Priority tasks to Do on Arrival in UK

Here, we’ve provided a summary of what we’ve found to be the most important things to do on arrival as a Ukrainian refugee in the UK, in the approximate order in which they ought to be done for maximum efficiency. We found being able to follow a clear checklist very useful when trying to get on top of all the admin and paperwork that needs to be sorted out in the initial days and weeks.

To download and print the checklist, click the button below.

  • Pre-order free Vodafone SIM before arrival if possible; or on arrival, set up UK mobile number and Internet access using a cheap ‘pay as you go’ SIM for 1 or 2 months; meanwhile, apply for a free Vodafone SIM offer. This enables you to give a UK contact number which is required for many processes. You can change your network provider and keep your UK mobile number by asking for a PAC code. See SIMs and Devices.
  • Use an online Government approved benefits calculator tool like Turn2Us, to see what benefits you are entitled to, depending on your age, savings, number of children and so on. See Benefits.
  • Apply online for Universal Credit if you are eligible – payments are backdated from the date you apply online, not your arrival date in the UK, so do this as soon as possible. You can use another person’s bank account (such as your host’s) if you don’t have one yet, or use 00000s, and update it later. Subsequently, attend the appointment you are given to visit the Job Centre. See Benefits.
  • Check your immigration account (see Immigration Account) to see if you have been assigned a National Insurance number. If not, or you don’t have an immigration account, apply online for a National Insurance number (this enables Child Benefit application for example). See National Insurance Number.
  • Check whether your local council is offering any free travel for refugees, or buy a travelcard (such as Oyster in London, which can be switched to using UK contactless debit card later). See Travel.
  • Register with doctor (doctor’s surgery or NHS registration letter can then be used as a proof of address for other processes). This can usually be done online. Register with dentist also. See Healthcare.
  • Open a bank account, preferably in branch in case you get stuck. We recommend NatWest or Barclays, as they don’t need a proof of address. See Banking.
  • Apply online and get appointment for Biometric Residence Permit (although you have 6 months to do this, it’s best to do it soon anyway, especially if you might need to go abroad). See Biometric Residence Permit. Note: this step is only required if you did not use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ identity app when applying for your visa, or if you did not attend a Visa Application Centre abroad.
  • Notify the local council of your guest’s arrival and get £200 ‘welcome’ payment for refugee. Apply to local council for monthly £350 ‘thank you’ payment to sponsor. Note: these payments are only applicable to those hosts and guests on the Homes For Ukraine scheme, not those arriving on the Family visa scheme
  • Add your guest to your utility bills, so that they are eligible for any future payments that the Government may provide to help with cost of living.
  • Identify suitable free English classes through your local council or local further education colleges. See Language and Translation Support
  • Guests may want to join the local council’s social housing register, especially if you meet priority criteria for social housing. See Council and Social Housing

If there are children:

  • Apply for Child Benefit (parent will need a NI number to do this). You can get this benefit whether or not you are on Universal Credit, backdated to when you arrived in the UK. Get a Job Centre to make you certified copies of documents for your application if you are worried about posting them. See Benefits
  • Apply for schools through your local council. This can be started before arrival. See Education
  • Apply for older children’s travelcards; exact starting age may vary according to your local area.

If there are older people and pensioners:

  • Apply for Pension Credit if aged 66 and over (by phone, not online). They can also apply for a NI number for you as part of the process, if you do not have one yet. You can use someone else’s bank account if you don’t have one yet. You can backdate this to the day you arrived in the UK. See Benefits
  • Apply for Housing Benefit if they need to rent somewhere. See Benefits
  • Apply for free age-related travelcards, usually from age 60. See Travel

If there are disabled people:

  • Apply for relevant age-based Disability Benefit. See Benefits

If you arrived by car, see Driving:

  • Adjust your headlights for driving on the left, or fit EU to UK ‘beam bender stickers’ straight away, which will stop your headlights dazzling other drivers.
  • Book in a pre-MOT inspection test or MOT test to check car roadworthiness after a long drive.
  • Check your car insurance covers you for driving in the UK.

If you brought a pet:

  • Take out pet insurance to cover veterinary bills – it’s very expensive to treat your pet if they fall sick otherwise. See Pets

NOTE: Ukrainian refugees ARE ALLOWED TO WORK STRAIGHT AWAY. We have found that not all employers realise this. They DO NOT need to have a biometric residence permit or National Insurance number first. All they need to do is show the employer their visa entry stamp or Permission to Travel email. If they have an immigration account, this can be used to show employers their right to work status also.

See the Government Welcome Guide – You can look for and start work without a National Insurance number if you can prove you have the right to work in the UK. You can prove you have the right to work in the UK by showing your employer either your Biometric Residence Permit or your visa in your passport.