Moving to Scotland – Things You Need to Organise

Loch Stack by Achfary. Picture by Cameron Swanson

You are thinking of moving to Scotland from mainland Europe? Next to some rough weather and thick accents you should be prepared for some extra paperwork as Brexit has made things a bit more difficult.

Especially with the deadline to apply for a pre-settlement status, you might want to give yourself enough time to organise everything in time. Here is a guide on all the things you will need to do if you are a European and plan to settle down in Scotland.


National Insurance Number

The first thing you should organise once you arrive in Scotland is to organise your national insurance number. With that, you are allowed to work in the UK and can claim benefits if you have to.

In order to get your National Insurance number, you will have to call the National Insurance number application line. They will then direct you to the closest Jobcentre who will set up an appointment with you. Unfortunately, it’s not possible yet to do that online, so be prepared to spell your name on the phone.

For the jobcentre interview you will need to bring the following documents:

  • passport (or identity card, but a passport is usually better)
  • residence permit (this can be your flat contract for example)
  • birth or adoption certificate (a copy or scan is usually enough)
  • marriage or civil partnership certificate
  • driving licence (not necessarily)

During the interview you will need to outline why you moved to the UK and if wish to work there. They are usually very friendly, so it’s more of an appointment rather than an actual interview.

Once you’ve completed your interview, they will give you a form that you can use for your employer to show that you’ve applied for a National Insurance number. The final letter with your number normally takes about six weeks before it arrives. So make sure that you apply for the number once you’ve arrived in Scotland.


Apply For Pre-Settlement Status

The next thing to do once you have applied for your National Insurance number is your pre-settlement status. The UK has left the European Union on 31 January which means you won’t be able to live in Scotland after the 30 June 2021 without a Visa. The process of applying for the status can take about a month, depending on the number of applications the home office has to proceed.

To get your pre-settlement status you have to visit the government website and apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. You will need to have your National Insurance number, proof of residency and identity ready. They might ask you to verify your identity, especially if you haven’t lived in Scotland for long. For that, you will have to send your identity proof to the home office. In case you want to travel abroad soon, you might not want to use your passport as it can take up to a month before they send it back.

After a few weeks, you will then get an email with a letter that will tell you if your application has been successful. In case you have to prove your status, you have to use the online service to get a ‘share code’. You can send that to your employer or family, for example.


Register With A GP

In the UK, you have access to free healthcare through the NHS (National Health Service). So the good news is, you don’t have to worry about organising health insurance. With your national insurance number, you can register with a GP (General Practitioner). In the UK, you will always have to go to a GP first before you see a specialist. So even if you know what doctor you have to see, you will need to get a recommendation first unless you pay for the treatment privately.

All you need to do is to check what GP is based in your community and visit the surgery to fill out the contact form. You can either receive it from the surgery or download it in advance. When you bring the form to the surgery, make sure you have proof of address handy as they might ask for that.


Open A Bank Account

If you want to move to Scotland permanently then you should definitely open a bank account. Before you do that, you will need to get some sort of proof of address. Unfortunately, your contract won’t be enough. You will need to show a letter that was sent to you, which can be a council tax bill, for example. However, this can be tricky especially if you’ve just moved to the UK. In case you already have your National Insurance number, you might be able to show that to the bank. 

Until you have your proof of address but need a bank account for your employer, you can sign up to an online bank. For example, Monzo is very popular across the UK and you can open an account without proof of address.


All the paperwork might sound a bit frightening, but it’s worth in the end. Once you get your pre-settlement status, you are pretty much good to go and have almost all the same rights as someone who has full settlement status.

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