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Moving to London from overseas

Are you planning a move to England’s 'big smoke' from overseas? reallymoving.com discusses the essentials of organising a move to London and making the most of everything the capital has to offer.

Moving to London from overseas

Why move to London?

London is a highly popular destination for families and young professionals looking to relocate from overseas to begin a new life. It is one of the most vibrant places to live and work; there’s always something going on and a wealth of career opportunities for those looking to begin a new chapter in their lives.
Now is a very good time to enter the London property market. House prices within the city are expected to rise by six per cent in 2013 alone. On the whole, UK average house prices are expected to soar by 18.1 per cent over the next five years. However, the net effect is that prices will rise broadly in line with inflation over the next five years, rather than declining in real terms.
London’s cultural diversity is its artistic treasure. It is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world and this rich mix of traditions and beliefs creates an electrifying, exciting atmosphere to live in. There’s nothing you can’t find in London. With vibrant Chinese, Indian, Lebanese, Turkish, Nigerian and many more communities present, its diversity really is second to none.
The city also benefits from its recent Olympic legacy after the success of hosting the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. With an improved transport infrastructure and significant regeneration and redevelopment throughout London, it is certainly an area very much on the rise.
Choosing a borough of London in which to live can be the first hurdle to overcome. With so many different areas, each with their own benefits, it can be overwhelming for newcomers to make a decision from the outset. You could therefore consider renting a property for the foreseeable future to get a flavour of the best places to live. For advice to help you find and secure a London home, take a look at our article, 'London Property - how to find a house'.
Renting in London initially will also give you adequate time to find a highly-recommended estate agent and conveyancing solicitor to oversee your move into a more permanent abode.


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Immigration rules

People entering the United Kingdom are required by law to conform to immigration rules. Your first port of call regarding immigration should be your local British Embassy, British High Commission or British Consulate to understand the current conditions and requirements for those wishing to move to London.
The official UK Government website displays a list of addresses and phone numbers of most British Embassies throughout the globe. Citizens of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United states require a work permit to work and live in the UK. If you are only planning on a short term stay of less than six months then a working visa is not a legal requirement.
You will also be required to have a valid passport to enter the UK and re-enter your home country at any time.
From July 2010 it became harder to immigrate to the United Kingdom; the new visa system includes additional requirements for people to adhere to.
You can currently apply to settle permanently in the UK after you have lived here legally for a particular length of time. New immigration rules came into effect on 9th July 2012 which changed the timeframe family members must be in the UK before applying for settlement:
If you applied to come to the UK or for permission to stay here on or before 8th July 2012 and that permission was granted, you will need to be in the UK for two years before you can apply for settlement.
If you applied to come to the UK or for permission to stay here on or after 9th July 2012 for the 5-year family route and that permission was granted, you will need to be in the UK for five years before you can apply for settlement. You will initially be given leave to enter for two-and-a-half years, and then you can apply for a further two-and-a-half year period.
If you applied on or after 9th July 2012 to come to the UK or for permission to stay here for the 10-year family route, or for permission to stay here on the 10-year private life route and that permission was granted, you will need to be in the UK for 10 years before you can apply for settlement. You will initially be given leave to enter for two-and-a-half years, and can then apply for three more periods of two-and-a-half years.
There are two ways of applying for settlement; by post or through a public enquiry office. If you apply by post using application form SET(M), you can also use the settlement checking service to submit your application; a service offered by local authorities.
Tip: be sure to photocopy your passport with your photo, as well as your visas, travellers’ cheque serial numbers and any other important documentation in the event you lose any sensitive papers en-route to your new home.

Questions to ask your international removal firm

Tens of thousands of individuals opt to relocate to London from all over the world each year, but any move overseas requires meticulous planning and organisation.
So when you’re looking for a reliable and experienced removal company to handle your international move, what sort of questions should you be asking potential firms?
After all, not only do you want a moving company to handle your move professionally, you want them to be able to navigate all the requirements the UK stipulates – that includes obtaining the right documents and giving you the right advice to avoid issues when you touch down in London.
Here are some of the suggested topics you should bring up with your potential international removals firm:

  • What items should and shouldn’t I take with me?

  • How many moves to London have you handled previously?

  • Will you come to my home to view my belongings and provide an accurate estimate?

  • Does your quote include travel time, disassembly and reassembly of furniture?

  • Does your company offer insurance for international removals?

  • Are you a member of the British Association of Removers (BAR)?

  • How would you like to be paid? Note: most reputable removal companies will take credit cards or cheques

  • What happens to my goods when they arrive in the UK?

For more information on what to ask an international shipping company when moving abroad, take a look at our article, 'Questions to Ask your International Removals Firm'.


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Packing your belongings

We all have household items that are extremely valuable to us in one way or another; and when planning an exciting move overseas it is important these are packed and suitably protected for the long journey ahead.
Fragile items
Expensive, breakable items should naturally be treated with utmost respect and caution. You may wish to transport these valuables yourself to ensure they arrive safely, but if that’s simply not possible it’s important to protect items of sentimental value with special packing materials. You may wish to discuss with your international removal company as they may have industry-standard packaging available to use to provide extra cushioning whilst in storage.
Sensitive documentation
Do not forget about the importance of having personal documentation close to hand prior to your move to London. You could well need birth certificates, bank and credit card and insurance details as proof of identity. If possible try to pack and store these files away in a secure folder that you can take with you.
Electrical goods
The best international removal companies should be able to help you place large electrical goods such as desktop computers, hi-fi systems and large televisions safely into storage. If possible, try and source their original packaging if you have kept them in your garage or loft, or find similar-sized boxes with plenty of space for packing and protection.
Antiques and heirlooms
If you are fortunate to have acquired or inherited some precious antiques or family heirlooms you will no doubt be anxious to see them transported safely to your new home in one piece. You may wish to choose an international removal company with experience in packing and handling antique items or get a moving estimate .
Packing your own belongings
If you decide to pack your own valuables away into storage then you should make your removals team aware of the boxes that contain the most precious items. Consider a colour-coding system to match up boxes with rooms at your new London home.

For more advice on packing your items, view our international packing tips here.

Transporting your possessions overseas to the UK

When moving to London from overseas, there are three main transport options available for transferring your possessions. Here are the pros and cons for each:
Sea Freight
This may not be the quickest of transport methods but it is one of the easiest to transport bulk items by the container load. Your possessions will be loaded into vast secure steel containers and relayed to the nearest container port. The cost of this type of shipment will depend on the volume of your full container load.
A more cost-effective shipping method is groupage. This is when secure steel containers are filled with groups of possessions from different individuals and companies that will be embarking upon the same route. The container does not leave until it is full, so you cannot dictate transport timescales as easily as having your own container.

Our, Full Container Shipping v Groupage Shipping article can provide you with addition information on the differences between these two shipping options.
Overseas removals are handled in different ways by different firms. Some international removal companies will travel with your consignment in their own lorries in order to dictate timescales. Your belongings are packed and boxed just as they would be for a domestic move, but be sure to keep an inventory of your items to ensure any possessions that are misplaced or broken can be documented.
Air freight
Arguably the most expensive form of overseas transport, air freight consignments are secured in special airline pallets and transported in the aircraft cargo hold. Although this costs more it has the benefit of speed which can help if you have secured a London job and are looking to begin your new life as soon as possible.
It’s vital to temper the excitement of moving to the biggest and busiest city in the UK with careful planning, ensuring you tick all the right immigration boxes and safely transport those moving boxes to your new London home.


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