Ultimate Guide to Moving to the UK from France


Thinking of moving to the UK from France? You’re embarking on an exciting journey! Whether it’s the allure of economic opportunities, the prestigious educational institutions, or the rich tapestry of cultures and histories, the UK offers a vibrant new chapter for those daring to make the leap.

This comprehensive guide is your compass, directing you through the essentials of planning your move, navigating the complexities of immigration, and settling into your new life with ease.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
    • Overview of Moving to the UK from France
  2. Why Move to the UK?
    • Economic Opportunities
    • Educational Excellence
    • Cultural Richness
  3. Preparing for Your Move
    • The Impact of Brexit on Moving
      • For UK Citizens or Those with Settled Status
      • For Ex-UK Citizens with French Passports
  4. Navigating UK Immigration
    • UK Family Visa and Options
      • Spouse/Partner Visa
      • Fiancé(e) or Proposed Civil Partner Visa
      • Child Visa
      • Parent Visa
      • Adult Dependent Relative Visa
    • The UK Points-Based Immigration System
      • Categories and Tiers
      • Accruing Points
    • Visa Application Process
    • Recent Changes and Updates
  5. Financial Planning
    • Budgeting for Your Move
    • Opening a UK Bank Account
  6. Finding a Place to Live
    • Researching UK Cities
    • Renting vs. Buying
    • Understanding the UK Property Market
  7. Healthcare in the UK
    • Registering for the NHS
      • Find a Local GP Practice
      • Registration Process
      • NHS Number
      • Booking Appointments
    • Services and Fees
    • Private Healthcare Options
  8. Education System in the UK
    • Schools and Qualifications
      • Early Years and Primary Education
      • Secondary Education
      • Post-16 Education
    • Higher Education Opportunities
      • Undergraduate Studies
      • Postgraduate Studies
      • International Recognition
    • Application Processes
    • Scholarships and Financial Support
  9. Employment in the UK
    • Job Market Overview
    • Applying for Jobs
    • Starting Your Own Business
  10. Cultural Adaptation
    • Understanding British Etiquette
    • Social Life in the UK
  11. Legal and Administrative Steps
    • Registering with Local Authorities
    • UK Driving Licence and Transportation
      • Converting Your French Driving Licence
      • Navigating the UK’s Public Transportation
  12. Moving Your Belongings
    • Introduction to Matthew James Removals Spain
    • Services Offered and Process
  13. Conclusion
    • Final Thoughts on Moving to the UK from France

Why Move to the UK?

Economic Opportunities

The UK’s dynamic economy presents a wealth of job prospects across various sectors. From finance to tech, healthcare to creative industries, opportunities abound for those with the skills and ambition to seize them.

Educational Excellence

Home to some of the world’s most renowned universities and schools, the UK is a beacon for those seeking top-tier education. Whether it’s undergraduate studies, postgraduate research, or professional development, the educational landscape here is rich with potential.

Cultural Richness

The UK is a melting pot of cultures, offering a unique blend of historical heritage and contemporary vibrancy. From the arts to cuisine, festivals to museums, there’s always something new to discover and explore.

Preparing for Your Move

The implications of Brexit significantly alter the landscape for individuals moving between France and the UK, especially for those with UK citizenship or settled status, and for former UK citizens who have taken French passports.

The cessation of freedom of movement between the UK and EU countries means that the process of moving, working, and living in these regions has fundamentally changed.

For UK Citizens or Those with Settled Status Moving from France to the UK

UK Citizens Returning to the UK: UK citizens retain the right to live and work in the UK. However, they must now consider the new rules for bringing family members who are EU citizens, which may involve applying for family visas under the UK immigration system.

Individuals with Settled Status: For those living in the UK before December 31, 2020, the EU Settlement Scheme allowed them to apply for settled status, granting them rights similar to UK citizenship, including the ability to work, live, and access public services. Moving back to the UK after a period in France should not affect this status, but the continuity of residence is essential for maintaining eligibility for permanent settled status.

For Ex-UK Citizens with French Passports

Brexit introduces a layer of complexity for former UK citizens who have taken French citizenship, as they are now considered EU citizens. This status change means:

  • Living and Working in the UK: To move to the UK for work, they would need to comply with the UK’s points-based immigration system, which may require obtaining a work visa depending on their circumstances.
  • Family Reunification: Similar restrictions apply to French citizens looking to bring family members to the UK, necessitating navigation through the UK’s family visa options.

UK Family Visa and Options

The UK’s family visa routes provide mechanisms for family members of UK citizens and individuals with settled status to join them in the UK. These visas are critical for families affected by Brexit. Key options include:

  • Spouse/Partner Visa: Allows partners and spouses of UK citizens or settled persons to live in the UK, provided they meet certain requirements, including a financial threshold and a genuine relationship proof.
  • Fiancé(e) or Proposed Civil Partner Visa: For those intending to marry or form a civil partnership within 6 months of arrival in the UK.
  • Child Visa: For children joining a parent or parents who are in the UK on a visa or are permanent residents/citizens.
  • Parent Visa: For parents of a child who is a UK resident, under certain conditions, such as taking an active role in the child’s upbringing.
  • Adult Dependent Relative Visa: For those who need long-term care from a parent, grandchild, brother, sister, son, or daughter who is a UK resident.

Each of these visa categories comes with specific requirements, including financial stipulations, evidence of relationships, and, in some cases, English language proficiency. The application process can be complex and may require substantial documentation.

The UK Points-Based Immigration System

The UK’s points-based immigration system stands as a cornerstone of its immigration policy, offering a structured framework for managing the influx of workers and students. This system evaluates applicants based on various factors, including skills, qualifications, work experience, and proficiency in the English language. Understanding the intricacies of this system is crucial for anyone considering a move to the UK, as it determines eligibility for different types of visas and residence permits.

Categories and Tiers

The points-based system is organised into different categories or tiers, each tailored to specific types of migrants. For example, Tier 1 is for highly skilled individuals, including entrepreneurs, investors, and exceptional talent. Tier 2 is for skilled workers with a job offer from a UK employer, while Tier 4 is for students seeking to study in the UK. Each tier has its own set of requirements and point thresholds that applicants must meet to qualify.

Accruing Points

To qualify for a visa under the points-based system, applicants must accrue a certain number of points based on predetermined criteria. These criteria may include:

  1. Skills and Qualifications: Points are awarded based on the applicant’s level of education, with higher qualifications typically earning more points. Relevant work experience may also contribute to the point total.
  2. Job Offer: For individuals applying under Tier 2 (skilled workers), having a job offer from a UK employer is essential. Points may be awarded based on the salary offered and the level of demand for the applicant’s skills in the UK labour market.
  3. English Language Proficiency: Proficiency in the English language is a key factor in the points-based system. Applicants may need to demonstrate their English language skills through standardised tests such as the IELTS or TOEFL.
  4. Maintenance Funds: Some visa categories require applicants to demonstrate that they have sufficient funds to support themselves and any dependents while living in the UK. Points may be awarded based on the applicant’s ability to meet these financial requirements.

Visa Application Process

Once applicants have determined their eligibility and accrued the necessary points, they can begin the visa application process. This typically involves submitting an online application, providing supporting documentation, attending biometric appointments, and possibly attending an interview. The process can vary depending on the type of visa being applied for and the applicant’s individual circumstances.

Recent Changes and Updates

It’s important to stay informed about any recent changes or updates to the UK’s immigration policies and procedures. The points-based system is subject to periodic revisions, and new rules may impact visa eligibility criteria or application procedures.

Financial Planning

Budgeting for your move is essential. Costs can include everything from visa fees and travel expenses to accommodation and living costs in the first few months. Additionally, opening a UK bank account in advance can ease the financial transition.

Finding a Place to Live

Researching UK Cities

The UK boasts a diversity of cities each with its unique charm. From the bustling streets of London to the historical alleys of Edinburgh, deciding where to call home is an adventure in itself. Consider factors like job opportunities, living costs, and community vibe in your search.

Renting vs. Buying

For many newcomers, renting is a practical first step, offering flexibility as you settle in. The UK rental market can be competitive, especially in larger cities, so starting your search early is wise. Buying property is a significant commitment, with various mortgage and legal considerations to navigate.

Understanding the UK Property Market

The UK property market varies significantly from region to region. Familiarising yourself with market trends, prices, and legal requirements can demystify the process of finding your new home, whether renting or buying.

Healthcare in the UK

The UK’s healthcare system is renowned for its National Health Service (NHS), providing comprehensive healthcare services to residents, mostly free at the point of use. For newcomers moving to the UK from France or elsewhere, understanding how to access these services, alongside navigating private healthcare options, is essential for a smooth transition and peace of mind.

Registering for the NHS

Upon relocating to the UK, one of the first steps should be registering with a local General Practitioner (GP). This registration is the gateway to accessing NHS healthcare services, from routine check-ups to specialist referrals. Here’s a systematic guide to getting started:

  1. Find a Local GP Practice: Look for a GP practice near your home. The NHS website offers a convenient tool to search for practices based on your postcode.
  2. Registration Process: Contact the chosen GP practice to inquire about registration. You might need to fill out a registration form and provide identification documents, such as a passport and proof of address (utility bills, bank statements, etc.).
  3. NHS Number: Once registered, you’ll receive an NHS number, a unique identifier that’s crucial for accessing healthcare services across the NHS.
  4. Booking Appointments: With registration complete, you can book appointments with your GP, who will be your primary contact for health concerns and can refer you to specialists if needed.

Services and Fees

Most NHS services are free, including GP appointments, emergency treatments, and hospital care after being referred by a GP. However, some services may incur charges, such as dental care, prescriptions, and some eye care services. Exemptions and help with healthcare costs are available for certain groups, including those on low incomes.

Private Healthcare Options

While the NHS provides comprehensive care, some individuals opt for private healthcare for faster access to services or specific treatments not readily available on the NHS. Here’s what to consider:

  1. Private Health Insurance: Many opt for private health insurance, which can cover the cost of private medical treatments. Policies vary widely, offering different levels of cover, from basic to comprehensive, affecting the range of treatments covered and the choice of specialists and hospitals.
  2. Finding a Provider: Numerous companies offer private health insurance in the UK. Comparing policies and providers is essential to find the coverage that best meets your needs and budget.
  3. Benefits of Private Healthcare: The primary benefits include shorter waiting times for treatments, access to private hospitals and clinics, and the ability to choose your specialists. For some, the convenience and speed of access justify the cost of premiums.

Integrating NHS and Private Care

It’s not uncommon for individuals in the UK to use both NHS and private healthcare services, depending on their needs and circumstances. For example, one might rely on the NHS for general healthcare and chronic conditions while opting for private care for specific treatments or faster access to specialists.

Education System in the UK

The UK’s education system is a beacon of excellence, offering a structured pathway from early years learning to higher education. Understanding this system is crucial for families moving to the UK, as well as individuals seeking to advance their studies or professional qualifications.

Schools and Qualifications

Early Years and Primary Education

The journey begins with early years education, for children aged 3 to 5, which is followed by primary education starting at age 5. Early years settings follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework, focusing on learning through play and key developmental milestones.

Primary education spans from Year 1 to Year 6 (ages 5 to 11), culminating in Key Stage 2 SATs, assessments that gauge children’s progress in core subjects.

Secondary Education

Secondary education sees students progressing through Key Stages 3 and 4, from ages 11 to 16. It covers a broad curriculum, with a focus on core subjects like English, Maths, and Science.

Key Stage 4 ends with students taking their General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) exams, usually in a range of 8 to 10 subjects. GCSEs are a pivotal milestone, influencing A-level choices and future education paths.

Post-16 Education

After GCSEs, students have several options, including:

  • A-Levels: Academic qualifications offered by schools and colleges, typically over two years. Students usually study 3 or 4 subjects, and these qualifications are key for university entry.
  • Vocational Qualifications: Including BTECs and NVQs, these are more practical courses related to specific job sectors.
  • Apprenticeships: Combining work with study, apprenticeships allow students to gain hands-on experience in a profession while earning qualifications.

Higher Education Opportunities

Undergraduate Studies

The UK’s higher education system is world-renowned, with universities offering a vast array of undergraduate (bachelor’s) degrees across every conceivable field. These courses typically last 3 years in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and 4 years in Scotland.

Postgraduate Studies

For those seeking further education, postgraduate options include taught master’s courses, research-based master’s, and doctoral (PhD) programmes. UK universities excel in research, providing students with the opportunity to work alongside leading experts.

International Recognition

Degrees from UK institutions are highly respected worldwide; offering graduates a competitive edge in the global job market. The UK’s universities, such as Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College London, and many others, consistently rank among the top in the world.

Application Processes

  • Undergraduate Applications are centralised through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Prospective students select courses and submit a single application, including a personal statement.
  • Postgraduate Applications are usually made directly to the institution. Requirements can vary widely depending on the course and university.

Scholarships and Financial Support

A range of scholarships, bursaries, and loan options is available to help students finance their studies. International students, in particular, should research opportunities early, as competition can be fierce.

Employment in the UK

Job Market Overview

The UK’s job market is as diverse as its population, with sectors such as finance, technology, healthcare, and creative industries leading the way. Understanding the market dynamics and where your skills fit in is crucial for job seekers.

Applying for Jobs

The process of applying for jobs in the UK can vary by industry, but typically involves submitting a CV and cover letter, followed by interviews. Networking, both online and in-person, can also significantly enhance your job prospects.

Starting Your Own Business

For those inclined towards entrepreneurship, the UK offers a supportive environment for start-ups. From tech innovators to traditional businesses, resources and networks are available to help you start and grow your business venture.

Cultural Adaptation

Understanding British Etiquette

The UK is known for its politeness and understated communication style. Understanding local etiquette, from queuing to tea-drinking customs, can help you navigate social situations and integrate more smoothly into British society.

Social Life in the UK

Building a new social circle is an essential part of settling in. Engaging with community events, joining clubs or groups related to your interests, and exploring your new locality can open doors to lasting friendships and enrich your UK experience.

Legal and Administrative Steps

Registering with Local Authorities

Upon your arrival in the UK, one of your first steps should be to formally register with the local authorities. This process is crucial for several reasons, including tax obligations, eligibility for healthcare services, and more. Here’s a closer look at what this entails:

  1. Council Registration: Your local council is responsible for a range of services, from waste collection to local taxation (Council Tax). Registering with your council ensures you’re on the electoral roll, which is important for local elections, and helps determine your Council Tax banding.
  2. National Insurance Number (NINo): A National Insurance Number is a must-have for working and living in the UK, as it tracks your taxes and contributions towards your entitlement to certain benefits and the State Pension. You can apply for a NINo through the Jobcentre Plus or the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
  3. Healthcare Registration: As mentioned previously, registering with a General Practitioner (GP) is essential for accessing NHS services. This step is often linked with your address and council area.
  4. Tax Considerations: Understanding your tax obligations is crucial. This may involve notifying HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) of your arrival to ensure you’re paying the correct amount of income tax.

UK Driving Licence and Transportation

Converting Your French Driving Licence

For French residents who plan to stay in the UK for more than 12 months, converting your French driving licence to a British licence is a necessary step:

  1. Eligibility and Process: Check your eligibility for exchanging your licence on the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) website. The process involves filling out the relevant application and providing your French driving licence and proof of residence.
  2. Test Requirements: Depending on your circumstances, you might need to pass a UK driving test (theory and practical). Familiarising yourself with UK driving laws and practices is advisable.
  3. Timelines: Start this process early, as it can take several weeks. Keep in mind that you can drive on your French licence for up to 12 months from the time you become a resident in the UK.

Navigating the UK’s Public Transportation

The UK boasts an extensive and efficient public transportation system, including buses, trains, trams, and the London Underground. Here’s how to make the most of it:

  1. Oyster and Contactless Payments: In cities like London, an Oyster card or a contactless debit card can be used across various modes of transport, often offering cheaper fares than single tickets.
  2. Travel Cards and Passes: For regular commuters, various travel cards and season tickets can provide substantial savings.
  3. Apps and Resources: Utilise apps like Citymapper or the National Rail Enquiries app to plan your journeys, check schedules, and stay updated on any disruptions or changes.

If you’re planning removals from France to the UK, navigating the logistics of transporting your belongings can be one of the most daunting parts of the transition. This is where Matthew James Removals Spain steps in as an invaluable partner.

With a wealth of experience in international removals, we specialise in making the journey from France to the UK as smooth and stress-free as possible. Offering a range of services tailored to meet individual needs, from packing and storage to transportation and delivery,

We have on average 4 vehicles in France on a weekly basis, either delivering or collecting specifically in France or retuning to or from Spain.

Matthew James Removals Spain ensures that every detail is handled with care and precision. Our commitment to quality services, combined with an in-depth understanding of the complexities involved in cross-border moves, makes us a top choice for anyone looking to relocate from France to the UK.

With Matthew James Removals, you can rest assured that your move will be managed efficiently, allowing you to focus on settling into your new home and life in the UK.

Our Branches in Spain

Matthew James Removals & Storage SL
Calle Alonso Cano 19
Poligono Industrial
Estepona, Malaga
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Tel: (0034) 931 84 54 94
Tel: 0044 (0) 1322 251 000

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