few years, which it publishes on the Ofsted website for anyone to view.
Portsmouth City Council provides information on Portsmouth schools, admissions, pre-school services and other learning services in the city. The Council may also be able to provide other parenting support.