Here are some thoughts that my wife pulled together on moving to the UK from the US…

  • The biggest thing I was told by others and what has become evident for us…bring a lot less clothes than you think you should and bring  more personal things that will make your place feel like home.  It truly is amazing what hanging a few pictures will do for your place and get you realizing that this is your home for the next 3+ years.  People here just aren’t as concerned with the whole clothing issue…you just don’t need an expansive wardrobe.
  • Now that I say that…the next thing will be about clothing.  An excellent waterproof coat that has a hood is a must.  Also, really good shoes are important as most of us Americans walk absolutely everywhere we go.
  • You’ll want to bring a few US to UK plug adapters for any electronics you have.  We found that they are much cheaper in the States.  It’s probably easiest to buy UK version of anything that does not have an internal voltage converter (e.g., most computers and monitors have internal voltage converters).  We bought a 110 to 220 voltage converter, and it’s gathering dust in a wardrobe now.  One qualification: if you have something that runs on 12V or less, you can buy voltage adapters here for about £10.
  • Electronics are really expensive here…about double.  We chose to ship our computer and monitor, which ended up being less expensive (and less hassle) than buying a new one here.
  • We found that there are no queen size beds here.  We brought 2 sets of queen sized linens with us that we fit onto our double bed here – works well enough.  It was nice that we had those linens and a set of towels already to get us started.
  • There is a Tesco Extra (as close to Super-Walmart and/or Target that you get here) and Argos in Durham (both in Gilesgate Moor), and an IKEA (and other shopping) in Newcastle.
  • We ended up renting a car for the first week we were here to be able to make runs to these stores fairly easily to get things set up.  It made for a very smooth transition.
  • If you are at all considering renting a house off campus, it helps to have copies of bank/financial statements and your University acceptance letter.

On the US side of things…our timeline went about like this:
February – Decided to attend Durham
March – Passport apps. for our children (a friend recommends epassportphoto as a cheap alternative to photos for passports and stuff–come over with a few extra because you’ll probably want them for student train passes and the like.
April – a big clean-out followed by a garage sale
May – Put our condo on the market
June – Visa apps.
July – Closed on our house, sold our car, and did a final garage sale ***We probably sold ~ 85-90% of what we owned.  My parents are keeping some of our stuff for us while we are here.
August 1st. – Moved here. ***We chose August since we wanted to be here and settled before our son started school (first week in September).  Many students don’t arrive until late September.  I would recommend coming at least a week, if not two, before term starts so you can settle in–setting up banking, mobiles, etc. and just getting over jet lag before doing work.

SHIPPING: Through the post office we shipped 1) our desktop computer (~$175), 2) my books in M-bags (~$45/bag, which was a little more than the amount of books that would fit in a box for copying paper) and 3) a couple of boxes of odds and ends (~$100/box).  The post office told my dad that the books couldn’t stay in a box within the M-bags, so they were just loosely placed in a large canvas bag for each load.  Obviously the books were worse for wear over the trip.  Nothing ruined but I wouldn’t recommended it. I talked to another student here, and they let him leave them in the boxes. If the Post Office tries to tell you that you can’t use boxes, just tell them you’ll take your chances with the VAT, which never get assessed unless it’s high tech stuff. Oh, and one of the 7 bags was lost, so consider insurance.

Look up form C3 on the UK Revenue and Customs web site, and turn it in before you ship things, so they’ll know this is your personal belongings as a student.  This will keep your stuff from getting stuck in customs, and you having to pay VAT.  If it does get stuck, just pay the VAT and send a letter with the C form and they’ll reimburse you.  I had that happen.


87 Responses to “US to UK Moving Tips”

  1. heather Says:

    Oh yes…one other tip I forgot for the wives out there. If you are a cook, it is a good idea to bring measuring cups and spoons with you. It would be difficult to make any of your American recipes without those as everything here is measured in grams and mls.

  2. Laurie Cavin Says:

    I’m curious to know whether or not your wife works, and if so … what is the process for getting a Visa etc ….


  3. Ben Says:

    She doesn’t have a job yet because she hasn’t found one that fits around the boys’ school schedule. However, most spouses here work. Unlike the US, spouse-dependents are automatically allowed to work with a UK student visa. Here’s the site to apply online:

  4. Laurie Says:


    My husband and I have found the info on your website to be invaluable! Thanks so much! He has been accepted to Durham, and although has not made his final decision, there is a very good chance we will end up there in the fall. Do you have an estimate of how much it cost you to settle in, including plane tickets over etc … Did you buy one-way tickets? They don’t really seem to be all that much cheaper than round-trip … (We are also a family of 4). Any info would be great!


  5. Ben Says:

    For some reason, my reply doesn’t seem to be coming up, so I just added another page under the Moving to the UK page.

  6. Laurie Says:

    Hi Ben,

    We have decided on Durham and should be moving in late August. I was wondering if your wife could email me – I have some more specific questions for her about the move etc and it would probably be easier via direct email than a gazillion comments through your blog.


  7. tritons56 Says:

    When we fly out in August we will likely be taking a connecting flight from Dublin to either Newcastle or Durham Valley Tees airports. Both Newcastle and Durham airports appear to be of equal distance from Durham city. Do you have any thoughts concerning which would be better to fly into and make it easier to get to Durham city?

  8. Ben Says:

    Newcastle (as well as Manchester and London) is definitely the favorite spot for people to fly in/out of. In fact, I don’t guess I remember anyone mentioning that they’ve flown into Tees. With NCL there is the Metro (subway) that takes you to the central railstaition, then you just take a train down to Durham. It costs about £8/person for the trip. Also, if you are with Ustinov, I think they may pick you up at the airport if you ask. That can be nice with all the luggage you have when moving.

  9. Karen Says:

    Wow…we aren’t even coming to Durham and this info is so helpful and informative. I wish we had something like this when we were doing Xavier’s greencard stuff. Like you, it’s good that we’ve been through that experience so we can hopefully help others in the same situation.

  10. derekryanbrown Says:

    Ben-your blog has been an incredibly rich resource as my wife and I prepare to move to Edinburgh to do the whole PhD thing. I curious to know your thoughts on which and how many books to bring? Obviously the temptation is to bring far more than is needed or worth it, but what criteria should one use?


  11. Ben Says:

    Derek, Good question. I’ll give a few thoughts and may return with more after I talk with others.

    I shipped 7 boxes over, and I think that I’d bring less over than I did. I brought my Pauline NT commentaries, a few other general NT works (Aland’s synopsis, etc.), and then also a few other general theology and OT stuff.

    First off, try to get electronic copies of stuff, but that’s probably obvious. My main criteria are 1) almost all should be your subject area, 2) only bring books you’ll reference more than once. (so that means directly related to thesis research) 3) Bring what you can’t easily get at your school’s library. 4) Is is worth the expense of shipping both ways? Not only do you have to pay to ship them here, but also to ship them home later. From a friend who just moved back to the states, it’s apparently much more expensive going back. 5) Is it worth the space? Generally, living quarters are smaller here, and space may be an issue. Fortunately, I haven’t hit that issue yet.

    I’ve found that commentaries are the major thing that I’ve used more than once, while some others are just collecting dust, at least now.

    In the end I’d say do your list up and then pare it back by a box or two. Then have that 2nd tier set aside so if family/friends are coming over then you can have them bring volumes from there that you might need later. Then if you don’t need them, you don’t have to worry about them.

    Godspeed on your move!

  12. tritons56 Says:

    Just a couple of last minute packing questions:

    Should I bring my graduate degree cap, gown, & hood? I’ve heard that college functions sometimes require academic dress.

    Other than using M-bags, which are no longer used for overseas shipping as of May 14 (so says the USPS), do you know of another cheap way to ship books overseas? A 47 pound box of books I was about to ship will cost $175!

    Even though it rains there almost year round, about what month does everyone begin to use heavy rain jackets? Christin and I just want to know if we should bring our rain coats now, or have our parents bring them out on a later visit.


    1. I am born and bred in england in summer times we generally wear t shirts and avoid the rain as much as possible as winter months come in then coats come out just dont wear a bleeding hoodie jacket police dont like chavs who wear them wear something normal and you will be fine.

  13. Ben Says:

    On regalia, I’ve only been to one dinner that had robes as optional. Other than that, I’ve not had a need. Plus, robes here are not the thin, polyester type that are most often used in the US–they are thicker fabric ones.

    On shipping books, I thought I saw an airmail version of M-bags on the USPS site, but I assume that will still be pretty expensive. There is also DHL, UPS, and FedEx that have surface options, though probably not a weight discount for books. Since you live near the coast you could look into actual shipping companies and have it delivered to Newcastle. It seems this is more often used when shipping furniture, and I think I remember that cost is more based on volume/size than weight.

    On the rain, it doesn’t rain heavily here that often, so it’s more a question of temperature than rain, or of wind. I can’t remember exactly but come October most people are transitioning into regular winter clothes.

  14. Rebecca Says:

    This is EXACTLY what I have been looking for. I just got a job teaching in Kent for 7 months and I was completely lost as to what to bring. Thank you very much!!

  15. Darrell Rohl Says:

    Hi Ben,

    Great site! This is a big help to my wife and I, who are planning to move to Durham this autumn for an MA/PhD program in the Department of Archaeology. I have a couple questions on the Visa process:

    Concerning funding: What type of hard evidence do they require for demonstrating that you can fund your studies and living expenses?

    Do you need to have all the cash in hand, or can some of it be anticipated income?

    Will they allow you to say that you’re partially funding yourself with spouses anticipated income from work?

    In general, what advice do you have for people who are applying for the Visa in terms of financial matters? In my case, we will need the student Visa for me, and dependent Visas for my wife and three children.

    Thanks again.

  16. Ben Says:

    I know you don’t have to have cash in hand, though that would make your application a sure deal. I believe you have to show some type of loan availability or a source of income (such as a letter from someone vouching for their regular giving). Since I had some scholarship money, I’m not as up on what level of proof you need. I’ll ask around and get back.


  17. Darrell Rohl Says:

    Thanks Ben. Since leaving the comment, I have found some more details in other comments around your site, but anything more you can find out would be appreciated. I’m really eager to arrive in Durham, but don’t want to have to leave them behind…even for a short while.

  18. LV Says:

    Hi Ben, Your blog was a huge help to me when I moved to Durham. I’m now getting ready to move back to the US and am trying to figure out about shipping books back. The royal mail website says they have M-bags as well, but no one in the post office has ever heard of this, and the only price quotes they gave me were astronomical. Do you have any information on how best to ship books from the UK back to the US? Thanks.

  19. Ben Says:

    Other than doing a full-pallet move on a ship, the only person I’ve talked to found no reasonable option–like £25/5kg. He found it cheaper to pay for an extra bag on the flight home and spread his books between the bags. I believe he also left some to pick up on a trip back to visit. Definitely let me know what you decide to do.

  20. Daniel Says:

    Hi Ben,

    I just moved to the UK to do a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and, not knowing about the VAT issue I sent my guitars from the US to here only to find out now that they’re stuck at customs and I have to pay £135. When you say send a letter with the C3 form and you’ll get refunded who are you referring to? Where should I send the letter?

    Thank you very much for the precious advice!


  21. Ben Says:

    I paid for the item and then I think the address for the letter was the VAT address on the red label for that they had put on the box. I can’t remember, and I got the information in the first place by calling the helpline for VAT issues. Sorry I can’t help more.

  22. Jamie Knight Says:

    Thanks for the information here, very useful. One question – when sending things over by post, you say fill in form C3 and “turn it in” – who do I send this form to? We’re planning on moving my wifes things over via the Post Office or UPS.

    1. Ben Says:

      As I was doing it after the fact, they had provided me an address on the VAT charge form (a red sticker on the box). I’m not sure where it would be sent as a preemptive action. If you find out let us know. I think VAT has a helpline.

  23. Matthew Crawford Says:

    I’ve heard that sometimes the visas place restrictions on when you are allowed to enter the country. Thus, for example, one source I’ve read said that you were not allowed to enter the country until one month prior to the start of your term. However, I see that you entered the country much earlier than that. Are such restrictions usually placed on visas?



  24. Ben Says:

    Hmmm. Haven’t heard of any restrictions, but surely there has to be some limit on how early you come. I’m almost certain that we asked for a July 1 start date and no questions were asked. I know they give you up to 6 months after the end of your program. I would request up to the March after your 3rd year since you never know if you will stay a little longer like us.

  25. Robin Says:

    Hi, I just saw your website when I was looking up info. about shipping to the UK. I am going to Oxford for a Ph.D. and I am leaving very soon. I was going to ship two boxes (50 pounds total) through USPS but I’m getting scared off by some posts about how long it will take and extra charges I will receive from the UK postal service that delivers it. Did you have any problems? And I have filled out the C3 form, but I have no idea who to send it to or where to send it ahead of time. Help!!!

    1. Ben Says:

      We shipped 7 M-bags of books with the USPS and they lost 1 of them, so you may think about insurance. I don’t think the timing was too slow, but can’t remember now. I don’t know the address, but the people were nice on the phone when I had to call up to ask about it myself. As I was doing it after the fact, they had provided me an address on the VAT charge form (a red sticker on the box). I’m not sure where it would be sent as a preemptive action. If you find out let us know. I think VAT has a helpline.

  26. RC Says:

    We have just arrived here and recieved an e-mail that our items have also arrived and they stated that “There is a Customs and Handling charge of £73.00 which is standard though out the UK.” Is this that VAT charge that everyone is talking about?
    I did not find a way to submit those forms, so I’m wondering if anyone has found a way to avoid paying to begin with yet, or how long it takes to get a refund and the number exactly that you call.
    I’m Also wondering how anyone has gone to collect their items, did they also arrive at Servisair Cargo, Frieght Village?

    1. Ben Says:

      It sounds like it is the VAT cost. I found the phone number on the notification useful for getting information.

  27. RC Says:

    That’s what I thought but I called the place where i was supposed to pick up my stuff, servisair, and the agent said that was the regular cost for picking up personal belongings, not a VAT fee. It’s billed as a custom’s input entry of 43 pounds and a processing and handling fee of 30 pounds. that’s why i wanted to know where you recieved your items and if you were refunded your fees entirely or just part.

    1. Ben Says:

      Mine was definitely VAT and it was delivered by Parcelforce

  28. Margo Says:

    Hi Ben, I have found this extremely helpful so first off I would like to thank you so much. My sister and I are looking into attending Royal Hollaway in a few years and I was just wondering if you are able to work with a student Visa or would we have to get student visas AND work visas? I know that is a bit confusing but I see you have answered so many tough questions you can most likely answer mine. Also what type of work place to you think would hire college students, because you have to work at least part time to support yourself. Also, sorry I have one more question, do you think we could survive of two part time salaries (we would be living together)

    Thanks so much for your time


    1. Ben Says:

      You can work part time on a student visa. I would think 2 part time salaries would be doable, but tight.

      1. iam admin Says:

        Right now, once you have a student visa, you will be allowed to:
        a) work part-time (up to 20 hours per week) during term-time;

        b) work full-time during vacations;

        c) do a work placement as part of your course;

        d) work as a postgraduate doctor or dentist (if your course of study is a recognised Foundation Programme); and

        e) be a student union sabbatical officer for up to two years

        But there are plans to restrict these in the future to cut down the allowed hours or cut it out altogether (unless it’s part of your studies)

    2. Nina Says:

      To fellow aspiring ex-pats and to other awesome travellers. I am generally responding to a young woman named Margo (Margo, if your question has been answered, forgive me, however, this information could also serve for others who are learning with me and are humble enough to share the humility 😉

      If you already know what I written in my own lengthy article, then, there may be some things to double check along the way OR corrections that I invite that you kindly point out.

      Please feel free to exchange with me as I am nervous and am just drawing this all together. 😉

      This strategy to relocate to the UK is breaking my heart and now a side of me is more determined than ever to do so despite the insane regulation schemes and the extreme crime rate which satuates all of the the City of London.

      Even after reading the most violent acts which have taken place, I cannot understand why I am so driven to desire to start my life there with my family any way.

      Crime soared 89% last year and a local poll revealed that 50% of the women were terrified to go out at night and had even refused to. 48% agrees that crime has skyrocketed and does not seem to be inching a budget towards decline. This was written in the BBC.Uk and The Sunday Times (We reside in the Midwest currently).

      YESTERDAY, I read the BBC.UK for the US that over 20,000 Visas (and these were Visas for naturlization which were green lighted met with a evil glitch.

      I believe that this may be deliberate because this was a Diversity Visa . It is a rare lottery to be selected.And they ALL have to RE-APPLY. Is this just shameful? It seems too convienient to me and others. Question everything.

      However, a part of me hopes that this was truly an accident. What do you believe? I read some post by many of the applicants who began the discussion and have practically convinced me, based on their own experience and their intense emotions.

      We came so close in submitting our requests. SO very close, but there was some sort of hindrance which occurred at that time.I think that this worked out in some hidden blessing, some how.

      ALL of their dreams and plans are dashed for these determined applicaants. What’s even fishier is that this Visa was a Diversity Visa and every single chosen candidate was eligible to enter into the country . If you only read what I read yesterday and how broken so many were. One man would only use his first name only for fear of retribution. He was in tears.

      The VISA issue is the main issue and each of us may fare best w/ the services of an agency who will fight to the end. You really cannot do anything unless your VISA is straightened out. A holiday Visa, okay—any other types—gird yourself and look at it as a dare. Turn it around to your benefit and to the benefit of many others on this board.

      Global Visas (they did not return my e-mail—seemed a bit on the lethargic side— once they wanted to connect w/me, however, there seems to be confusion on the side of my attorney based in MN On the other hand , why should I begin to rain or drag upon anyone else’s parade. But try them any way because they have offices all over the world. Literally. mine happened to be an idiot.

      Investiagate, Global Visas and PLEASE interview a immigration attorney (for inquiry first to see if they will be able to help you in the exact way that you deserve.) IF they are not helpful to you as they may be in a different state, then please, I do not have a list of names here.

      Google ” immigration attorneys UK for US” or try any other variation and next try the same words but add Great Britain at the end of each inquiry and focus towards an immigration attorney (which will save you the $$$$ and errors on your Visa Application because once they take your application fee, it is gone.

      And I am NOT endorsing Global Visas at ALL—it is only an easy reachable start on a Google page…form your OWN opinions ONLY as a start to lead you to where you need to be. Go with the compassionate & afforable immigration attorney for the price and compare at least 7. It is a project and it is worthwhile.

      I am disappointed with them at the MN office. But the Google search will have an endless find on such help.

      TYPE in immigration agencies or relocation services within the UK as well. Now some of you do not have he issues that we have. Ours is more complex, but YOURS may not be as complex as ours at ALL.

      There is REAL HOPE —I do not take this lightly—and lots of it for many of you. We have a diffferent kind of Hope coming our way and it WILL be excellent through and through, either way. I hope the same of each of you. Keep in touch and compare info.

      But don’t you DARE give up if any one has any say about it. DO the foot work YOURSELF and keep your OWN notes accurate, jam on your computer and take handwritten notes as you browse along your Google engine keying in top words just as I have described above.

      Nothing is IMPOSSIBLE. DIfficult maybe, Impossible, never accept less not ever. We will keep trying if you will.

      It is that important to settle this once and for all. You must review the tier schemes listed on the UK Border Site for UK Grat Britain. Type this in your search box and you will find the direct information that you will need.

      The tier restructuring is what is granting so much grief for many of us. You must read this new listing as of April 06, 2011. MORE VISA changes are scheduled to change in the Fall.

      If you are young and in University or related long-term project in the UK, your chances are slightly better, however, your VISA is very limitied (this info comes DIRECTLY from the UK webiste itself. It is like a Catch 22, you have to live there for 5 years to be considered ) or to apply for citizenship.

      And you KNOW that many of us will need to be productively creative, in good physical shape and in very little need of their medical services. They will help you if you have an emergency of any sort .

      Never underestimate the need for traveller’s insurance. I DO understand to a certain extent of why this is so, however, our country is an ally and always will be and America allows and offers so much to immigrants.

      For the remainder of each of you, this depends on the out come regarding your status catagory. I have re-read some of your questions as response to others and so whatever I write will not apply to you because you are all set.

      If you arrive there to find work, this may be your best angle. Also try they have oodles of information and creativity interactions for such these types of circumstances.

      The way that thngs are standing currently, if you are able bodied and have something to offer in the way of science and technology, you may find yourself fortunate. The opportunities are countless the younger that you are. I am a writer working on literally FOUR novel —-3 of which take place in Britain and through out . I was an EMT/Registered Medical Assistant/Phlebotmist and trained Medical Transcriptionist (all of which I have diplomas to provide) . I do have chronic pain issues, however (and I have researched some, but it is never the same than speaking directly to another.

      Do you believe that Britain may still have some use for me with such an extensive background? I know that you are not in the medical field—sometimes, another individual may have some working knowledge of what is needed in their own communities.

      Finding property will take sincere charm on your end—even write out your questions before you speak, you will feel a whole lot better and confident (people can detect insincerity) so –for example there was an American based relocation service (I would NOT reccomend this place as they seem to change their rules depending on who they feel is worthy to be relocated).Do you think that this may work?

      Go to a UK based relocation service and if you are able bodied and you have sklls where the job openings cannot be filled except for some one like YOU who has the savvy and the mega-bright photographic memory.

      The “American in London” specialist wanted SIX MONTHS in advance to our RENT (and this is a red flag of fraud b/c he says that they would change our banks over to UK banks—which our bank is interchangable with UK banks) so this guy sayd because our monies were from the pension then We would have to wickedly cough up £6000 pounds. Can you say: Con man?

      Not ONE specialist that we have researched OR letting agent suggested this AT all. It was BS b/c if we are transfering banks, why would you need our money 6 months in advance instead of the monthly that I am receive directly every month?

      This too, sounds con-artist Ocean’s 11 garbage all the way. It is better to try and find an owner rather than a company, this way, you can negotiate and remain there with a solid roof over your head while gaining residental years.

      Being a student has its advanatages and you may be able to have the type of your study applied to the time of being in country.

      We do have special needs assist (but we aren’t a liability–and we will need medical assistance and we are pre-qualified eligible to reside there, but there are other underlying issues which must be resolved for us. We have followed every form to the T. What would you suggest as well?

      The greedy man interacted with us for ONE YEAR and our moving date is approaching soon. People are just greedy and evil. Watch for them. Nothing should cost more than your car and a triple mortgage payment. It’s only a flat. Were they warped or what?

      WE were even coming to stimulate the GB economy. BUT, if you must get in there are UK Job sites (oodles of them) where they are searching for competent mature workers. They WILL NOT contend for intimidation or harassment in the work place. This is what I LOVE about Britain. Britains apply the most common sense regarding basic human interactions. Where we live, humanity is a chuckle and people are merely replacable. Just like that.

      They will not tolarate that “envy,” or, “let us set up the odd one out to make ourselves feel drunk with power and debachery”. This is the truth.

      There is a very nice array of diversity and you cannot bring that “I hate every one and I am from the Western attitude”. Everyone is an immigrant. That’s it.

      Great Britain wants individuals who are exceptionally talented and will inject floors of money into their economy. This is not about racism in the UK, this is about a lack of urgency toward serious crimes.

      Scotland Yard, and this is true, pretty much will catch the independent thug (no matter what color..I have to say this because of the retarded evill that I have seen since 2003)

      Is it true that to reside permanently in the UK that we will need to get hired through a company in GB and keep on your Ps and Qs so that you will keep your job long enough for 5 years to be eligible to apply for British Citizenship?

      There is much more home work to do before we take off, but it will be work it and it may involve financial risk as well. We cannot just “hang out” until the 5 years are over. We will need local identification and the sort. Have you settled this at this time or where will you go to pick up your identificatio.

      If you would like to be a student, there is a tier for you, for businessmen and for entepreneuers, the scholastically . What would you suggest for others. Is it better to apply to a university from within? Or is it best to apply before? I am retired and in my early 40s , so our situation is indeed quite unique.

      Go directly to the site (I think people are afraid to go here) but it must be done. Or if you are under the tiers of entertainer or minister of religion.

      This message is for those of you who needed to know, but had some off-beat ideas of what this process actually takes.

      The days of how long you need to stay in the UK range from 30-120 days to process your Visa for longer ter stay and be sure that you have a sponsor from the employment where you desire to work. If this has changed, please correct me, I am teachable.

      And PLEASE read that article of what happened to 20k-50+ applicants who were already elected to go once the paper work was completed and how the night before every VISA applicant was “lost” due to a “glitch”.

      The UK Border Agency are making VERY tight restrictions for VISA entry no matter who you are unless you have tons of money to invest (and it says so on your VIsa under your tier grouping…???) How is this stamped? Is there a special stamp affixed to our Visa page or passport page within the office as we enter the country?

      Does any one know how this operates as far as what they are asking for? and what would we need to provide as well as my husband to show that we are people with contributitory means? There is no where on the internet which explains this indepth process. I may have over looked this, and if I have, I need to be directed.

      This Visa chnage AFFECTS ALL of US on one level or another. It is a serious consideration for us NOT to drop the ball even by innocent error.

      Has anyone worked with an effective immirgration attorney at this point

      NO, I do not know everything, nor profess to do so. This is from my hard work, research , and experience and the many phone calls we made to speak directly to Great Britain.

      I am so inwardly drawn to this part of the world and I am not certain fully (except for what I have already examined within) why I have such a strong sense as if we were meant to spend the remaining days of our lives together.

      I really need some assistance also if any of you may contribute towards such a major life -change. You do not have to write a long one as I have (I am a writer and this is what I do). Just write what you know or share what has been successful for you in the shipping &relocation process?

      Margo, I know, I am in the dark about this as well: I remember on the UK Border SIte that they cover your question in detail. See, I need to attend a univerisity which focuses on concentrate Fiction/ Screenplay writing so that I will be able to give back to Britain and that they will find us a profitable small family, however, I am heavily trained as a Registered Medical Assistant with two EMT diplomas and more. If you were in our position, what would you do?

      Would you like my e-mail because I can give you more information about the student visa. What do you think? Will you live outside of London or in the leafy green surrounding areas? 😉 This is a major life change for us and we are not sure what to do precisely, but you may know some things and I may know others to help you.

      Nina 🙂

      1. iam admin Says:


        Getting to the UK is not that difficult. It just takes planning and applying the immigration rules to your particular circumstances.

        Also, getting a UK Visa, whilst you are in the country, can also be done pretty quickly. I work for an immigration firm (not a plug – ’cause like you said, there are many of us out here) and at times you can get it done within a day or two.

        A lot of the advice on this site still holds true but if you want to come here, you just need to persevere and speak to good immigration lawyers. It’s important that you get a good one ‘causse that can make a real difference. But saying that, some of advice could also be a real miss.

    3. Nina Says:


      I truncated this message before sending (by 75%) and it what I edited remained, so please (if it does not apply to your direct circumstance—please forgive me and by pass it. I do tend to write quite a bit in response to a favorite subject. I hope that this isn’t bothersome but friendly, at least. Thank you for being so kind about this. My option for (cut/copy) appeared to have removed a segment of this message after I re-read your message and the messages of others. I feel so silly now.


  29. Brittany Says:

    Just a quick question for you. First of all thanks so much for answering all these questions. I was just wondering if you get a student Visia and decide you want to stay because you like it so much. How hard is it to be able it to stay? What do you have to do so you can live in the UK. Oh yeah my sister and I would be coming from america for college.

    1. Ben Says:

      I haven’t gotten to the point of trying to stay, but it gets easier the higher the degree you get because of the points system.

      1. iam admin Says:

        It all depends on the type of visa (leave to remain) that you have. Based on the leave you have, it can take from two years to 10 (and sometimes 14)

  30. IdPhoto Says:

    You can create valid passport photos with website. It uses face detection to set size and position of head. It is free. Built-in standards for 63 countries.

  31. Jennifer Says:

    Thanks for keeping this up! I am moving to Spennymoor with my husband hopefully by the end of Jan (waiting on passport to come back to file for settlement visa).
    I am searching best way to send my stuff and and wondering if I sent UPS if the person receiving would get nailed paying VAT considering it is personal effects….I will keep searching…

    I love Durham FYI

    1. Sarah Says:

      Your moving to Spennymoor? It’s weird, I live here and have never seen an American here before as it’s quite a small town. I wonder why your moving from America to here, Im hoping to move to the US.

  32. Kelli Sorg Says:

    Ben, I have been accepted to do the DThM at Durham. I am a full time pastor in the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. Have you heard of anyone like me being able to serve a church in Durham? Who should I contact about that? The World Methodist Council (that does pulpit exchanges) hasn’t been much help.

    It would just be my husband and me and, as much as I would LOVE the work, the finances and logistics seem overwhelming….Kelli

    1. Ben Says:

      Congrats. I’ll email you with my minister’s contact info. She can give you better details on what might be available.

  33. Cynthia Says:

    We are moving to Britain in a few months and have read that if you ship your car, you can fill it with personal belongings but they will not be insured. We plan on putting pictures and old books, which are of no worth to anyone else, in our car. Now, we have not done this yet so don’t know what pitfalls await….

    1. Peg Says:

      Cynthia, how much did it cost you to ship your car? I’ve been debating what all to bring with me- I’ve been accepted into a grad program in Bath, and will just be bringing some clothes and books and personal belongings, easily fit into a car. If it doesn’t cost too much to ship the car I’d rather do that than try to sell it and ship the other items separately. Do you know anything about the safety of belongings in doing this? Please let me know what your experience has been, if you get this. Thanks much.


  34. Excellent blog article!…thank you so much for posting. Its very helpful.

    My wife and I are strongly considering a move to the UK to be closer to her family (She’s a Brit). I have decided that perhaps I could pursue my Masters that first year and possibly apply as a “spouse” for permanent residency.

    Does anyone know whether this is frowned upon or if I will be forbidden from seeking work upon graduation etc?

    Hopefully someone out there is still monitoring the boards here.



    1. Nina Says:

      We have just read about this a few weeks ago on the UK Border Agency Website. What you are deciding to do is perfectly appropriate and very legal to the letter. I believe that so many pairing are doing this so often is that this has become common place and sensible to do. It would only be frowned upon those who aren’t supporting you in the first place.

      Why not do so? You will enjoy the same rights as your wife as the spouse. I mean , you are being productive for Great Britain and you are honoring your wife. What more can anyone ask for. I know that you were not looking for me to answer, however, it is only that I read this very similar circumstance on the site and if the UK Border Agency prefers that it is clear that your British spouse and you are clearly stated to be married, then, this is something which is very common amongst the citizens (unless there are members of family and friends express their view point to be traditonalist.

      This is the reality of your life together and the lives of many others where the husband or wife who is Non-British, takes on the residency requirements.

      There is a shorter waiting period also; what I read was how ever long you were here before you became married significantly reduces and counts you in as a permanent resident..

      You should be able to seek workimmediately because you are the spouse. And a very legal spouse. YES, I read this. You are family and close according to the border agency. Being married allows a significant amount of clout.

      Just visit the UK Border Agency website to confirm dates and time spent in country and how many times you have visited. Being married cancels out a lot of the headache the rest of us endure.

      But please be safe and check and shake this heaviness from your heart and your mind. And then celebrate and enjoy success. Are you a writer or are you in business?

      Enjoy a beautiful life together. Both of you are very fortunate and blessed.

      You have a lot going for you as well and you will be stimulating Britains economy through your education and being an asset to the country and to your family.

      You have few worries. Enjoy this fine life you’ve made for one another. Both of you are coming through the tougher times.

      I hope this helps to go to the UK Border Agency website. It is fast and easy and you will be more relieved after having read how much you can do and the level of freedom you truly have .

      SIncerely, Nina

    2. iam admin Says:


      Nina is right. It is perfectly appropriate and legal. You actually have two options to go in as a spouse or as a student in your own right and then decide what you want to do when you get here.

  35. jim Says:

    i am desperate…i cant seem to save up that much money…is there any other options for me going to live in the uk….i have a girlfriend there and we love each other very much….but shes on benefits so she dont have much money either…ive been trying to get back to england for the last 3 years without gaining any ground…right now i would be willing to do anything just to be near her

  36. gabby Says:

    hi my name is gabby im 16 & from the USA. my mom wants my aunt (from austrila) my 11 year old sister and i to move to England in 6 to 8 months. its really stressful trying to figure out everything. i have a few questions id aprecite it if you could answer them:

    1. when i get to england ill be going to 12th grade (in US terms). when i go to england what grade would i be in?

    2. how much would unlimited bus transportation cost for 3 people? (1 child & 2 adults)

    3. how will i figure out what part of england i want to live in? (in more interested in living in the south or south east part of england)

    4. how much money should i come to england with?

    thanks for you time this means a lot,
    Gabby Singh

    1. Gabby,

      These are some big questions and are difficult to tell. 12th grade would be in the midst of A levels, so I’m not sure how they would treat that since it is a 2 year process. On the costs of transportation, it all depends on how far your trips are. You might budget for about 3-4 pounds a day for a bus ticket per person, but that’s a shot in the dark. I only know the North East, so can’t help you there. And for 4, the answer that I can offer though unhelpful is that it depends.

      We love the UK, so we hope your transition goes well.

      All the best,

  37. Hi! My names Alexis, Im 12 years old. My dad wants to move to England and I want to but I’d miss some people here! (We live in the U.S.) I’ve been there about 3 times but just for vacation. I have family there as well. Im sick of the U.S and it has too many bad memories. My mom died 2 years ago so no one has to sign over papers or anything (Except my dad). But i dont know if I should!

  38. Thannks I willbe moving to the UK withmy family tommorow because my other family lives there


  40. Itchigo19 Says:

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  41. mayuri Says:

    Mr. Ben,

    We presently live in Kuwait and planning to move to UK may be by June. My Husban has Job offer in Kent -Uk. We would like your advice for the below :-

    1. Getting admission in the school for our son age 11years
    2. Have a pet dog. We would like to carry with us whe moving to UK (the procedure)
    3. Things we should carry when moving to UK (Briefly list the items which are expensive and better to bring when moving)
    4. Advice the cargo service if you know??

    Appreciate your assistance at the earliest.

    Thankin you.

  42. frogsfur01 Says:

    I am moving to UK in a couple of months on a settlement visa, have been approved and I have found all of this information to be very helpful, However I would like to submit one question if anyone could help me, If I am moving to UK as a permanent settled resident,am I still required to carry a minimum amount of currency on my person when I fly in and cross the UK border, or does this only apply to people visiting on holiday?

    1. silverpen1 Says:

      Hi there.
      I don’t know how others feel, but the times that I have come over it is a question they have always asked me.
      You have your settlement visa though, so they may look at you differently as you have been pre-screened in their estimation.
      Best wishes to you!

  43. Ashley Says:

    Hey Guys,

    My girlfriend is American and is planning on moving over here in September. Does anyone have any advice on visas etc?

    It doesnt seem that clear so i would love some feedback?

    Thanks in advance,


  44. Criss Says:

    What about medical insurance? I am on disability in the u.s. I know my medicare is not accepted if I move to the UK. Can you tell me how I would go about getting medical insurance?

    1. If you are given a visa to be in the UK, you are automatically covered by the national health system (NHS) for free. It’s paid through taxes rather than through insurance premiums.

      1. sbramell Says:


        I know you are getting bombarded with a bazillion questions & unfortunately I am about to add another one.

        Like Criss #44 I am stuck on US Social Security Disability due to a spinal injury. Ya! Lucky me! <yes I a being sarcastic…sorry!) I am not immobile or anything like that, I just have severe pain & neurological issues that make it impossible for me to actually work. I was a Network Engineer before that though. Anyways, I cannot find ANYTHING that tells me whether or not I can move to the UK. Honestly its all I've ever wanted out of life was to live in Cadiff, Wales UK actually. I just don't know what to do, you search & run around & around in circles. I've tried emailing the UK Border Agency with that same question & never get a reply.

        I cannot be the only person that is on US SSDI that has tried to move to the UK. But it sure does feel that way when trying to get info about it.

        I know you are not going to have the answer for this, as it's not your situation, unless you know someone that has gone through this. I was merely hoping you could hopefully point me in the right direction.

        Thank you very much for your time & efforts!


  45. Hannah Dennis Says:

    I’m hopefully attending college in the US, but I think I may want to make the move permanent. How do you even start going about applying for a visa for something like that?

  46. Hannah Dennis Says:

    I meant in the UK, sorry

  47. Faton Tony Fetahu Says:

    Tony. Hi i need really help i live in us im 30 y but allways i love to move to UK. if i go there and if i find job is that easy to get the work permit and to live there for long time if anyone can tell me what to do plsss. Thank you very mouch

  48. Kyra Burks Says:

    Hi! How difficult was this process? I really Have a lot of questions so maybe you can email me so I can ask a few? Please 🙂 that would be great!

    1. It’s such a different process than when we went through, I’m not sure I could help much. Sorry.

  49. linda Says:

    hi im planning to move to uk wif my daughter who has special needs and son i dont have uk passport wat shud i do my two kids are britsh

    1. linda Says:

      my two kids rare british overseas citizens

  50. Hi Ben, my husband is in newcastle doing LLM. His course started from Oct ’13. I am planning to apply for tier 4 dependant visa in March ’14. we have a 11 yr old daughter. my questions are;
    1. will she get admission in middle of school session.
    2. will it be a problem getting visa because of her schooling, because in uk session starts from sept.

    1. Hi. She will get a place somewhere, but it may not be at the school closest to you if they are full. I wouldn’t imagine it would be an issue getting a visa since that process is totally separate from getting into schools. Enjoy!

  51. Thanks a lot. i am relieved.

  52. Kate James Says:

    Hello Ben,
    I am an ER RN in the states. My husband and I want to move to Norwich once our kids graduate high school. Our daughter wants to go to UEA right outside of Norwich for college. I know her visa will be a student visa with the school once she is accepted. However I only have a BSN but work in a level II trauma center with multiple certifications allowing me to work as a US trauma nurse. I am working on becoming eligible to work as a nurse in the UK. My only concern is the visa process, I know I can become registered in the UK. I just don’t know if I can move there first or if I have to find a job first. I also don’t know how my husband would apply for a visa. We are currently saving money for him to open his own business. Do you have any suggestions?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Kate, I’m not sure how the visa process will work for y’all since I’m only familiar with the university visas. But I do wish you all the best. We really enjoyed it there.

  53. kellyvarner Says:

    Wow, we have a very similar story to yours. My husband applied to Durham but chose St. Andrews in the end. We’ll be there for 1-4 years with our four kids while he does a masters and PhD in theology starting this fall. I have one question I can’t seem to find an answer to. How did you go about calling your family in the US on a regular basis? Any cell phone companies that you’d recommend? Does it just cost a fortune to call the US on a regular basis or is there a way around that?

    1. We used Vonage. Get it (or something like it) set up in the US to have a US number, and then you can call through the internet and people call you as if you are calling from the US.

  54. kellyvarner Says:

    One more question, since he’ll be doing a one year masters programme in St. Andrews this coming year, is it wise to apply for a PhD THIS fall? Ideally we’d like to just stay and not have to go home for a year just to come back. Is it feasible to apply for a PhD during a one year masters programme with only an undergrad as reference?

    1. The UK gov’t doesn’t generally like people hanging around without entry into a program. So, the process pretty much demands applying in the winter for the next fall. They’ll assess his application based on essays he writes in the MA program.

      It’s a busy first year because of that. I hope its a great experience for you.

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  57. I am currently an international student based in the UK, and I really liked living here when studying. However, my student visa is running out when I graduate in the summer. I am presently undertaking some tests in order for me to hopefully obtain British citizenship.

    There were so many websites out there, and I came across this site: This is far the best one I have seen, even though I am only getting 18 out of 24, ha ha.

    What do you think you could get?

  58. This is very helpful, Ben (cousin). I will share with my Logan. He leaves LR this Thursday. I am so proud of him and excited for him! 🙂

  59. Kate Howe Says:

    Hi! It’s amazing you’ve been helping so many people with your blog, for so long!

    I am planning to move to London, Edinburgh or Glasgow in the summer of 2020 to pursue a PhD in philosophy and contemporary art practices. I have two teenage boys, one of whom would like to do his junior and senior years in a visual arts academy, one of whom will either be taking a gap year and working where we move to, or beginning uni, and my partner, who runs an online business.

    I’m wondering about student visas, work permits, health care, tuition, bringing our 2 indoor cats with us, etc. Do you have the time and energy to chat with me about these things?

    Thanks again, Kate

    1. Very happy to help. Shoot me an email at, and we can schedule something.

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