Finances, at their most basic, mean having enough to live on, and having enough to live on means work, so what is required for you to legally work in the UK? As an Australian expat, you will require a visa to live in the UK, unless you happen to be in possession of a UK or EU passport.
There are different types of visas covering entitlement to work in the UK, ranging from skilled worker visas to the Youth Mobility Scheme, which covers those aged 18 to 30.
Before you leave, obtain bank statements to show you have sufficient funds to support yourself on arrival in the UK. Another important tip is to make photocopies of your credit card – if you have one. No one envisages losing their credit card but these things do happen, so be prepared.
On your arrival in the UK, one of your first steps should be to obtain a National Insurance Number. This is the UK equivalent of an Australian Tax File Number. Obtaining a National Insurance Number is a straightforward process but you will need proof of address.
Opening a bank account also entails having proof of address. As a new arrival, you might not have a permanent place of address yet, so ask if it is possible to give the address of your current residence – such as the hostel where you are staying– until you have found somewhere more permanent to live. An employer will likely take you on before you have obtained a National Insurance Number but as it is required for tax purposes it is advisable to apply for your number as soon as possible.
Speaking of all things tax, UK taxation for employees means income tax and national insurance contributions, which your employer will deduct automatically from your wages/salary. Move beyond the traditional definition of employment and the picture can be a little less clear.
If you are working as a contractor or consultant, you will have to comply with UK tax legislation known as IR35, which covers the taxation of what is commonly called disguised employment at a rate similar to the taxation of regular employment.
Disguised employees are classified as those workers in receipt of payments from a client through an intermediary. Had they been paid directly by the client they would, in effect, be an employee of the client. Advice with IR35 compliance is recommended because this can be a complex area of tax legislation that you may not fully understand at first.
It is not only your obligations that need to be considered but also those of the client because if you are engaged directly by the client as an office-holder or employee, the client will be responsible for operating PAYE for you.
Moving from Australia to the UK should be as smooth an experience as possible, so consider the financial aspects before your departure to give yourself a good head start.